NC State

Ten things to know about Georgia State, NC State’s next football opponent

Should you be worried about NC State football?

The News & Observer's Joe Giglio answers if there is cause for concern after NC State's victory over James Madison University at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC. The Wolfpack face Georgia State on Saturday, Sept. 8.
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The News & Observer's Joe Giglio answers if there is cause for concern after NC State's victory over James Madison University at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC. The Wolfpack face Georgia State on Saturday, Sept. 8.

N.C. State meets Georgia State on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium (12:30 p.m.) in the first meeting between the two teams.

Ten things to know about the relative Football Bowl Subdivision newcomers from Atlanta:

1. 2017 recap

The Panthers went 7-5 overall, 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference, and picked up their first bowl win in their short history last season.

They beat Western Kentucky, 27-17, in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando.

Quarterback Conner Manning (no relation to the famous quarterback family) threw for 3,146 yards and receiver Penny Hart led the Sun Belt with 1,121 receiving yards (on 74 catches).

The season, the first under Shawn Elliott, started off slowly with losses to Tennessee State (a Football Championship Subdivision team) and Penn State.

The Panthers won the games they were supposed to, though. The combined record of the six teams they beat in the regular season was 16-56.

Georgia State, located in Atlanta, started playing football in 2010 and joined the FBS level in 2013. The 2017 season was its first (out of five) with a winning record.

2. Returning leaders

Passing: QB Aaron Winchester 6-9, 102 yards

Rushing: RB Taz Bateman 53 carries, 176 yards

Receiving: WR Penny Hart 74 catches, 1,121 yards

Tackles: LB Chase Middleton 65

3. Returning all-conference players

WR Penny Hart (first team)

DE Marterious Allen (third team)

LB Michael Shaw (third team)

4. Key losses

QB Conner Manning (3,146 passing yards)

RB Glenn Smith (594 rushing yards)

DT Julien Laurent (6.5 tackles for loss)

S Bryan Williams (four interceptions)

5. Breakout candidates

QB Dan Ellington: The juco transfer ran for 77 yards and passed for 187 with three touchdowns in his first start for the Panthers.

WR Christian Owens: With all of the attention on Hart, there’s room for Owens to make some hay. He has good size (6-4, 215). A transfer from South Carolina, he had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 24-20 win over Kennesaw State.

6. Plus

Hart ranked No. 11 in the FBS last season in receiving yards per game (93.4) and led the Sun Belt in receiving yards (1,121) despite missing out on a 12th regular-season game.

7. Minus

Georgia State can empathize with N.C. State’s kicking woes. The Panthers made 12 of 23 attempts last year, worst in the Sun Belt.

Also like N.C. State, the Panthers struggled on pass defense. They ranked No. 102 in the country last year (two spots ahead of the Wolfpack) and gave up an average of 251.4 yards per game.

8. Coaching connections

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Former South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott has his Georgia State team in a bowl in his first year there. Rainier Ehrhardt AP

Shawn Elliott was an assistant to Steve Spurrier at South Carolina and took over for Spurrier in 2015 and coached the final six games (the Gamecocks went 1-5) of that season.

Elliott was a longtime assistant at Appalachian State, his alma mater, before going to South Carolina in 2010.

Elliott and Georgia State athletic director Charlie Cobb both worked at App State together. Cobb is a former football player and assistant AD at N.C. State.

9. The Panthers vs. Power 5

GSU is 0-7 against Power 5 conference teams including an 0-1 mark vs. the ACC (28-0 loss at Clemson in 2014). All but one of the losses, 23-17 at Wisconsin in 2016, was by at least 28 points.

10. Schedule

Aug. 30 Kennesaw State (W, 24-20)

Sept. 8 at N.C. State

Sept. 14 at Memphis

Sept. 22 Western Michigan

Sept. 29 Louisiana-Monroe

Oct. 4 at Troy

Oct. 18 at Arkansas State

Oct. 27 Coastal Carolina

Nov. 3 Texas State

Nov. 10 at Louisiana-Lafayette

Nov. 17 at Appalachian State

Nov. 24 Georgia Southern

Experience in 360 degrees what it's like for the NC State Football team to take the field before the Wolfpack's season-opening win against James Madison University Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018.

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