Miles happy, Kaplan returns, Wolgamott ready and Ruiz honored

Georgia State coach Trent Miles was pleased with his team’s practice on Wednesday ahead of Saturday’s game against New Mexico State at the Georgia Dome.

The practice focused on situations: third downs, short yards, goal line and red zones. Tuesday’s practice was devoted for first downs and second downs.

“They’ve got a good understanding of what we are asking them to do,” Miles said.

Miles repeated something he said Tuesday that the offense has to be ready for anything because New Mexico State’s defense is still a bit of a mystery. The team has a new defensive coordinator, with a new scheme, and played an option team last week, which allowed the Aggies to “hide” some of their coverage schemes and tendencies moreso than they would have been able to do against a traditional offense like Georgia State’s.

Offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski coached with New Mexico State’s defensive coordinator Larry Coyer at East Carolina.

He said he knows the Aggies will be fundamentally sound in techniques and schemes.

The line: Starting tackle A.J. Kaplan, who suffered an ankle injury against Abilene Christian, returned to practice on Wednesday. He participated in a few drills before he was held out so that Steve Wolgamott could get more reps at tackle. Miles said he expects that Kaplan will be ready for Saturday.

Wolgamott, who weighs 320 pounds, suffered a knee injury in August and was held out of last week’s game. This has been his first full week of practice in three weeks.

“I’m ready to play,” he said.

Wolgamott, normally a tackle, was working with the second team before his injury because he was cross-training at guard. He said is most comfortable at tackle but can play either if needed against New Mexico State.

“O-line is o-line, you just have to pound the ball,” Wolgamott said.

Should Kaplan play, Wolgamott will still add depth to a line that position coach Harold Etheridge said he wants to be more consistent than last week.

Though the Panthers totaled a school-record 566 yards in offense, Etheridge said the line left some rushing yards on the field and thought the pass-blocking wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be at the end of the game.

The cliché goes that teams make the most improvement between the first and second weeks.

“That’s what we’ve stressed with them,” Etheridge said. “Now it’s time to go out and see that happen.”

Ruiz honored: Joel Ruiz was named the John Mackey Tight End of the Week by the John Mackey Award.

Ruiz caught seven passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s game.

Also used as a blocker, Ruiz helped Georgia State rush for 153 yards.

“It’s an honor,” Ruiz said. “Coaches put me in a great position to succeed this past week. Thanks to (quarterback) Nick Arbuckle last week for sure and the o-line for protecting Nick. It’s truly a blessing.”

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