Jags Open 2017 Season At Ole Miss

August 31, 2017 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The South Alabama Jaguars went to Starkville, Mississippi last year and came away with the programs biggest win to date. They overcame losing several starters for the season before the season even started and an SEC team on the road.

This year it’s a different team and different circumstances. The Jags will only have one player out when the Jags take the field in Oxford, Mississippi.

What a difference a year will make.

Gone is second-round draft pick Gerald Everett as well as a host of playmakers like Josh Magee, Dami Ayoola, Roman Buchanan, Kalen Jackson, Devon Earl, Randy Allen, Quinton Dent, Kevin Kutchera just to name a few.

However, among the returners are Xavier Johnson, Jeremy Reaves, Jimmie Gipson III, Finesse Middleton, Quinton Lane, Neiko Robinson just to name a few again. Johnson is within striking distance of a number of Jaguar records such as the all-time rushing leader. Then due to all the injuries on the defensive line giving lots of playing time to younger players, the Jags are three deep across the defensive line.

After offseason shoulder surgery, last years starter Dallas Davis was beat out by Cole Garvin as the starting quarterback for week 1. Being the starter is not new to Garvin, he led the Jags to the 42-24 upset of #19 San Diego State when Dallas Davis was injured.

Ole Miss has had a tumultuous offseason, to say the least.

NCAA investigations, lawsuits, the abrupt resignation of their head coach Hugh Freeze for off-field conduct, and two new coordinators. No matter what’s happening around them, they have speed and talent. The Rebels are led by interim head coach Matt Luke but will miss two of their top tight ends due to injury as well as a backup defensive end along with a starting cornerback and linebacker who are suspended for shoplifting.

What does South Alabama need to do to win?

They need to stay healthy. The Jags were just devestated by injuries last season. The defensive line was patched together and a veritable MASH unit. The straw that broke the defense’s back was when Kalen Jackson went down with an injury late in the season opening up the middle of the field. Even Everett played injured.

Strong defensive line play. The defensive line is the deepest coach Jones has ever had, being three-deep across the defensive front. If the defensive line can stay fresh, pressure the quarterback, and keep contain the Jags have an excellent shot at bottling up the Rebel offense.

Establish the run game. The run game will take pressure off Garvin and the fairly young receiver corps and keep the Rebels from pinning their ears back and going after Cole and making the offense one-dimensional. Last season the Jaguar offense relied too much on the big play on offense. Being able to establish the run and hit on short and intermediate passing routes will greatly increase the odds of hitting a big play to put an exclamation point on a statement.

Stay composed. Last season the Jags were down 17-0 in Starkville, but they were never out of the game. They outscoring the Bulldogs 21-3 in the second half, including a 9-play 99-yard drive to get within one score early in the fourth quarter.

South Alabama and Ole Miss will kickoff at 6:30pm in Oxford, MS on Saturday, September 2. The game can be heard on local radio and world-wide on the iHeartRadio platform. They can be seen nationally on ESPNU.