The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Georgia State Panthers.
No. 121: Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State Prespring Status
Shawn Elliott came up with a fantastic first season as the Georgia State head man, pivoting the program into the new stadium and the new overall attitude with a winning season, a bowl appearance, and a Cure Bowl win over WKU.
But the offense struggled and sputtered, the defense had problems late in the regular season, and somehow, the team got it done scoring just 244 points on the season – a 20 point per game average.
This year’s team has a whole slew of key replacements to make in the offensive backfield, and with a whole lot of work to be done on the defensive side, especially in the secondary.
Georgia State Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Running back. The hope is for Aaron Winchester to be ready to take over the quarterback job from Conner Manning, but the bigger fight should be at running back for an offense that finished 113th in the nation.
Leading rushers Glenn Smith and Kyler Neal are gone, but there’s hope among a few good options – if they can stay healthy. Taz Bateman had a strong freshman season, but hasn’t been able to do much over the last few years.
Darius Stubbs has the upside to take over if he can stay in one piece, and from the recruiting class, Seth Paige and Dawson Hill out of Florida are quick backs who’ll get a shot.
Georgia State Biggest Issue
Red zone offense. It’ll be hard enough this spring to get all the new offensive parts in place with a new backfield, but the line should be solid and Penny Hart and the receiving weapons are there. However, with the problems putting the biscuit in the basket last year, the O has to figure out how to score every time it gets the chance.
Brandon Wright made just 12-of-23 field goal tries for an offense that was among the worst in the country in the red zone. The Panthers scored just 24-of-36 times inside the 20, and was 6-of-14 in the five losses – 18-of-22 in the seven wins.
Georgia State Biggest Positive
Receiving corps. The offense might have had scoring issues, but the passing game was occasionally fantastic. Penny Hart is one of the best Group of Five receivers in the country, coming up with 74 grabs for 1,121 yards and eight scores as the leader of a deep group. 14 of the 15 touchdown catches from last year are back and eight of the top nine wide receivers/tight ends return.
Really, Why Are The Georgia State Panthers Ranked Here?
There’s a lot of rebuilding and reloading to do from a team that had almost no margin for error. The Panthers rallied, but they still managed to lose to Tennessee State, they still struggled to put up points, and they still have to deal with a lot of new parts on both sides of the ball.
Elliott might have worked wonders in his first season, but the win over WKU in the bowl was the only one over a team that finished with more than four wins. This is still going to be a building process over the next few seasons.