If you are a fan of any Division 1 football team that resides in the Metro Atlanta area you more than likely woke up on Sunday hoping that hangover was due to about 10 too many adult beverages and not because all 3 teams were 0-3 on Saturday in an embarrassing fashion. What is probably making everyone’s head pound with more ferocity wasn’t the loss itself… It was either who they lost to or how they lost.
Let’s start with the flagship university in the state of Georgia. It wasn’t unexpected that Georgia lost to Alabama. I picked Alabama to win, but the Dawgs just didn’t even make it a game losing 38-10 at home to the Tide. This is becoming a very bad trend when UGA faces Bama.
Moving down the pecking order to Georgia Tech, and things don’t get a whole lot better. The Yellow Jackets blew a 21-0 lead in the second quarter to lose 38-31 to UNC. To make matters worse, the Jackets are now 0-3 in their last three games vs. Notre Dame, Duke and UNC. They have Clemson next who just knocked off Notre Dame.
Losing to Bama or UNC isn’t unthinkable, but let’s get a little closer to home and our hearts.
When Georgia State lost to Charlotte the first game of the season, it was obviously disappointing. Before the game was over fans started tweeting #FireTrentMiles. I did my best to console fans and, while I understood their frustration, reminded them “it was just one game”.
This is still a young team so even after losses you look to see if there was improvement. How has this team gotten better? Or maybe the better question is, HAS this team gotten any better in 4 games?
The Panthers lost to Charlotte by 3 and allowed them to control time of possession by nearly 8 minutes. A month later, Liberty, from the FCS, strolls in for GSU homecoming and leaves with an 8 point win and won time of possession by 27 minutes. You have to wonder what exactly the Panthers did in their week off before to prepare for the game.
These teams know the Panthers can score. Offense isn’t the Panthers problem. But the Panthers kryptonite are teams that can run the ball and control the clock. The Panthers allowed opponents, not named Oregon, a total of 104 minutes in possession and a total of 96 points. Charlotte and Liberty combined averaged at least 1 point for every minute of possession in their wins over the Panthers.
The Georgia State defense allowed 164 yards on the ground by Charlotte. Add 46 more to that number versus New Mexico State and add an additional 53 by Liberty for a total of 637 yards allowed so far in 2015.
“It’s very difficult when your defense is out there the whole time and can’t get off the field,” said Miles after the loss to Liberty.
Coach Miles has a decision to make about this team. Either you keep your offense on the field and learn to control the time of possession… or you figure out a way to stop the run.
If I am Miles, I am focusing on setting that clock on fire and burning it to ashes because the remaining opponents on the Panthers schedule are averaging 972.5 yards rushing so far on the year. Appalachian State and Georgia Southern, two of the Panthers biggest rivals, alone have over a thousand yards on the ground. Only two teams, South Alabama and Troy, have less than 800 yards so far this season.
Many entered this season with high excitement about the potential of what this program might have been able to accomplish this season. Instead it has been ravaged with disappointment with two very unacceptable losses and many fans have already turned their focus on the Panthers basketball season.
Georgia State is at a cross roads as a football program where they must now avoid the stigma of becoming the Kentucky of the Sun Belt conference.