The THERSday After – Texas State

Free for all readers this week, here is our in-depth look at what happened when Georgia State hosted Texas State in Center Parc Stadium Saturday afternoon, full of notes, clips and milestones:

1st Quarter Observations

  • Texas State’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense was really bothering the Georgia State defense early on. On both of the first two scoring drives for the Bobcats, it got them down the field in big chunks.
  • The tempo also led to Texas State getting GSU defenders to jump offside multiple times in the 1st quarter when they changed their cadence and caught the defense expecting the snap to come after the first clap from the QB. It resulted in three penalties throughout the game, the first of which extended the Bobcats’ opening drive on a 3rd down.
  • On the other side of things, when the field got shorter close to and inside the red zone, the Panthers defense stepped up and made plays, maybe none more so than Antavious Lane’s PBU on 3rd down on the Bobcats’ second drive. It brought up 4th down and brought out the field goal unit for Texas State once more and kept it a one-score game.
  • Texas State had recovered a surprise onside kick in their previous game against Troy, and from the first kickoff the Bobcats lined up for, Georgia State had a group of guys set up right down the middle at the 10-yard mark that an onside kick is required to travel to. Needless to say, they weren’t going to let it happen in two straight games.
  • Maybe you can attribute the slow start for Georgia State’s offense to some bye week rust, but the offense also couldn’t advance past midfield on their opening drive against ULM either. And the second drive Georgia State had in this game largely resembled their successful second drive against ULM – which ended in the first of many touchdowns the Panthers had that evening – except for the fact that Darren Grainger fumbled at the TXST 38 to end this one early. 
  • This is a trend that goes back further than that, as Georgia State are so far scoreless on opening possessions in 2021. Something to watch in the coming weeks is the offense’s ability to get their game going from the start.
  • Even if it was lacking out of the gates, the urgency for the Panthers’ offense came in a big way on the 7-play, 99-yard drive that gave them a 7-6 lead on Jam Williams’ 18-yard TD run. 
  • This drive included a sequence of four straight screen passes to Terrance Dixon and Jamari Thrash. Three of the four were the same bubble screen. One thing Brad Glenn has shown is that he’ll run a play at you ad nauseum and make you adjust. They also did this with these bubble screens on the outside on the opening drive at Troy last season.
  • That led to this on Jam’s TD run: 

There’s just 5 Texas State defenders in the box (circled in red), as the two defenders circled in blue are too far from the A-gap Jam is going to run through between the left guard and the center. He hits the gap, everyone on the OL gets a hat on their man and Jam walks in untouched.

  • The 21-yard run Tucker Gregg picked up on that drive gave him 1,000 career rushing yards for his career at Georgia State. Finishing the day with 115 yards on the ground to give him 1,072 career rushing yards, he ended up just 4 yards behind Kelton Hill’s 8th-best tally in school history, a spot he likely makes his own next weekend at Georgia Southern.
  • Wasn’t aware offenses got untimed downs if there was a penalty on them to end a quarter, but Georgia State sure made it count with a 25-yard Darren Grainger run!

2nd Quarter Observations

  • Jamari Thrash is never going to have an easier touchdown than the one he scored against Auburn, but double-moving the corner covering him into another Atlanta-area ZIP code made this 35-yard TD fairly academic in the end.
  • Aside from the early woes against tempo, the other thing causing GSU’s defense to struggle in the first half was Brady McBride’s mobility and willingness to scramble. The defensive front was getting into the backfield, but either by design or by a smart rollout by McBride, he was sidestepping it and either taking off downfield or keeping the play alive long enough for a receiver to come open. This really came to haunt them on Texas State’s 2nd quarter TD drive, where McBride picked up two first downs and the eventual touchdown on running plays.
  • The Georgia State secondary got caught out on situational decisions too many times on 3rd-and-longs on Saturday. As an example, Texas State converted a 3rd-and-12 on their touchdown drive in the 2nd quarter when McBride hit Javen Banks right when he came out of his route, just past the sticks for a 14-yard gain. The ball was coming out quicker than they were anticipating and it led to the Bobcats getting six later in this drive as a result.
  • On the whole, Texas State’s receivers just had a good day when they got a catchable ball. They were crisp in their routes, shifty in space and fought that extra bit more to win in one-on-ones. At a certain point, you give credit and just try and clean it up for the next game.
  • Georgia State couldn’t put anything together on offense in the first half after their two scoring drives. It was an inconsistent half and a missed chance to grab a hold of the game with a touchdown on this side of the break and the possibility of another when receiving to start the second half, as they had done to perfection in their win at ULM.
  • But with that in mind, the play of the game for me was Jontrey Hunter’s sack of Brady McBride. It was a listless game where no one was taking full advantage to that point, the sort of game the 10.5-point underdog Bobcats would love to steal, and it happened just after Texas State had crossed midfield down 14-13, looking to retake the lead. Instead, Hunter burst through untouched and dropped McBride for a 17-yard loss, the drive stalled and, as it turned out, Texas State never got another good chance to get on top. Not to mention, it was just a great play.

