The Achilles heel of this Panther squad has been their defense, and more specifically their inability to stop the run. Georgia State statistically has the worst defense in the Sun Belt, ranking last in points per game (42.4), total yards given up (487.1), rushing yards per game (300.1), interceptions (3), and opponent third down conversion (52.7%). The defense runs primarily out of a 3-4 base, led by their star linebacker Joseph Peterson who is recording 10.3 tackles per game.
The pass happy shotgun spread of Georgia State has seen success this season and are the third ranked pass offense in the Sun Belt (272 YPG). Unfortunately the Panthers rank last in turnover margin (-1.73) and are subsequently ranked only eighth in points per game (21.2). They have three players ranked in the top ten in receptions between two receivers and a talented tight end.
QB Nick Arbuckle (Jr.) is a 6'1 215-pound athlete who has good arm strength and touch. Arbuckle throws a nice catchable ball, that does not allow for many drops, but he' also thrown 15 interceptions on the season. He is completing 59.3 percent of his passes, while averaging 266.1 yards per game through the air which ranks first in the Sun Belt. Look for Arbuckle to try and connect on some deep sideline hitches and go routes, and try to get enough home-runs to stay ahead of his struggling defense.
RB Marcus Caffey (Jr.) is a 6'0 195-pound converted CB that has taken over the starting role due to injuries. Caffey was a former four star recruit coming out of high school and was at one time committed to play RB at Kentucky. He uses speed and good size to make one cut and try to get up field.
WR Donovan Harden (Jr.) is a 5'11 175-pound speedster who is best at creating separations and finding holes in zone coverage. Harden is the number three WR statistically in the Sun Belt, averaging 15 YPC, 75 yards per game, and has seven touchdowns on the season. Look for the Panthers to try and take at least a couple shots deep to him to try and stretch the field.
Keys to Victory
Offensively the Bobcats must continue to establish the run, while still connecting on shots down field to keep the defense from creeping in. Texas State should be able to score on Georgia State as long as they do not beat themselves with unnecessary turnovers. Look for Rob Lowe to expand upon his career performance from last week and try to help his team look attractive to a bowl committee.
Defensively Texas State must remain disciplined and prevent deep shots down field. Arbuckle throws a great deep ball and is good at buying a little more time with his legs. It is important for DE Michael Odiari ( Sr.) and the rest of the defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback and force him into quick short throws. If the defense can acquire at least two turnovers, don't expect this game to be close.