Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Georgia State University's Scott McQueen, a North Gwinnett grad, puts a hit on Brent McClendon during the spring scrimmage on Thursday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- This time last year, Georgia State's inaugural spring football scrimmage was understandably filled with unknowns.
In many ways, the Panthers' second spring scrimmage Thursday night before 3,403 fans at the Georgia Dome held even more unknowns.
With about 15 players not participating while finishing their classwork for the day and several others sitting out while nursing minor injuries -- including several of the team's former Gwinnett high school standouts -- coach Bill Curry and his staff naturally ended the evening with few questions answered.
But that wasn't necessarily a bad thing, even with the defense
holding a clear advantage on the evening with a 41-27 victory over the offense under the complicated scoring system.
"Normally, it ends up being really close the way the system's set up with the offense being able to score touchdowns," Curry said. "The offense didn't generate much, and the defense was flying around a lot.
"The biggest thing the team showed me was the kind of enthusiasm that has made this whole thing such a joy. Our team loves to play football."
But several of those that will most likely be playing in the fall did not play Thursday.
Among the missing offensive starters were offensive linemen Ben Jacoby (a Buford grad), one of the players still in class, plus fellow lineman Harrison Clottey (Grayson) and receiver Sidney Haynes (Peachtree Ridge), both among the injured.
"I don't think it affected the flow (of the offense)," said Mill Creek grad and redshirt junior tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi, one of the few Panthers from Gwinnett that played Thursday. "A lot of people had opportunities to step up and play. ... I think the people that stepped up and played did a pretty decent job trying to keep up the fast pace."
Also missing was last year's starting quarterback Drew Little, who is serving a suspension that will last past spring practice into the first four games of the 2011 season.
Coupled with the transfer of reserve Star Jackson during the winter, the Panthers were left with only two quarterbacks Thursday -- redshirt sophomores Kelton Hill and Bo Schlechter.
"You've just got to stay level-headed and better on the field and off the field," said Hill, who will enter preseason practice in August as the No. 1 quarterback ahead of Schelchter and incoming freshman and current Brookwood senior Ben McLane.
"I'm going to take advantage of (the chance to start). You've got to take advantage of every opportunity you can get, and I'm going to play my heart out."
Hill clearly had the better numbers on the day, completing 19 of 32 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown and running for 103 more yards, including a 70-yard touchdown sprint off the option in the fourth quarter.
Schlechter finished just 5 of 15 with an interception for 79 yards.
The offense actually got off to a flying -- or rather, a running -- start on the first snap of the scrimmage.
Finding no running room on a sweep around the right end, Albert Wilson reversed gears and found plenty of it to his left -- 70 yards, to be exact, for a touchdown.
The first-team offense then took a little bit more time, marching 70 yards in nine plays before Kelton Hill hit Darren McCrary out of the backfield with a swing pass to the right that the redshirt sophomore turned into a 25-yard score.
But from that point, the defense dominated, sacking Hill and Schlechter three times and creating three turnovers, including a batted pass and interception with a 21-yard return by Sam Burkhalter, who moved to linebacker after playing fullback as a freshman last year.
"(The defense) wanted to come out and play hard," said junior cornerback D'Mario Gunn, who forced a fumble, had a tackle for loss, a pass break-up and several big hits on the night. "That first (run by Wilson), we had a couple of missed tackles by a couple of players. ... After that, we kind of stepped it up."