#30 Jacksonville State FCS Football 2022 Preview

Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #30
 Jacksonville State Logo
Jacksonville State has now missed the playoffs two times in the last three years. By recent Gamecock standards, that is extremely disappointing. The coach that took them to six playoff appearances, John Grass, is now gone. Jacksonville State went out and made a big name hire by picking up Rich Rodriguez. The former West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona head coach was most recently the offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Monroe.
2021 Record: 5-6, 3-3
2021 Postseason: None
Coach: Rich Rodriguez (0-0 at Jacksonville State, 163-119-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rod Smith
Defensive Coordinator: Zac Alley
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Josh Samuel, RB, 714 yards
Passing: Matthew Caldwell, QB, 136 yards
Receiving: P.J. Wells, WR, 574 yards
Tackles: Markall Benton, LB, 69
Sacks: Markall Benton, LB, 2.5
Interceptions: Malik Feaster, CB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Ron Wiggins, WR Ahmad Edwards, TE Sean Brown, LB Stevonte Tullis, S Kolbi Fuqua, CB Yessman Green, CB Jamari Jemison, DE Jaylin Swain
Key Losses: QB Zerrick Cooper, RB Uriah West, OL Tylan Grable, DE DJ Coleman, DL Nahum Horton, S Nicario Harper, LB Marshall Clark, DE Umstead Sanders
The Gamecocks will welcome back Zion Webb. The quarterback had a breakout campaign in the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2021. However, he suffered an injury in the spring playoffs and missed the entire 2021 season proper. In his 12 appearances during the 2020 season, Webb threw for 1,777 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 399 yards and five more scores. P.J. Wells, Ahmad Edwards and Sean Brown are quality receiving options and the passing game should be improved with Webb under center. The ground game is in good shape too. Josh Samuel was the workhorse last season, rushing for 714 yards and six touchdowns. Ron Wiggins added 254 yards and will be a nice change of pace option.
The defense took a big step back last season too. They allowed nearly 393 yards per game and that is not up to the standard Jacksonville State has come to expect. There are holes to fill heading into the 2022 campaign, but the Gamecocks have some nice pieces to build around. On the line Jaylen Swain returns after an excellent freshman campaign where he earned unanimous All-ASUN accolades. Stevonte Tullis was also an all-conference honoree at linebacker and he will again team up with leading tackler Markall Benton. The secondary lost Nicario Harper to Louisville, but the rest of the secondary returns intact.
The Bottom Line:
The Gamecocks will again test themselves in non-conference play. They face off against Stephen F. Austin, Davidson, Murray State, Tulsa and Nicholls to begin the campaign. Most of those are pretty tough games, but do not forget that this is a Jacksonville State team that beat Florida State last year and still finished .500 in conference play. The best news in ASUN action is that both Kennesaw State and Eastern Kentucky come to Jacksonville.
Projected Postseason:  None
2021 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.7 (50th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 207.7 (64, 6)
Total Offense: 360.5 (64, 6)
Scoring Offense: 22.0 (86, 6)
Rushing Defense: 158.4 (70, 4)
Pass Defense: 234.5 (78, 4)
Total Defense: 392.9 (82, 5)
Scoring Defense: 28.4 (68, 5)
Turnover Margin: 0.09 (57, 4)
Sacks: 1.64 (87, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.73 (43, 4)