Miles pleased with Georgia State’s spring work

Trent Miles said Georgia State’s football team improved in all areas during spring practice.

Though shallow in some positions following the loss of 27 seniors, Miles liked what he saw in player development, attitude, maturity and the strength and speed of the returners, as well as the new players who arrived from junior colleges.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys growing up in a hurry,” he said.

The post-spring depth chart reflects those changes.

Sixteen of the 22 are either new players such as quarterback Nick Arbuckle, players such as Tarris Batiste who switched to a new position or players such as defensive tackle Jalen Lawrence and wide receiver Lynquez Blair who are expected to be consistent starters.

But Miles said the competition will be thrown open again in August at every position as the team looks to rebound from last season’s 0-12 record. The Panthers will open the 2014 season against Abilene Christian on Aug. 27 at the Georgia Dome.

No players may have received more scrutiny than Arbuckle and the three offensive linemen who transferred from junior colleges: Taylor Evans, Steve Wolgamott and Mike Ivory.

Quarterback and the line were sore spots for the Panthers last season. The line allowed 32 sacks, and quarterback Ronnie Bell completed only 50.1 percent of his passes.

Miles said Arbuckle showed the leadership and focus on improving his fundamentals that Miles hoped to see. He said Bell also improved. Miles also liked what he saw from the offensive line, a group that includes freshman guard Alex Stoehr.

“Offensive line was one position group that really stood out,” said Miles, who also said Bell improved during the spring.

Miles saved the most praise for Blair and linebacker Joe Peterson.

The team is particularly thin at wide receiver until the high school signees arrive, and Miles said Blair stepped up to begin to fill the void left by the departure of several seniors. Blair appeared in nine games last season, catching six passes for 44 yards. He is expected to play in the slot next season.

“He had as good a spring as anybody,” Miles said.

Peterson, a starter the past two seasons, showed the maturity and experience that Miles wanted to see. The defense gave up averages of 36.7 points and 466.5 yards per game last season.

“If we can get everyone up to the speed Joe P is playing we will be fine,” Miles said.

Coaches are allowed to spend eight hours each week during the summer before the August camp starts. Miles said the team will continue to try to improve its strength and conditioning.

Several more junior college players are expected to arrive, including two at safety, which is still thin.

Chastain possibly out: Georgia State granted backup quarterback Clay Chastain his release, but Miles said Chastain will be welcomed back if he can't find another school.

Chastain enrolled in 2013 after passing for 1,907 yards and 20 touchdowns in one season at Georgia Military, but couldn’t crack the depth chart at Georgia State.

He redshirted last season and didn’t move up the depth chart this spring.

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