2017 Autonation Cure Bowl

By Nicholas Volinchak

2017 Autonation Cure Bowl

Continuing our bowl breakdowns, we will move on to the Autonation Cure Bowl. This game saw the Georgia State Panthers defeat the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers by a score of 27-17. This was the lowest scoring of the games to take place on the opening Saturday of bowl season, but it was still an exciting game.

As with all the other bowls we have broken down, we will look at five things to take away from each team.

5 Takeaways from Georgia State


Strong Defensive Showing


The Hilltoppers had been a tough team to slow down over the last several years, but this looked to be an exception to the rule. The Georgia State defense dominated this game from the start to the finish.

That is kind of an exceptional thing to state to consider the fact that Mike White is a good quarterback who should find himself with an NFL team, even if it is just on the scout team. I would expect them to continue to be good in 2018.


Penny Hart could be the next Antonio Brown


I am sure I could get hammered for saying that, but bold is the way to go if you are trying to make headlines.

The big takeaway I have on Hart is that he is a smaller receiver from a smaller school who will likely go under the radar when he decides to go pro. Even though he was hurt going into the game, he gutted it out and managed to at least run some routes. They were not his best, but he still flashed his talent.

He had the 8th highest receiving total in college football, and I would look for him to improve on that next year. He has a good eye for the ball and field, crisp routes and strong hands. He can be successful at the next level.


Jonathan Ifedi has some moves


Ifedi was an under the radar guy in this game, but while watching it, he flashed the most to me on this offense. He was very quick with the ball in his hands, and could have had an amazing route on a bubble screen had his knee not touched the ground.

He is a freshman, so he has plenty of time to get his game together, but I think he could be someone to watch in the 2021 draft. I know that is quite a while from now, but I think he has what it takes to have a small role on a team.


Running Game is a mess


This Georgia State running game is a mess. Glenn Smith had some decent runs, but for the most part, they were not spectacular. This is an area they would want to clean up for sure if they plan on making more noise in the Sun Belt Conference.


Conner Manning did not look so great


What I said about is being pretty friendly. He looked way out of his element here, and he really makes me believe that Penny Hart is even better than what his numbers show.

Even on a trick play that was run PERFECTLY, he managed to over throw Hart on what was highly likely to have been an easy touchdown. It was inexcusable. It just shows, though, how much of an issue he has on the grasp of the offense.

5 Takeaways from Western Kentucky


This is not the WKU we knew


The days of the Jeff Brohm Hilltoppers, I am afraid to say, is gone. Sure, Mike White put up solid numbers in 2017, and even in this game, but this is not the same kind of team. The offensive line is not as good as it once was, which makes sense without Forrest Lamp.

The running game struggled mightily, and with so much transition in the coaching staff and the departure of White, I think we could see a true down year out of the Hilltoppers in 2018.


Mike White has a solid NFL fit


Mike White was a two year starter at USF before the team went another route with Quinton Flowers. His transfer to Western Kentucky was a great fit, as he would be eligible to take over after incumbent Brandon Daughty left for the NFL. While Daughty might have been the better collegiate player, I think White has a slightly better NFL fit.

He has the arm strength and throws the ball with a zip. For the most part, his passes are crisp and to the intended receiver. The big knock on him is trying to overestimate his actual abilities, and he tries to make things happen far too often. He almost tries to take the difficult throw, which is not the best strategy for a guy heading to the NFL. It is something I do think he can work on, though.


DeAndre Ferby – the focus on 2018?


I think it is common for teams to rely on the running back when they transition from a multi-year quarterback to a new one. This one is a bit more complicated, with the deterioration of the WKU offensive line and how bad it forced Ferby to look in 2017.

We can go back and see that Ferby was a solid contributor in the years prior, so with potential returning lineman and learning to gel together a bit more, I think it will help give Ferby some more room to work.


Can Lucky Jackson be the next great WKU WR?


If we look back over the last several years at WKU, they had some great receivers – Awtawne Grant, Taywan Taylor and Nicholas Norris just to name a few. Even Nacarius Fant was a solid receiver for them in the year he was the top dog.

Jackson has the talent to be the guy, but a lot will depend on the quarterback who is likely to be taking over for White in 2018.


There is a lot to be concerned about


Georgia State was not exactly an offensive juggernaut. While it does not seem like a lot, that is a lot of points to give up, as they only scored over that amount in three games during the season. If the offense could take a step back and their defense has not been good for quite some time, it could be awhile before we see them in a bowl game again.