Gameday: USA vs Georgia State
South Alabama will face another new Sun Belt member in Georgia State today. However, GSU is not an unfamiliar foe as they started their football programs a year apart and the Panthers, then coached by Bill Curry, received lots of press coverage due to his affiliation with ESPN as a broadcaster prior to returning to the coaching ranks.
Curry retired after the 2012 season and Trent Miles was hired as his replacement and his first season at the helm has not gone very well. The Panthers are 0-11 going into their final game of the season attempting to avoid a winless season. And what a way to get their first win of the season by getting it on Senior Day in the Georgia Dome.
GSU ranks last in the conference in nine categories (scoring offense, rushing offense, rushing defense, kickoff converage, sacks, sacks allowed, opponent’s third-down conversions, opponent’s penalties and time of possession). They are seventh out of eight in 10 other categories.
However, the last few games have seen the Panthers come close against their competition as they played Troy very tough and held a sizable lead on Arkansas State early but a missed two-point conversion was the difference in the game.
GSU’s Albert Wilson is the player to watch for the Panthers. He is first in the Conference in receiving yards per game (97.8), is tied for first in receptions per game (5.9), is second in all-purpose yards per game (192.3), fifth in punt return average (6.1) and fifth in kickoff return average (23.5).
Head coach Joey Jones has said that the Pathers have improved from the beginning of the year till now. Looking at the film, they can tell they will be playing a better team than the numbers indication on the surface.
South Alabama enters the game with a 4-6 record overall and 2-3 record in Sun Belt play. The Jags need this game to keep their hopes alive for bowl eligibility.
USA played probably their best game of the season so far against Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday. They played consistent throughout the game from the beginning to the end and the defense recorded a school-record nine sacks.
The South Alabama defense will have to stay close to Albert Wilson and limit his big-play ability that can change a game in an instant. Conversely, USA relies on Shavarez Smith’s big play ability to do the same thing for the Jags.
If the Jags get off to a fast start will that cause Georgia State to fold in their season finale? Doubtful since it is Senior Day, but the Jags have historically done much better if they get off to an early start.
Will last week’s game be the trend for the rest of the season? We will see beginning at 1pm CST when the Jags and the Panthers kick off in the Georgia Dome.
WNSP.com and 105.5FM WNSP will be airing the game live with play-by-play by the long-time voice of the Jaguars Lee Shirvanian and color analysis by Rick Cleveland. Video of the game can be seen on ESPN3.com as well.