Upon Further Review: Western Michigan
College football brings both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Unfortunately this week for Georgia State, we saw the latter. After a 57-10 beat down in Kalamazoo, let’s take a peek at what the Panthers did, or didn’t do, that caused such a lopsided result. This is Upon Further Review.
Early on, it was very clear that Georgia State’s defense was not going to cover the middle of the field. Western Michigan saw this and exploited it. Their game plan was far from creative – put the playmakers in the middle of the field and see what happens. Quarterback Jon Wassink and running back LeVante Bellamy saw the holes in the Georgia State defense and attacked them. Most of the large plays in the first quarter were runs or passes straight up the middle. Credit the Broncos offensive line for giving Wassink and Bellamy room to operate, but Georgia State largely gifted them the space necessary to make big plays. The final Bellamy touchdown in the first frame came on an off-tackle run that he cut straight up the middle to a space occupied by zero Panther defenders.
Occasionally, Wassink would throw timing routes to the outside to keep from becoming too predictable, but the defense played off the Broncos wide receivers for most of the game. One example where these two ideas were highlighted could be found late in the first quarter. With 5:20 left in the first, the Broncos were facing a 3rd and 3 at their own 27 yard line. Tyler Gore lines up playing press coverage opposite Broncos wide receiver Skyy Moore. Before the snap, Gore backs up to playing behind the first down marker and gives up a 12 yard completion to Moore for a first down. The very next snap resulted in a Sean Tyler 61 yard run right up the middle. Nothing special, no grand offensive scheme, just good blocking and skill position players that weren’t going to be denied once they got to the second level.
The running game was one bright spot for a Panthers offense that struggled to put points on the board. Western Michigan also had some trouble defending the middle of the field, allowing Dan Ellington, Tra Barnett and Seth Paige to all get going on the ground. The Panthers likely could have traded scores with the Broncos (for a while, at least) if they didn’t get in their own away with penalties that negated drives, or were a little better at completing deep passes. Matlin Marshall tried his hand at the slot receiver role with great success in the first half, but the downfield attack that Dan and co had against Furman was nowhere to be found against the Broncos. Dan largely looked uncomfortable in the pocket and the offensive line did him no favors after the first quarter. It was largely a night to forget for the senior quarterback.
The second half is worth much less of a deep dive, as after the Panthers’ first 2 offensive drives in the second half resulted in a punt and a turnover on downs, Coach Elliott had seen enough and pulled most of his starters. By 3:32 in the third quarter, true freshman quarterback Cornelious Brown had taken over under center for Ellington and reserves got playing time for both teams the rest of the way.
Defensively, there are very few things Georgia State should take away from this game. A big lesson learned here is that when there is a lack of speed on the defensive side of the ball, big plays are avoided through proper positioning. Keeping guys in certain spots and defending the middle of the field is key to avoiding big plays. Conversely on the offensive side of the ball, this was the first week the offensive line did not play well. Western Michigan largely had their way with the O-line and for the Panthers to return to the win column, they will need to go back to dominating at the line of scrimmage. Keeping Dan upright and allowing him to have time to extend plays will be crucial moving forward. Blowout losses happen. Getting shut out for 3 quarters happens. The key here is for the Panthers to have a short memory, and take some good from the bad moving forward past this trip to Kalamazoo.
2019 True Freshman Counter
Games played (3): ILB Jordan Veneziale, LS Seth Glausier
Games played (2): QB Cornelious Brown
Games played (1): DB Bryquice Brown, WR Cadarrius Thompson, WR Jamari Thrash, OL Luis Cristobal