Jacksonville State University
Conference: Ohio Valley
The Tigers open their home schedule against Jacksonville State this Saturday. The Gamecocks are a Football Championship Subdivision(FCS) team. This is a notch below major college football status. Usually, FCS teams are paid a handsome sum to go into a major college team’s stadium to take a whipping, and a nice paycheck. There have been times, however, when FCS teams have gone on the road and beaten major colleges teams, while taking the paycheck.
If Jacksonville State seems familiar to Tiger fans, it is where former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux finished his college football career.
This year, like last year, JSU has a very good quarterback in senior Eli Jenkins. He had 5,545 career passing yards and 2,812 career rushing yards before the season opening win against North Alabama. He had 2,788 yards passing in 2015 alone, an eye catching stat. Jenkins completed a career high 26 passes in one game last season when JSU almost upset Auburn at Auburn.
Last week the Gamecocks ran their offense with three wide receivers, a formation which can spread defenses out. The best receiver of the group is senior Josh Barge, who sat out the season opener because of an injury. Barge has 2,949 total receiving yards in his career. He has caught a pass in 40 straight games. Last season against Auburn, he had a school record 14 receptions for 132 yards.
Senior center Casey Dunn and junior left guard Justin Lea are returning starters on the offensive line.
There is a familiar name at running back, and he is Roc Thomas, a transfer from Auburn. Thomas takes the place of Troymaine Pope, who rushed for 1,788 yards last year. Last week in the 31-12 win over North Alabama, Thomas rushed for 71 yards and three touchdowns. However he was only the third leading rusher on the team behind Jenkins with 101 yards, and freshman Tyus Flakes with 72 yards.
Jenkins also passed for 230 yards last week against North Alabama. The leading receiver was Thomas with four receptions for 53 yards. Jenkins completed passes to eight different receivers in the season opener.
Last season Jacksonville State had 129 plays of 20 yards of more, including 51 rushing, 44 passing, 34 by kick returns, fumble returns, and interceptions. They have had at least 100 plays of 20 yards of more in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
On the other side of the line of scrimmage, sophomore linebacker Quan Stoudemire and junior linebacker Joel Mcandless had seven tackles each for JSU in their first game of the year. McCandles had four solo stops. Sophomore safety Delwyn Torbert had seven tackles in the first game, with four solos. Junior defensive end Darius Jackson already has 25.5 tackles for losses (tfls) in his career, including one in the first game.
Jacksonville State is not afraid of playing on the big stage. They are a perennial powerhouse in the FCS, so the Purple and Gold need to be ready to play Saturday.