The big 2014 Georgia State football preview: You've got to start somewhere, right?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

Georgia State's first FBS season went about as poorly as expected, but the Panthers showed verifiable improvement in November. Do enough key pieces return for that growth to become a starting point in 2014?

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Gotta start somewhere

Really, if you were building a FBS program from scratch, wouldn't Atlanta be just about the best possible location? Atlanta is for all intents and purposes the capital of college football, and GSU won't have to go far to locate talent. Now ... make no mistake: Georgia State is going to be absolutely awful in 2013. Terrible. But the Panthers' decision to move to the FBS ranks after just three years in existence was not about the current product. It was about what the product might become. In that regard, this move makes a lot of sense even though GSU went a ghastly 1-10 at the FCS level last year.

I didn't try to put much of a positive spin on Georgia State's prospects in the Panthers' 2013 season preview. There was just not much of a chance that a team that had gone 1-10 in FCS in 2012 was going to jump to the Sun Belt and do much of anything, even if it had made a seemingly solid head coaching hire in drawing something-out-of-nothing-maker Trent Miles from Indiana State.

Sure enough, they went 0-12, getting outscored, 86-10, by two major-conference teams and losing by a combined 38 points to Samford and Chattanooga. If Appalachian State mistimed its jump to FBS this year, Georgia State didn't even try to time it right.

But the best thing about Year 1 is that it ends. With the initial pain out of the way, it's time to move forward. Maybe.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 0-12 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 121
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
30-Aug Samford N/A 21-31 L 21.1 - 26.9 L
7-Sep Chattanooga N/A 14-42 L 17.7 - 44.7 L
14-Sep at West Virginia 76 7-41 L 8.8 - 43.5 L
21-Sep Jacksonville State N/A 26-32 L 11.6 - 48.0 L
5-Oct at Alabama 2 3-45 L 11.2 - 36.5 L -25.8
12-Oct Troy 105 28-35 L 20.6 - 26.3 L -25.8
19-Oct at Texas State 107 17-24 L 24.8 - 39.7 L -23.4
26-Oct at UL-Monroe 109 10-38 L 13.5 - 46.7 L -23.1
2-Nov Western Kentucky 77 28-44 L 31.9 - 28.9 W -15.2
16-Nov UL-Lafayette 86 21-35 L 32.0 - 39.3 L -11.6
23-Nov at Arkansas State 90 33-35 L 30.0 - 18.0 W -8.1
30-Nov South Alabama 68 17-38 L 25.4 - 34.0 L -6.8
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -14.8% 115 -15.2% 118 -3.1% 111
Points Per Game 18.8 115 36.7 111
Adj. Points Per Game 20.7 115 36.0 115

2. It got better

Through five games, Georgia State's most encouraging result was either losing by just six points to FCS Jacksonville State or losing by only 42 points to Alabama. This was going about as poorly as imagined.

But as we see from the five-game adjusted-score averages above, GSU began to show clear, demonstrable progress down the stretch, and on both sides of the ball.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 40.8, GSU 14.8 (minus-26.0)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 37.3, GSU 17.5 (minus-19.8)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 4 games): Opponent 30.1, GSU 29.8 (minus-0.3)

GSU was legitimately mediocre over the last month of the season (faint praise, yes, but praise nonetheless), and while that didn't result in any wins, all you're looking for in a year like this is progress. GSU was within seven points of eventual conference champion UL-Lafayette midway through the fourth quarter and came up a two-point conversion short against Arkansas State. Against FBS competition, GSU averaged at least 5.5 yards per play five times in nine games: once in the first five and in each of the last four.

Progress? Absolutely. Now the Panthers just have to sustain it without most of their receiving corps, secondary, and offensive line.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.21 37 IsoPPP+ 98.1 74
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 35.0% 120 Succ. Rt. + 76.8 122
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 33.7 119 Def. FP+ 92.6 123
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.7 105 Redzone S&P+ 81.2 113
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 25.0 ACTUAL 23 -2.0
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 103 123 123 112
RUSHING 115 113 114 120
PASSING 41 123 121 84
Standard Downs 113 123 29
Passing Downs 124 117 123
Q1 Rk 114 1st Down Rk 91
Q2 Rk 126 2nd Down Rk 123
Q3 Rk 111 3rd Down Rk 124
Q4 Rk 67

3. All or nothing (and usually nothing)

Former Boston College head coach and NFL assistant Jeff Jagodzinski took over as Miles' offensive coordinator last season, and his pro-style approach basically translated to a low-efficiency, pass-first attack. Georgia State threw downfield, for better or worse, and the result was horrific efficiency with the occasional big play.

