South Alabama at Appalachian State: Preview

October 2, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 

Jags_vs_AppStateSouth Alabama showed improvement on offense last week against Idaho but will they play that good against a better opponent this week in Appalachian State? That is the question that most people what to see answered this week.

The offense entered the game last week after only scoring nine points in their previous two games and only 16 points in the previous 10 quarters of play. They came out and score 13 points on offense in the first half against Idaho, the defense had a pick-six to account for the other touchdown in the first half.

In the second half the offense came out of the locker room strong with an early touchdown but about midway through the third quarter until the beginning of the fourth quarter, the offense struggled. Two turnovers on back-to-back possessions could have been more costly than they were. The first turnover was an interception at the USA 30 yard line which the Vandals converted into seven points. The second turnover was a fumble at the USA 44 yard line which resulted in a missed field goal attempt after the Vandals drove into the red zone, but shot themselves in the foot with a penalty and a sack.

Next up are the Mountaineers.

Appalachian State joined the Sun Belt Conference over the summer along with Georgia Southern from the FCS ranks. While the latter has enjoyed some very good success, the Mountaineers have struggled to a 1-3 record overall and dropped their first conference game against rival Georgia Southern. But that record does not show how well they have played overall.

The Mountaineers lost to Michigan in Ann Arbor but they kept the game very close for most of the first half, but the game ended in a blow out for the Wolverines who relished it for revenge for what many consider the biggest upset in recent history.

The turned around and blew out an unknown team then traveled to Southern Miss and lost on a blocked extra point. Then they had to turn around and put the Southern Miss loss behind them and prepare for Georgia Southern on a short week for a Thursday night game.

Statistically their offense ranks well in the conference. They are in the top 5 in six categories, much better than the Jaguar offense ranks currently.

Defensively they rank at the top of the conference opponents first downs and opponents third down conversions. They are tied with the Jags for second place in the conference in total defense. However they have only made one of four field goal attempts.

South Alabama’s defense has played very well all season. In most categories they rank in the top 4 of the conference. While their rush defense ranks 8th in the conference, they held the Vandals to only 30 yards on the ground last weekend.

The Jaguars offense got going last week when the coaches called some high-percentage passing plays for Brandon Bridge to get his confidence up early in the game. Though he has only completed 52% of his passes this season, he completed 60% of them last week. Shavarez Smith was his go-to target with six catches for 44 yards. Wes Saxton, who had been quiet this season, caught three passes for 18 yards.

Jay Jones rushed 17 times for 105 yards, his second 100 yard game of the season. Both of which the Jags have won.

Appalachian State struggled to get their offense going against Georgia Southern last week. Quarterback Tyler Lamb completed only 23-of-42 passes for 256 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Those two interceptions gives Lamb four on the season to only three touchdowns. Kameron Bryant, who is 18-for-36 and 207 yards on the season could see some playing time if Lamb continues to struggle.

The Jags will have to contain two players on the Mountaineers offense to win. Running back Marcus Cox has rushed 63 times for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Simms McElfresh leads the team in both catches (24) and receiving yards (238). He has also been big in the red zone with four touchdowns.

The bottom line is, the Jaguar offense must continue to execute.

South Alabama players understand they have to play well to defeat the Mountaineers. Turnovers will be key as USA is -1 on the season and App. State is +2. The Mountaineer defenders will swarm the ball and will look to cause turnovers, which they do well, and the Jags know that they will have to finish plays strong and protect the ball.

Here are the raw numbers for those who like them:

  South Alabama (SBC Rank) App. State (SBC Rank)
Scoring Offense 16.5 (10th) 28.5 (4th)
Total Offense 354.2 (9th) 400.8 (4th)
Rushing Offense 155.8 (7th) 177.8 (3rd)
Passing Offense 198.5 (10th) 232.0 (7th)
Pass Efficiency 99.0 (11th) 117.2 (8th)
Sacks Against 12 (T7th) 7 (4th)
First Downs (avg/game) 20.2 (8th) 22.5 (5th)
3rd Down Conversions 22-60 36.7% (9th) 27-62 43.5% (4th)
4th Down Conversions 1-4 25.0% (T9th) 6-10 60.0% (6th)
Red Zone Conversion Percentage 5-8 62.5% (11th) 14-21 66.7% (10th)
Time of Possession 29:34 (4th) 29:21 (8th)
Scoring Defense 21.5 (2nd) 26.8 (5th)
Total Defense 370.0 (T2nd) 370.0 (T2nd)
Rushing Defense 229.0 (8rd) 218.8 (7th)
Passing Defense 179.2 (4th) 151.2 (2nd)
Pass Defense Efficiency 190.8 (4th) 120.4 (3rd)
Opponent 1st Downs (avg/game) 18.8 (4th) 17.0 (1st)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions 25-61 41.0% (7th) 15-47 31.9% (1st)
Opponent 4th Down Conversions 2-3 66.7% (T7th) 2-3 66.7% (T7th)
Opponent Red Zone Conv. % 9-12 91.3% (T2nd) 13-15 86.7% (6th)
Sacks By 11 98yds 2.8sacks/G (4th) 5 50yds 1.3Sacks/G (T9th)
Special Teams
Kickoff Return Average 24.5% (2nd) 19.3 (8th)
Punt Return Average 3.2 (9th) 7.8 (4th)
Punting 36.7 (6th) 34.8 (10th)
Field Goals 3-4 (5th) 1-4 (11th)
Penalties 23 157yds 39.2yds/G (5th) 33 274yds 68.5yds/G (9th)
Opponent Penalties 22 184yds 46.0yds/G (6th) 27 285yds 72.1yds/G (1st)
Turnover Margin -1 (7th) +2 (T2nd)



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