The Georgia State Panthers have made big strides this past year, winning their first Sun Belt conference game and even making a bowl game their third year into being a part of the FBS. Now, they must move on from the best quarterback in the schools, albeit short, history - Nick Arbuckle.
This past season, we saw Arbuckle really click with his talented group of receivers throwing for 4,368 yards on 63.2% passing. He improved in all facets of the game, which was a huge reason why the team finished 6-6 in regular season play. Most notably, he improved his TD to INT ratio from 23:17 to 28:12 even though he threw 57 more passes (486 total) in 2015 than in 2014.
Out with the old and in with the new though, as Arbuckle was a senior this past year. Where does it leave this Georgia State program that is trying to build on the momentum they built this past season?
According to quarterbacks coach Luke Huard, the competition for the starting quarterback position will be between second-year players Aaron Winchester, Emiere Scaife, and Utah transfer, Conner Manning. Unfortunately for Georgia State fans, Conner Manning is not the lesser-known Manning, that would be Cooper.
Because of Arbuckle having control of the offense in his two years at Georgia State, Scaife only attempted eight passes in 2015, making him the most experienced returner of the group. Unfortunately, he did not complete any of those.
After graduating from Utah in just 2.5 years (woah), Conner Manning has transferred to Georgia State with two years of eligibility remaining and can play this upcoming season. His experience at Utah includes 2-6 passing for 28 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception against Arizona during the 2014 season.
Winchester did not play in 2015, but is described as a dual-threat quarterback that looks a little undersized at 6'2, 175 pounds. After redshirting this past season, he makes for an intriguing quarterback option because of his legs. According to 247, he was a composite three-star player coming out of high school.
Georgia State's 2016 season will depend directly on how their quarterback performs for them. While that kind of prediction is not a surprise in college football, the lack of experience under center combined with a rushing attack that averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in 2015 puts a lot of stress on whoever wins the position headed into the fall.
Replacing Nick Arbuckle is the most important issue for this team and will certainly be discussed plenty here from spring practice through fall.