#12 Jacksonville State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #12
#1 Ohio Valley
Jacksonville State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Jacksonville State Team Page


With a 6-2 record, Jacksonville State tied for an Ohio Valley Conference title, but they were left out of the FCS Playoffs. It should be another tight race atop the conference standings, but Coach Jack Crowe has his team ready to look at a postseason berth. There are some holes to fill, but this is a talented team that just needs to live up to their potential.

2011 Record: (7-4, 6-2)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Jack Crowe (81-52 at Jacksonville State, 95-82 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Ronnie Letson
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Boone

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Washaun Ealey, RB, 1,082 yards
Passing: Coty Blanchard, QB, 1,703 yards
Receiving: Alan Bonner, WR, 582 yards
Tackles: Rashad Smith, LB, 77
Sacks: DiMetrio Tyson, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: Pierre Warren, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: S Robert Gray, C Max Holcombe, LB Nick Johnson, OT Tark Milner, G Tori Mobley, OT Odie Rush, WR Trey Smith

Key Losses: CB Jawaan Booker, CB A.J. Davis, G Michael Ellis, LB Rodney Garrott, LB Clarence Jackson, RB Calvin Middleton, WR James Shaw, DT Jamison Wadley

The main storyline for the offense is the return of a couple key players who missed last season. Quarterback Marques Ivory was injured in the season opener of the 2011 campaign and missed the rest of the season. Coty Blanchard did a superb job filling, but Blanchard will have to wait another year to get the starting job back. Back in 2010 Ivory threw for 2,248 yards and 18 touchdowns. Ivory will once again have top receiver Alan Bonner at his disposal and Trey Smith is due for a big year after catching 24 passes for 300 yards and two scores in 2011. But Jacksonville State does not need to rely on the passing game. Washaun Ealey carried the offense last year. He rushed for 1,082 yards and eight touchdowns. Departed back Calvin Middleton and Blanchard did their part helping the Gamecocks rank 13th in the nation in rushing offense, but it is Ealey who is the dynamic rusher. Finding another change of pace back like Middleton will not be easy, but the ground game will still be very efficient and effective. And that is where another player returning from injury comes into play. Offensive tackle Odie Rush missed last season with an injury, but is now back and ready to go. He was an All-Conference honoree in 2010. With Max Holcombe, Tark Milner and Tori Mobley also back, this is a deep and experienced offensive line that will make everything much easier for Ealey and Ivory.

Yet, there are problems on the other side of the ball. Jacksonville State had a decent bend but don’t break defense going in 2011, but the numbers were not very good and now there are quite a few holes to fill. The front line has the most problems. End DiMetrio Tyson is back for his senior season, but the beef of the line will have to be filled by some very inexperienced players. Freshmen Barry Stafford and Martez House and sophomore Caleb Lawrence and Sean Watson will be thrown right into the mix and will be asked to play from day one. Jacksonville State also needs to replace bandit Rodney Garrott. Junior James Powell is expected to fill that role after tallying just 14 tackles last season. The secondary lost cornerbacks A.J. Davis and Jawaan Booker. Senior Francis Duncan should step into one starting spot, but the other spot and all of the depth will need to be handled by underclassmen who, for the most part, lack experience. The good news in the secondary is that Pierre Warren and Robert Gray are a couple of quality safeties who can make big plays and help out the new corners. Linebackers Nick Johnson and Rashad Smith will need to help out the entire unit. Smith led the Gamecocks with 77 tackles last year and will have to emerge as the leader of the defense.

The Bottom Line:
Jacksonville State will not have much wiggle room this year with trips to Arkansas and Florida to begin and end their 2012 campaign. This is a team that beat Ole Miss in 2010 with Ivory leading the way, but there is a big difference between Mississippi and Arkansas and Florida. After kicking off the season against the Razorbacks, the Gamecocks host a tough Chattanooga team before heading to fellow OVC favorite Eastern Kentucky. A 0-3 start is possible and that would be a tough hole to dig out of. Jacksonville State did lose to both Chattanooga and Eastern Kentucky last year and they have to win at least one of those games to stay in the mix for another conference title.

Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 219.91 (13th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 163.18 (96, 6)
Total Offense: 383.09 (42, 5)
Scoring Offense: 29.45 (35, 5)
Rushing Defense: 166.09 (76, 3)
Pass Defense: 225.45 (91, 8)
Total Defense: 391.55 (86, 4)
Scoring Defense: 26.82 (62, 3)
Turnover Margin: .18 (47, 3)
Sacks: 1.09 (112, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.18 (19, 4)