WKU looking for more touchdowns at Georgia State

Elliott Pratt

WKU and coach Bobby Petrino will find themselves in an unusual situation Saturday when they face winless Georgia State in Atlanta.

The Toppers probably didn’t expect to be in must-win mode eight games into the season, but their No. 7 ranking in the Sun Belt Conference places more on the team as they square off against Georgia State.

The other situation deals with location. Petrino will return to the Georgia Dome as a coach for the first time since his abrupt, mid-season departure from the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, but he isn’t worried about what kind of reception he’ll get — instead, he’s focused on what WKU must do to win the next one.

The opportunity to get back on track best presents itself against the Panthers in their first year of transition into the FBS, and their record reflects their play on the field. The Panthers rank last in the Sun Belt in scoring, total offensive yards, rushing yards and yards allowed.

But WKU isn’t letting their record indicate what the Panthers can do on the field. Offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm pointed to their 35-28 loss to Troy as proof of the progress Georgia State has made this season.

“I think they’re a team that’s improved every week,” Brohm said. “They gave Troy a battle right down to the wire and they’re a team that’s gotten better every week and you can tell by watching them on tape. We’re going to have our hands full.”

WKU will have to improve on two problems that stand out: turnovers and scoring touchdowns. Troy scored 14 points off of two WKU turnovers last Saturday and WKU failed to punch the ball in the end zone, instead settling for four field goals from sophomore kicker Garrett Schwettman.

Petrino said it was obvious that the team’s inability to score touchdowns in place of field goals is what hurts the team the most.

“We drove the ball, we moved it, we converted third downs, we made big plays that did not result in touchdowns,” Petrino said. “That is something that we have to be able to do, is convert to touchdowns.”

The inability to score doesn’t come as a fault of productivity from the offense. WKU leads the Sun Belt with 480 yards of offense per game, but four interceptions inside the red zone have outweighed the positive production from the offense. Redshirt sophomore tight end Tim Gorski played a role in the offense last week with three catches for 45 yards, but he said the team has to pay extra attention to detail when they get near scoring position.

“We really just have to go back to the basics and everyone knowing their assignment on each play,” Gorski said. “Go back, focus on yourself and then make sure you do everything right so when all 11 guys come together and do their job right, we’ll execute plays.

“Guys are doing their job everywhere else on the field, making plays, doing everything, we really just have to focus down in the red zone when we get there and just put it in for a touchdown.”