#8 Jacksonville State 2018 FCS Football Preview

Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #8
#1 Ohio Valley
 Jacksonville State Logo
Jacksonville State continued its dominance of the Ohio Valley Conference in 2017 as the Gamecocks went undefeated in the league and returned to the FCS playoffs. Jacksonville State ran into a feisty Kennesaw State team in the first round of the playoffs and the Gamecocks lost 17-7 to the Owls.  The 2018 season should bring more of the same dominance in conference play as plenty of key players return for head coach John Grass.
2017 Record: 10-2, 8-0
2017 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: John Grass (43-8 at Jacksonville State, 43-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Jimmy Ogle
Defensive Coordinator: Andrew Warwick
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Tramel Terry, RB, 430 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Shaq Davidson, WR, 346 yards
Tackles: Marlon Bridges, S, 81
Sacks: Two players with 3.5
Interceptions: Marlon Bridges, S, 3
Other Key Returnees: LB Quan Stoudemire, S Traco Williams, SLB Christian Wafford, DL Randy Robinson, DL Connor Christian, PK Cade Stinnett, WR Jamari Hester, OL B.J. Autry, C Tyler Scozzarro, OL Darius Anderson, TE Trae Berry,
Key Losses: RB Roc Thomas, QB Bryant Horn, CB Siran Neal, OLB Darius Jackson, LB Jonathan Hagler, OL Justin Lea, LB Joel McCandless
Zion Webb and Zerrick Cooper are going to battle it out to the end of fall camp for the starting quarterback job as Bryant Horn moved on after last season. The key for Webb or Cooper will be their ability to manage the offense and not turn the football over. Tramel Terry is back at running back and he will be expected to takeover the work load left behind by Roc Thomas who ran for 1,000 yards last season. Shaq Davidson leads a solid group of receivers that take advantage of their limited opportunities in the passing game. The offensive line will be a definite strength for Jacksonville State as Tyler Scozarro is one of the top centers in the country. B.J. Autry and Darius Anderson are also very talented and are back in 2018 to round out a quality offensive line unit that will cause plenty of problems for opposing defenses.
Preseason Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year Marlon Bridges is back at safety and he will need to set the tone for the Gamecocks on defense. Bridges had 81 tackles, including six tackles for loss along with three interceptions and five pass breakups. Randy Robinson and Connor Christian are back along the defensive front and they will need to increase their sack totals from 3.5 to replace the seven sacks of Darius Jackson. Linebacker will be another strength for the Jacksonville State defense this season. Quan Stoudamire collected 61 tackles and did a nice job in pass coverage as he had two pass breakups last season. Christian Wafford is back at the strongside linebacker position and will be looking to improve his 29 tackles and one pass breakup performance last season. Cade Stinnett returns at placekicker and Stinnett made 13 of 18 field goals in 2017. Stinnett was at his best kicking shorter field goals as he was eight of nine from inside 40 yards in 2017.
The Bottom Line:
Jacksonville State will not ease their way into the season as they will open the campaign on August 25th in Montgomery, Alabama to play North Carolina A&T. This game against the defending HBCU champions will give Coach Grass a real good idea of where his team is at in all three phases of the game. The Gamecocks will then return home for three straight games, including a tough one against Austin Peay who is projected as the second-best team in the Ohio Valley Conference this season. Run defense will be critical in that game against the Governors as they will try and wear you down on the ground. Kennesaw State is on the regular season schedule for Jacksonville State as they will travel to SunTrust Park to take on the Owls. That game will be a great final closing statement for both teams as they look to get a high seed in the FCS Playoffs. It will be critical for the Gamecocks to run the ball effectively and keep Kennesaw State’s offense off the field. Jacksonville State should win around ten to eleven games and make the FCS Playoffs without too much difficulty in 2018.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2017 Team Stats
Rushing Offense: 217.3 (16th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 151.4 (106, 8)
Total Offense: 368.7 (58, 2)
Scoring Offense: 30.3 (29, 7)
Rushing Defense: 75.6 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 164.0 (13, 3)
Total Defense: 239.6 (2, 1)
Scoring Defense: 15.0 (6, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (71, 6)
Sacks: 2.33 (43, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (46, 4)
HERO Sports 2018 Recruit Rankings:
#7 Caga Campbell
#56 Tacorrie Russell
#90 Ahmad Edwards
#132 Cameron Hill
#145 Cam McKinney