August 30, 2018 Atlanta - Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington (13) looks to pass in the second half of Georgia State season opening game against the Kennesaw State at Georgia State Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2018. Georgia State won 24-20 over the Kennesaw State. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Panthers quarterback Dan Ellington ‘excited’ to play in front of large crowd Saturday

Georgia State starting quarterback Dan Ellington is excited to play in front of a Power 5 crowd as the Panthers travel to N.C. State for a Saturday game.

In his first game as a Panther, Ellington put on a come-from-behind show against Kennesaw State in the season opener Aug. 30. Ellington was 20-of-28 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns in Georgia State’s 24-20 comeback win over the Owls.

Ellington found his confidence in front of 23,088 people –– less than half the crowd Ellington will see in the 12:30 p.m. game Saturday. 

“Thursday (against KSU) was probably the biggest crowd I have ever played in front of,” Ellington said. “But I think this Saturday is going to be even bigger.” 

Carter-Finley Stadium holds over 57,000 people –– a crowd Ellington has not seen in his football career. Yet, Ellington is up to the challenge of playing a Power 5 defense in front of a Power 5 crowd, hoping to hone in on the confidence he found in his first start as a Panther. 

“I just have to make sure I am processing the play, and go out there and have fun and play,” Ellington said. “I think that’s what it was, on that last drive (against Kennesaw State) and according to the second half, I thought I just went out there and had fun and just started playing.”

The large crowd is just one challenge the Panthers will face against N.C. State. Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott understands his team must overcome challenges on offense and defense if Georgia State hopes to start its’ season 2-0 for the first time in program history.

“They do a good job of running their outside zone, their big offensive linemen, so we’ve got to be prepared for that,” Elliott said. “Defensively, they lost a lot of players … but they still present big problems.” 

The Wolfpack’s defense ranked among the top 50 in top red-zone defenses (No. 34), team tackles for loss (No. 46), and turnovers gained (tied No. 44) in 2017. However, N.C. State lost seven players to the NFL Draft, including four defensive players. 

However, N.C. State’s defensive success and the Power 5 matchup does not intimidate Ellington. The junior-college transfer trusts his offensive coordinator Travis Trickett and the offensive preparation ahead of the Panthers’ second game of the season. 

“We’re just going to take what they give us, make sure we convert third downs, and make sure we stay ahead of the chains,” Ellington said. “Coach Trickett is going to put us in the best situation possible. We just have to go out there and execute.” 

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