Spring Practice kicked off on March 20, officially marking the beginning of a new football season. Last season did not go as planned for the Panthers, after reaching their first bowl game two years ago, they regressed back to the bottom of the Sun Belt finishing with a 3-9 record. The disastrous season led to the dismissal of former Head Coach Trent Miles, and paved the way for the new head coach Shawn Elliott. Spring Practice is Elliott’s first look at his new team, and he is excited about his new coaching opportunity.
“It feels fantastic to be here, I mean I’m a football coach so anytime you put me on the field it’s an exciting time” Coach Elliott said.
And Coach Elliott has a lot more to be excited about. He will be the first head coach to coach at Georgia State’s brand new arena at Turner Field. He will also inherit a very talented football squad that will be returning All-Sun Belt honorable mention team member cornerback Chandon Sullivan, tight end Ari Werts and a stable of wide receivers. Spring practice is Coach Elliott’s first chance to see their on-field abilities, but he is also looking to see other things about this team.
“I want to find out how mentally tough they are and how physically tough they are,” Coach Elliott said.
Spring practice is sure to help him figure those things out. The Georgia heat combined with the team competition will test everybody’s toughness, and those who rise above the rest will be the ones on the field. However, Coach Elliott was very coy when it came to discussing the biggest position battles.
“We have 22 of them going on,” Said Coach Elliott. “Everyone is out here practicing trying to get better, we’re not battling, we’re not worried about that.”
It is something he might have to start worrying about soon, especially on the offensive side. Coach Elliott will also have to address the never-ending struggles of running back, but he doesn’t think it’ll be too hard of a fix.
“It’s called practicing,” Said Coach Elliott. “It’s about running it over and over again and implanting schemes. You gotta’ do what you’re O-line is good at, and that’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Offensive line is a position that Coach Elliott is very familiar with. He was the O-Line coach back at South Carolina, and just off the first few days of practice, he already has high praise for Georgia State’s offensive linemen.
“There’s some athleticism here that we can work with, and they work extremely hard,” Coach Elliott said. “They show up every day for practice, and they haven’t left, so that’s a really good thing.”
Coach Elliott and the Panthers have just under a month of spring practice left, which is more than ample time for him to get a feel of his new roster. The spring game will take place on April.