By: Michael Hanich | Sports Editor
Coming off their first conference of the season in a loss at the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 30-17, the South Alabama Jaguars (1-4) are facing a quick turnaround by hosting the Georgia Southern Eagles (1-3) this Thursday night. Playing in a football game with less than a week of rest and preparation is very tough. The quick turnaround is not the only difficult test for the Jaguars. This Thursday night, the Jaguars will have to defend against one of the most complicated offensive schemes in all of College Football, the triple-option offense.
On Monday, head coach Steve Campbell addressed the advisory of the rough start to the season as well as the progress during the game, “You’re going to go through adversity. You just gotta keep going.” On the short turnaround, he mentioned the importance of preparation is how prepared they are and not how long they had to prepare for their next game. Film watching and mental reps is highly critical for preparing for the triple-option offense of Georgia Southern.
The triple-option is an offensive scheme is where the quarterback is always under center and there are three backs in the backfield. These backs can range from two different running backs and a fullback or two fullbacks and a running back. In this offense, the offense has a flexible system of designed run plays of handing off to the big fullbacks for short-yardage or the running backs for medium yards. There are also plays where the quarterback can keep the ball and run to the outside or hand the ball off to a receiver in motion that is close to the offensive line. This is an offense that extremely tight in formation and thrives on wearing down the opposing defense and missed assignments from the defenders.
The Eagles have four players who have rushed for 150 yards in just four games. This Eagles’ offense averages 201.8 rushing yards per game (41st in the nation). This is game will be highly critical for the Jaguars defense that ranks 49th in the nation (out of 130 teams) in rushing yards allowed per game (135.5). When asked about stopping the triple-option offense, Jaguars defensive end Jeffery Whatley said, “You just got to play your key, the things that they give, they give you a bunch of different looks but for the most part, you got to do your job and stay disciplined.” Whatley, defensive end Rocel McWilliams, and nose tackle Jordan Beaton will need to shut down the run game from the interior zones. The linebackers and defensive backs will need to play their proper assignments to make sure no extra yards or missed tackles is given.
The Jaguars’ offense will need to keep momentum throughout the game. Against ULM, the Jaguars did not score a touchdown after their first drive until very late in the fourth quarter. The offensive line will have a huge task of stopping an Eagles defense that strives on creating havoc in the backfield. The Eagles have four players on defense that accounted for three or more tackles for loss.
South has no problem running the ball as senior running back Tra Minter ran for 150 yards last week against ULM. The Jaguars will need to be less one-dimensional and be more efficient passing the ball. The Eagles’ defense ranks 111th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (277.8). Offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield has mentioned the importance of getting the ball to their best receiving target to junior wide receiver Kawaan Baker.