After the first three games, the Panthers are still looking for their first win of the season. They have played games against Ball State, Air Force and Wisconsin. In those three games the defense has struggled for for multiple reasons. Despite coming off of the best defensive performance of the season, the Panthers will have to continue to clean up some of their earlier-exposed defensive issues.
One of the major reasons for the defensive struggles is due to the fact that they have been on the field for an average of for an average of over 40 minutes per game.
“We’ve been on the field a lot, which is our own fault. We got to be able to get off the field better. We’ve got to do a better job up front at the line of scrimmage stopping the run. So really there’s a whole lot of things that we need to fix,” defensive coordinator Jesse Minter said.
Like Coach Minter mentioned the defense has struggled with getting off of the field. Opposing offenses are converting third downs at 54 percent, while that isn’t a terrible percentage it is one of the major reasons why they are struggling to get off of the field.
Along with that issue the defense is giving up 35 points per game. Unless you have an air raid offense designed to score tons of points, similar to Conner Manning’s Wisconsin performance, any team is going to struggle. The Panthers are also allowing an average of 493 yards per game, opponents are averaging 394.5 on the ground, and 98.5 through the air.
Things won’t get any easier for the Panthers as they begin conference play with a trip to Boone, North Carolina to square off against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Appalachian State is a good football team, and are similar to Wisconsin in the fact they control time of possession in games. They have the ball for over 33 minutes per game. The mountaineers after 430 yards per game, 207 of those come on the ground, while 146 come through the air.
A few weeks later the Panthers face another tough task as they travel to Troy to take on the Trojans. Troy is a tough team, as they fought with No. 2 ranked Clemson a few weeks ago. Troy averages 262.2 rushing yards per game, and 284.0 through the air. They also keep the ball for over 30 minutes per game.
“ We just have to pick it up, there is no excuse for it we’re not playing as well as we should be. We’re not stopping the run, but, luckily we get another opportunity to prove to the world what we’ve got,” cornerback Chandon Sullivan said.
The Panthers have shown spurts of good play. Georgia State’s first score of the season was a pick six courtesy of cornerback Jerome Smith. The unit forced two turnovers against the No. 9 team in the country. Still, consistency on the defensive side of the ball is key for another bowl season. Part of it does fall on the offense coming through with staying on the field longer, but the defense does have to do its job. Despite the rough start, the defense still has a chance to correct it mistakes, and get back into form.