Georgia State finished last season 2-10 (1-7 Sun Belt), and the disappointing season left a bad taste in the players’ mouths. Coach Shawn Elliott does not want a repeat of last season, and wants to rewrite the script of this team’s identity.
Elliott entered spring practice with that mentality, and the work from spring football will culminate when Georgia State conducts its annual spring game Saturday at Georgia State Stadium.
Elliott has two quarterbacks competing for the backup quarterback position. Sophomore Jack Walker and redshirt freshman Swift Lyle have battled all through the spring. While Elliott said there is not still not a big separation between the two, he is looking for one to step out and take control.
Dan Ellington, the Panthers’ starting quarterback, said both Walker and Lyle are developing their confidence and a sense of “swagger” on the field. Ellington said Walker and Lyle, along with the offense as a whole, are working to be fundamentally sound under their new offensive coordinator Brad Glenn.
Redshirt freshman Sam Pinckney is one of the key wide receivers from whom Elliott and the Panthers want to see a strong performance next season. Pinckney suffered a season-ending knee injury during in his third game against Troy last season.
Ellington said he pulled a hamstring earlier during spring practice, but has recovered and practiced well throughout the spring. Ellington and Pinckney live near each another in a campus dorm, so Ellington and Pinckney talk about different aspects of the game they see in practice. It helps build the communication and trust between the two, a part of the game Ellington said he and the other quarterbacks have established with Pinckney.
“He’s a great red-zone threat,” Elliott said. “He’s probably got the purest hands out of anyone on our football team as far as catching the football. He loves to compete, and he’s still just a pup that learns this game.”
Elliott is pleased with the progress of the defense. The defensive line is putting pressure on the quarterback and making plays. The secondary units have improved their communication and moving into the right positions to make plays.
He hopes that Saturday’s game will include a strong showing by the defense after a successful spring.
“It’s going to be fun. (The players on defense) always talk about how they are the best right now,” Ellington said. “We know they are really good this year. I think they are going to be better than last year in a way. It’s going to be interesting. We’ll see who wins.”
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