Previewing The Enemy: Georgia State Panthers

By: David Abruzzese and Ethan Kasales

After slipping a spot to No. 5 in the latest AP Poll, Penn State will host Georgia State Saturday at 7:30 on Big Ten Network hoping to rack up some style points.

The Team

The Panthers (0-1) lost to Tennessee State, 17-10, in their season opener way back on Sept. 1. They’ll receive a hefty $1.2 million check for making the trip to Beaver Stadium, plus another $1.1 million in cancellation fees after Memphis opted out of its Sept. 30 game in Atlanta due to rescheduling issues from Hurricane Irma.

2016 Record

Georgia State finished last year 3-9 (2-6 Sun Belt) in just its seventh season since joining the FBS ranks in 2010. Shawn Elliott took over as head coach during the offseason.

Offense

The Georgia State Panthers have some work to do offensively if the team is to get points on the board this Saturday. Redshirt senior transfer Conner Manning, who recorded 2,684 yards with 16 touchdowns and 13 picks a year ago after transferring over from Utah, steadies the ship. His top receiving tandem, Todd Boyd and Glenn Smith, combined for three grabs and 29 yards in the program’s tough week one loss.

Size figures to be an issue for the Panthers, both up front and on the outside. The Panthers feature a unique Pennsylvania connection in true freshman offensive guard Pat Bartlett. The Newtown, Pa. native was a two-star prospect who fielded offers from the likes of Illinois, Florida Atlantic, and Monmouth, going along with his Georgia State offer. His return to his home state will not be an easy test; Bartlett faces the tough task of fending off Parker Cothren and Curtis Cothran along the interior line.

Heading the rushing attack for Georgia State is all-purpose athlete Taz Bateman, who led the Panthers in both rushing and receiving categories last week. He’ll be the defense’s No. 1 priority on Saturday — a remarkable notion considering Bateman was lost for 2016 with an injury. He can pick up yardage in large chunks, and figures to be a force against the Nittany Lions in space.

Defense

Like the rest of Georgia State’s coaching staff, defensive coordinator Nate Fuqua is in his first year with the program. There’s a limited sample size of what style he intends for his defense to play this season, but junior college transfer DeAndre Applin and redshirt senior linebacker Trey Payne enjoyed solid games to start the year.

Toronto nose guard Julian Laurent leads the Panthers with two early tackles for loss, while cornerback Chandon Sullivan paces the defense with a pair of pass breakups. Payne was the lone player to record a sack for Georgia State in its season opener two weeks ago.

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