October 15, 2020 | 2:31pm
While Arkansas State made considerable Sun Belt noise in early September, we’re wondering if the real team to watch in the loop might instead be Georgia State.
Heading into 2020, word from Atlanta was that replacing two-year starting QB Dan Ellington could stall whatever progress coach Shawn Elliott might be making into his fourth year on the job. But any such concerns seem to be alleviated after the first two games thanks to redshirt frosh QB Cornelious Brown IV, who has been borderline electric when piloting the Panthers’ spread-option.
Already, GSU is scoring 40 ppg and gaining better than 450 ypg as “Cornelious time” is all about a balanced attack that also features slashing junior RB Destin Coates (already 263 yards rushing in two games). Ask East Carolina, hit with a 35-point Panther haymaker in the first half of GSU’s easy 49-29 win Oct. 3 at what they used to call Turner Field just south of downtown. All of which suggests the near-upset of Sun Belt favorite UL-Lafayette in the conference opener Sept. 19 might not have been a fluke.
We have a few more reservations about the host Red Wolves after they were recently flattened by Sun Belt foe Coastal Carolina, and a subsequent 50-27 win against overscheduled FCS Central Arkansas is no endorsement. Especially as ASU’s defense now must quickly change gears to deal with the option elements of the GSU offense after facing the pass-happy Bears of the Southland Conference.
Moreover, consider that Arkansas State’s early September shocker over Kansas State included some odd dynamics (including previous COVID distractions for the Wildcats) not likely to be replicated. After making several big plays vs. ECU QB Holton Ahlers (including three interceptions), the Georgia State defense will be confident it can deal with either Red Wolves QB (Logan Bonner or Layne Hatcher). And we’re inclined to overlook recent point-spread struggles by GSU as a road ’dog (just one cover — at SEC Tennessee— in 10 chances the previous two seasons).
The play: Georgia State, +3.5.