Panthers face undefeated Jacksonville State

Photo Credit - Georgia State Athletics

The Panthers are back at home Saturday to face the undefeated Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

This will be the third meeting between the schools.

Jacksonville State leads the series 2-0, winning games at home and on the road in Atlanta.

The Gamecocks are under the new direction of head coach Bill Clark.

Clark was the defensive coordinator at South Alabama, a team Georgia State lost to in 2010, but defeated in double-overtime in 2011.

The Gamecocks travel to Atlanta after a double-overtime victory over FCS No. 22 North Alabama 24-21.

The Gamecocks’ junior kicker Griffin Thomas knocked in the 20-yard game-winning field goal, giving him his third game-winning kick in the past two seasons.

Thomas was named The Sports Network National Special Teams Player of the Week.

The Gamecocks running quartet of Troymaine Pope, Miles Jones, Eli Jenkins and DaMarcus James come to Atlanta two games after their record-setting game against Jacksonville University where they ran for a combined 539-yards, each running more than 100-yards individually.

Pope came out ahead of the group in touchdowns with three against Jacksonville.

He has four touchdowns this season.

Meanwhile, Panthers head coach Trent Miles had a tough start to his season going 0-3.

The Panthers struggle offensively averaging 329-yards per game.

“They will come in here big and strong and fast, and we’ll have to find a way to commitment,” Panthers head coach Trent Miles said on Jacksonville State.

Georgia State is led by sophomore quarterback Ronnie Bell who threw for a career high 391-yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Samford.

However, Bell has struggled to get over 100-yards passing and any touchdowns in the games against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga or West Virginia University.

Miles said second-year quarterback Ben McLane would be getting more reps this week in practice, but said Bell would still be starter.

McLane has played in the fourth quarters against Chattanooga and West Virginia throwing two touchdowns and 185-yards.

“[Bell’s] got to perform in practice. I’m a guy that believes you’ve got to practice well,” Miles said.

In addition, the Panthers hope to continue on their recent improvement in the running game.

The Panthers rushed for 112-yards combined in the games against Samford and Chattanooga, but then were able to rush 136-yards against West Virginia.

Running back Travis Evans ran for 118-yards against the Mountaineers, his first 100-yard rushing game in his collegiate career.

Bell and Evans will stand behind an offensive line that continues to change.

Mark Ruskell may play at center Saturday, according to Miles, as he tries to come back from a knee injury.

“We’re going to get Mark Ruskell back. He’s been practicing more and more each day,” Miles said.

Miles was still making some changes to the line in practice this week.

“We’re tweaking whether or not we’re going to be playing Brandon Pertile at guard. Yesterday, we moved Brandon Pertile out to tackle and moved A.J. Kaplan into guard because that’s A.J. Kaplan’s natural spot,” Miles said.

In the game against West Virginia, Kaplan started at right-tackle and Pertile at right-guard. It was Pertile’s first career start.

The game kickoff at 2 p.m. in the Georgia Dome and will be broadcasted on ESPN3.