Football Preview: Georgia State vs. Maine
It’s senior day for the 3-6 University of Maine Black Bear football team, marking their final home game of the 2012 season. Sitting at 2-4 in the CAA, Maine’s playoff hopes are completely dashed but awaiting them are the 1-9 Georgia State Panthers, a team coming off a 53-27 blow out at the hands of Old Dominion just one week ago.
A bit about the Panthers
It hasn’t been pretty for the Panthers this season and it probably isn’t going to get better any time soon. Georgia State is playing in their first and only season in the CAA to get ready to make the jump to the Sun Belt Conference and FBS football. Because Georgia State is bolting, they are ineligible for CAA title and FCS postseason play. Georgia State arguably wanted one season in the CAA to get ready for life with the big boys but the task has been much harder than expected. Their only victory has come against a winless University of Rhode Island team, a team that Maine gets set to face next week, and the Panthers blew them out, 41-7. Beyond that, the CAA has feasted on Georgia State as their defense sits with some of the worst in FCS football, allowing opposing offenses 446.8 yards per contest. Their offense has been ineffective, only averaging 320.6 total yards a game, again, putting the Panthers in the bottom rung of FCS football.
Offensively, Georgia State is lead by R-Fr. quarterback Ben McLane and Sr. running back Donald Russell. McLane has completed 114 of his 214 passes for eight touchdowns and six interceptions, racking up 1212 yards in the air. McLane, unlike most of the quarterbacks Maine has seen, is not a threat on the ground, with a total of -98 yards rushing. Russell has rushed for 747 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns on the year. He is also third on the team with 163 yards receiving. With Maine’s small d-line and porous run defense, Wilson would have ben the Panther’s best shot at offensive success today but suffered an MCL sprain against Villanova and will miss the balance of the schedule. No Wilson leaves the running duties to R-Jr. Travis Evans and R-Sr. Rosevelt Watson. Evans is coming off two solid performances in a row.
Junior Wide Receiver, Albert Wilson, is the Panther’s only threat in the air. The Port St. Lucie, Fla. native leads Georgia State with 39 catches for 723 yards and 6 touchdowns. Second on the team is senior tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi with 22 catches for 174 yards.
Offense can expect a big day
Georgia States’s pass and run defense are both equally weak, which could open the door for a balanced offensive attack from the Black Bears. When Maine has been able to get the running game involved along with Marcus Wasilewski, they have sustaned longer, more methotical drives that allows Maine’s defense to get the rest they need. The Black Bears have not found much success when they have to rely on the pass exclusively. This young team’s pass offense has had a hard time putting together meaningful drives, whether it be a lack of “clutch” factor, taking bad penalties, or inability to execute. Either way, when Maine can get the running game involved, life is much easier for the Black Bears, offensively and defensively. Expect to see this very attack from Maine today
Defense needs to step up
Maine’s defense has looked dominant in spurts but as we have said, the offenses inability to put together prolonged drives has really tired out the 60 ranked D in the country. Maine has been solid against the pass this year for the most part with the real issues coming on the ground. Georgia State has one threat in the backfield in Wilson so if the front seven can do a good job shutting him down early, the defense won’t have to worry about exhaustion today. Maine comes into this contest with the 90 ranked rush defense in the country out of 121 FCS schools.
It’s simply for Maine, strike quick, strike often, on both sides of the field. Take the Panther’s running game out of the equation early and this one will be all over. On offense, spread the ball around, utilize Rickey Stevens and Nigel Jones on the ground and take some pressure off of Wasilewski. Georgia State’s defense has some obvious holes that the Black Bears can take advantage of. If Maine can properly execute, the Black Bears should collect a decisive win today.
WMEB Sports coverage kicks off at 1:45 PM today with Brandon Poli and the pre game report. At 2:00 PM, Bryan Roche, Cody Beckett, and Liam Nee will have the call, live and commercial free, on WMEB 91.9 FM and http://www.wmeb.fm.