Continuing the Georgia State A-to-Z series, we turn to:
R is for run defense
Georgia State gave up 303.3 rushing yards in 2014. Not bad, right?
It would be, except that was rushing yards only.
Last year, Georgia State gave up 181.1 rushing yards per game. Though still a lot, compared to what it was it was arguably one of the reasons why the team reached its first bowl game.
There are many, many reasons the average dropped by more than a whopping 100 yards per game. Let’s name a few:
The offense was able to build leads, which forced opponents to pass more in an attempt to catch up;
The defense matured and benefited from the new strength and conditioning program;
The defense’s talent improved the with the addition of several transfers from UAB and junior colleges, including safety Bobby Baker, and linebackers Alonzo McGee and Kaleb Ringer.
Run defense will be critical this year because the Panthers are going to play a lot of teams that will run the ball.
If the team is to have any chance of winning the Sun Belt, a goal that the players have already stated, it must be able to control the attacks of Arkansas State, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, which figure to be three of the favorites this season.
The Mountaineers have owned the Panthers in their first two meetings, posting 184 rushing yards in last year’s 37-3 win and 469 rushing yards in the 44-0 win in 2014.
The Red Wolves rushed for 384 yards in 2014’s 52-10 win, and 296 in last year’s 48-34 win.
Georgia Southern rushed for 613 yards in 2014’s 69-31 win, but just 135 in last year’s 34-7 win by the Panthers.
So, Georgia State has now shown that it can slow down some of the conference’s best rushing games.
It must do so consistently this season.