Georgia State hopes to see improvement in spring game

Georgia State football coach Bill Curry borrowed the motto for the Panthers spring practice from a legendary source: Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas.

Curry said Unitas would stand next to the door in the team’s locker room before every game and say, “Talk is cheap. Let’s go play.”

Georgia State gets the chance to stop talking about its progress and show how far it has come Saturday when it plays its first spring game at 1 p.m. in the Georgia Dome.

Because of the roster limits of the Georgia State program and a recent rash of injuries, Curry is more concerned with improvements than the point total or big plays.

“What we want to do is we want to execute,” he said. “We want to run the right defenses, run the right offenses, do the right things in the special teams. We want to be able to display great enthusiasm, hitting and hustle on our home field for our spring game.”

The Panthers have 71 players on their roster, including nine who will not play because of injuries and four who are listed as questionable.

The secondary is particularly hard hit with four injured cornerbacks, which leaves only junior transfer Jocquez Fears and redshirt sophomore Brent McClendon available. Starting safety Brandon Jones will shift to cornerback to give a little depth.

“The cornerback situation is very big, because it affects our ability to play real football,” Curry said. “It will really limit what the defense can do.”

With the limited numbers, the team will use an offense-versus-defense format that gives the defense points for plays like turnovers, sacks, forced punts and other big plays. Georgia State used similar scoring for its first scrimmage last week and the offense won 24-21.

“When you have enough players to have two whole teams, then you don’t have to worry about the score system, you just play football," Curry said. "But when we’re thin enough that we don’t have two full teams, then we have to have a system like this.”

The key position battle remains at quarterback where redshirt freshmen Kelton Hill, Drew Little and Bo Schlechter each will be making their case for the starting position. Curry had hoped one of the trio would to take over but the position remains unsettled.

“You have to keep reminding yourself that all three of these guys are freshmen,” he said.

Curry said the offensive line has improved since its struggles in its first scrimmage.

“Our goal is to improve by two percent every day,” he said. “We have done that up front for sure.”

Curry hopes to see basic ball security and catching skills from the running backs and receivers. Redshirt sophomore Rosevelt Watson, a 5-foot-10, 200-pound running back, has impressed Curry during workouts.

The spring game is just a rehearsal for Georgia State, but hope springs eternal for the first-year program. And even if the team fails to impress, there is plenty of time to correct mistakes before the first game against Shorter on Sept. 2 in the Georgia Dome.

“The good news about this spring game is that we have three more practices,” Curry said.