South Alabama vs Kent State Preview

September 3, 2014 · By · Filed Under Uncategorized 
Running back Jay Jones diving in for a Jaguar touchdown against Kent State in 2013.

Running back Jay Jones diving in for a Jaguar touchdown against Kent State in 2013.

After sitting out the first weekend of the college football season, the Jaguars are ready to start their 2014 campaign in Kent, Ohio.

The Jags ended their 2013 season with three-consecutive wins by double-digit margins including a 30-8 win in the season finale against Sun Belt Conference co-champion Louisiana-Lafayette. Now they hope to carry over that momentum into the 2014 season.

USA enters the final game of a three-game series against Kent State with an even record at 1-1. The Jags dropped their first meeting 33-25 in 2011 in Ohio, then picked up a 38-21 win last season in Mobile.

Head coach Joey Jones enters his sixth season leading the program he started from scratch during which he has earned a career mark of 31-21. With his most talented team to date, the Jaguars had nine student-athletes earning preseason All-Conference honors over the summer as voted by SBC head coaches and media. Five of those honorees came from the offensive unit which averaged 425 yards and nearly 30 points per game last season.

Senior tight end Wes Saxton, who has been named to preseason watch lists for the 2015 Senior Bowl as well as the John Mackey and Biletnikoff Awards, was one of three first-team All-SBC selections. Junior Chris May and senior Ucambre Williams are two of five lineman to be named to the first-team as well.

Senior wide receivers Shavarez Smith and Jereme Jones were both named to the second-team All-SBC team. Danny Woodson returns to the lineup after catching 26 passes for 439 yards and four touchdowns last season before missing the remainder of the season due to an Achilles injury. Braedon Bowman, Tony Ray Parnell, Claude Garrett and Alabama transfer Marvin Shinn will add depth to the Jaguars receiving corps this season.

Senior Jay Jones returns after receiving an honorable mention All-Conference selection after leading the Jags with 737 yards on 143 rushes with five touchdowns. He is joined by Kendall Houston and Terrance Timmons and adding redshirt freshman Xavier Johnson and T.J. Glover makes the move back to running back.

Senior Drew Dearman starts at left guard and helps lead a large, experienced offensive line. Melvin Meggs returns from a knee injury to start at right guard. Sophomore Joseph Scelfo takes over the starting reins at center for the Jaguars.

Ross Metheny exhausted his eligibility last season where he earned second-team All-SBC honors and led the conference in total offense per game. Senior Brandon Bridge looks to take over for Metheny and help lead the Jaguars to their first bowl game and potentially their first conference championship. Matt Floyd transferred in from South Florida and Hunter Vaughn came in from Butler (Kansas) CC to provide more depth at quarterback.

The Jaguar graduated several seniors from the defensive front seven, but return several experienced lineman who saw lots of action last season. Also returning are two seniors who were among the team leaders in tackles last season. Cornerback Qudarius Ford and linebacker Maleki Harris, both voted second-team All-SBC last season. Ford’s 76 tackles are the most among returning Jaguars but he also had six pass breakups and two interceptions. Harris added 63 tackles, 8.5 of them for loss, with a team-best seven passes defended.

Kent State dropped their first game of the season last Saturday on a last-second field goal. Quarterback Reardon showed promise after going 30-of-41 for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Ernest Calhoun led the team with 11 catches for 62 yards while Chris Humphrey led the receivers in yardage with 91 yards on six catches. But the team struggled on the ground as they only gained 31 yards on 22 carries as a team.

Nate Holley led the Golden Flashes defesne with 18 stops, 12 solo and forced two fumbles to earn MAC East Division Player of the Week honors. As a team the defense forced four fumbles on four-consecutive possessions in the second half.

The game can be heard on the Jaguar radio network locally on 99.9 FM WMXC (Lite Mix 99.9) and world wide through the iHeartRadio app. You can view the game on ESPN3. The Jags and Golden Flashes kickoff is scheduled for 1pm on Saturday, September 6.

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