By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
After not playing for more than three weeks, the South Alabama Jaguars (1-2) will be back in Hancock Whitney Stadium this Saturday as they start Sun Belt Conference play against the Texas State Bobcats (1-4; 1-1 in Sun Belt play). Last year, the Jaguars traveled to San Marcos, Texas, as they lost 30-28 in quarterback Desmond Trotter’s first-ever start for the Jaguars. The Jaguars are looking to start their conference play with a win over the Bobcats, who are on a rebuilding season. South Alabama is coming off a tough 42-10 home loss to the UAB Blazers on Thursday, Sept. 24.
The Jaguars football team has been quiet on their preparations for their conference play’s remaining eight games. They are looking to get back on track on both sides of the ball after a rough game from a highly proficient Blazers team. The Jaguars average 22 points per game in three games. Their better games have been with Trotter healthy as the starter.
They will look to be a more efficient passing offense, which is currently ranked 21st in the nation (second in the Sun Belt) in passing yards per game (270). The passing offense is led by junior wide receiver Jalen Tolbert and senior wide receiver Kawaan Baker. Tolbert is second in the conference in receiving yards accounted for (327) while Baker is fifth (246). They will have a great chance for big games as the Bobcats rank 62nd in the nation (ninth in the Sun Belt) in passing yards allowed per game (285).
The Jaguars defense has a tough task ahead of them this Saturday as they must contain a Bobcats offense that averages 29.6 points per game (sixth in the Sun Belt). They have a great range of mixing up and establishing themselves on the ground and in the passing game. The Jaguars gave up 509 total yards on offense, with 319 of them through the passing game to the Blazers more than three weeks ago. They will need to rely on their efficient defenders in junior linebacker Nick Mobley and senior safety Keith Gallmon. Both players are proficient in pass coverage schemes and quickly stopping the run.
This game will be an excellent opportunity for the Jaguars defense to create chaos in the backfield of the Bobcats. The Bobcats offensive line has allowed 50 tackles for loss and 16 sacks in just five games this season. In just three games, the Jaguars defense has accounted for 12 tackles for loss and four sacks. Senior defensive end Jeremiah Littles leads South Alabama in tackles for loss (2) and sacks (1). Senior outside linebacker Riley Cole is one of the key pass rushers for the Jaguars as he is great in creating pressure on the opposing quarterback. Cole has accounted for 1.5 tackles for loss and one sack so far this season. Look for them as the entire defensive line and some key blitzes to create some much-needed impact for the defense.
The Jaguars opened as a three-point favorite over the Bobcats. Kickoff will be at 11 a.m. on ESPNU as well as 97.1 FM The Prowl.