MADISON – When it comes to preparing for the opposition, Wisconsin sophomore inside linebacker T.J. Edwards never looks at a stat sheet to get a gauge for his next opponent.
“We strictly focus on the film; the past doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “Any team can play great on any week.”
It’s a smart move, considering the stats for Georgia State don’t boast a world of confidence for the Panthers when they play No.9 Wisconsin Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium (11 a.m., Big Ten Network).
College football stats are a small sample size, but the Panthers (0-2) rank 104th or worse in every offensive category, including ranking 127th in the country in total offense (220.5 yards per game) and rushing offense (52.0). Worst yet the problems aren’t isolated to an offense that is breaking in two new quarterbacks.
In the 48-14 loss at Air Force last week, the Panthers gave up 464 rushing yards and held the ball for just 14 minutes, 46 seconds. Of the 128 teams in division 1, Georgia State ranks dead last in rush defense at 394.5 yards per game.
“I thought that we were horrible,” head coach Trent Miles said. “I didn’t think we played well. We didn’t play good football, (including the) fundamentals and basics of blocking and tackling and kicking and throwing and catching. We’ve got to fix that if we want to be a competitive football team.”
Miles wants the identity of his program to be players who play hard, a necessity for a program still in its infancy. The football program wasn’t created until 2008, didn’t play its first football game until 2010 and didn’t join the FBS and the Sun Belt conference until 2013. The program went 2-33 from 2012-14 before going 6-6 last regular season and playing in the Cure Bowl.
Georgia State (based in Atlanta) is Miles second head coaching job and second rebuilding project. He coached at Indiana State from 2008 until he was hired by GSU in 2012, going 1-22 his first two seasons before finishing with winning records his final three years.
He also coached the defensive backs at Hawaii when tailback Ron Dayne ran for 339 yards in a 59-10 victory in 1996, worked with Wisconsin running back coach John Settle at Fresno State after that and spent the 2000 season on Mike Sherman’s Green Bay Packers staff as wide receivers coach.
The Panthers will receive a $1.2 million paycheck to see if they can improve to 1-7 against power five conference schools.
“They’re always going to be known to be a very physical, tough football team defensively and the (on) offensive line,” Miles said of Wisconsin. “Always going to have good running backs … You’re going to have good players there. I remember when (Wisconsin) wasn’t (good), and I remember when Coach Alvarez took over and became what it is.”
While the numbers say one thing, the film says another. head coach Paul Chryst touted the number of skill players the Panthers have on both sides of the ball, quarterback Bart Houston said they “are going to play hard” and offensive coordinator/line coach Joe Rudolph said Georgia State’s defense throws multiple looks, showing an opposing offense “pretty much everything you can imagine.”
According to Miles, the Panthers’ goal on Saturday is starting taking steps back in the right direction.
“They’re pissed off and they know that they’re better than what they showed Saturday and they want to make amends and play good football,” he said. “They’ve got a good attitude as far as work and doing things. Right now, they’re disappointed in themselves and they want to make amends for it.”