Quarterback Ronnie Bell went through all sorts of growing pains as a sophomore starter, but his development was as responsible as anything for GSU's late-season improvement.

Ronnie Bell (first 8 games): 113-for-242 (47%), 1,520 yards (13.5 per completion), 10 TD, 7 INT
Ronnie Bell (last 4 games): 75-for-134 (56%), 1,053 yards (14.0 per completion), 5 TD, 4 INT

Bell kept up GSU's vertical tendencies while raising his completion rate nearly 10 percent. This is obviously an encouraging thing. Less encouraging: Albert Wilson, by far GSU's best play-maker in 2013, is gone, as are Bell's No. 3 and No. 4 targets.

Sophomore Robert Davis returns after quite the all-or-nothing campaign -- 48 percent catch rate, 16.2 yards per catch -- and both tight end Keith Rucker and wideout Avery Sweeting showed signs of explosiveness in limited opportunities. And Miles brought in three interesting freshmen as well. Still, this is a brand new receiving corps for Bell to get acquainted with ... that is, if Bell keeps the job. He'll have to fend off two JUCO transfers, Clay Chastain (in school last year) and Nick Arbuckle (a new signee), to remain the starter.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Ronnie Bell 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 188 376 2573 15 11 50.0% 30 7.4% 5.9
Ben McLane 6'1, 210 Jr. NR 28 51 354 2 1 54.9% 2 3.8% 6.5
Clay Chastain 6'4, 215 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)








Nick Arbuckle 6'2, 220 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)








Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Travis Evans RB 115 405 3 3.5 4.3 25.2%
Jonathan Jean-Bart RB 5'11, 195 So. NR 71 269 1 3.8 2.4 38.0%
Ronnie Bell QB 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 49 282 3 5.8 3.8 49.0%
Albert Wilson WR 24 251 1 10.5 16.3 45.8%
Kyler Neal RB 5'11, 209 So. NR 24 96 0 4.0 4.8 25.0%
Gerald Howse RB 6'2, 215 Sr. NR 15 38 0 2.5 1.3 20.0%
Sean Jeppesen FB 6'0, 225 Sr. NR 10 31 1 3.1 10.5 10.0%
Parris Lee RB 6 13 0 2.2 2.4 33.3%
Ben McLane QB 6'1, 210 Jr. NR 5 -3 0 -0.6 2.3 20.0%
Kelton Hill WR 5 32 0 6.4 7.1 60.0%

4. Something from the ground game

Even a pass-first attack needs some help from the ground game. GSU had some serious big-play ability in run-or-pass situations (i.e. standard downs), but there was just no hope for help from the ground game. Wilson was also GSU's only explosive runner, and he could only get so many touches per game. The line was able to keep defenders out of the backfield reasonably well, but that didn't translate to downfield success. Only one of every four Travis Evans carries made it five yards downfield, and two freshman running backs -- Jonathan Jean-Bart and Kyler Neal -- combined to do only slightly better.

All things considered, the line really wasn't too bad last year, but that will change in 2014 with the loss of five players with starting experience, four of whom started for at least a year. Two-year starting center Tim Wynn is back, but Miles is bringing in major reinforcements in the form of three junior college transfers. If they're ready to contribute, they certainly have some impressive size, but asking three JUCOs to be ready immediately doesn't typically work out very well.

If the line does gel to any degree, Jean-Bart does seem to have a bit of potential. His Opportunity Rate (his ability to follow blocks at least five yards downfield, basically) was much better than that of any other running back, which suggests that his vision and agility are pretty decent. He had almost no explosiveness to speak of, but in theory, the job of the running game here is efficiency. The passing game will take care of the big plays.

