Georgia States dynamic rushing attack

Photo by Trent Legaspi | The Signal

The 2022 Georgia State Panthers have had a rough start to the season. They are 3-5 to begin the year but have gutted out the most challenging part of their schedule and are 2-2 in conference play. The Panthers go as far as their dynamic rushing game duo takes them. The Panthers have rushed for over 200 yards in all three of its wins this season.

They are at their best when the whole stable of weapons in the backfield is rotating and getting multiple touches. The backfield is loaded with talent. Tucker Gregg and Jaymest Williams are among the best one-two punches in the nation, but quarterback Darren Grainger’s ability to use his legs has earned him an honorary spot in the running backs room.

“I’m glad to be a part of that group, they make big plays, and I just want to make big plays for the team, so just to be considered in both of those groups is fun,” Darren Grainger said. “Having a bunch of carries just like them. It is always fun just to go out there and try to win.” 

The three rushing threats make it almost impossible for an opposing defense to key in on one guy. The rushing game, paired with the play-action passing game that the Panthers utilize, puts defensive coordinators in a blender.

They can stack the box to sell out for the run, but the Panthers have the talent at the quarterback position to make a defense pay for creeping up with play-action shots over the top of the secondary.

 It all starts with the ability to win the battle in the trenches, move the opposing front seven off the ball and create wide-open running lanes for the playmakers to work with. The Georgia state offensive line is at its best when they can go downhill and get to the defenders at the second level.

Tucker Gregg is the lead back for the Panthers. His relentless downhill rushing style makes him the perfect bell-cow back. His combination of toughness, speed and strength helps him carry a large workload. Gregg has 605 yards on 131 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry and eight touchdowns in just eight games this season. Gregg became the all-time rushing leader at Georgia State with 2,165 career rushing yards. He has been an integral part of the success of the Panthers program since he joined the team as a walk-on in 2018.

Jaymest Williams is the number two back on the depth chart, but the Panthers have two starting-caliber backs. Williams has 447 yards on 85 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and two touchdowns. Williams has the speed and shiftiness to create extra yardage and break off chunk plays. The Panthers have the luxury of possessing two dynamic running backs that can take over a game with their running style. The tandem of Gregg and Williams can handle a tremendous amount of carries per game. Georgia State needs workhorses like those two to run the offense the way the coaches envisioned it.

On top of their dominant one-two punch, the Panthers quarterback Darren Grainger is a serious threat with his legs and is a massive part of the success of the Panther’s rushing attack. Grainger has 513 yards on 105 carries, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and four touchdowns. He is the team’s second-leading rusher behind Gregg and is a true dual-threat quarterback. His prowess in the passing game and his elite speed and playmaking ability create so many different issues for opposing defenses.

The Panthers are looking for a late-season win streak to salvage their hopes of making a bowl game and ending the year with a winning record. The team has an increasing sense of hope within the locker room. Even though they are 3-5, the team is still .500 in conference play and has a much easier schedule to finish the year. They will look to emulate the 2021 season in which they won seven of their last eight games.