ATLANTA — Georgia State begins the heart of its Sun Belt Conference schedule with a key personnel change as Marcus Caffey moves from cornerback to running back and is expected to see action on offense as the Panthers play at UL Lafayette Saturday at 7 p.m. ET at Cajun Field.
Saturday’s game will air on ESPN3 as well as the Grady Health System Georgia State Radio Network, including Atlanta flagship 1340 The Fan 3 and Georgia State’s WRAS-FM 88.5.
Both teams are 1-3 on the season. Georgia State is 0-1 in the Sun Belt play after its last-second, 38-37 loss to New Mexico State in Week 2, while UL Lafayette is playing its first conference game.
Georgia State lost running backs Kyler Neal and Jonathan Jean-Bart to season-ending knee injuries in its last game, a 45-14 loss at Washington in which the Panthers led 14-0 at the half.
So Caffey, who has started the first four games at cornerback and made 10 tackles and three pass breakups, moves to running back, where he will share the first team duties with senior Duvall Smith. Senior Gerald Howse, who suffered a broken hand during the preseason, returned to play special teams last game and enters this contest as the third running back.
“Marcus Caffey has the size and speed you want, and he is one of the best athletes on our football team,” head coach Trent Miles said. “He will see significant time at running back.”
A transfer from Iowa Western Community College, the 6-0, 195-pound Caffey originally signed with Kentucky as a running back after an all-state career at Atlanta’s Grady High School. He rushed for 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior, earned second-team all-state accolades in Class AAA and was rated among the nation’s top 50 running backs by Rivals and Scout.com.
Caffey looks to contribute to an offense that is the third in the Sun Belt in scoring (30.2 ppg) and total offense (456.8 yards pg).
With Caffey’s move from the secondary, the coaches have not decided on the starter in his former spot, but true freshmen Chandon Sullivan and Antreal Allen will see more action.
Miles said he is very impressed with UL Lafayette and said, “don’t be fooled by their record.”
“They’ve lost to Ole Miss who is in the top ten in the nation. They’ve lost to Boise State at Boise and they lost to a very good Louisiana Tech team,” he said. “They are the defending conference champion that has been to three straight bowl games. And they’re playing at home in front of a great crowd that they get great support from. They’re a very talented football team and they’re well coached so we will have to play well in order to be with them in the fourth quarter. This is a big, strong, physical football team.”
NOTING THE PANTHERS
On the positive side of the injury news, tight end Joel Ruiz returns after missing the Washington game with a knee injury. the 6-4, 240-pound junior is the Panthers’ second-leading receiver with 15 catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and he ranks second in the nation among tight ends in receptions and yards per game.
“Joel adds a dimension because he’s a big target who can run,” Miles said. “So if they contain the receivers on the outside, he gives you a threat in the middle as well.
The Panthers also welcome back guard Taylor Evans, who has not played yet this season after sustaining an elbow injury in preseason practice. The junior college transfer is expected to step into the lineup at left guard.
Redshirt freshman Trey Payne has started the last two games at inside linebacker and collected 23 tackles. “Trey is a very physical linebacker with good size. He has very good instincts, and he reads things well,” Miles said.