In three games the Panthers have seen three losses, which puts the team in a position searching for a victory and more consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The team is coming off of its best performance of the season, but there are still some question marks that remain. Although there are no moral victories in sports, Georgia State is encouraged with the way they played against then-No. 9 Wisconsin.
“We played very well as a unit, our offense, our defense played very well, our special teams played better than they had in the previous few weeks, so there’s a lot to build on and that’s the biggest thing obviously, and there’s nothing more frustrating than a loss, but the good thing is that we have a lot of good stuff that we can learn from,” safety Bobby Baker said.
What Baker said was true, the team did play better against Wisconsin, but it was one game, and there are still some questions that need to be answered. One is the running game. This season, Panthers running backs have rushed for a combined 107 yards on 45 carries, which is an average of 2.3 yards per carry. They also combined for two touchdowns on the season. quarterback Aaron Winchester is the team’s leading rusher with 58 yards. Kyler Neal leads the running backs with 45 yards and one touchdown. The other touchdown belongs to fellow running back Kendrick Dorn.
“Just more attempts we need more opportunities to get out there and run the ball, the more attempts we’ll do,” Dorn said.
Glenn Smith started the season as the starter, but he splits time as a wide receiver as well. There is just a huge lack of consistency with the running back position as a whole, and right now finding the consistency is the biggest key.
The other big question mark is the quarterback position. Conner Manning had his best performance of the season against Wisconsin where he completed 20 of 29 passes. He also threw for 269 yards and one touchdown. However, Manning’s playing performance isn’t his only concern on the field.
“I need to be more vocal on and off the field with this team, you know with some of the guys a little banged up we just had to step up more, some certain guys, and for me just step up more vocally as a leader,” Manning said.
Although Manning performed well in the game, the team still didn’t win, so it will be interesting to see how long the coaching staff decision to go with him as the starter if it does not result in wins for the team.
Luckily for the Panthers, only three of their next eight opponent’s rank in the top six of total defense in the conference. Those teams are Troy, Georgia Southern and South Alabama. Georgia Southern and Troy are one and two respectively, but the Panthers have some time until they face those opponents.
Nothing is impossible as we witnessed against Wisconsin because they almost pulled off the upset as 35 point underdogs. But if they want to do well the rest of the way they will need to answered the questions at both running back, and quarterback.