This school year Georgia Perimeter will go through the transition from Jaguars to Panthers. So why wait until then to start acclimating ourselves with our future alma mater and what better way to start than with some football!
Aug. 5 marked the first official day of the 2015 football season for the Panthers and The Collegian will help you get warmed up with highlights and observations from their media day. As the media met with Head Coach Trent Miles and several players there were certainly some themes that dominated the conversation throughout the day.
The Panthers suffered a concerning number injuries in 2014; so health was a major topic of conversation heading into training camp. Staying healthy will be crucial to whatever success Georgia State hopes to have in 2015.
The good news is that most of the players will enter fall camp relatively in good shape. The only player that may not see much action during camp and is questionable for the season opener is senior tight-end, Joel Ruiz (#8).
Ruiz, who was named to the 2015 John Mackey Award preseason watch list and is a potential top five tight-end heading into the 2016 N.F.L. draft. Played in 10 games and accounted for 39 receptions for 478 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
Redshirt sophomore running back, Kyler Neal (#25) is back from a knee injury and seems ready to help the Panthers get the running game going. Offensive guard, Taylor Evans (#65) is one player in particular happy to see his group healthy. “Having everyone healthy and having depth has really helped us up front,” said Evans.
Like any team in the country the Panthers are looking to show signs of improvement from last season. So what exactly do the players want to get better at?
“We must work on perfecting plays,” said senior quarterback Nick Arbuckle (#4). Over the summer Arbuckle worked with the receivers on drills and extending plays. He also reviewed film with some defensive players to get an idea of what they see that can help him improve.
“Repetition and applying the ‘6 points of pressure’ will help prevent fumbles,” said Neal. In 2014, the Panthers lost 12 of 22 fumbles.
On the other side of the ball senior linebacker, Joe Peterson (#6) would like to see the defense create more turnovers and Coach Miles would like to see the players maintain their coverage gaps to defend the run better.
The players acknowledge even with all the schematic and skill level improvements they make as a team or individually may not matter if they do not enhance their mental toughness.
There was plenty of love to go around between the players during Media Day. Showing some love are:
Nick Arbuckle and running back Krysten Hammon – Arbuckle was the first to mention Hammon was back on the Panthers roster after being suspended and ultimately leaving the program. Arbuckle expects Hammon to make a huge impact this season in the running game.
Safety Tarris Batiste (#3), cornerback Jerome Smith (#16) and safety Bobby Baker (#2) – Batiste thinks that both players should push for playing time this season.
Wide Receiver Robert Davis (#19) and Donovan Harden – “Obviously a great weapon. One of the best the nation has to offer,” said Davis.
Baker about the young defensive talent – Baker said that he recognized a lot of young raw talent on the defense especially at corner.
Evans on the new offensive linemen – “All the new guys have come in and done a good job.”
Wide receivers Donovan Harden (#9) and Penny Hart (#30) – Harden thinks that Hart, is a player to keep an eye on this fall.
The team seems very eager to forget about the past and the future seems very much in their sights. The one goal that stands out more than all others? Win.
“My time at Georgia State has gone from teaching the players how to compete (on and off the field) to teaching them how to win this season,” said Coach Miles. This team now expects to earn more wins than they did a year ago and are even talking about going to a potential bowl game this season.
In order accomplish that goal, Coach Miles says that the team will have to play aggressive, secure the football and make plays in Special Teams. If they attain this goal they have a chance to meet all their expectation this season
Georgia State vs Charlotte
Friday Sep. 4, 3:30 p.m.
Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
Woody Bass is a staff writer at The Collegian and can be found on Twitter as @WoodyBass.