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Georgia State comes back to earth after program's inaugural win

Georgia State coach Bill Curry gets doussed with a bucket of water by his players as they celebrate the 41-7 win over Shorter in their inaugural NCAA college football game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Georgia State coach Bill Curry gets doussed with a bucket of water by his players as they celebrate the 41-7 win over Shorter in their inaugural NCAA college football game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

ATLANTA --- Now that all the hoopla from Georgia State s debut into college football is over, it;s time to really get down to business as far as head coach Bill Curry is concerned.

"Our first order of business was to get our team's feet back on the ground because as wonderful as last Thursday's win was, it was an illusion," Curry said in the opening statement of his weekly press conference Tuesday. "The illusion being that we are suddenly a good, polished football team. Nothing could be further from the truth."

Curry made his point abundantly clear to the Panthers (1-0) after watching the game tape from last Thursday's 41-7 win over Shorter, plus the first two days of practice in preparation for Saturday's second game in school history against Lambuth at the Georgia Dome.

"Threats," Curry replied when asked what he was doing to try to battle any complacency the Panthers might have. "And then following through on the threats. Repeating periods (in practice). We have the practice broken down into segments, and when we have a segment that is not acceptable, I may decide that we are going to do it again.

"The guys' heads were all filled with balloons and happy thoughts and how wonderful we all are. My job is to teach them reality, and the reality is that we are still an infant football team and very vulnerable to anybody."

That includes Lambuth, despite the fact the squad from Jackson, Tenn., is an NAIA squad just like Shorter.

The Eagles comes into Saturday's game ranked No. 7 in the NAIA Coaches national poll despite a season-opening 34-19 loss to Division II Arkansas Tech.

They also feature 6-foot-8, 250-pound receiver Rod Jefferson, who finished with 74 receptions for 1,160 yards and 12 TDs as a junior last season.

"I expect Lambuth can give us more trouble (than Shorter) because they are more physical up front and both offense and defense," Curry said. "They got beat by Arkansas Tech, a strong Division II team, last Saturday night, but they are physically our equal and maybe superior to us in some areas this time. What we have got to do is keep executing."

While all of this talk may seem like gloom and doom, it's not to say Curry

and his coaching staff were displeased with direction of the team after last Thursday's win.

The biggest pleasant surprise was that the Panthers not only did not turn the ball over in the win over Shorter, but the running backs and return men never even put the ball on the ground, while there was fairly solid execution in the passing game.

"When I saw all the hoopla and i saw the 30,000 people (in the stands), I said, 'Well, this is a mixed bag. Our guys are going to be so jacked up that we are going to have a hard time containing ourselves,' " Curry said. "We didn't handle the ball well. We didn t take away as many turnovers as we would have liked. (But) we handled the ball well in the kicking game with mostly true freshmen returning punts and kickoffs. I was proud of them."

What may be most encouraging for the Panthers, however, may be that by Curry's own admission, he played his cards very close to the vest last Thursday, which figures to change Friday.

Offensively, Curry is hoping to open things up, especially the passing game, with Drew Little getting the start after completing 13 of 17 passe for 135 yards and two TDs in the opener, though backup Kelton Hill is also expected to see some action, as well as Alabama transfer Star Jackson, who was suspended for the first half and never got into the game.

"We had a plan and we hoped to limit what we did to a very few things," Curry said. "We were successful in that because of the score. We did not go down the field a great deal, and when we did, it was a sure thing.

"The primary thing was that we wanted our guys to experience a win in front of that crowd. Depending on how the game goes this week, there is a lot more in our offensive package, and defensive, too."