In theory.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Albert Wilson WR 125 71 1177 56.8% 31.6% 52.0% 9.4 259 8.6 118.4
Robert Davis WR 6'3, 190 So. NR 91 44 711 48.4% 23.0% 53.4% 7.8 89 6.3 71.5
Danny Williams WR 37 17 244 45.9% 9.3% 53.1% 6.6 -4 5.6 24.5
Kelton Hill WR 36 20 196 55.6% 9.1% 51.7% 5.4 -66 6.3 19.7
Keith Rucker TE 6'3, 232 So. NR 29 14 232 48.3% 7.3% 64.0% 8.0 34 7.7 23.3
Travis Evans RB 19 10 83 52.6% 4.8% 37.5% 4.4 -52 5.4 8.3
Avery Sweeting WR 5'8, 160 Jr. NR 16 9 120 56.3% 4.0% 46.2% 7.5 3 3.6 12.1
Parris Lee RB 13 11 87 84.6% 3.3% 58.3% 6.7 -30 6.3 8.8
Lynquez Blair WR 5'10, 175 Sr. NR 11 6 44 54.5% 2.8% 45.5% 4.0 -35 4.0 4.4
Sean Jeppesen FB 6'0, 225 Sr. NR 5 5 53 100.0% 1.3% 50.0% 10.6 3 9.0 5.3
Jonathan Jean-Bart RB 5'11, 195 So. NR 4 3 35 75.0% 1.0% 66.7% 8.8 1 6.3 3.5
Duvall Smith RB 5'10, 208 Sr. NR 3 2 14 66.7% 0.8% 0.0% 4.7 -10 2.2 1.4
Ronnie Bell QB 5'11, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 2 1 6 50.0% 0.5% N/A 3.0 -8 0.0 0.6
Kyler Neal RB 5'11, 209 So. NR 2 2 24 100.0% 0.5% 50.0% 12.0 4 13.8 2.4
Tevish Clark WR 6'2, 185 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)









Maaseiah Francis WR 6'2, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)









Ari Werts TE 6'4, 220 Fr. 2 stars (5.4)








Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 87.9 2.81 2.77 33.2% 68.0% 20.5% 71.5 6.1% 7.3%
Rank 107 80 108 118 68 78 108 98 73
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Grant King RT
40
Ulrick John LT
25
Tim Wynn C 6'2, 280 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 21
Harrison Clottey RG
15
Michael Davis C
13
A.J. Kaplan LG 6'4, 295 Sr. NR 12
Cade Yates RG
7
Garrett Gorringe RG 6'4, 280 So. NR 5
Brandon Pertile RG 6'5, 290 So. 2 stars (5.4) 3
Ronald Martin C 6'1, 280 Sr. NR 3
Ramell Davis LT
0
David Huey LG 6'2, 290 Jr. NR

Davis Moore OL 6'4, 275 RSFr. 2 stars (5.2)

Taylor Evans OL 6'4, 290 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)

Michael Ivory OL 6'5, 345 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)

Steve Wolgamott OL 6'6, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.16 68 IsoPPP+ 97.7 75
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 47.6% 106 Succ. Rt. + 83.9 115
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 25.3 124 Off. FP+ 92.5 121
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.5 92 Redzone S&P+ 88.4 90
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 14.4 ACTUAL 16.0 +1.6
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 107 112 115 118
RUSHING 112 105 110 115
PASSING 82 114 115 106
Standard Downs 109 111 76
Passing Downs 112 116 75
Q1 Rk 108 1st Down Rk 100
Q2 Rk 116 2nd Down Rk 121
Q3 Rk 106 3rd Down Rk 114
Q4 Rk 109

5. Death by a million six-yard gains

The GSU offense was pretty decent at the big plays, and the defense was pretty decent at preventing them. It's the whole efficiency thing that tripped the Panthers up on both sides of the ball.

GSU's defense was in the middle of the FBS pack when it comes to the magnitude of the big plays it allowed, but the Panthers ranked 115th in Success Rate+, and that was a major contributor (along with a non-existent return game) to their inability to give the offense any semblance of good field position. An impossibly young defensive line ges a little bit more experienced, so that might help, but the secondary was destroyed by graduation, which might lead to more big plays.

