By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Photo by: Michael Dunn | Photographer
Last Saturday was a potential new start for the South Alabama Jaguars after three consecutive losses. They would have to go through a Georgia State Panthers team that is looking for consistency themselves. While the Jags showed signs of improvement by taking the lead in the middle of the third quarter, they suffered a huge collapse on both sides of the ball. The Jaguars would ultimately lose 31-14 in one of the most disappointing losses of the season.
It was a fight between both teams’ defenses throughout the first half. The Panthers’ defense was getting in the backfield to force incompletions or stops behind the line of scrimmage. South Alabama’s defense was becoming more aggressive in attacking the Panthers’ offense as they forced four turnovers, including three interceptions in the first half.
This is an area that the Jaguars’ defense needed to get better in before the game, as they forced only nine turnovers in the eight games before this past weekend. ESPN Sportcenter’s featured Cornerback Devin Rockette on top plays of the week at the #5 with his incredible interception near the end of the second quarter. Outside linebacker Nick Mobley led the team in total tackles accounted for 16 total tackles, 12 solo tackles, and one tackle for loss. Outside linebacker Riley Cole accounted for 11 total tackles and eight solo tackles.
After the second quarter, the Jaguars’ defense was gassed out by the Panthers’ continuous long drives. The Jaguars allowed four consecutive scoring drives that resulted in 24 points after they scored their last touchdown. The Panthers’ offense accounted for 284 yards with 206 of them coming from the passing game. Georgia State accounted for 556 total yards including 222 on the ground. They were also killing the Jaguars on third downs as they converted 9-of-their-14 attempts on third downs. This was one of the most underwhelming performances by the defenses in 20 minutes of game-time all season.
What made the biggest difference in the game was the lack of productivity that the Jaguars’ offense had, especially at the offensive line. Some of the offensive linemen’s health and consistency continue to be an issue for the South Alabama Jaguars. The line gave up 12 tackles for loss and seven sacks from the Panthers’ defense despite the impressive scrambling from quarterback Desmond Trotter. Those seven sacks against the Panthers were tied for the most allowed sacks in a single game since the Jaguars lost to the NC State Wolfpack with a 31-7 score in 2012.
Throughout the game, Trotter had to escape the pocket to avoid pressure from the Panthers, which proved too much in the fourth quarter. He was efficient in most of his throws when the pocket clean as he threw for 211 yards and a quarterback rating of 99.4 on 25 completions (out of 43 passing attempts). Running back, Jared Wilson rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, including three runs of 24 yards that set up for their second touchdown. Wide receiver Jalen Tolbert caught five receptions for 75 yards on 12 targets.
The Jaguars (3-6; 2-4 in Sun Belt play) will have two more chances to turn their season around as Jag Nation is looking to move on from the coaching staff led by head coach Steve Campbell. If the Jaguars lose their next two games at Arkansas State and home at Troy, they would be 8-27 in the last three seasons with Campbell as the head coach. The Jaguars will be on the road one more time this season as they travel to Jonesboro to take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves (3-6; 1-5 in Sun Belt play) this Saturday.