by: Alex Welch
The Georgia State Panthers travel to Williamsburg, Va. for a 7 p.m. ET matchup on Saturday with the William & Mary Tribe. CSS will provide the coverage with Joe Beninati and Antonio Freeman calling the game from the booth.
One team will be walking away with its first win of 2012 this weekend, that's for sure. Both squads enter Saturday's contest at Zable Stadium with an 0-4 record.
The Panthers have never faced off against the Tribe in their brief gridiron history. Although Georgia State belongs to the Colonial Athletic Association this season, it will make the jump to the FBS next season, so this could be the last time William & Mary sees the likes of the Atlanta-based bunch.
Despite a winless record, the Tribe lost their first three games of the year by a total margin of just seven points. The Panthers on the other hand have struggled throughout the first four weeks. But this is to be expected from a program in just its third season ever.
Georgia State head coach Bill Curry is set to retire at the end of his 20th season, and surely the Panthers would like to top the three wins they finished with in 2011. Jimmye Laycock is currently in his 33rd season at the helm of the Tribe, though, so he won't make things easy when the Panthers roll into town.
Let's take a look at what you should watch for in this CAA clash.
1) Georgia State is averaging just 11.8 points per game in 2012. Curry is looking to find a way to change his offensive scheme up a bit after acknowledging the same routine each week isn't getting the job done.
2) Who starts at quarterback for the Panthers? This will be a game-time decision between redshirt freshmen Ben McLane or Ronnie Bell. Bell played mainly in the second half in his two appearances so far, but his strong arm is helping him vie for a starting role.
3) Donald Russell is currently sitting on 383 yards on 61 carries, averaging 95.8 yards on the ground per game. He needs to get plenty of touches against a Tribe defense that is yielding 168.8 rush yards each week.
4) Wideout Albert Wilson is the top target for whoever takes the snaps at quarterback. The junior receiver has 21 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns, providing the only scoring through the air so far.
5) The Panthers defense is dealing with depth issues. The defensive line lost David Huey to injury and Nermin Delic for the year after being ruled ineligible. And now Joe Lockley may not play after suffering a groin injury against Richmond. The linebacking corps is also depleted with several ailing players. After allowing 39.2 points and 185.2 yards rushing per game in the first four weeks, injuries are taking a toll on the unit, and Georgia State needs its underclassmen backups to step up.
6) William & Mary hasnt started a season 0-4 since 1981. However, Laycock's squad that year ended up winning five of the next seven games, providing some solace it his ability to turn it around in 2012.
7) The Tribe leads the nation in fewest penalties per game, averaging only three in each contest. This has been a staple of Laycock's teams in recent years.
8) After averaging a whopping 206.6 yards on the ground last season, the Tribe is rushing for just 109.8 yards per game at this point. If senior running back Meltoya Jones is able to go, he needs to be more involved as he is averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
9) Like Wilson for Georgia State, Tre McBride is by the far the biggest weapon for William & Mary's passing game. The sophomore wideout caught 20 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns in the first four weeks of the season.
10) The defense for the Tribe only has four sacks and five hurries on the season. They will need to bring more pressure against the young quarterbacks for Georgia State and take advantage of an offensive line that has given up 10 sacks and 24 tackles for losses.
by: Alex Welch