Georgia State football faces three FCS programs, two BCS heavy weights (including the defending BCS champion) and a full slate of Sun Belt opponents. In the second of our on going series, we're checking in on our first BCS progam of the 2013 season. Today, we caught up with Chris Anderson of EerSports.com to get some insight on the West Virginia program exiting Spring, how the Mountaineer offense should continue to be explosive this Fall and the best places to visit in Morgantown.
Milan-Puskar Stadium is the site of the first of two BCS road games for Georgia State this Fall. Photo Courtesy of Bloguin.com.
PantherTalk.com: How do West Virginia fans view games against Georgia State who comes from a non-BCS conference?
Chris Anderson: West Virginia has long played against teams from non-BCS conference and have had several tight contests. Fans have often been excited for games against the likes of Marshall and East Carolina, but the issue this year is that WVU will open with William & Mary (an FCS opponent) and then two weeks later play Georgia State. When you only have three non-conference games, fans get a little underwhelmed with that slate.
PantherTalk.com: 2012 was a step back for a strong program and one that reached BCS bowl heights in the Big East. What are fans expecting in 2013 - more of the same or climbing back in the driver seat in the Big 12?
CA:The transition to the Big12 hurt a good bit, but the fact that the previous staff left virtually no talent or experience in the secondary was downright devastating. Last year's offense was one of the nation's best, but the defense - or, more precisely, the pass defense - was the worst in the country. That leads to a 7-6 record. This year? Well, most of that defense is back, but this time the players will be experienced sophomores, juniors and seniors, instead of freshmen and sophomores playing serious minutes for the first time. On offense, almost everything is gone. It will take another .500 or so year before there is experience and upgraded talent on both sides of the ball.
PantherTalk.com: Offensively, obviously big losses in QB Geno Smith and do everything WR Tavon Austin who are now in the NFL. Who stood out as offensive playmakers this Spring?
CA:Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison have each had 900+ yards from scrimmage in a season before and are expected to do big things at running back. At wide receiver, early enrollee JUCO Kevin White had an extremely impressive spring and is my pick to lead the team in receiving touchdowns. Sophomore Jordan Thompson had a huge spring game (100+ yards receiving, two touchdowns), but did so last spring as well and could only muster up 85 receiving yards all of last fall.
PantherTalk.com: Defensively, it was a bit of a struggle in 2012, especially during the 5 game losing streak, what changes have been made to take a positive step forward on that side of the ball?
CA: For last year, Keith Patterson and Joe DeForest were "co-defensive coordinators" with DeForest being the main man and calling the plays. By the end of the year, their roles had switched, but the philosophy was still mostly what DeForest had instituted. This year, Patterson is the go-to guy and has implemented a more aggressive scheme. New cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell will also make a big difference, teaching the corners better technique and eliminating the large cushions they gave last season.
PantherTalk.com: There should be some Panther blue in Morgantown for the game and for those heading North from Atlanta, what are the must see places to see and best places to eat?
CA: Kegler's has always been the go-to for wings, beers and the like. They have a great atmosphere and you will always find fans from both teams in there. Also, don't be opposed to tailgating with WVU fans. They get a bad rap due to a few annoying college kids, but Mountaineer fans received rave reviews from Big12 schools for being so hospitable.
Special Thanks to Chris Anderson of EerSports.com for joining us!