Spring game is next step in new Georgia State football puzzle

Georgia State quarterbacks run drills during spring football practice, at Center Parc Credit Union Stadium on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Jamie Spaar for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Credit: Jamie Spaar

Georgia State quarterbacks run drills during spring football practice, at Center Parc Credit Union Stadium on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. (Jamie Spaar for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Things have started to slow a bit for Dell McGee. The firehose from which he was drinking last month when he became Georgia State’s head football coach remains steady, but no longer is the gusher it was when he accepted the job.

“There are still things going on every single day, so there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done that I need to get done,” McGee said. “It’s a work in progress. It is a lot slower than it was, so I can relax a little bit. Still got a lot of work to do for us getting ready for the spring game and getting the fans and alumni, faculty and the city of Atlanta there to the game. That’s our next step.”

Georgia State will wrap up its 13-session spring practice with the Blue-White game at 4 p.m. Friday at Center Parc Stadium. Admission is free, and parking in the blue lot is free.

McGee and his new staff – which includes only one holdover from Shawn Elliott’s staff – are still trying to learn names and familiarize themselves with the current roster. More additions could be on the way when the transfer portal reopens May 1.

His goals for the spring game are modest, knowing the team is far from a game-ready product.

“We want to play clean, have 11 people on both sides, make sure we’re organized, just paying attention to all the little things, the details,” McGee said. “And just have situational awareness, down and distance, how many timeouts we have in a two-minute situation. Just defining all the scenarios that could come up in a game is our biggest goal.”

Here are five things to watch in the spring game.

Who will become the leader for the open quarterback job?

It still likely will come down to Zach Gibson, who transferred from Georgia Tech, and Graylen Ragland, a redshirt freshman who remind some observers of GSU great Dan Ellington. Freshmen Bryson Harrison and Seth Griffin also are in the discussion. Regardless of who wins the job, there are huge shoes to fill with the graduation of three-year starter Darren Grainger.

How is the running back rotation going to shake down?

There is more than enough proven depth for the staff to evaluate this spring. Freddie Brock set a single-game rushing record in the Potato Bowl last season. C.J. Beasley transferred from Coastal Carolina, where he was an all-conference player. Domonique Thomas contributed at Clemson, but transferred to Georgia State to play a bigger role. The new staff will need to determine how to divide the carries.

Who will become this year’s go-to receiver?

All-conference receiver Robert Lewis transferred to Auburn, and speedy Tailique Williams entered the portal in the spring. Next in line may be seniors Cadarrius Thompson, who had some big moments last season, and the dependable Ja’Cyais Credle. There are 10 receivers on the roster, so the opportunity is there.

Will the revamped offensive line that played so well in the Potato Bowl continue to mesh?

This remains a work in progress – Mason Cook is being tried at center – and likely will stay that way through summer practice and preseason camp. Players are being tested at different spots, so nothing is guaranteed.

Who will emerge as the defensive leader?

Jordan Veneziale is out of eligibility, and outside linebacker Kevin Swint and cornerback Gavin Pringle are out with injuries. It’s a good chance for inside linebacker Justin Abraham to parlay his senior experience into a bigger role and cornerback Izaiah Guy to build on a successful freshman season.

McGee said, “It’s a work in progress. I can see us getting better 1% each day, and that’s the goal for spring. Don’t make the same mistakes. Take coaching. And those guys are doing that.”