3rd Quarter Observations

  • It was in fact Sam Pinckney who hauled in the 18-yard catch on the first play of the quarter and it was nice to see #15 back at it highpointing footballs. Guys like Jamari Thrash and Ja’Cyais Credle have held down the fort on the perimeter, but that catch – his only one of the game – was a nice reminder of the all-conference talent he has.
  • Fixing a problem I highlighted above, out of the halftime break, Georgia State started leaving Blake Carroll in the box as a QB spy for Brady McBride to account for his scramble-ability and largely kept his legs in check in the second half.
  • Darren’s going to want that deep shot back where he had Jamari Thrash running wide open for a touchdown. It was still a beautiful play-fake off of the bubble screen action that had killed Texas State earlier in the first half. Definitely don’t erase that play from the playbook, it’ll be there again.
  • If there’s a place on the field Coach Elliott won’t go for it on a 4th-and-1, we haven’t found it yet. This time, it was the GSU 42-yard-line and it took a second effort and reversal of field from Tucker Gregg, but he got 14 yards for the conversion and even got to throw a mean stiff arm as a bonus.
  • Georgia State got back to attacking the Texas State defense with WR screens on the outside, and right on cue, the Bobcats have to unstack the box and Jamyest Williams gets his second touchdown of the game, this time from 28 yards out. Really clinical stuff from Coach Glenn.
  • Had to be a proud moment for coach and player alike when Jamil Muhammad got his first career sack in this game. Have thought he has looked every part of a pass-rushing OLB since the spring, glad to see him open his account. Shades of a former Georgia State player who may or may not have led the NCAA in sacks in 2020 on this sack.
  • Texas State put together enough long drives to stay in and win the game, but having to settle the three FGs – including the 31-yarder Seth Keller with 3:57 in the 3rd – killed their chances. Field goals won’t win you games and Georgia State did enough on the day to make that axiom come true for the Bobcats.
  • Maybe Georgia State should have known it was their day when, with 2:29 left in the quarter, Darren Grainger got hit as he was throwing, only for the pass to harmlessly fall into the arms of Aubry Payne for a 5-yard gain. Two passes like that turned into interceptions against Appalachian State, so you just have to thank the football gods and move on.
  • I already nominated/named the Jontrey Hunter sack as the play of the game, but this Tucker Gregg run to pick up a key 3rd-and-1 on the last play of the 3rd quarter might have an argument for the sheer momentum and enthusiasm it gave the Panthers going into the quarter break: 

4th Quarter Observations

  • Darren Grainger had his pick of tight ends to give a touchdown to on the first play of the 4th quarter. Both Roger Carter and Aubry Payne were running uncovered down the seam and he connected with Payne for the easy score.
  • Jordan Veneziale just plays hard always. A quiet game for him, but he put in a good shift and still had a co-team-leading 8 tackles.
  • Jaylon Jones, have a drive. First he comes up and blows up a WR screen play at the line of scrimmage and then he caps it off with an interception in the red zone. The corners left some plays on the field in this game but #27 did it all on this drive.
  • Thomas Gore also got in on the fun on this drive with a tackle for loss of 5 yards immediately after an offside penalty had given Texas State a fresh set of downs. Another big play for the backup nose tackle who just continues to impress.
  • This late drive after Jones’ INT would have been perfect for Georgia State with points at the end of it. It killed off nearly 7 minutes of gametime, but it stalled out around the TXST 20 and a bad snap never gave Noel Ruiz a chance on his attempted 41-yard FG. Perhaps a fitting end to a day for an offense that played well but just not to the standard that’s been set. But I guess it’s better to have those days when you still come away with the win.
  • Another guy who keeps making plays is Shamar McCollum. The Wake transfer got a sack last time out against ULM and he forced the game-sealing fumble in this one. Will be interesting to see how his snap count rises over the next few weeks.

Before and After

And finally, here’s a look at how Georgia State’s stats stacked up in the Sun Belt before and after the Texas State win:

  • Scoring offense: 23.2 (8th in Sun Belt) > 24.3 (8th)
  • Rushing offense: 208 ypg (4th) > 218.3 ypg (3rd) – also 19th-best in FBS
  • Passing offense: 159.6 ypg (9th) > 166.7 ypg (9th)
  • Total offense: 367.7 ypg (6th in Sun Belt) > 386.4 ypg (6th)
  • Scoring defense; 35.3 ppg (9th in Sun Belt) > 32.4 ppg (6th)
  • Total defense: 413.8 ppg (7th in Sun Belt) > 413.6 ppg (6th)
  • Rushing defense: 169.3 ypg (7th in Sun Belt) > 163.4 ypg (7th)
  • Passing defense: 244.5 ypg (6th in Sun Belt) > 250.1 ypg (7th)
  • 3rd down conversion rate: 38.3% (3rd in Sun Belt) > 41% (3rd)
  • Opponents’ 3rd down conversion rate: 44% (8th in Sun Belt) > 42% (7th)
  • Sacks: 10 (T-8th in Sun Belt) > 13 (8th)
  • Sacks allowed: 13 (5th in Sun Belt) > 13 (4th)
  • Turnover margin: -4 (9th in Sun Belt) > -3 (T-7th)

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