The Orlando Sentinel’s college insider Matt Murschel has ranked all 125 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country entering the 2013 season. The Sentinel staff will take a closer look at a new team daily, counting backward from No. 125 to our projected No. 1 team.
Today at No. 125: Georgia State
Coach: Trent Miles (0-0, first season; 20-36 overall)
2012 record: 1-10 (1-7 in Colonial Athletic Conference)
Look back: Georgia State, which is based in Atlanta, is poised to begin its final season transitioning to the Football Bowl Subdivision level. In 2006, school leaders determined it could field a successful football program for $3.1 million a year. Bill Curry, who previously coached Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky, took over coaching the program 2008 and retired at the end of the 2012 season. The Panthers competed in the Football Championship Subdivision Colonial Athletic Association in 2012 and are moving to the Football Bowl Subdivision Sun Belt Conference in 2013.
Georgia State went 6-5 during the 2010 season and 3-8 during the 2011 season, then took a dip with a 1-10 record in 2012. The team struggled on both sides of the ball. Georgia State averaged 17.4 points per game and allowed opponents to score 38.5 points per game. The Panthers scored just 69 percent of the time they red zone and recorded touchdowns 45 percent of the time.
Albert Wilson has been the biggest playmaker for the Panthers. He earned first All-Colonial Athletic Conference and CAA special teams player of the year honors. Wilson has recorded 104 career receptions for 2,013 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has averaged 19.4 yards per catch. He also has averaged 25.1 yards per kickoff return. Wilson led Georgia State in scoring last season, racking up eight all-purpose touchdowns.
Offensive starters returning: 7
Offensive starters lost: 4
Defensive starters returning: 7
Defensive starters lost: 4
Key losses: RB Donald Russell, TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi, LB Akeen Felder, S D'MArio Gunn, S Demazio Skelton
Top returnees: WR/KR Albert Wilson, WR Danny Williams, DT Terrance Woodard, LB Joseph Peterson, P Matt Hubbard
Strengths: Georgia State returns 14 total starters, including a key all-purpose threat in Wilson. The team also brings back punter Matt Hubbard, who earned second team All-CAA honors last season after averaging 43.1 yards per punt. Defensive tackle Terrance Woodard and linebacker Joseph Peterson will anchor the defense. Woodard had a team-high 49 tackles, two tackles for a loss, two pass breakups, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery in 2012. Peterson had 47 tackles, one tackle for a loss and forced two fumbles.
Weaknesses: Georgia State is adapting to a new coach, with Trent Miles taking over the program. Miles’ coaching staff tried install many new schemes during spring practice, but the process was hindered a bit by injuries and lack of depth. The Panthers wrapped up the spring without settling its starting quarterback battle, which can be a big challenge for offseason offensive development. Ben McLane, who started nine games last season, is fighting Georgia Military College transfer Clay Chastain and 2012 reserve quarterback Ronnie Bell for the starting job.
Outlook: The first year of playing a full FBS schedule tends to be brutal and there are no signs the trend will be any different for Georgia State. In addition to facing Sun Belt teams that scored big wins in 2012, the Panthers’ schedule includes tough games at West Virginia and Alabama.
Aug. 30: Samford
Sept. 7: Chattanooga
Sept. 14: At West Virginia
Sept. 21: Jacksonville State
Oct. 5: At Alabama
Oct. 12: Troy
Oct. 19: At Texas State
Oct. 26: At Louisiana-Monroe
Nov. 2: Western Kentucky
Nov. 16: Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 23: at Arkansas State
Nov. 30: South Alabama
Visit orlandosentinel.com/collegegridiron365 daily to view the latest teams featured during the countdown.