2020 Game 6 Preview: Louisiana Monroe

2020 Game 6 Preview: Louisiana Monroe

The Panthers will look to put last week’s historically poor performance against Coastal Carolina behind them today when they welcome the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks to Center Parc Stadium. Photo: Jordan Crawford for THERSdayNight.com

The Georgia State Panthers (2-3, 1-3 in Sun Belt) will continue their two-week home stand as they welcome the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (0-7, 0-4 in Sun Belt) to start their November slate. The Panthers will look to get back on track after an embarrassing 51-0 loss to the nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina Chanticleers last week at Center Parc Stadium. The Warhawks head to Atlanta fresh off their seventh straight defeat of 2020, falling to the Appalachian State Mountaineers at home 31-13. 

The Warhawks are having a rough go of it in 2020 under beleaguered fifth-year head coach Matt Viator. Viator and the Warhawks are still looking for their first win of the season and will remain under the typical threshold for bowl eligibility for the fourth time in five seasons. While it is not all on Viator, the football team has yet to contend in the Sun Belt West and are in jeopardy of finishing in last place in the division. It’s no surprise as to why the team is struggling – the Warhawks have had the worst offense in the Sun Belt, averaging only 14 points a game through 7 contests. Defensively, the Warhawks are slightly better in the conference, where they rank 7th – ahead of Georgia State – giving up around 36 a game. 

Offensively, the Warhawks lean on sophomore QB Colby Suits’s arm to move the ball. Suits’s passes have accounted for 79% of the Warhawks offensive production this season, and that is likely where they will look to attack the Panthers. Suits has had an up-and-down season in that regard, failing to register 200 passing yards in 4 games this season, and in 2 other games passing for over 325 yards. On defense, the Panthers have to start affecting opposing QBs and slowing opposing receivers down. Suits and Co should be a prime target for some relentless Panther pressure. Behind Suits is a group of running backs that have yet to find their traction on the ground this season. The Warhawks have yet to cross the century mark in a game this year and their leading rusher Josh Johnson’s season high is only 51 yards. The Panthers defense can’t forget about Johnson, but their previous success in stopping the run should render his success minimal. 

Up front for the Warhawks are a group of pass rushers that have done a decent job at getting to opposing QBs. Their team leader in sacks, Ivin White Jr, entered the transfer portal a couple of weeks back, but Ty Shelby has 2 to his name – part of his team-leading 6 tackles for loss. Although the Panthers’ offensive line played poorly against the Chanticleers, it will be important for them to return to form and stop Shelby from living in the GSU backfield. The Warhawks have hauled in an interception in each of their last three games, and sophomore DB Josh Newton will be one for Georgia State QB Quad Brown to watch. The sophomore has been a key player for the Warhawks secondary the past few weeks and is capable of making life hard for any QB who can not locate him on the field. 

After starting the season well, last week was the first time Panther fans have seen Quad struggle. The Chanticleers made Quad look like a freshman and completely shut down the Panthers’ prolific offense. The Warhawks do not present as much of a challenge defensively for the Panthers, but it would be nice to see Quad shake off the bad juju from the Coastal Carolina loss and put together a good game. If the Panthers are going to get back on track, it will start with dominating the line of scrimmage and getting the running game going. A minimum of 150 yards on the ground should be enough to calm Panthers fans’ fears about the OL cracking as this season goes on. This shouldn’t be a problem for RBs Destin Coates, Tucker Gregg and Jam Williams. Once the run game is established, Quad has to find a way to spread the ball around. It has become apparent that the redshirt freshman is missing a great security blanket in Cornelius McCoy, and when teams take away his #1 option Sam Pinckney, Brown has had a tendency to force the issue and make mistakes. McCoy has missed the previous three contests due to injury but is expected back at some point this season. 

Not much went right for the Panthers on defense last week, and if that type of performance continues, it will remain hard to win games. The front seven will hopefully find ways to get  after Suits and live in the Warhawks backfield after registering few TFLs or impact plays against the Chanticleers. The GSU secondary was torched again – and while the Warhawks will throw the ball, this would present a great opportunity for the Panthers defenders to show their real talent level. The talent in the secondary is there – the past few weeks, the execution has not been. Finding ways to disrupt Suits and his receivers and secure an interception or two should come in handy in the quest to stop the Warhawks.

No game should be taken for granted, but the Panthers have been given a golden opportunity to get back on track after last week’s beatdown. Kickoff is today at 12pm from Center Parc Stadium, or on ESPNU for those watching at home.

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