The effects of Hurricane Patricia will be felt in San Marcos this weekend as there is a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday when the Texas State Bobcats (1-4, 0-1) host the South Alabama Jaguars (3-3, 1-1). Thunderstorms are also a strong possibility, but this may be an advantage for the Bobcats.
They have plenty of experience playing after weather delays, even upsetting Wyoming after a three and a half hour rain delay in 2013 (not to mention the one hour delay in Tallahassee earlier this year).
The Last Matchup
Both teams have split victories in the only two matchups between the Bobcats and the Jaguars. In 2013, TXST won in San Marcos, 33-31, after Jason Dann converted a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock. Last year, the Jaguars shut down the Bobcats in the second half to hold onto a 24-20 win in Mobile.
“The last two years we’ve played them it’s come down to the last play of the game,” said TXST HC Dennis Franchione. “You play almost 400 plays in the last two games, including the kicking game, and the two at the end made the difference. We prepare that way and obviously every game is a little different. You take the script as it’s laid out to you.”
Head Coach Joey Jones
Joey Jones came to South Alabama in 2008, becoming the school’s first football coach as their football program had just been incepted. In those seven years, Jones, 52, has led the Jaguars to a 37-28 record and their first bowl appearance last year, making South Alabama the quickest program to reach a bowl game in NCAA FBS football.
After going 2-11 in 2012, USA’s first year competing in the Sun Belt, the Jaguars have been bowl eligible each of the last two seasons. He was named Sun Belt Coach of the Year in 2013.
Players to Watch
Junior TE Gerald Everett
Originally a basketball player with no football experience until his senior year of high school, the 6’4”, 225-lbs Everett has been a scoring machine for the Jags this season. He has recorded a touchdown in five of the Jag’s six games, including at least one in the last four games and two in the last two games. Everett has 26 catches on the year for 375 yards, averaging 14.4 yards per catch. One out of every four passes he has caught this year has gone for a touchdown. Just this past week, Everett was named to the John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List, an award given to the nation’s most outstanding tight end in FBS football. He is also one of seven UAB transfers on South Alabama’s roster.
Junior LB Kalen Jackson
Another UAB transfer, Jackson started out slow but has come on strong in the Jag’s last two contests, totaling 18 tackles and two TFL’s in those two games, after posting 17 tackles through the first four games. Jackson’s ten solo tackles against Arkansas State were the most recorded by a Jag this year and he is the only player to record back to back games with multiple TFL’s.
The UAB Effect
South Alabama lost 17 starters from last year’s team and had just one skill position player return, WR Danny Woodson. Despite losing more than 75 percent of their starting roster, the Jaguars have 16 upperclassmen starting on their current team. This can largely be attributed to the fallout of the University of Alabama Birmingham football program last year.
After UAB shut down its football program (only to later reinstate it), all UAB players were permitted to play at any other school without having to sit out a year, as is usually the case with FBS transfers. South Alabama, located in Mobile, which is just over three hours away from Birmingham, took full advantage of the situation. They scooped up seven former UAB players, including starters Everett, Jackson, senior OL Cameron Blackenship, sophomore LB John Robinson, sophomore WR D.J.Vinson and senior QB Cody Clements. The only UAB transfer not starting is redshirt-freshman QB Evan Orth.
Keys to a Bobcat Victory
Offense: Rob Lowe must have a big game.
Rob Lowe has just one 100-yard game this season and it came against an FCS opponent, PVAMU. A banged up offensive line, a passing offense due to constantly playing from behind and a plethora of other excuses could be made for why this is, but the fact is the Bobcats need him to get it going and the odds are actually in his favor. Lowe has played well against the Jaguars (162 yards, 5.2 yards per carry in the two games) and the Jags are giving up over 200 yards a game on the ground this season. The Bobcats are 7-3 in the ten games when Lowe has rushed for over 100 yards.
Defense: Break the interception-less streak of 2015.
After leading the Sun Belt in picks with 13 last season, the Bobcats have yet to make an interception this year. In fact, they haven’t had a turnover on defense since PVAMU. The Bobcats will have their best shot of the season to end that streak when they face South Alabama QB Cody Clements this week. Clements, another UAB transfer, has already thrown nine interceptions (to ten touchdowns) through five games and has completed just 98 of 187 attempts (52.4 percent). An interception, any turnover, is the quickest way for the defense to get off the field, giving them a chance to stay fresh for the second half.