Start Time: 3:30 P.M. ET, Saturday, Oct. 3
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Records: Georgia State 1-2, Liberty 2-2. This is the first overall meeting between these two programs.
Live Stats: here.
Betting Line: No Line
Georgia State Outlook: Two stats show a significant reason for the lack of Georgia State’s success so far this season. The Panthers are getting very little from special teams, starting drives on average from the 26 yard line. Also, turnover luck has hit the Panthers in a bad way, losing 6.35 points per game due to turnovers.
The Panthers are ranked #104 in the nation with a rush success rate of only 37.0%. The national average is 42.1%. Kyler Neal (41/143/2TD) is the team’s leading rusher and the only runner on the team with 100+ yards on the season. The Georgia State run game is averaging 138.7 yards per game and only 3.9 yards per carry. If the Panthers want to at least be competitive, the run game has to improve significantly.
The Panthers pass game has been more successful this season with a success rate of 42.5%. That rate is just on the good side of average nationally. Quarterback Nick Arbuckle (82-121/989/7TD) pulls the strings from behind center with a completion rate of 67.8%. Wide receivers Penny Hart (21/331/3TD) and Robert Davis (16/228/1TD) have been the top two targets on the season, accounting for 42.1% of all passing targets on the season. Accuracy has been a gift in the passing game with all receivers with 10+ targets having catch rate of 66.7% or higher on the season. The Panthers are averaging 329.7 yards per game in the air.
When a defense is giving up 5.52 points per trip inside the 40, it is very clear there are issues. In giving up 186.3 yards per game on the ground, offenses are successful on 45.5% of all attempts. Surprisingly, the Panthers boast a .91 rush IsoPPP, one of the top 30 in the nation. In the passing game, teams are only successful on 40% of all plays, but have a passing IsoPP of only 1.66. Offenses are throwing for 305.7 yards per game versus the pass defense.
Players to watch for on the Georgia State defense include: linebacker Joseph Peterson (25 tkl, 1.5 tfl, 1.5 sacks), safety Tarris Batiste (23 tkl, 3tfl), and safety Bobby Baker (22 tkl, 2 INT, 3 fumble recoveries).
Liberty Outlook: Offensively, the Flames have struggled running the football this season at 120 yards per game and 3.3 yards per carry. Desmond Rice is the team’s leading rusher with 247 yards on 63 carries. D.J. Abnar is a solid backup with 178 yards on 33 carries. Abnar has actually been more successful running the ball with a 5.4 yards per carry average, the best of anyone with more than five carries on the season.
Passing the football has been more successful with the Flames putting up 261.8 yards per game in the air. Quarterback Josh Woodrum (82-141/1005/5TD) has looked solid behind center with just over 250 yards per game on his own. Woodrum has built a connection with Zac Parker (21/257/1TD). Darrin Peterson (15/192/2TD), BJ Farrow (14/197/0TD), and Dante Shells (10/224/2TD) are also major factors in the passing game.
In similar numbers to their own offense, the Liberty defense is giving up 122.5 yards per game on the ground and 262.2 yards per game in the air. No one has been able to run the ball well versus the Flames with 3.6 yards per carry on 138 attempts. Much of that is due to a defense that believes in constantly attacking the offense. Liberty’s defense has 29 tackles for loss and 14 sacks in only four games.
Players to watch for on Liberty’s defense include: Avery James (31 tkl, 2.5 tfl, 1 sack), Nick Newman (24 tkl, 3 tfl, 1 sack), Corbin Jackson (24 tkl, 5.5 tfl), and Chima Uzowihe (14 tkl, 5.5 tfl, 5.5 sacks).
Prediction: At some point, the Panthers have to get it together and become a competent football team. With several tough games coming up soon, now would be the time for things to come together overall. The offense will score, and I think the defense does just enough for the win. Georgia State 35, Liberty 31.