Quarterback Star Jackson made his long-awaited debut after transferring from Alabama over the summer. It was not one to remember. Subbing for Drew Little, Jackson forced his first pass and threw an interception and was intercepted on his fourth and final throw. In four possessions, he led the Panthers to one first down.
Jackson said he pressed, anxious to impress coaches after sitting out the first four games.
Said Jackson, "I've just got to calm down and play the game."
Coach Bill Curry said that, given Jackson's layoff, he would not hold him accountable for his play. Curry also said he did not know how he will divide playing time Saturday against Savannah State between Jackson and backup Kelton Hill, who had been playing the third series of each half before Saturday.
Defense rises up
The Panthers forced a season-high four turnovers, a point of emphasis after forcing only four in the first four games. They had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Defensive coordinator John Thompson said the game plan was more aggressive than previously, with more man-to-man pass coverages. While Morehead State does not have a strong running offense, the Panthers gave up a season-best 50 rushing yards after averaging 203.5 in the first four games.
"We just did a lot of things that we hadn't been able to do as defense," Thompson said.
Field day for Williams
Wide receiver Danny Williams caught a team-high eight passes for 101 yards, becoming the first player in school history to clear 100 yards in a game. Williams has become Little's go-to receiver, leading the team with 23 catches for 273 yards. He made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch for a 38-yard gain on a third-and-14 in the second quarter that sustained a drive that ended in a touchdown just before halftime.
"He put in a lot of overtime hours in the summer just working on ball drills and stuff like that," Little said. "He runs smart routes and he is going to catch the ball, and that is why I go to him."
Kicker Iain Vance made a 49-yard field goal, a school best, but also missed from 43 yards, his first errant kick of the season. ... The attendance of 15,264, presumably boosted by homecoming and Georgia and Georgia Tech playing at night and on the road, was the third highest of the four home games. ... The marching band used its halftime show to play and teach its medley of cheers, with various band members leading on a microphone.