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Georgia State Panthers preview

Trent Miles sees reason for optimism at Georgia State. John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers have one win since joining the FBS in 2013. But coach Trent Miles is finally piecing together a program, signing 17 transfers this offseason and returning as many starters. FPI says GSU just might quadruple that win total.

Offense

How the Panthers beat you: In 2014, senior QB Nick Arbuckle led the conference in passing yards (3,283) and ranked 15th in the FBS in yards per game (273.6). And he won’t stop airing it out. Arbuckle has already set the school’s single-season records for passing yards, TD passes

(23), completions (259) and TDs responsible for (25). His top two WRs, senior Donovan Harden and junior Robert Davis, return alongside explosive senior TE Joel Ruiz.

How you beat the Panthers: When you live by the pass, well … GSU had the second-fewest rush attempts per game in the Sun Belt (32.5) in ’14 and ranked second to last with 30 turnovers and last in TO margin (minus-22). Of those turnovers, 18 were INTs.

Defense

How the Panthers beat you: “We’re tweaking the schemes,” says Miles of the FBS’s worst D (43.3 ppg). “You’ve got to tweak something.” The upshot is the Panthers return 10 starters, including their top four tacklers in LBs Joseph Peterson and Trey Payne, CB Bruce Dukes and S Tarris Batiste. That experience will allow Miles to incorporate more blitzes and rely on a back seven that was No. 19 in pass yards per game (193.7).

How you beat the Panthers: While GSU returns all four D-linemen, that unit was its biggest weakness, allowing 303 rush yards per game and getting to the QB just 12 times. “We gave up way too many yards rushing,” says Miles. “We were ranked high in pass defense because nobody threw the ball against us.”