Upon Further Review: Furman
The big headline out of Georgia State’s win over Furman Saturday is the 2-0 record next to their name. This is the first time the program has started 2-0 in its 10-year history. But some questions remain about Saturday’s performance: Why the slow start? How did Furman hang around as long as they did? This is Upon Further Review.
The defensive performance of the Panthers for the first 20 or so game minutes left a lot to be desired. No one position group need be singled out as there was a lot of blame to go around, but a common theme was slow recognition. It felt like there were times the GSU defense were a step slow in seeing where a play was going or they were just plain a step slow. Furman showed a lot of different looks on offense and – much like the GSU offense at times against Tennessee, they really had the Panthers guessing on what action they were running. Georgia State was indecisive and, in some cases, a split-second late. In college football, a split-second is all it takes for a big play to develop. And before you could say “Here we go again,” the score was 20-3 Furman.
Then the defense hunkered down in the middle of the game and got consecutive stops in the 2nd quarter. The offense had also been slow out of the gate after a promising first drive which halted after a bad unsportsmanlike penalty. But from the 8:19 mark in the 2nd, the Panthers got it going and never looked back. QB Dan Ellington led Georgia State on seven straight scoring drives – the first six for touchdowns. Ellington had a career night; amassing 448 all-purpose yards and throwing for a school-record 5 TDs, all to different receivers.
The offensive line gave Dan all day in pass protection – allowing zero sacks – and continued their stellar run blocking for much of the night. And on the few plays where Furman did get penetration, Dan used his legs to escape the pressure and extend the play. The receiving corps had a great night, with everyone taking their turn to make a big play. Cornelius McCoy’s star shone the brightest, catching 10 passes for 143 yards, but Terrance Dixon, Sam Pinckney and Devin Gentry all had big plays as well. The tight ends were effective in blocking and efficient in the passing game – Roger Carter and Aubry Payne each scored on their sole reception of the game.
Georgia State pushed the score to 31-20 on Carter’s 2-yard TD reception with 7:12 left in the 3rd quarter. The comeback from Georgia State was certainly impressive. However, aside from the obvious takeaway of “Don’t go down by 17”, this was the sequence of the game that best symbolized the biggest step forward this Panther team can take: taking advantage of opportunities.
At this point, the offense had propelled Georgia State to a double-digit lead after being down 17. If the defense got another stop on the ensuing Furman drive, they could have set the offense up to make it a three-score game. They didn’t, and Furman punched it in the end zone and got a two-point conversion to get it to 31-28. The offense kept rolling and pushed it back to 10 points, only for Furman to score again. Once more, GSU pushed the score to double digits, 45-35, and the defense finally got the big play they sorely needed, a 57-yard interception return by Remy Lazarus with 9:50 to go in the game. The offense, which had been rolling for much of the game now, started deep inside Furman territory with a chance to push the score to three scores and put the game on ice. Instead, they were held to a Brandon Wright field goal. This didn’t cost the Panthers a win this time, but they’ll need to improve on that killer instinct to secure close games later in the year.
2019 True Freshman Counter (through two games)
Games played (2): ILB Jordan Veneziale, LS Seth Glausier
Games played (1): DB Bryquice Brown, QB Cornelious Brown