Preview 2017: The Georgia State Remodel & Rebuild
With a redone stadium and a new coaching staff, Georgia State is sprucing up the football program.
It’s the repositioning and remodeling of a football program that’s still trying to build itself into a football program.
Only around since 2010, Georgia State is trying to create its own buzz just a few miles away from Georgia Tech and in a city loaded with Georgia Bulldog fans in Ground Zero of SEC country.
No one’s thinking the Panthers will change anyone’s loyalties, but the Atlanta school is trying to blaze its own trail. And that means a few key changes going into the eighth-year of football existence.
The advantages are in place compared to several other Sun Belt schools. There’s a massive enrollment of over 32,000, there’s the big city atmosphere, and now there’s a new coaching staff in a shiny new stadium.
At least, a shiny refurbished stadium, taking over the old Turner Field the Atlanta Braves used to play in and turning it into an upscale, intimate environment of around 23,000 seats to start, with potentially 10,000 added on.
Just outside of downtown Atlanta, Georgia State Stadium should be a terrific recruiting tool – and a potential sweetener in down-the-road dreams of moving up to the Conference USA world and beyond.
Now the football team has to do its part.
Along with the new digs comes new head man Shawn Elliott, the former South Carolina offensive coordinator who was left with a Gamecock sandwich after Steve Spurrier bailed on the team in 2015, and went 1-5 doing the best he could in the interim.
Elliott stayed on last year as Will Muschamp’s offensive line coach, but now he’s bringing his intensity and crazy energy to a Sun Belt head coaching gig, where the former Appalachian State defensive end should immediately fit right it.
His offenses will be fast, with a quick tempo and lots and lots of plays. An O line coach by nature, he should be able to crank up a woeful running game with a few nice returning backs along with four starters up front.
There’s a quarterback derby, but veteran Conner Manning knows what he’s doing. With Penny Hart returning from injury, the receiving corps is going to be dangerous in the quicker attack. For an offense just a year removed from massive numbers and a bowl appearance under former head man Trent Miles, it might not take too much work for the veteran offense to rise up and rock again.
The defense that wasn’t all that awful last season – and was great against the pass – gets back a strong group of linebackers and a fantastic group of corners. The run defense needs to be nastier, there has to be more of a pass rush, and a few more timely stops would be nice, but like the offense, the veterans are in place to improve in a hurry.
New might not necessarily translate into massive successes right away, but there should be an improvement. This should be the season the program has been building for in terms of wins and production, and if it happens to look the part in its new house, all the better.