There’s no denying the immense and immediate effect that Cornelious Brown IV had on Georgia State’s offense in 2020. The dual threat’s 24 total touchdowns led a Panther attack that averaged a school-record 33.3 points per game, including a 39-point performance in the program’s second bowl victory.
With a load of returning talent at every offensive position around him, the 2020 LendingTree Bowl MVP is looking to lead his team to new heights in 2021. As good as Brown was last season, he sees plenty of untapped potential in himself – potential he will need to capitalize on if he wants to continue elevating.
Panther fans can see just how much “Quad” has improved when Georgia State opens the seasons on Sept. 4, hosting Army at Center Parc Stadium in a noon kickoff that will be nationally-televised on ESPNU. Season tickets for the 2021 season can be purchased by calling 404-413-4160 or visiting GeorgiaStateSports.com/TIX.
According to the young quarterback, his development begins with limiting turnovers. After 10 interceptions last year, Brown has used the offseason to improve his ability to take care of the football.
“I feel like my main focus was to have better judgment with the football because I had some turnovers that were unnecessary last year and that kind of killed momentum, gave the other team the ball, you know, took an opportunity away from us as an offense to go and score and put points on the board,” said Brown. “You can’t make explosive plays, you can’t score touchdowns without the ball and that mentality that’s all about the ball, especially for us on offense, is going to be something that takes us to the next level.”
Brown believes one of the chief factors in his development this offseason was the team’s Player-Led Practices, or PLP’s.
“Repetition is one thing that will improve decision-making. You have to go out there and make those right decisions on a day-to-day basis. … When we were in those player-led practices, I just made an emphasis on taking care of the ball and it just made the game a lot easier for me – it simplified the game,” he said. “For example, on an RPO opportunity, sometimes I would try to take from the defense instead of taking what the defense gives me. I try to go steal something, but I have great running backs. Sometimes I would just not know, ‘Should I throw this backside slant? Is it gray?’ And, if it’s gray, I’d hand the ball off and those guys would go and get five or six yards who are great up front in the run game and in the pass game. So, those guys will go get six or seven yards and that takes some of the weight off me.”
Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott also emphasized the importance of his signal-caller’s maturation in decision-making.
“We’ve got to limit some crucial turnovers,” said Elliott. “For us to go from a very good offense to an elite offense, we have to have ball security and be able to come away with the ball at the end of drives. We can’t turn it over.”
If last year’s ball security challenges didn’t suffice as motivation for improvement in 2021, the Panthers’ season-opening opponent should serve as such. Army, who will kick off in Center Parc Credit Union Stadium on September 4, runs a clock-crunching triple option offense that limits possessions for its opposition and, thus, thrives on turnovers. The Black Knights, fresh off a 9-3 campaign, were undefeated in the regular season when they won the turnover battle.
Of course, Brown doesn’t see this matchup as anything more than a challenge that he embraces with open arms.
“Opening up with Army, that’s a tough team. They play a tough style of ball that will limit our possessions, so I can’t afford to turn the ball over. We can’t afford to have fumbles. We can’t afford to have three-and-outs against that team because they’re going to dominate the time of possession, so, I feel like it puts pressure on us and pressure makes diamonds,” said Brown.
Brown and company will continue to be challenged following the Army game, as well, with road dates at North Carolina and Auburn slated before the end of September. In those two games, the margin of error will likely be especially narrow for the Panthers if they want to snag wins from their Power Five foes.
Yet again, with a greater level of ball security, Brown believes his team has the talent and experience necessary to compete against any team on their schedule.
“We’re not playing anyone to lose. We’re not playing anyone to compete,” he said. “We’re playing all four of those games along with the games on our conference slate to win. So, we’re going to go in with that mentality and we’re going to go in and put our best foot forward and try to win those games.”