Plenty of rehearsals for Georgia State

In practices leading to Thursday's game, coaches tried to ready players -- and themselves -- by running through situations and plays at game tempo. Georgia State coach Bill Curry put players through different situations, like a blocked field goal, to test what how they would respond.

"Our team should know now because we've hammered at it," Curry said.

The answer: If the ball crosses the line of scrimmage, it's like a punt. The kicking team can't recover it or advance it. If it hasn't crossed the line, the kicking team can pick it up and run with it.

Defensive coordinator John Thompson had other coaches script out situations with different downs and distances and personnel groups without telling him in advance, so he could face the situations fresh and try to call plays accordingly.

Thompson acknowledged he last called a game in 2007, when he was defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, but "there were about 400 [games] before that," he said.

Even keel

It's the first game in school history, but it's still just a football game like any other. Part of Curry's job Thursday will be to navigate his team between those two realities.

"It won't be just a regular game," linebacker Jake Muasau said. "Out of all the games that we're going to play from here on out, we're mainly going to remember that first one."

Said center Ben Jacoby, "We're all nipping at the heels to get this game started."

Curry said he would keep a close eye on his team before the game to gauge his players' nerves.

"This is going to be remembered forever because it'll be the first," Curry said. "We all carry that responsibility, but what I want to do as a team is keep us loose and aggressive and not have us out there thinking, ‘Oh, dear God, my grandchildren are going to read about this.'"

Won't need tickets

Among guests expected to attend: Gov. Sonny Perdue, former Mayor Andrew Young, Sen. Johnny Isakson, former Gov. Roy Barnes, former Falcons coach Dan Reeves (who served as a consultant when the school first looked into football), Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager, former Georgia Tech quarterback John Dewberry and former Tech athletic director Homer Rice.

Atlanta businessman and GSU alumnus Parker "Pete" Petit, a former Tech classmate of Curry's who made a $1.5 million donation to the football practice facility, will do the coin toss.

Stylin'

The Panthers will take the field in jerseys that are supposed to incorporate traditional and contemporary styles. They'll wear blue helmets, blue jerseys with white numbers and lettering with white pants. The numbers and lettering are in a font created for the jersey.

"I'm a big guy, but I look pretty good in it," Muasau said. "I love the jerseys."

The opponent

If you're wondering, Shorter University – it was Shorter College until this summer – is located in Rome. It has an enrollment of 2,900 students (compared to GSU's 31,000). The school's teams compete in NAIA. Former Virginia Tech, Miami and Clemson basketball coach Bill Foster coached at the school in the '60s.

In the seats

The school estimates attendance will be between 16,000 and 20,000, including about 7,000 students. Tickets start at $15 and are available at Ticketmaster and the Georgia Dome box office.