By Dylan Larck
The Georgia State Panthers were the fourth best team in the Sun Belt conference, going 6-4 as they lost to the top three teams and were upset by Arkansas State. This will not be a game to take lightly as the last time the Panthers played an SEC opponent was against Tennessee in 2019 and they upset the Volunteers 38-30.
The Panthers return almost all of their starters from last year, only losing two big defensive players from last year, one being their 2020 sack leader Jordan Strachan.
This offense was led by sophomore quarterback Cornelious Brown IV. Last year, Brown threw for 2,278 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He was also the team’s third leading rusher with 307 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown had a decent season, but his turnover problem could be a hindrance to him in the future.
The Panthers were well-rounded from the running back position behind Destin Coates, who ran for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. Behind him was Tucker Gregg who rushed for 468 yards and six touchdowns.
The wide receiver room is where this team shines the most, as they return their top five receivers from last year. Sam Pinckney led all receivers in receiving yards with 815 yards and seven touchdowns. This team ranked 64th in passing offense and averaged 230.3 yards per game.
The front seven for the Panthers was the best part of this team last season. The defense ranked 33rd in rush defense and allowed 136.6 yards per game, holding opponents to just 3.86 yards per carry. Georgia State also led the Sun Belt in sacks last year with 35, and with Jordan Strachan gone it drops to 24.5, which would only drop them to third in the conference.
The Panthers pass defense ranked 113th in the country and allowed 273.7 yards per game. The secondary returns all of its starters on a pass defense that ranked near the bottom of the Sun Belt, but it is a question of how much they can improve in 2021.
MAKE OR BREAK FACTORS:
Brown made a lot of mistakes last year, and for Auburn to win they have to force mistakes from this young quarterback. With a team that has talent everywhere, their weak point is the offensive line, which ranked 80th on PFF’s offensive line rankings. Auburn will need to use this to their advantage by getting to Brown and shutting down this run game.
The secondary of Georgia State is the weakest part of this defense, and Auburn will need to use that to their advantage. Auburn should use their wide receivers more this game and utilize a balanced scheme to beat the Panthers.