By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
After the longest break in between games, the South Alabama Jaguars (1-7; 0-4 in Sun Belt conference play) will be back in action this Saturday when they travel to face the Texas State Bobcats (2-6; 1-3). This season has not been easy for the Jaguars as have not been able to turn things around during games and finish out with a win. The Jaguars are already out of contention for a bowl game at the end of the season. The Jags are looking to finish out the season strong and avoid their worst season record since their first year in the Sun Belt in 2012 when they finished 2-11. They will get a chance this Saturday against a Bobcats’ team that has underperformed on the offensive side of the ball.
When asked about the mentality of the team, senior guard Roy Albritton responded, “Mentality is come to work every single day and get better. There will be sunshine after the storm. That’s what everybody is thinking about, you keep getting better and better and that day is going to come real soon.” Having the bye-week can be emotionally draining with no game at the end of the week for some teams. For South Alabama, Albritton said about last week’s practices, “Everybody came to practice last, it was probably week of practice we’ve had all season. Everybody came out ecstatic every single day of practice all week and its’ carrying over into today.”
The Jaguars still have many questions to solve in order to create some offensive consistency. This Saturday, South Alabama will have a chance to build it in a game situation as they will take on a Bobcats’ defense that allows 30.1 points per game. Their biggest weakness is stopping the rushing offense of their opponents. This will be a great opportunity for the Jaguars to utilize their great run game and overwhelm the Bobcats. Texas State’s defense is ranked 124th in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (226.4).
Senior running back Tra Minter could potentially have a career day with the type of defensive front that Texas State utilizes. The Bobcats run a 3-3 stack front which is three defensive linemen and three linebackers defense. This makes the defense more capable of stopping the passing game but less likely stop rushing offenses. Last time South Alabama played a 3-3 stack up front was against Jackson State where Minter rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
The Jaguars will deal with a Bobcats opponent that has the weakest offense since Jackson State in week two. The Bobcats’ offense ranks 124th in the nation in points per game (16.2) due to a severely lacking rushing offense and inefficient quarterback play. This game will require consistency from every area on defense including the pass rush and not overextending the pocket. The defensive play-calling must be tight and must not give up the easy passes to the Bobcats.
So many big plays happen when the Jaguars defense give too much cushion for the offense to make a quick passing pass. Not finishing tackles continues to be plaguing this defense ranked 80th in total defense (allowed 410 yards per game).