Continuing the Georgia State football A-to-Z series.
Quick recap: the Panthers went 6-7 last season with that last loss coming in the team’s first bowl game, the Cure Bowl in Orlando against San Jose State.
Coach Trent Miles will return seven-eight starts on offense (depending upon your definition of what makes a starter) and nine on defense.
The team should be picked to finish in the top half of the media polls and, if not for the lock that Appalachian State will likely have on first-place votes, might even receive a vote or two in that category.
Anyway, off we go:
H is for Harold Etheridge
Georgia State’s offensive line coach has his deepest, most athletic group since accompanying Miles to Atlanta before the 2013 season.
He will also be helped by the addition of offensive quality control coach John McDonell.
The line returns starters Michael Ivory, Sebastian Willer, Gabe Mobley and Alex Stoehr, as well as backups Dom Roldan, Akil Hawkins, Lucas Johnson, Davis Moore, Tyler Simonsen and Hunter Atkinson, who moved from tight end.
There are a few challenges his line will face this season, starting with the in-game calls.
Former quarterback Nick Arbuckle was very good at recognizing defenses and communicating with the line on the protection calls. It remains to be seen how good any of the three quarterbacks who are competing for the starting spot will be at that task.
The linemen must also communicate with each other what they are saying on the strongside and weakside of the defense. They should be solid at that because of the returning experience.
Turning to results, the group, which is now without graduated seniors Taylor Evans and Jah-Mai Davidson, was decent at pass protection last season, allowing 33 sacks in more than 500 dropbacks. The 2.54 allowed per game were the fourth-most in the Sun Belt.
The group wasn’t as solid at blocking for the run: finishing last in the conference in yards per game (96.92) and yards (1,260). But it also had the fewest attempts per game (31.3) and second-fewest attempts overall (407) because of the emphasis the Panthers placed on the pass.
It must improve its run-blocking this season for two reasons:
The team likely won’t be as pass-focused with the loss Arbuckle;
The team is extremely deep at running back;
It would seem the left side of the line (Stoehr and Ivory) is where the team will focus its running game because that’s where the team is bigger and has more experience.