Keys To Jags Game This Weekend

September 28, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Jaguar Pat Moore closes in on Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell in the first quarter of the Jaguars 30-10 loss to the Bulldogs.

South Alabama has a tough challenge in their first Sun Belt game when they host Troy on Saturday. The Jags (1-3, 0-0 SBC) has dropped their last two games against formidable opponents NC State and Mississippi State is looking to rebound against in-state rival Troy (2-2, 1-1 SBC) while trying to win their first conference game.

There are a couple keys points that are expected to play a big role in how the game goes for the Jags.

The Jaguar defense versus the Troy offense. Troy’s Corey Robinson is the Sun Belt’s leading passer with an average of 321.5 passing yards per game which totals more than the Jaguar offense averages in total yards per game with 312. Additionally, Troy has three of the conference’s top 10 receivers in receptions with Chip Reeves also currently second place in the conference with an average of 90.2 yards receiving per game.

The Jaguar secondary has given up some big plays this season. They gave up touchdown passes of 58 yards (on a center screen), 23 and 34 yards to UTSA. NC State’s Mike Glennon had touchdown passes of 33 and 44-yards.

But the Jags secondary does have four interceptions on the season. Tyrell Pearson has two and Terrel Brigham and Bryson James have one each. Free Safety B.J. Scott is the team’s third leading tackler with 20, two quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss.

The secondary numbers does not stop there. Brigham is fourth on the team in tackles, Pearson ranks fifth on the team in tackles and Darrius Morrow is eighth.

The Jags rank near the top in rushing defense.

The next key is the Jaguar offense against the Troy defense. Can the Jags move the ball consistently, get first downs and score from in the red zone?

Troy’s defense is allowing an average of 25.8 points per game, fifth in the conference, and rank seventh in the conference in total defense allowing an average of 431.8 yards per game.

Their passing defense is in the middle of the pack, ranking fifth, with an average of 244 yards per game. While the Troy rush defense ranks eighth with 187.8 yards per game.

South Alabama has been rotating between two quarterbacks in their first four games. Coach Jones has declined to comment about who may be the starter or if the Jags will continue to rotate quarterbacks against Troy. But the Jaguars spread offense has shown, at times, that they can move the ball in large chunks in rapid succession. Now that they are facing a defense with a history of giving up lots of yards and more than 20 points per game, the Jags have a chance to put up some good numbers.

The Jags offensive line played very well against Mississippi State, a team with a huge defensive line. They had problems against NC State but seem to have corrected them. Their blocking scheme seems to have started clicking and couldn’t have come at a better time. If they can handle any new wrinkles introduced this week by Troy’s scheme, they should be okay.

The final key is turnovers. This has been a major factor for the Jags and the Trojans as well. South Alabama ranks dead last in the conference with  -7 in turnovers, losing seven fumbles and five interceptions while gaining one fumble and four interceptions. Troy is only very slightly better with a ninth place ranking in the conference with a -6 in turnovers by losing six fumbles and four interceptions and gaining three fumbles and one interception.

Those Jaguar turnovers are magnified because the opponents have converted those turnovers into points. All four turnovers against UTSA were turned into points in their 33-31 loss to the Roadrunners.

We don’t have to repeat the saying, but it’s true more times than not: Whoever wins the turnover margin will be in a good position to win the game. But when you have two teams who are turnover prone, it may be a “slippery” subject.

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