Curry pleased with Panthers spring practices

Georgia State football coach Bill Curry said he’s more comfortable with his quarterbacks coming out of this spring than he felt last year.

The competition between Kelton Hill and Bo Schlechter was the most-watched aspect of the practices because of the suspension of Drew Little, who passed for more than 2,000 yards with 18 touchdowns during the Panthers’ inaugural 2010 season. Curry said he’s confident Little will do what is necessary to be reinstated.

He is eligible to return in this season’s fifth game. In his absence, Curry said Hill and Schlechter are picking up the speed of the plays.

“I didn’t know how it would go this spring, but it went really well,” Curry said. Hill seemed to be the clear-cut winner of the two, passing for 141 yards and rushing for 103 in the Blue-White game.

However, the signal-callers weren’t the only positive areas noted by Curry in his summary of the Panthers’ spring effort. He was pleased with most everything, with some concerns reserved for the offensive line. He noted last season’s team had trouble running the ball and stopping the run.

In the spring, the defense did a better job against the run, which may mean the offense’s troubles are continuing or the defense improved or some combination of both.

Whatever the reason — even Curry said he wasn’t sure yet — he said the defense’s performance in the Blue-White game bodes well for the team.

Some spring position changes have worked out well. Curry rattled off several who did well after moving, but had the most praise for Sam Burkhalter and Nate Anthony.

Burkhalter, who played at Blessed Trinity, moved from running back to linebacker. Curry said it may seem like a drastic shift, but Burkhalter’s size (5-foot-9, 214 pounds) and speed make him a good fit.

“Watch him streak to the football, it’s exciting,” Curry said. “He really closes to the ball.”

The Panthers allowed an average of 187.4 rushing yards per game last season, so the coaches are looking for help everywhere on defense.

Curry said Anthony, who moved from wide receiver to cornerback, has shown natural ability and coaches are optimistic about him at the position. As a unit, he said the secondary improved, but needs to play with consistency.

Curry wasn’t as positive about the offensive line, which he said needs to improve its technique. The Panthers averaged 123.3 rushing yards per game last season, which would have placed them among the bottom-third of FCS (formerly Division I-AA) schools had they been classified an FCS team. They will become one this season.

Curry said the linemen moved their feet properly and were getting into the right defender in the spring, but they need to become stronger and improve their conditioning.

As a team, Curry said in the 12 to 18 months that most of the players have been in the program, he hasn’t seen enough improvement from time spent in the weight room. He said he is working to fix that area, but declined to offer any details.

Curry said the team’s goals for the summer are to have well-attended and “vibrant” voluntary workouts before preseason practices begin in early August.

Before last season, Curry told an anecdote about once attending a launch of one of the space shuttles. He said watching the tremendous amount of energy expended to get the shuttle up and into the air reminded him of the effort to get Georgia State’s football program up and running. Continuing the metaphor, Curry said the Panthers are trying to fly, “but the only way we can do that is to produce in the classroom and on the field.”