Jags Host 10th Ranked Oklahoma State Friday Night

September 6, 2017 · By · Filed Under Football 

South Alabama will host their first-ever top-10 ranked opponent when they kick off against Oklahoma State on Friday, September 8 at 7:00 pm.

Last season the Jaguars hosted their first ranked opponent at Ladd-Peebles Stadium and they also collected their first win against a ranked opponent. Under a year later and the Jags will once again make history by hosting a top-10 team in Mobile in Oklahoma State.

Head coach Mike Gundy, mullet and all because he’s a man, will lead the Cowboys to Mobile for a non-conference game against the Jaguars.

Gundy has built up the Cowboys into a perenial power since taking over in 2005, with a record of 105-50. Known for their high-power offense, OSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter in their season opener against Tulsa before cruising to a 59-24 win. The inexperienced but athletic Cowboy defense allowed 4.4 yards per play in the win.

Though the Jags dropped their opener to the Ole Miss Rebels 47-27, the Jaguar offense averaged 5.5 yards per play and outgained the Rebels 170-102 on the ground. The difference was the third quarter when the USA secondary gave up three scores on big plays, two long touchdown passes and runs and a kickoff return.

The Cowboy offense is one of the most diverse and explosive offenses in college football. Justice Hill rushed for 132 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Tulsa with two other running backs, J.D.King and La’Darren Brown, adding 95 and 92 yards respectively, each with a touchdown. Both King and Brown both had runs of 71 yards or more as they rolled up 332 yards rushing on 37 carries.

Quarterback Mason Rudolph threw for 303 yards on 20-of-24 passing. He favorite target was James Washington who caught six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns of 40- and 77-yards. He also found Tyron Johnson, an LSU transfer, for a 44 yard touchdown as well.

The Jaguar defense was one of the biggest turnarounds in college football last season. Their pass defense finished in the top 10 last season with an average of 174.6 yards per game. However, this secondary is less experienced than the squad last season with graduation and Jalen Thompson being ruled ineligible this season and now the injury to Neiko Robinson. Senior Safety Jeremy Reaves, an All-Sun Belt Conference pick last season is capable of making game-changing plays. He led the team with eight tackles, six solo, two tackles for loss and a pass breakup against the Rebels.

But the Jaguar defensive line, who was in shambles last season due to an unbelievable number of injuries, is healthy and deep with experienced players. They held the Rebels to only 102 yards rushing. It was also the Jaguar defense who forced the only turnover of the game last week that led to the Jags first touchdown of the game. They may need a few more of those this week.

Starting quarterback Cole Garvin went 19-of-31 for 204 yards and a touchdown against the Rebels. But it was the legs of the Jaguars running attack that really made a statement. After fielding the kickoff and stepping out of bounds at the 2-yard line, Xavier Johnson along with Deonta Moore and Tra Minter helped power the Jags on a 19-play drive covering 95 yards and taking 9:39 off the clock. Though they didn’t punch it in the endzone, it was a statement drive that got the attention of the Rebels.

Some key things the Jags much improve upon:

  • They were only 1-of-10 on third-down conversions. It’s vital that they convert and keep drives going against the Cowboys.
  • The secondary cannot let the Cowboy receivers to have their way. Rudolph, who hasn’t thrown an interception in his last 147 passing attempts, will capitalize on those opportunities. The USA defensive line will need to get more pressure on the quarterback to help those players in the secondary and make Rudolph get rid of the ball quicker than he wants. But don’t overlook those Cowboy running backs either.
  • Jags gotta tackle! Every Saturday you will hear someone complain about poor tackling and that they have to ‘wrap him up’. Well, the Jags had their occasional problems tackling too. Again, the Cowboys can make you pay if you fail to wrap them up when you have the opportunity.

The Cowboys are a 28-point favorite for good reason. They have one, if not the, best quarterback and receiver tandum in the nation with additional players all over the field to compliment them. The Jags were 28-point underdogs last season when they defeated Mississippi State on the road to open the season. But the Cowboys are more talented across the board than the Bulldogs were.

It’s going to take the Jags hitting on all cylinders, and some lucky bounces, to beat the Cowboys. Can they do it? We’ll find out starting at 7pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game can be heard locally on 96.1 and 99.5 The Jag in the Mobile area as well as a host of other stations across Alabama, worldwide on iHeartRadio, and it can be viewed nationally on ESPN2.

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