ATLANTA--Georgia State plays the first conference game in school history as the Panthers host Colonial Athletic Association foe Richmond Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome.
With GSU's reclassification to the Football Bowl Subdivision and move to the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, this fall marks the Panthers' first and only season of CAA Football.
Georgia State (0-3) is seeking its first victory of the season following Saturday's 38-14 loss to UTSA, while the Spiders stand at 2-1 after downing VMI, 47-6.
The game features the top two all-purpose players in the CAA in Georgia State's Albert Wilson, who averages 158.7 yards per game of receiving, rushing and returns, and Richmond receiver Ben Edwards with 116.3 yards per game. Those two also rank one-two in the league in receiving yards with Wilson at 89.3 per game and Edwards at 84.7.
GSU Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship WCFO-AM Newstalk 1160 and WMLB-AM 1690. Announcers are Dave Cohen (play-by-play), Harper LeBel (analyst), and Sam Crenshaw (sideline).
HUBBARD HAS NATION'S TOP PUNTING AVERAGE
Georgia State punter Matt Hubbard owns the top punting average in college football, averaging 50.6 yards per kick. Nine of his 15 punts have travelled 50 yards or more, including his amazing 80-yard boot against South Carolina State.
Because of Georgia State's reclassification to the Football Bowl Subdivison, Hubbard does not qualify for NCAA rankings in FBS or FCS, but his average would easily top either division. The top average in FCS belongs to Tony Epperson of Weber State at 48.0, while Sean Sellwood of Utah leads FBS at 48.88.
CURRY'S COACHING HISTORY
Not only does Georgia State head coach Bill Curry have two sons of former players on his own team (Mark Hogan and Nick Henderson), but against Richmond, he will also be facing the son of one of his former players.
Richmond safety Cooper Taylor, a senior from Atlanta, is the son of former Georgia Tech quarterback Jim Bob Taylor, who played for Curry in 1981-82. Taylor spent his first three seasons at Georgia Tech before transferring to Richmond for the 2011 season. Cooper Taylor is this week's CAA Defensive Player of the Week after grabbing two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, in the Spiders' win over VMI.
Richmond head coach Danny Rocco played at Wake Forest from 1981-83, and the Deacons fell to Bill Curry-coached Georgia Tech teams in 1982 (GT 45-7) and 1983 (GT 49-33).
WILSON STRETCHES THE FIELD
The highlight of Georgia State's game against UTSA was the 84-yard touchdown pass from Ben McLane to Albert Wilson on the Panthers' third snap for the longest play from scrimmage in Georgia State history.
Wilson, the junior from Port St. Lucie, Fla., has a hand in the three longest plays from scrimmage in GSU history with touchdown catches covering 78 and 64 yards last season against South Alabama. Add his 97-yard kickoff return against Alabama in 2010, and he has been involved in four of the five longest plays in Panther annals (Darren McCray had a 96-yard kickoff return vs. Campbell in 2010).
Wilson's 11 career touchdowns have covered an average of 51.8 yards.
ALBERT WILSON'S CAREER TOUCHDOWNS:
97 Kickoff Return vs. Alabama, 2010
84 Reception (Ben McLane) vs. UTSA, 2012
78 Reception (Kelton Hill) vs. South Alabama, 2011
64 Reception (Kelton Hill) vs. South Alabama, 2011
54 Reception (Kelton Hill) vs. UTSA, 2011
48 Reception (Bo Schlechter) vs. Clark Atlanta, 2011
33 Reception (Kelton Hill) vs. West Alabama, 2011
30 Reception (Bo Schlechter) vs. Clark Atlanta, 2011
29 Reception (Drew Little) vs. Savannah State, 2010
28 Reception (Drew Little) vs. Savannah State, 2010
25 Reception (Ronnie Bell) vs. UTSA, 2012
Running back Donald Russell is third in the CAA with 88.0 yards rushing per game. The senior from West Palm Beach, Fla., averages 7.1 yards per carry.
Russell opened his senior season by rushing for 120 yards on just 12 carries against South Carolina State, his third 100-yard effort in a GSU uniform. Last season, the transfer from Kentucky became the first 100-yard rusher in school history when he gained 136 yards against South Alabama. He added a career-high 146 yards in the 2011 finale against Campbell.
