Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott plans to push his Panthers to find their edge this offseason.
An edge, being a quality or factor that gives superiority over close rivals or competitors, is something the Panthers lacked as the team finished 2-10 overall and 1-7 in Sun Belt play.
“We had a team meeting and I talked to our team about developing an edge,” Elliott said. “When we walk in the locker room or we walk on the field, we need to have an edge and that’s going to start with our offseason conditioning and strength training. Those are going to be some critical, critical things to develop the edge we need to be successful next year.”
Despite a losing record, the Panthers found success this season especially on the ground. Georgia State set school records with 2,057 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns rushing this season. In his first season with the Panthers, junior starting quarterback Dan Ellington led the Panthers in rushing with 625 yards, marking the third-best season total in Georgia State history and best by a quarterback.
“To tell the truth, Dan wasn’t a running quarterback,” Elliott said. “He wasn’t a running quarterback in high school, he ran a little bit in his junior college days, but he developed his running game, and I saw a tough, hard-nosed quarterback that had a will about him to be the very, very best and to gain a much valued respect from his teammates by the way he played the game.”
Along with Ellington, 17 Georgia State freshmen saw action in 2018, including running back Seth Paige and wide receiver Cornelius McCoy. Paige finished with 341 rushing yards, ranking third in rushing for the Panthers, while McCoy ranked second in receiving yards –– right behind starter Penny Hart –– with 495 yards.
The inexperience in positions such as the secondary and offensive line led to Elliott’s first losing season with Georgia State, however, with only 12 seniors departing, the youth highlights a spark for the Panthers that excites Elliott.
“I just see guys gaining experience and learning how to play this game the way it should be played,” Elliott said. “And have the ability to get ourselves into successful situations next fall.”
Georgia State now turns its focus to 2019 –– Elliott’s third season with the Panthers and Ellington’s second. The Panthers will host tough Sun Belt opponents in Appalachian State and Troy and travel to rival Georgia Southern. With the competitiveness of the Sun Belt Conference, Elliott plans to focus on the areas he knows will take his team to the next level in 2019.
“Certainly we have to get stronger, we have to get bigger, and if you watch us, we’ve got to get faster,” Elliott said. “So we’ve got to develop that in our offseason, but from a mentality standpoint, we’ve got to have our edge moving forward and that’s through a really, really tough, hard offseason.”
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