Game 3 Preview: Western Michigan
After treating their home faithful to a home opener win against the Furman Paladins, the Georgia State Panthers (2-0) head back on the road to Kalamazoo, Michigan to take on the Western Michigan Broncos (1-1). In last year’s contest at Georgia State Stadium, the Panthers fell 34-15 to the Broncos.
Western Michigan returns home looking to bounce back after dropping their last game 51-17 to Michigan State. While not much can be taken from the Broncos’ loss in East Lansing, the Broncos will be looking to return to the win column as they continue their out of conference schedule. It will be no secret what the Broncos want to do offensively. The key to the Broncos offense is the gunslinging play of senior quarterback Jon Wassink. After a rash of transfers left the Broncos with question marks at their pass catching positions, Wassink has found two very capable pass catchers in DaShon Bussell and Giovanni Ricci, both of whom have eclipsed 150 receiving yards in just two games. Wassink has also completed a pass to 12 different Broncos.
While senior running back LeVante Bellamy is a more than capable runner he has yet to crack 100-yards rushing on the season. Protecting Wassink is NFL prospect right guard Luke Juriga, who is coming off a Mid-American Conference first-team all-conference selection. Juriga leads an offensive line that is looking to improve this week after giving up 3 sacks to the Spartan defense a week ago. For the Panthers to stop the Bronco offense, it will be important to win the battle at the line of scrimmage against Juriga.
The Broncos defense might not be the best unit in the country, but they did return eight starters from their 2018 campaign and are led by senior linebacker Drake Spears, who will look to help contain the Panthers ground game. It will be important for Georgia State’s offensive line to find a way to stop edge rusher Timothy Collins, who leads the Broncos in tackles for loss and is tied for the team lead in sacks. Collins forms a dynamic duo with senior defensive tackle Ralph Holley, and although Holley has not shown up in the stat sheet much through the first two games, he is coming off a 7-sack campaign in 2018 and is always a threat to hit the quarterback.
By and large, Saturday’s game couldn’t be more different than the first installment between these teams in Georgia State Stadium last September. Broncos head coach Tim Lester referred to the Panthers as “dynamic,” saying, “It’s the same team we played last year, but they’re playing with unbelievable confidence.” For Georgia State to continue their winning ways, it will come down to just how well Dan Ellington can keep the Western Michigan defense off-balance and how much the Panther secondary can improve on its shaky performance against Furman.