Quarterback Conner Manning comes into his second year as presumably Georgia State’s starting quarterback with much optimism and confidence — essentials needed to carry out the duties of leading a Panthers team to a successful season.
It was a bit of a see-saw type of year for Manning last year.
At times, it seemed as if he lacked the poise to stand tall in the pocket once the opposing defense started to generate pressure — which contributed to him throwing 14 interceptions. On the other hand, Conner showed some flashes, making plays in resemblance of the infamous Manning brothers (Peyton and Eli). He threw for over 2,700 yards last year, despite missing two games due to a shoulder injury.
Manning also led the Sun Belt with 268.4 passing yards per game and tied for second with 16 touchdowns playing in 10 games.
Manning has the opportunity to accomplish what no other Georgia State quarterback has ever done. This preseason he was named to the watch list for the 2017 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award — a feat no quarterback in Georgia State history has accomplished.
Along from hopefully being the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Manning has some personal goals he wishes to achieve this year.
“I think it’s just making this offense better,” Manning said as to what his primary purpose is for this season. “The other is just to be a consistent anchor people can lean on each and every day. I mean, I gotta come out –I can’t have bad days — and if I do, I gotta be able to bounce back the next day and be able to help our team and help our offense take those next steps to getting better every day.
Manning also said that he hopes to guide his team to a bowl game and ultimately walk away victorious. Georgia State has never won a bowl game in its seven years of existence.
Below is a Q&A The Signal conducted with Manning in regards to the upcoming season:
The Signal: What are your thoughts on the new stadium?
Manning: It’s very exciting for this whole university, not just our football program. I haven’t seen it yet with the turf we haven’t been there in person, but I’ve seen pictures, and it’s absolutely beautiful. I know our whole team is very excited to be able to call that home for this entire university — not just ourselves.
The Signal: How would you grade your first season as the starting quarterback for Georgia State?
Manning: I’m my biggest critic, I would say, and I know there’s a lot of things last year that I needed to improve on — watching film, and you know, I took that personally on myself to elevate this offense and to elevate my play coming into this year. I’ve been very motivated and just looking forward to getting out there August 31.
The Signal: Obviously, you’re accustomed to personnel changes being that you transferred here from Utah. Speak about your mental preparation with being in a new offensive system and playing under a new head coach
Manning: The biggest thing that you have to do is buy into whatever the coach is saying. That was the biggest thing for me when coach Elliott and coach Trickett arrived it was — for the offense and the whole team to really buy into what they’re saying right away because they’re our coaches, they didn’t recruit us, but we gotta go. I felt like our transition as a team has been great. I’ve kinda been used to new offenses and clean slates and starting all over and learning from the top, and it’s my job to help relay information out throughout the offense.
The Signal: How’s your relationship with offensive coach [Travis] Trickett?
Manning: It’s a great relationship. He’s taught me things that I haven’t learned as a football player yet in my career, and I feel like he’s definitely gotten me better, and he pushes me every single day, and I feel like that’s the biggest thing. He doesn’t let me settle for anything, and he pushes me every day, and I’ve been grateful so far.
The Signal: Last year you had Robert Davis as your go-to guy, who have you developed that chemistry with this year in practice?
Manning: I think offensively for us it’s going to be more as a unit. Robert got a lot of the attention last year, and he saw a lot of the coverage, too. So, I think for us offensively this year it’s building a group – an entire group, and I’m very pleased with a lot of our younger guys who didn’t too much playing time – if any last year. They’re gonna play huge roles for us this year, and I feel like I’m very confident in those guys on the outside and it’s still the beginning of camp, and we can still keep building on this relationship and chemistry, but I’m very pleased so far.
The Signal: This is your last ride here at Georgia State, how do you want to be remembered as a Georgia State quarterback?
Manning: For me, it [will] hopefully lead our team to a first ever bowl victory. I think that’s one of my main goals. I don’t have too many personal goals; I just want to be able to lead this team to where we truly want to go, and I think one of those goals is to go to a bowl game and get a victory.