Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Georgia State - Bits of Real Panther

I will have a more complete analysis of Georgia State by the end of the week.  They will prove to be more formidable than the Campbell Camels were this past Saturday, as one reporter insists they're made from bits of real panther. 

60% of the time, it works EVERY time.

I am fortunate enough to have made the acquintance of Ben Moore, one of the editors of PantherTalk.com, and he has shared a vast amount of information about the Monarchs' opponent this weekend.  Below he answers our questions on what you can expect from the Panthers this season.

But first we have a couple house-cleaning items to address.  At the time of this post, former ODU pitching great Justin Verlander leads the AL in the pitchers' version of the triple crown - wins, ERA and strikeouts.  Fellow former ODU ace Daniel Hudson now has 15 wins to Verlanders' 21; Hudson has been part of the Diamondbacks' turnaround from the 2010 season.

Moving back to football, my first entry for the CAA Zone was published earlier this week.  In addition to my rundown of the game on this blog, you can get a few more insights in the article.  Similar to Ben Moore taking the time to answer my questions below, I returned the favor with him.  The article was posted on Panther Talk - you can get some of my thoughts on the upcoming game there.

Without further ado, here is valuable insight on the Panthers from Mr. Moore.

VBR Productions: In what area do you see the most improvement for Georgia State from the Alabama game to this season?  I don't mean necessarily an improvement in individual talent; I am referring more to strength and conditioning, players better understanding the schemes, player attitudes, etc.
Ben Moore: 
You nailed it.  We created an Assistant Athletic Director for Speed, Strength & Conditioning position this offseason and made a great hire grabbing Ben Pollard who had experience at Alabama, TCU and Texas A&M.  Coach Curry mentioned several times pre-Spring and during Spring practice that workouts were not organized enough and guys were not putting the work in. This may be one of the overlooked issues for a second year program:  We have 69 players (out of the 108) who are Sophomores or Freshman.  It was abundantly clear when the players reported for summer workouts who put the work in and who had not.  

Monarch fans should expect an improved Panthers roster in 2011.

During the next eight weeks, our players who put the work in, soared up the depth chart.  Many of our casual fans were surprised to see their favorite players from our inaugural season slated as backups or third string performers.  We spoke to Defensive Coordinator John Thompson and he mentioned that he experimented a good bit in 2010 because of lack of depth and youth at key positions.  This is not an issue with our offseason.  We upgraded significantly on the defensive side of the ball and those upgrades will likely be very apparent to ODU fans who saw the game in Norfolk last Fall.  
There is also a strong core group of Seniors who have pushed themselves extremely hard this offseason including four Senior offensive lineman and two Senior defensive lineman.  The team developed a saying of “Get Right or Get Left” that has resonated within the practice facility.
Thomas DeMarco guided the Monarchs to a 34-20 victory over Georgia State in 2010.
VBR: Speaking of schemes, last season the defense played a base 3-4 defense.  Is this still the team's base defense, and if not what can we expect to see?  Which players (new or returning) will help the run defense improve over last season?
 Moore: Yes.  We do play a hybrid 3-4 with multiple looks.  There are several packages where we will rotate 2 DT, 1 DE and bring a LB to the line of scrimmage.  We have upgraded our talent at LCB with D’Mario Gunn joining us in Spring from JUCO power Georgia Military College.  He is being allowed to play man coverage and allowing more defenders to be committed to the ball.  As you guys used Campbell as a warmup, we had one of our own in Division 2 Clark Atlanta.  Not including QB scrambles, we limited their running game to 66 yards on 24 carries in non-garbage time.  

This was critical after teams, including ODU, realized that our run defense was very poor and we missed a ton of tackles.  We’ve added two outstanding inside linebacker prospects in former Under Armor All American and University of Georgia signee Dexter Moody and JUCO transfer Qwontez Mallory.  Both are extremely athletic and active.  More importantly, both are sure tacklers.  

Another huge addition on the defensive line was former UConn weakside defensive end A.J. Portee who played in the Fiesta Bowl in January with the Huskies. This experience is invaluable and teams should not be able to line up 40 times per game and rip off 5 to 6 yard runs.

VBR: Last season Danny Williams was arguably the team's most productive skill-position player outside of quarterback.  Does he return as the offense's main threat?  I am aware of your two transfers (one RB, one TE) from Kentucky.  Have these two had sufficient time to integrate into the offense this early into the season?

Moore: WR Danny Williams is back along with WR Jordan Giles who is healthy after playing much of 2010 with a broken finger.  We are also very strong at TE with two big targets in Arthur ‘Bully’ Williams and Emmanuel Ogbuehi, who are fans fondly remember taking the first pass vs. Alabama last Fall 55 yards quieting more than 101,000 Tide fans.  The weapons are there, it just remains to be seen if our QB play can remain consistent after a tumultuous offseason.  

We did receive two transfers from Kentucky in RB Donald Russell and TE Alex Smith.  Russell is a Junior and once he got back into football shape (players who transfer out cannot use the team’s facilities) he quickly impressed the coaching staff.  Russell is a load at 5’11, 212lbs and has tremendous agility as witnessed in his 20 yard run for a TD on Friday night stepping out of two tackles including a devastating stiff arm on the 2 yard line.  Russell is a big time weapon catching passes out of the backfield and an excellent blocker.  He may not start on Saturday but will likely get the lion share of the carries.  

Smith is a likely back up this year and is still only a RS Freshman.  He, like Russell, was not in football shape and will be integrated slowly by the coaching staff into the offense.  I do not expect him to play vs. ODU on Saturday.

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