2014 College Football Preview: Georgia State Panthers
Linebacker Joseph Peterson will carry a massive burden for Georgia State (Paul Abell / Abell Images)

Georgia State continues their young football life in 2014. The team has only played four seasons from 2010 through 2013. Bill Curry coached the Panthers through their first three seasons before Trent Miles became head coach for the 2013 season. The Panthers played smaller schools in 2010 and finished with a record of 6-5. In 2011, the Panthers played some smaller schools as well and they ended up with a 3-8 record. 2012 was spent in the FCS and the Colonial Athletic Association where they struggled to a 1-10 record. The learning curve of moving to the FBS can be steep depending on a variety of factors, as noted in this article. Let's go back and look at how Georgia State did in 2013.

2013 Georgia State Season

Georgia State played in the Sun Belt in their first season and things did not go well at all. They opened with back-to-back FCS opponents Samford and Chattanooga, both of which were losses. They went on the road to West Virginia and lost by 34 points before another FCS opponent came to town in Jacksonville State. Georgia State lost in overtime to the Gamecocks 32-26, before facing #1 Alabama in their fifth game. Georgia State lost 45-3 to the Tide. Georgia State had a chance for a victory against Arkansas State, but failed on a 2 point conversion late in the game and lost 35-33. The Panthers finished the season winless (0-12).

Here are the results for Georgia State in 2013:

Offense

2014 looks to be a rebuilding year on offense for the Panthers. The Panthers return five starters on offense. They do return their starting quarterback in Ronnie Bell, but he will be battling with Nick Arbuckle for the starting spot. Neither of them will have the services of the top receiver from 2013, Albert Wilson. Wilson had 71 receptions for 1,177 yards and eight touchdowns. It will be hard to replace his production, but the go to guy will become Robert Davis. Davis had 44 catches for 711 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.

Georgia State also lost their leading rusher in Travis Evans. However, the loss is minimal as he only gained 405 yards with three touchdowns on the ground. The second leading rusher, Jonathan Jean-Bart, returns to bolster the backfield and the Panthers have Kyler Neal as well.

The Panthers will have to replace three of their starters on the offensive line with center Taylor Evans and Left Guard AJ Kaplan the only holdovers from last season. The line will have to gel to give either Arbuckle or Bell a chance to throw the ball.

Defense

The Georgia State defense was awful in 2013. They gave up an average of 36.7 points and 467 yards per game. In fact, those numbers were only slightly better than in 2012 when they played in the FCS (38.5 points and 470 yards per game). The Panthers play a 3-4 defense and will have two starters to replace on the front line. The three starters are projected to be sophomores, but have Kentucky transfer Nermin Delic to help shore up the front line.

Joseph Peterson will be the main guy for Georgia State on defense. He plays in one of the inside linebacker spots in this 3-4 scheme and will be flying around the field. Peterson had 103 tackles last season, which was 26 more than the next person, Tarris Batiste. Still, he will have help from fellow returning linebacker Mackendy Cheridor who will take up an outside linebacker role.

The secondary for Georgia State will be headed up by Tarris Batiste. As mentioned above, he had 77 tackles including 9.5 for a loss with an interception as well. Another Kentucky transfer, Marcus Caffey, will help him out. Caffey was a running back in high school and was ruled academically ineligible for 2012 at Kentucky. This group looks to be inexperienced overall and will need some help from the front seven.

Special Teams

The good news for Georgia State is they return both their kicker and punter from 2013. Wil Lutz is the kicker and he was solid in 2013. He made 8 of 12 field goals with a long of 53 yards while also having the kickoff duties. Matt Hubbard is the punter and will end up being an asset for the Panthers. He had 78 punts in 2013 with an average of 42 yards with 16 inside the 20.

2014 Season Outlook

2014 will be another long year for Georgia State. They not ready to make any serious noise in the Sun Belt as they do not have the talent to compete with the rest of the schools. They have a tough schedule, which includes road trips to Washington and Clemson. Here is the schedule for the Panthers:

The best chance for wins would be against Abilene Christian, New Mexico State, and Appalachian State. Even the latter two may be stretching it as they have better overall teams than the Panthers. Still, the Panthers can expect to improve over last year's squad as they look to continue to build their program.

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