ATLANTA -- ATLANTA -- The full 2019 Georgia State football team will hit the practice field for the first time Friday morning at Georgia State Stadium, but before that, third-year head coach Shawn Elliott met with the media Thursday afternoon.
"If you're a football coach, this is what you live for," Elliott said. "The game of football is about camraderie, it's about family, it's about relationships. That's truly what makes a coach a coach - the opportunity to have our guys all here together, and to try to take that football team and mold it and grow it into something that's going to become successful, that's what really fuels me."
Friday's first practice is at 9:30 a.m. as Elliott and the Panthers begin preparations for their Aug. 31 season opener - a trip to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on Tennessee at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. One week later, on Sept. 7, Georgia State opens its home slate by hosting Furman at 7 p.m. at Georgia State Stadium.
"What I tell our team at this point is we have opportunities to be successful if we treat the next month business-like and go out there with an attitude, effort, and intensity that will really dictate our image and our reputation over the course of the season," Elliott said.
"We’ve got a lot of answers that need to be found here in the next few weeks, and I think its going to be a great opportunity for both young and old to experience a tough, physical preseason camp and get us heading in the right direction as a football team.
"Our defense has to step up, and of course we have to keep developing our offensive football team and keep building on what I thought were solid special teams."
Elliott enters the season with six new assistant coaches on his staff, including new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brad Glenn. Also new to the staff are offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach Jimmy Smith, inside linebackers/special teams coach Shiel Wood, defensive line coach Travian Robertson and cornerbacks coach Aairon Savage.
"There were quite a few new hires, but we all feel like we are one the same page, and we're very comfortable around each other," said Elliott, who also also mentioned one more off-season hire.
"John Sisk, our strength coach, who came from Georgia Tech," Elliott said. "What he was able to do with our football team over the course of the off-season and this summer is really going to be a telling factor. I've seen individuals really grow. You can see the change in their physical appearance. That was a really important hire."
Starting quarterback Dan Ellington returns to run the attack after leading the team in passing and rushing in his first year with the program. He gained 2,119 yards through the air and 625 yards on the ground while accounting for 17 touchdowns (12 passing, 5 rushing) to earn All-Sun Conference honors.
"I thought he did quite a good job a year ago," Elliott said. "He was able to utilize his legs in the running game, he didn't put the ball in jeopardy in the throwing game. And he's a strong leader. Good football teams have to have a quarterback, and to be a good quarterback, you have to be a good leader. I think Dan is that for us.
"I see him developing this season under [offensive coordinator] Brad Glenn and the type of offense that we'll run. It won't be drastically different than what we've done in the past, but there are some new things that I think will let Dan take advantage of the game himself. We're really just thrilled to death to have him here."
After playing numerous freshmen a year ago, Elliott looks forward to the experience and development that those freshmen-turned-sophomores have gained.
"You see the strength development, and the mental aspects, the confidence they have from knowing they've gone out there and done it before and now they can utilize the knowledge they've gained. You see kids whose eyes that were that big, and now those eyes are a little bit smaller," Elliott said.
Elliott kicked off today's media session by giving a walking tour of the football program's new football operations suite at Georgia State Stadium, including the new weight room, athletic training room, football offices and meeting rooms, along with the locker room.
"As you can see you just walked through a beautiful facility here at Georgia State Stadium," Elliott said. "I want to thank everyone that has been involved in this. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight, when you think of our football program only being 10 years old, this just doesn’t happen. You don’t start out with the facilities, the weight room, the training room, a nutrition room, and the type of staff that we have put in place in such a short amount of time. I really want to thank everyone involved.
"It's a very special feeling standing in front of you in our own operations suite and kicking off this year."
Season and single-game tickets for all six home games at Georgia State Stadium are on sale now. Call 404-413-4020 or visit GeorgiaStateSports.com/tix.