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Break Up the Panthers

By Emory Hunt
SouthernPigskin.com
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The Georgia State Panthers have quietly won three straight games, all in impressive fashion, and now find themselves in the thick of the Sun Belt Conference race.

With so much chaos going on in college football these days, it’s easy to overlook some of the stuff that happens on a weekly basis. Well, this story has been unfolding over the last three weeks. The Georgia State Panthers have quietly won three straight games, all in impressive fashion, and now find themselves in the thick of the Sun Belt Conference race. The 2017 Panthers are a great example of why you have to let the season unfold and not write the book on a team after the 1st two weeks of the season.

The Panthers opened up the year with an embarrassing loss to Tennessee State of the FCS and a blowout loss to Penn State 56-0. It would’ve been easy to write off the 2017 season as a waste and start looking toward recruiting and the 2018 season. But a ton of credit has to go to Head Coach Shawn Elliott and this coaching staff for galvanizing this team and getting things turned around. You’re seeing a Panther offense, with Offensive Coordinator Travis Trickett at the controls, average 34 points per game in this 3 game stretch. The passing game really has gotten it together and helped provide good balance to their offense. The rhythm is where it needs to be and quarterback Conner Manning has been much more efficient and decisive throwing the ball. 

On the defensive side, Defensive Coordinator Nate Fuqua has really started to see his guys get after it on both ends. The Panthers in their last three games have collected 20 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. I think it’s safe to say that they’ve done a masterful job of playing on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Stopping the run is about attitude and want-to, and we’ve seen both increase in a positive way during this winning streak. In the Sun Belt Conference, if you have defense, you can find yourself winning this league.

The season isn’t over by any means, but it’s great to see a team get off the mat and get it together.

This week the Panthers welcome in the Troy Trojans, who will be coming off of a tough loss to South Alabama. They’ve had more than a week to prepare for Georgia State, so this game figures to be a great test for how far or how much progress the Panthers have made since Week 1. This will also be a great test for a revamped defense that is able to apply pressure as the Trojans bring in one of the more dangerous passing attacks into Georgia State Stadium.

One thing is for sure; the Panthers have made things very interesting in the Sun Belt Conference and figures to be a serious player within it the rest of the way as they try to position themselves to become bowl eligible for the 1st time since 2015. I know that is 3 wins away, but a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step. And they start walking toward that goal this week against Troy.

Emory Hunt - Emory Hunt, "The Czar of the Playbook", is a former UL Ragin' Cajun running back nw covering the Sun Belt for Southern Pigskin. His other work can be found at FootballGameplan.com. Twitter: @FBallGameplan