ATLANTA – Georgia State fans got their first opportunity to see the Panther football team under first-year head coach Trent Miles at the annual Blue-White Spring Scrimmage Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome.
The day, attended by more than 1,800 fans, featured plenty of interaction and fun for Panther fans.
Preceding the scrimmage, the GSU team partnered with Team Tiger for a Community Day. The Panthers players ran drills and stations on the Georgia Dome field with young fans, helping teach the value of an active, healthy lifestyle.
Afterward, all fans were invited onto the field to take a photograph with the team and then meet the players and get autographs.
With roster numbers thinned by injuries and lack of depth, the team ran through a controlled scrimmage of approximately 50 plays featuring, plus special teams and one overtime series. The scrimmage featured first team versus first team, and second team versus second team.
“Although you didn’t see a lot of scoring, we wanted to use this as another opportunity to get better and work on specific situations,” said Miles. “Our kids played hard, and that’s what we’re looking for as we teach them to become a physical, aggressive football team. We finished the scrimmage with no injuries today and that is also a good thing for a coach."
“Our goal this spring was to be able to evaluate our players as we install our schemes and establish our expectation level,” Miles continued.
With no established starter, quarterbacks Ben McLane, Clay Chastain and Ronnie Bell all saw action.
Chastain, the sophomore transfer from Georgia Military College, started slowly but finished his day by throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Desi Banks. He finished 4-for-9 for 82 yards.
McLane, the sophomore who started nine games last fall, was 4-for-7 for 25 yards, directing an 11-play scoring drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal by Wil Lutz. Bell was 4-for-6 for 49 yards.
“We do not have all of our schemes installed, but are looking at all three quarterbacks to see how they manage the game, how they command the huddle, and do they make the right decisions,” said Miles.
One of the standouts on offense was sophomore wide receiver Avery Sweeting, who has made an impression with top returnees Albert Wilson and Danny Williams injured this spring. Sweeting caught two passes and was used on kickoff returns in the special teams periods.
“Avery has gotten better since day one,” said Miles. “He has the speed, he just has to continue to work on becoming more consistent.”
Running back Gerald Howse, a transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, saw limited snaps but carried five times for 25 yards, and Miles also noted his improvement.
Backup Duvall Smith carried nine times for 39 yards, including a six-yard touchdown run in the overtime series that capped the scrimmage.
On defense, one of the big plays was turned in by sophomore defensive tackle Joe Lockley, who grabbed an interception on a ball that was tipped at the line of scrimmage by defensive tackle Nermin Delic. The play was very similar to one that Lockley made last fall at Tennessee, when he came up with an interception off a tip.
“Joe played hard. He does some really good things, so we’ve got to keep him out there,” Miles said of Lockley, who has battled various injuries.
Linebacker Joseph Peterson, linebacker Allen McKay, defensive lineman Nate Paxton and safety Robert Smith recorded sacks, and defensive lineman Terry Hollingshed added a tackle for loss.
Lutz, the sophomore placekicker, nailed field goals of 35 and 40 yards during the live scrimmage session. He also made five of seven during the field goal drill.
Playing its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivsion and the Sun Belt Conference, Georgia State opens the 2013 season by hosting Samford on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Georgia Dome. Season tickets are on sale now by calling 866-GA-STATE or visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com.
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