Continuing the Georgia State football A-to-Z series:
X is for X-factor
What are the factors that could prevent Georgia State from building upon last year’s 6-7 success, its first sustained progress since its first season?
Let’s do this by elimination:
The coaching staff returned mostly intact, with two new additions: Rick Minter on the defensive line (replacing Tony Samuel) and John McDonell as senior offensive analyst. Jeff Jagodzinski’s status remains unresolved.
The non-conference schedule is moderately difficult, but the only game in which the Panthers won’t be given even much of a chance is at Wisconsin. The team should go at least 2-1 against Ball State, Air Force and Tennessee-Martin.
The team has suffered no serious injuries in the offseason and should be very healthy when practices start on Aug. 5.
The Panthers will get two of their three toughest conference games at the Georgia Dome: Arkansas State on Nov. 3 and Georgia Southern on Nov. 19. They will play at Appalachian State on Oct. 1.
The defense returns nine starters, losing all-conference safety Tarris Batiste and all-time leading tackler Joseph Peterson. The team is deep at both positions. While you can’t deny their production and leadership on and off the field, the effect of those two not being on the field should be minimal.
The offense returns numerous all-conference performers: wide receivers Penny Hart and Robert Davis and tight end Keith Rucker. The line returns Gabe Mobley, Sebastian Willer, Michael Ivory and Alex Stoehr, to name a few. The running backs will have as many as six players competing.
So what’s left?
Quarterback. Everything starts with the quarterback.
Gone is Nick Arbuckle, the Sun Belt student athlete of the year after passing for more than 4,300 yards last season (I think I have that entire phrase on a save-get).
Emiere Scaife, Conner Manning, a transfer from Utah, and Aaron Winchester will battle to replace Arbuckle. It will be interesting to see if offensive coordinator Luke Huard puts as much on their shoulders as Arbuckle carried last year. Some of that was Arbuckle’s natural ability and leadership. Some of it was what was needed within the offense.