Plug up one leak, and another one appears.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 90.5 3.09 3.47 41.3% 74.6% 16.2% 67.8 1.2% 6.7%
Rank 102 85 80 87 98 99 111 126 65
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Theo Agnew DE 10 49.0 6.9% 6.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Terrance Woodard NG 12 38.5 5.4% 2.5 0.0 0 0 1 0
Shawayne Lawrence DE 6'4, 270 So. 2 stars (5.2) 11 19.0 2.7% 3.5 1.0 0 1 0 0
Jalen Lawrence NG 6'1, 280 So. 2 stars (5.2) 6 8.5 1.2% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tevin Jones DE 6'4, 260 So. 2 stars (5.2) 5 6.0 0.8% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tanner Strickland DL 6'3, 260 So. NR 3 5.0 0.7% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Carnell Hopson DE 6'2, 250 So. 2 stars (5.2) 6 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Nermin Delic DL 6'4, 275 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 2 1.5 0.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Will Cunningham DL 6'1, 270 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3)







6. Incredible youth

In the fall of 2012, Shawayne Lawrence was playing defensive end for Eagle's Landing High School in McDonough, GA. Jalen Lawrence was a 265-pound tackle for Macon Westside. Tevin Jones was an end at Hampton Luella. Carnell Hopson was a 255-pound tackle at Dallas (GA) South Paulding. A year later, they were all thrust onto Georgia State's defensive two-deep. Granted, only Lawrence played more than six games, but GSU's three-man line almost literally had just three healthy, able players at any time.

With this in mind, the fact that GSU ranked 102nd in Adj. Line Yards almost seems like an accomplishment. Either the three linemen the Panthers did have were pretty good, or the four-man linebacking corps was able to make up a lot of ground.

GSU is probably hoping it's the latter in 2014, because while seven of the top nine from an active, interesting set of linebackers return, two of the three default linemen do not. Up front, GSU is going to live or die by the sophomore class that got bits of experience last year.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Joseph Peterson ILB 6'0, 220 Jr. NR 11 82.5 11.5% 6.0 2.0 0 1 0 0
Tarris Batiste OLB 6'1, 210 Jr. NR 12 62.5 8.7% 9.5 0.0 1 2 0 0
Robert Ferguson ILB
11 52.5 7.3% 3.5 1.0 0 0 1 1
Mackendy Cheridor OLB 6'4, 235 So. NR 11 27.0 3.8% 7.5 1.0 0 0 1 0
Jarrell Robinson LB 6'2, 215 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 7 24.5 3.4% 4.5 2.0 1 1 0 0
Allen McKay OLB
6 19.0 2.7% 2.5 2.0 0 0 0 0
Kight Dallas LB 6'1, 230 So. 3 stars (5.5) 5 13.5 1.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Sean Jeppesen ILB 6'0, 225 Sr. NR 12 12.0 1.7% 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jameel Spencer ILB 6'1, 210 So. 2 stars (5.2) 3 8.0 1.1% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Melvin King OLB 6'3, 225 Jr. NR 5 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Spencer Haywood OLB 6'2, 200 Sr. NR 3 3.5 0.5% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Malik Ricks LB 6'2, 225 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)







7. The blitz worked

Despite the uncertainty (and, I'm assuming, fatigue) up front, the linebackers really were the strength of this team. Indiana State transfer Tarris Batiste and Mackendy Cheridor combined for 17 tackles for loss as a sophomore and redshirt freshman, respectively, and Joseph Peterson was your prototypical mess-cleaning inside linebacker. Kight Dallas, once a South Carolina commit, worked his way into the rotation a bit as a freshman, and this unit more than held its own. And on the rare occasion that GSU was able to force a passing down, the GSU blitz was able to find its mark quite a bit.

The problem, of course, is that the passing downs were indeed rare. And even on passing downs, opponents were content to run, both because it avoided a GSU strength (blitzing) and because running lanes were usually available.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Brent McClendon CB


12 46.0 6.4% 1 0 3 5 1 0
Arington Jordan S


9 39.5 5.5% 2.5 0 0 1 0 0
Demarius Matthews CB


12 39.0 5.5% 2.5 0 1 6 2 0
Rashad Stewart S


8 38.5 5.4% 2 0 0 0 0 0
Kail Singleton S


8 36.5 5.1% 2.5 2 1 0 1 0
LaDarion Young S 6'1, 185 So. 2 stars (5.4) 7 18.5 2.6% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Myles Morris CB 5'8, 172 So. NR 7 15.5 2.2% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Nate Anthony CB


