The biggest questions facing Georgia State football ahead of Saturday

The team is bringing in the best-recruited class in the program’s history and is bringing back 22 starters from last year. Photo by Harry Wyman | The Signal

The start of the regular season for the Georgia State football team is only weeks away. Last year, the Panthers went 6-4 and capped off their season with a 39-21 win against Western Kentucky in the LendingTree Bowl

This year, the Panthers face the most challenging schedule in the team’s history, including non-conference opponents in North Carolina, Auburn, Army and Charlotte. Also, the team will have to face ranked conference foes such as No. 23 Louisiana and last year’s conference champions, No. 22 Coastal Carolina. 

With the new season being only weeks away, the Panthers face many questions heading into the season. The most pressing question from many fans is whether the Panthers’ offense can outperform last year. 

All 11 starters from the offensive unit are returning this year from a team that ranked 32nd in points per game last year. They scored at least 30 points in 8 out of 10 games and averaged 33.3 on the year. The Panthers had three running-backs who averaged four yards per carrying in Destin Coates, Tucker Gregg and Jamyest Williams. 

Sam Pinckney had 815 passing yards with seven touchdowns, Cornelius McCoy had 447 yards in seven games and Roger Carter had 285 yards with four touchdowns. 

However, can the offense repeat that same success? 

Success could be hampered this upcoming season when facing the likes of Auburn, who only allowed 24.7 points, North Carolina, who allowed 29.7 and Army, whose 14.8 points allowed, ranked second in the nation last season. Many fans are also curious about the rise of Cornelious “Quad” Brown. 

Brown’s well-rounded redshirt freshman year saw him put up throw for 2,278 yards and 17 touchdowns to ten interceptions, which was top-10 in the NCAA. The former redshirt sophomore has a chance to improve his totals from last year and lead the Panthers to its first Sun Belt Conference championship in program history. 

Transfers have also become a subject of serious debate. This past spring, the Panthers added three transfers in linebacker Shamar McCollum, wide receiver Ja’Cyais Credle and quarterback Darren Grainger. 

With Brown IV named the starting quarterback, it is hard to see Granger playing a massive role as quarterback himself, but that does not mean we won’t see him on the field this upcoming season. Credle, a former all-state receiver at Carver-Columbus high school, only caught eight passes for 76 yards in his one season at Central Florida. 

“Credle is a big-time talent. He’s going to fit in there and has an opportunity to help us immediately. His ball skills are off the chart, similar to Pinckney,” Elliott told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

McCollum, a transfer from Wake Forest, has a chance to contribute immediately for the Panthers. He will be joining a pass rush that had 32 total sacks last year. 

“He’s going to come in and put pressure on the quarterback immediately,” Elliott said. 

Players, Coaches and Staff safety on the playing field is the number one priority. Photo by Harry Wyman | The Signal

Many fans have also wondered about the status of the team’s defense. Last year the Panthers defense gave up an average of 31.7 points per game, 79th best in the country. 

The team allowed 1,368 rushing yards on 3.9 yards per carry with 18 rushing touchdowns. The team also allowed 2,743 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns. 

The number one problem with the Panther’s defense last year was the number of penalties they accumulated throughout the season. Last year the team had 55 penalties, including 10 in a 52-59 loss against Arkansas State. 

The team will look for the defense to step up, lead the way and clean up the sloppy play from last year. Still, one question looms over everything, is the team good enough to win the Sun Belt Championship?

The Panthers enter this season looking as strong as ever. The team is bringing in the best-recruited class in the program’s history and is bringing back 22 starters from last year. 

Still, will that be enough? The Panthers have a 5% chance of winning the Sun Belt due to its demanding schedule and how good the rest of the conference looks. 

During Sun Belt Conference Media Day, Elliott made his intentions for this season clear. 

“Let’s go push for a Sun Belt Championship,” Elliott said. “We feel like we have the talent, we feel like we have the players, I think our coaching staff is phenomenal, and I think we have the ability to go out and compete.”