ATLANTA -- "We're just going to take a quick look up in the stands, get that over with, then put our heads down and start playing," Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott said of the Panthers opening game at one of the nation's largest college football venues, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium.
Georgia State and the Volunteers kick off the 2019 season Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU, and the Georgia State Radio Network coverage will air on WAOK-AM 1380.
"We certainly know where we're playing. It's a big venue, and there's great football tradition at Tennessee. We understand there's going to be a lot of people and crowd noise," Elliott said as his team completes its preparation.
"The message is clear: we've got to go up there and play as hard we can."
For the first time in its 10-year history, Georgia State is opening the season away from home and on a Saturday.
The Panthers annually face at least one Power 5 opponent and are playing at Tennessee for the second time, following a 51-13 loss in 2012 when GSU was still an FCS program.
Elliott, beginning his third season at GSU, is no stranger to Neyland Stadium, having coached there during his seven-year stint (2010-16) at South Carolina. The Gamecocks went 4-3 against Tennessee during his tenure, including a 2-1 mark at Knoxville.
The Panthers return nine starters on offense, seven on defense and one of the nation’s top punters in Brandon Wright. Headlining the offensive returnees are a trio of All-Sun Belt Conference honorees in senior quarterback Dan Ellington and veteran offensive linemen Hunter Atkinson at left tackle and Shamarious Gilmore at left guard. Top defenders include senior defensive end Terry Thomas and senior linebacker Ed Curney.
"We've certainly done the things necessary to put ourselves in position to compete and play well," Elliott said. And I think our team is ready to play well. Our leaders are focused, they've delivered a great message all camp, and we're ready to go play.
I'm excited to look at the improvements we think we've made through the offseason in our strength and conditioning program and throughout camp. And I'm excited to see our new coaches. I'm ready to see it all."
After opening the season on the road, Georgia State hosts its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 7 as Furman visits Georgia State Stadium for a 7 p.m. game. Season, single-game and group tickets are on sale now; visit GeorgiaStateSports.com or call 404-413-4020.