7 9.5 1.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Trent Hill S 5'10, 170 So. NR 3 7.5 1.0% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Jamal Ransby CB


5 6.0 0.8% 0 0 0 3 1 0
Robert Dowling DB 5'10, 175 So. NR 2 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Marcus Caffey DB 5'11, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4)
Sheldon Wynn DB 6'1, 210 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)
Nate Simon DB 6'2, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.2)
Antreal Allen DB 5'10, 181 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Jerome Smith DB 5'10, 174 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)
Ronald Peterkin DB 6'1, 175 Fr. 2 stars (5.3)

8. Starting over in the back

If there was some experience in the secondary, I would be very much talking myself into this defense. The line is at least a little deeper, and the linebackers are good, but it's difficult to imagine the secondary being quite as sturdy from a big-play standpoint when it is replacing seven of its top 10 tacklers.

GSU basically has some sophomores, some freshmen, and some junior college transfers in the back, and while there are some star recruits in this mix -- Antreal Allen was one of two three-star signees according to Rivals, and Marcus Caffey in particular was a pretty well-regarded JUCO -- there is just too much new blood here to avoid regression. GSU should still improve in the efficiency department, and that's important, but big plays could become an issue, even with conservative coverages.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Matt Hubbard 6'4, 235 Sr. 78 42.0 8 30 16 59.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Wil Lutz 6'0, 190 Jr. 41 55.1 10 1 24.4%
Matt Hubbard 6'4, 235 Sr. 3 51.3 0 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Wil Lutz 6'0, 190 Jr. 25-26 6-7 85.7% 2-5 40.0%
Matt Hubbard 6'4, 235 Sr. 2-2 0-0 N/A 0-0 N/A
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Albert Wilson KR 31 23.5 0
Kelton Hill KR 18 17.0 0
Albert Wilson PR 15 8.3 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 111
Field Goal Efficiency 47
Punt Return Efficiency 106
Kick Return Efficiency 122
Punt Efficiency 88
Kickoff Efficiency 107
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 57

9. Lutz is a keeper

GSU's special teams unit wasn't very good last year, but it's probably not going to be any worse for losing its top return men, as "top" is a pretty relative term.

Matt Hubbard is a solid punter, and Will Lutz was basically an automatic place-kicker inside of 40 yards. Outside of 40 was a different story, but that's not necessarily a big deal -- few college kickers are reliable outside of 40. But if GSU can get inside about the 20-25, the Panthers should get at least three points out of the trip. And hey, the return game really can't be much worse.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
27-Aug Abilene Christian NR
13-Sep Air Force 105
20-Sep at Washington 30
22-Nov at Clemson 14
TBD Arkansas State 84
TBD Georgia Southern NR
TBD New Mexico State 124
TBD Texas State 114
TBD at Appalachian State NR
TBD at South Alabama 92
TBD at Troy 111
TBD at UL-Lafayette 79
Five-Year F/+ Rk N/A
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 125
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -7 / -10.7
TO Luck/Game +1.5
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 9 (4, 5)

10. The November version of GSU could win a few games

Generally speaking, improvement over your final four of five games can be indicative of permanent growth. And since Georgia State really did improve rather dramatically from month to month last year, it's not unreasonable to find reason for optimism in 2014 from that. But that growth only really matters if the reasons for growth return the next year. And between the losses in the secondary and receiving corps, there's also reason to believe GSU will be starting from scratch in some regard in 2014.

That GSU was able to rank 121st in F/+ last season, ahead of four other teams, was a bit of an accomplishment considering how awful the Panthers were at the FCS level in 2012. And if Miles is able to engineer improvement to the level of 110th or so, there are certainly some wins to be found on this schedule.

But when you're 1-21 over the last two years, you still face the burden of proof. Expect improvement, but don't expect more than a couple of wins.

More from SB Nation college football:

Behind-the-scenes feature: How Michael Sam decided to come out

What if college football had promotion and relegation? Updated for 2014

Bill Connelly: Missouri gains yet another reason to take pride in Sam

Super-early 2014 advanced stats rankings, 1 through 125

College football news | The SEC is taking over the country

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