WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 05; TBA
WHERE: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosa, AL)
LAST SEASON: 1-10 (1-7 Colonial Athletic Association, last place in CAA)
CURRENT PRESEASON RANKING: consensus – unranked (1st year in FBS)
CURRENT BETTING LINE: Alabama by 52
RADIO: local radio stations listed here
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama leads the series 1-0. (Only meeting: 63-7 Alabama in 2010)
Fresh off the heels of the SEC battle with Ole Miss, Alabama heads into October 5th with a break from the SEC schedule at home against the newest Sun Belt addition, the Georgia State Panthers.
Let’s be honest; this game will likely be a rout and that’s the way it should be. Georgia State is coming off a 1-10 record in 2012 with the only win of the season coming against FCS school Rhode Island. The last time Alabama met Georgia State (and the only time) in 2010 Alabama won 63-7.
With that said, former Alabama head coach, and the man that was behind the birth of the GSU football program, Bill Curry retired after last season and has been replaced by former Indiana State coach Trent Miles. Miles compiled a 20-36 record at the FCS Indiana State and was the 2010 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year.
OFFENSE: Former Boston College head coach Jeff Jagodzinski takes over the Georgia State offense and inherits a rushing game that averaged just 3.4 yards per rush in 2012. The passing game didn’t fare much better as GSU’s QBs combined for just 2,237 yards passing and 14 TDs compared to 23 INTs. Sophomore Ben McLane started nine games last year and led the team with 1,592 yards and 10 TDs with 11 INTs, completing 50.7 percent of his passes (139-274). The much bigger (6-foot-4, 215 lbs) Military College transfer Clay Chastain may have the best shot at unseating McLane as the starter.
Regardless of who is at QB they will have the benefit of having the entire starting offensive line back; the same O-line that gave up 28 sacks last year (which would have put them at No. 82 in sacks allowed in 2012 in the FBS), as Alabama’s massive defensive line and linebackers come barreling down on him.
GSU’s top playmaker at the skill positions is wide receiver Albert Wilson, easily the most dynamic player on the team. The speedy Wilson caught 48 passes for 947 yards and seven TDs last year, and the closest receiver to him had just 282 yards and three touchdowns.
Wilson is also a blazing return man, averaging nearly 26 yards a kickoff return last season with a 100 yard kickoff return for a score. He also averaged nearly 10 yards per punt return. As a receiver, Wilson is most deadly going deep (his longest catch in 2012 was 93 yards) but with a pass rush that will likely be bring heat on GSU’s QB’s all day, their game plan will more likely try and get the ball in Wilson’s hands quickly on screens, end arounds, and/or reverses. Alabama corner Deion Belue will likely be the DB called on to keep track of wherever Wilson lines up as the only player Georgia State has that would likely worry Alabama coaches.
Georgia State’s top rusher from 2012, Donald Russell, is gone and only one returning back had over 300 yards rushing in 2012.
DEFENSE: Defensively the Panthers allowed 470.1 total yards per game in 2012 and over 38 points per game to GSU opponents. Opponents averaged over 5 yards per rush and scored 27 rushing TDs while also completing 62 percent of passes thrown and 26 more TDs through the air. What that means for this game will likely be a steady dose of T.J. Yeldon and the Alabama running game.
The most likely outcome here is a very vanilla offensive attack from Alabama, with a pounding rushing attack with a few play action passes thrown in to keep GSU guessing. Defensively Alabama will be bringing the heat on GSU quarterbacks, while GSU attempts to sting Bama with quick screens and draws. But the speed of Alabama’s LBs and DBs will negate this. It should be a runaway by halftime with plenty of backups and freshmen getting playing time in the second half.