#6 Jacksonville State FCS Football 2017 Preview


Jacksonville State Gamecocks


Overall Rank: #6

#1 Ohio Valley

Jacksonville State has now won 24 straight OVC games and there may not be a team capable of ending that streak this season. The Gamecocks lost at LSU early last season and then went into the playoffs with a 10-1 record and earned the #3 overall seed. However, they were upset in their playoff opener by Youngstown State. As it turned out, Jacksonville State would not be the last team to be upset by the Penguins.
2016 Record: 10-2, 7-0
2016 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: John Grass (33-6 at Jacksonville State, 33-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Grass
Defensive Coordinator: David Blackwell, Brandon Hall
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Roc Thomas, RB, 782 yards
Passing: Bryant Horn, QB, 95 yards
Receiving: Jamari Hester, WR, 330 yards
Tackles: Marlon Bridges, S, 87
Sacks: Darius Jackson, DE, 10.0
Interceptions: Marlon Bridges, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Krenwick Sanders, OL Justin Lea, OL Dylan Cline, CB Siran Neal, LB Joel McCandless, LB Quan Stoudemire, CB Reggie Hall, DL Randy Robinson
Key Losses: QB Eli Jenkins, RB Josh Clemons, WR Josh Barge, CB Jaylen Hill, CB Al Harris Jr.
Jacksonville State’s offense will look a lot different without Eli Jenkins under center. He threw for 2,107 yards and 11 touchdowns and added 984 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Bryant Horn was the backup last season and has the potential to pick up where Jenkins left off. The 6-1 junior only threw seven passes in 2016 after spending the 2015 campaign as a linebacker. However, he is a decent passer and a proven rusher. Losing top receiver Josh Barge will hurt the passing game too though. Jamari Hester and Krenwick Sanders are quality receivers who are ready to emerge as playmakers. But as usual Jacksonville State will want to stick to the ground game behind a talented offensive line. Losing lineman Casey Dunn to Auburn hurts, but Justin Lea and Dylan Cline anchor what should still be a strong unit. Roc Thomas will be the main back after rushing for 782 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Sophomore Tyus Flakes will need to add more carries this season after rushing 57 times for just 201 yards as a freshman.
The defense that dominated the OVC returns nine starters. The unit ranked fifth in the FCS in rush defense, fourth in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. The front line returns ends Darius Jackson and Dalton Campbell and nose tackle Randy Robinson. Jackson is the star of the group after tallying 48 tackles with 10.0 sacks, 15.5 tackles-for-loss and 13 quarterback hurries. Quan Stoudemire, Joel McCandless and Siran Neal are all back at linebacker. Those three combined for 198 tackles. The secondary also returns three starters. Marlon Bridges, who tallied 87 tackles and four interceptions as a freshman last season, and Ra’Shad Green, who added 41 tackles, form one of the best safety duos in the OVC. Senior Reggie Hall could be asked to turn into the top cornerback after the departure of Jaylen Hill. Hall is more than ready to take over as the top cornerback, but he benefited from having Hill on the other side of the field. This year the opposition may avoid Hall and that will put pressure on a new starter, likely junior Pat Porter.
The Bottom Line:
With games against Chattanooga, Georgia Tech and Liberty, Jacksonville State will again test themselves in non-conference play. The toughest conference games could be the last two of the season. A trip to Tennessee-Martin on November 11th and a home date with Tennessee State on the 18th are probably the two games that could end Jacksonville State’s OVC winning streak.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 250.6 (7th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 183.5 (88, 9)
Total Offense: 434.1 (20, 1)
Scoring Offense: 30.9 (31, 3)
Rushing Defense: 89.3 (5, 1)
Pass Defense: 185.6 (23, 1)
Total Defense: 274.9 (4, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.3 (7, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.83 (11, 1)
Sacks: 3.17 (7, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.58 (40, 4)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#56 Bradley Flott
#93 Tyrese Slocum
#114 Ye'Majesty Sanders
#133 Jai Smith
#176 Dakota Chapman
#192 Charles Crawford
#224 Trae Barry