Game Preview: Georgia State
Jon Gross, Jason Marcus, Ben Jenkins and Sarah Sutnick examine Penn State's matchup against the Georgia State Panthers.
1.2 million dollars. That is the price tag of playing the Georgia State Panthers under the lights in Happy Valley this weekend, as Penn State looks to knock the rust off one more time before going into Big Ten play against Iowa.
An unusual setting for the Nittany Lions, the revered night game in Beaver Stadium is reserved for the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and other big-time opponents in the thick of the season. However, Big Ten Network has chosen Penn State this week as its primetime game with kickoff at 7:30.
Penn State is coming off a solid performance against the Panthers of Pittsburgh, winning handily, 33-14. However, that win didn’t come without some offensive struggles. Though Penn State was able to put it together towards the end of the game to pull away for the win, they lost the stat battle in total offense, time of possession, and first downs.
Now, Georgia State is not Pitt, but the Nittany Lions need to use this final non-conference matchup in order to improve on those stats, and get ready for Big Ten play. 312 yards of offense may not be enough to beat better teams going down the stretch.
Head Coach Shawn Elliot and his crew are in for a monster of test this week, going up against the two-headed beast of a backfield that is Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley
The two offensive spark plugs have been major contributing factors in the team’s first two wins this year. McSorley has thrown two touchdowns in each of his first two games, while Saquon Barkley has averaged over six yards a carry in each of his first two competitions. He rushed for 12.3 yards per rush against Akron and 6.3 yards per rush against a more stout Pittsburgh defense.
However, the Georgia State Panthers do bring some disruptive defensive players to the table that have the chance to give Penn State some issues early on. Georgia State is going to challenge Penn State to run the ball at them because of their star corners in Chandon Sullivan and Jerome Smith.
The pair led a pass defense that allowed the least passing yards in their conference (Sun Belt) last season. The defense also led the conference in yards per play at 4.91 yards on average. Though the numbers aren’t great for the team, the defense is clearly the unit Coach Elliot will lean on the most in order to keep this game close.
In order to have success in the passing game, the wide receivers are going to have to use their size advantage on these smaller cornerbacks when jump balls are on the line, as well as executing good run blocking to prevent any secondary run support.
Penn State will bring in a defensive unit of its own that has been stellar so far, this year, only allowing two touchdowns in two games thus far. The defensive line is going to be a big part of Coach Brent Pry’s game plan this week because of the lack of experience the Panthers bring to Happy Valley on their side of the trench.
Georgia State will start two freshmen in Pat Bartlett and Shamarious Gilmore, both at guard. The defensive front had five sacks against a much more proven and experienced offensive line last week, so this Georgia State front should be in for a rough night.
Many Penn State fans may be confused by the scheduling of this game, but the Nittany Lions need to have their helmets strapped on tight as they get one final chance to polish their game before the tough competition begins.
Travis Sutton is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications. To contact, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism, International Politics
Jon Gross is a senior from Upper Saddle River, New Jersey double-majoring in broadcast journalism and International Politics. Gross currently serves as a Sports Director for Penn State’s CommRadio, where he has also broadcasted for ten Penn State sports teams. During the summer of 2018, Gross was the Director of Broadcasting for the Saugerties Stallions of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. He was also the radio play-by-play voice of the Penn State Women’s Volleyball team for the 2017 season. Gross has interned in the sports departments of WCBS-TV (New York) and WTAJ-TV (Altoona-Johnstown-State College).
Junior / Telecommunications