KICKOFF: 7:00 p.m. at Center Parc Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia
ANNOUNCERS: Matt Stewart (play-by-play), Sam Crenshaw (color analyst)
ANNOUNCERS: Mike Crispino (play-by-play), Wayne Norman (color analyst), Adam Giardino (sideline)
RECORDS: UConn (0-1), Georgia State (1-0)
POINT SPREAD: Georgia State -3
OVER/UNDER: 54.5 (odds via DraftKings)
PREVIEW PODCAST: The UConn Football Pod
PREGAME PRESS CONFERENCE(S): UConn head coach Jim Mora
WEATHER FORECAST: Atlanta, GA
Fun With Numbers
3: Road wins for UConn since 2016: Temple in 2017, UMass in 2019, FIU in 2022.
1: Game ever against a Sun Belt opponent in UConn history, last year’s Myrtle Beach Bowl loss to Marshall. After Georgia State, the Huskies will face a second Sun Belt opponent this season when they visit James Madison in November.
29: Combined tackles by UConn’s Jackson Mitchell (15) and Durante Jones (14) in the season opener.
184: Rushing yards for Georgia State running back Marcus Carroll in their season opener against Rhode Island, a career-high.
220.8: Rushing yards per game by Georgia State since the start of the 2019 season.
520: Yards allowed by Georgia State in its season-opening win over Rhode Island, 42-35.
2: Touchdowns by UConn’s Victor Rosa in the season-opener, giving him 13 in his career.
2010: The first year Georgia State fielded a football team. It joined the Sun Belt in 2012.
Season Preview Material
Week 1 Stuff:
What to Watch For
In his mid-week press conference, Jim Mora called tackling the culprit of the NC State game. Of course, there were many culprits, but it was not ideal to see UConn get some pressure and then let NC State’s QB Brennan Armstrong look like Michael Vick out there.
The Huskies need to make sure this is a week one issue and fix it quickly. Otherwise, Georgia State’s offense can make them pay. Quarterback Darren Grainger ran for 51 yards in the Panthers’ season opener against FCS Rhode Island and also completed 16-of-20 (80%) passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Marcus Carroll averaged 8.0 yards per carry with three touchdowns.
At defensive back, UConn will have two new starters. Stan Cross is in at safety after Malik Dixon-Williams injured his knee in the opener and D’Mon Brinson has been elevated to the starting lineup at corner. We’re going to see the Huskies’ depth tested there and also at linebacker, a position where Mora has previously expressed concern.
A better offensive performance
In the season opener, the UConn offense had one good drive, the opening scripted one, and very little success after that. But no matter what, getting that touchdown is an accomplishment as NC State’s defense is a very strong one. At all three levels, the Wolfpack had difference-makers. They were shutting down the passing attack and also stout against the run on first and second downs.
Georgia State’s defense is more forgiving. The Panthers allowed 35 points as they squeaked out their opening win, allowing 408 passing yards to URI QB Kasim Hill, the former starter at Maryland, and another 112 yards on the ground to the Rams. They allowed passing plays of 73, 63, 40, and 25 to four different receivers and 200 yards after catch.
Joe Fagnano did not have the best first start as a Husky, but he’ll be up against a much softer defense in Week 2. He’ll need to do a better job of finding his outside receivers and show why the UConn coaching staff has confidence in him as the starter. Mora said he counted five drops last Thursday, though the stat sheet only counted one.
Expect a better passing effort from the Huskies on Saturday. If not, we’ll start to have concerns for the rest of the season.
The RB rotation
Mora has indicated that he’s continuing with the running back by committee approach.
“If you look at good teams now the way they play, at least in college, there’s usually a couple running backs,” he said on Tuesday. “This day and age, it’s hard for one runner to be that guy.”
While this game represents an opportunity for the passing attack, UConn will likely look to feature the run game. It wasn’t so fierce against NC State but all three of the guys who saw carries should have a chance to do better on Saturday. Victor Rosa will be looking to build on his impressive Week 1 performance while Devontae Houston and Brian Brewton had a few good plays they can build on as well. If they’re moving, the Husky passing attack and offense overall should be in good shape.
A defensive test
GSU’s offense likes to go fast, and even though it was against an FCS opponent, scoring 42 points in the first week of the season is a good sign that the attack is fairly potent.
Back in East Hartford, UConn did not stop NC State when it mattered, allowing the visitors to post a 54 percent success rate (95th percentile) and convert 8-of-15 third downs. Mora’s squad also shot itself in the foot a little bit with penalties.
While Georgia State is obviously not at the talent level of an ACC opponent, its offense is still a threat. It could certainly score more than 24 points against UConn at home and could definitely win a shootout-style contest if that’s how the game plays out.
The defense needs to step up here and show that it's capable of making tackles, shaking mobile QBs, and containing the short-passing attack. Their two fourth-quarter stops against NC State, including a fourth-down stuff, to give UConn a shot with the Huskies down 10 are a promising sign. They’ll need to do it a few more times on Saturday.