Against SCSU, Russell raced 52 yards on his first carry of the season. That is his longest run for the Panthers but not the longest of his career; he had a 79-yard scamper as a freshman at Kentucky in 20009.
Russell, who led the Panthers with 665 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011, added 68 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving at Tennessee, and then 76 yards on just 10 carries against UTSA.
HONORS & RECORDS FOR PUNTER HUBBARD
Georgia State punter Matt Hubbard had a record-breaking night in the Panthers' season opener against South Carolina State. Hubbard averaged an eye-catching 62.2 yards on five punts, easily the best single-game average in GSU history, highlighted by a school-record punt of 80 yards.
Hubbard's average is better than both the NCAA FBS and FCS single-game records for punting average in a game with a minimum of five punts. However, because Georgia State is in the process of reclassifying from FCS to FBS, marks achieved by GSU players during the 2012 and 2013 seasons do not count as NCAA records.
The current FCS record for punting average in a game, with a minimum of five punts, is 61.5 yards, set by Eddie Johnson of Idaho State versus Cal Poly in 2002. The FBS record of 60.4 is shared by two players, Lee Johnson, BYU vs. Wyoming, 1983, and Quinn Sharp of Oklahoma State vs. Nebraska, 2010.
The sophomore from Peachtree City, Ga., was named CAA Football Special Teams Player of the Week -- the first such honoree in GSU history -- and FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week by the Sports Network. He was also recognized as FCS National Punter of the Week by the College Football Performance Awards.
In addition to the 80-yarder, he also had boots of 58, 59, 55 and 59 yards.
HEY JOE - TRUE FROSH PETERSON IS PANTHERS' TOP TACKLER
Georgia State's leading tackler is true freshman linebacker Joseph Peterson.
Peterson, from Dothan, Ala., earned a starting berth at middle linebacker and is Georgia State's s leading tackler with 27 hits (nine tackles per game). In his debut against South Carolina State, he was the Panthers' second-leading tackler with eight hits, including a tackle for loss. After that performance, he served as a game captain for the Panthers' game at Tennessee and made nine tackles against the Vols. He added 10 tackles against UTSA.
As a senior at Dothan High, Peterson was a first-team all-state in Class 6A by the Alabama Sportswriters Association. He made 112 tackles, including eight tackles for loss and four sacks. On offense, he ran for 669 yards and 12 touchdowns.
FIVE TRUE FRESHMEN SEE ACTION
Five true freshmen have seen action for the Panthers this season, including three on defense, one receiver/return specialist and one kicker.
Most prominent is inside linebacker Joseph Peterson, the Panthers' leading tackler with 27.
Two other freshmen are playing on the defensive line in tackle Joe Lockley of Portal, Ga., and defensive end Melvin King of Hinesville, Ga. Lockley, an honorable mention all-state selection at tiny Portal High, is perhaps the strongest player on the team, and against Tennessee, he came up with an interception on a tipped ball.
Avery Sweeting of Brunswick, Ga., is beginning to earn playing time as a wide receiver and kickoff returner.
Freshman kicker Wil Lutz, a walk-on from Newnan, Ga., is handling kickoffs for the Panthers.
RUNNING WITH PURPOSE
Versatile receiver Albert Wilson is averaging 158.7 all-purpose yards per game. He leads the CAA and would rank 14th in FCS.
The junior from Port St. Lucie, Fla., is the Panthers' leading receiver with 17 catches for 268 yards (CAA-leading 89.3 yards per game) and two touchdowns. He also averages 12.5 yards on punt returns and 20.8 yards on kickoff returns.
Wilson is GSU's career leader with 2,618 all-purpose yards (119 ypg).
25 AND COUNTING
Junior right tackle Grant King, the only returning starter on Georgia State's offensive line, is also the only current player who has started all 25 games in the Panthers' brief history. The Columbia, S.C., native was a member of GSU's first recruiting class in 2009.
Just two other Panthers have played in all 25 games: linebackers Akeen Felder and Robert Ferguson.