Winchester highlight of Georgia State’s scrimmage

Georgia State’s White team defeated the Blue 26-3 in the scrimmage to end the spring practices on Saturday at Panthersville.

Quarterback Aaron Winchester, one of three players competing to win the starting job, had a stellar day in leading the White team to four touchdowns.

The biggest winner may have been the program, which made it through the spring practices with no major injuries as they look to improve upon last year’s 6-7 record and appearance in the Cure Bowl.

“I saw everything I needed to see today,” coach Trent Miles said.

The scrimmage had the following format: the first half was composed of two 15-minute quarters. The second half was two 12-minute quarters. There was a running clock throughout both halves, with the exception of the final two minutes.

Several players were held out of the scrimmage, either for precautionary measures or injuries. That group included tight end Keith Rucker, running backs Taz Bateman and Kendrick Dorn, wide receiver Penny Hart, offensive lineman Michael Ivory and defensive lineman Marterious Allen. Strongside linebacker Michael Shaw didn’t attend the game because he was working on a class project.

The team will open the 2016 season hosting Ball State on Sept. 2 at the Georgia Dome.

Here is the first of few observations about the scrimmage:

The quarterback competition. Miles said earlier in the week that the starting quarterback likely won't be selected until the day before the opening game. He pushed the deadline more into the future on Saturday saying the starter may not be decided until five minutes before the opener starts.

Winchester gave him some more to think about on Saturday. Winchester completed 9-of-16 passes for 167 yards, including a 32-yard pass on a go route to Mattavius Scott that he said was his best throw. He had touchdown passes of 6 yards to running back Kyler Neal, 5 yards to Scott and 39 yards to Todd Boyd. He also rushed for a 7-yard score. Because the defense kept things basic and didn’t blitz, Winchester was able to use his running ability to buy time to throw or to get down the field. He had four carries for 24 yards.

“For the most part Aaron was outstanding,” Miles said. “I thought I saw good things from all the quarterbacks.”

Winchester, a redshirt freshman, said he thought he did a good job of reading the defense and putting his teammates into the proper positions. He said his key on Saturday was he found a good rhythm, something also noticed by offensive coordinator Luke Huard.

“I felt like during this whole spring I improved every day,” Winchester said. “The big thing was reading the defense and getting into a rhythm.”

Conner Manning, a junior who transferred to Georgia State from Utah, completed 11-of-21 passes for 82 yards. He threw an interception to Justin Otiwu in the third quarter, but the pass was tipped by the wide receiver. Manning said he grew more comfortable in the offense each week during the spring.

“We had some drives going, we just couldn’t finish them today,” Manning said. “It was a successful spring.”

Emiere Scaife, a redshirt sophomore, completed 5-of-10 passes for 72 yards. He wasn’t helped by an offensive line that allowed him to be sacked at least three times.

“The competition will continue with the three of them,” Huard said. “All of them had good days. All of them had days where they could be better.”