By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Photos by: Martyce Allen | Web Editor
Week two was a rebound week for most teams in all College Football. For the South Alabama Jaguars, they were looking to get back on the winning side of the spectrum against the FCS-level Jackson State Tigers. They tried to throw the Jaguars off with a huge change of their offensive and defensive philosophy from last week. Despite the changes from Jackson State and a rash number of turnovers, the Jaguars (1-1) beat the Tigers (0-2) with a 37-14 score
It was a huge night for the Jaguars’ rushing game and for senior running back Tra Minter.
The Jaguars accounted for 538 total yards on offense with 413 of them coming from the ground on 60 rushing attempts. This was an average of 6.9 yards per rush. Minter rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries and averaging 11.8 yards per game. He accredited the offensive line for the tremendous push and capabilities to open holes against a Tigers defense that often lined up in a 3-3 front.
Right guard Roy Albritton was one of the main contributors and most consistent offensive linemen throughout the game for South Alabama. Freshman running back Jared Wilson had an impact on the game against Jackson State as well. He rushed for 95 yards on 12 carries for an average of 7.9 yards per rush.
Jaguars Quarterback Cephus Johnson had played well in the RPO play setting by completing 11 passes out of 18 attempts for 120 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. He also rushed for 33 yards and a touchdown from the first quarter. Backup quarterback Tylan Morton came in and rushed for 14 yards and a touchdown from four yards out.
The Jaguars defense encountered a Tigers offense that was more traditional than a Run-Pass-Option style system. The Jaguars defense couldn’t get to the quarterback often throughout the game as the Tigers were crucial on edge protection. South Alabama defensive end Tyree Turner was forced to miss the game due to ankle injury he suffered in the loss to Nebraska last week.
Another big indication for the lack of top pass rushers was the consecutive targeting penalties called on Jaguars outside linebacker Riley Cole and defensive end Rocel McWilliams. Both players were disqualified from the contest in the middle of the first quarter.
Despite the misfortunes early in the game against South Alabama, the Jaguars defense held the Tigers to only 265 total yards on offense. The Jaguars forced three turnovers from Jackson State’s offense including an interception from Tigers quarterback Derrick Ponder to Jaguars cornerback Jalen Thompson. That interception by Thompson is his ninth career, which is the most in school history in a career.
Jaguars linebacker Taji Stewart accounted for the game’s only sack. Cornerback Devin Rockette accounted for a fumble recovery in the middle of the second quarter. Among the seven tackles for loss by the Jaguars defense, two of them were from defensive end Jeffery Whatley and 2.5 were from nose tackle Jordon Beaton. One of the tackles for loss from Beaton was a safety near the end of the third quarter.
This was a big win for the South Alabama Jaguars as they prepare for better opponents. In the press conference, head coach Steve Campbell said, “you see improvements between week one and week two, but I can’t say that we did that.” He did mention that there was a lot of work to do to avoid mistakes such as the three turnovers that South Alabama encountered. Another big thing was to create more pass rush on the defensive side of the ball.
Coach Campbell was pleased with the effort of his players including the reserves that came in when the Jaguars had a bigger score of 27-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. There will be plenty of time and film for coach Campbell to evaluate before the Jaguars host the Memphis Tigers (2-0) this next Saturday.