Georgia State Panthers (1-2) at Houston Cougars (3-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, September 24th, 7:00 PM Central
All-Time Series: First Meeting
After a dramatic win over Louisiana Tech last weekend, Houston culminates its non-conference schedule with a home showdown with FCS opponent Georgia State. The Panthers are in their second year of football existence, and after putting together a 6-5 record last year, they are 1-2 in 2011, coming off losses to fellow FCS opponents Old Dominion and Jacksonville State.
When we were putting together our mega-preview for the UH football non-conference schedule, we hit up Panther alum, and writer for SB Nation Atlanta and PantherTalk.com, Ben Moore. Click on over and scroll down for a bunch of good Panther info.
Since it's game week, we reached out to Moore again, and got some more up-to-date perspective on the team:
SB Nation Houston: When we spoke before the season, you mentioned the arrest of backup QB and WildCat specialist Kelton Hill. He hasn't played so far, but I see him listed third on the QB depth chart for this weekend's game. Houston is a team that has struggled against mobile quarterbacks. Is there any chance we see Hill on Saturday?
Ben Moore: Many Panther fans were not expecting Kelton to return to school, much less the program after this arrest. DA Paul Howard chose not to pursue charges and the University suspended him for one game. Coach Curry spoke several times about Hill having additional penalties and has stuck with it. He was basically suspended for the first 3 games and I do not expect him to play this Saturday either. Bo Schlechter is mobile but has made poor decisions in the running game. He hesitates on designed runs and has not been patient running option reads. Drew (Little) is not mobile at all but makes quick decisive decisions. He is, by far, the more accurate QB and Panther fans are growing very weary of watching Bo's inconsistent arm even growing sour with Coach Curry and OC John Bond's playcalling utilizing the player's strengths.
SBN-Houston: Starting quarterback Bo Schlechter has completed just over half of his passes for 4 touchdowns and only one pick so far, and running backs Travis Evans and Donald Russell have each gained over 100 yards on better than four and a half yards per carry. Which aspect of the Panther offense do you believe should be a bigger concern for UH?
BM: It's a great question and one that I'm having trouble with. Panther fans were promised a quick tempo game with weapons all over the field. Instead the offense put up eight 3 and outs vs. ODU and completely got away from a running game that was very effective in the first half vs. a #16 ranked Jacksonville State team. If Bo does indeed start (still awaiting the information from Curry's presser earlier this afternoon), I expect a reeled in game plan on offense. Both Donald Russell and Travis Evans have done well with enough touches. Both can catch out of the backfield and can move the chains. We did suffer an injury to our best offensive weapon in Albert Wilson (the same Albert Wilson who returned a kick 97 yards vs. Alabama last Fall for the Panthers only score at Alabama) and he is out this weekend with a hamstring pull. The Panthers do have capable pass catching tight ends in Emmanuel Ogbuehi and Arthur 'Bully' Williams. Look for passes to be targeting Jordan Giles and Danny Williams. The weapons are there but I'm just not convinced they can be consistently delivered on time and in the best place for the receivers to make a play.
SBN-Houston: Opposing defenses (Air Force '09, UCLA '10, Louisiana Tech for two and a half quarters last week) have shown the ability to slow down Houston's offensive attack when they can get enough of a push up front to prevent Houston's run game from being an effective weapon, causing the offense to become one-dimensional and predictable. Will Georgia State's front seven be able to trouble the Cougars in that way?
BM: Pass rush was actually something that I was less worried about after adding UConn transfer DE A.J. Portee. I should have been. The Panthers Defensive line has one sack and that was in Christo Bilukidi. This will be the 4th consecutive spread offense Georgia State's defense has faced and they've done a very good job vs. the pass. The abject failure has been not being able to stop the run, something that has plagued the program in our first 14 games. I know that is not Houston's strength but I actually hope UH challenges GSU on the ground to move the clock and keep the score lower than what it could be. Our front 7 weighs a combined 1679lbs which is likely the lightest unit that UH will face in 2011.
I believe Georgia State has the physical corners in Demarius Mathews, Brent McClendon & D'Mario Gunn, to stay in front of the Coogs WR corps but that unit has to battle Houston's receiving unit and force their timing off. My question is can they do it for multiple plays. Houston is averaging more than 76 offensive plays per game thus far and that number scares the mess out of me. I think it will be a great test for members of our secondary that were recruited by FBS schools. There will be many teaching opportunities as the Panthers will head into a BYE week after this game.