Jacksonville State at #3 Eastern Washington 2013 FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal Game Breakdown

Jacksonville State at #3 Eastern Washington 2013 FCS Playoffs Quarterfinal Game Breakdown


Jacksonville State at #3 Eastern Washington, Saturday, 4:00

This quarterfinal matchup features one team that fully expected to be here on its way toward contending for a national title and another that just a few weeks ago was just excited about making the playoff field. This will be the first time that these two programs ever meet and for the traveling Gamecocks, it will be the furthest trip out West they’ve made since playing Portland State in the 1988 Division II playoffs.

Eastern Washington is led by their Payton Award finalist quarterback, Vernon Adams, who’s thrown up incredible numbers…passing for more than 4,200 yards, averaging over 300 yards a game with 51 touchdowns and only 12 picks. Adams’ top target is freshman receiver Cooper Kupp who has hauled in 20 of those scores. The 2010 champs are under the leadership of Coach Beau Baldwin who knows how to have his Eagles prepared, especially in the playoffs. If the Eagles continue their offensive pace of scoring more than 40 a game, it’ll be hard for the ground attack of JSU to keep up. EWU won the Big Sky with an undefeated conference record falling only to FBS Toledo and Sam Houston State who has been a thorn in the side of the Eagles the past 12 months or so. Eastern prepares to host its second straight playoff game on The Inferno where the Eagles are 23-3 over the past few years, including thumping South Dakota State 41-17 last Saturday.

Jacksonville State enters off a 31-10 victory at McNeese State last Saturday. It was the first time in eight meetings the Gamecocks ever beat the Cowboys, but then again, this season and playoff runs have seen a lot of firsts for JSU. Prior to this postseason the Gamecocks, who moved to Division I in the mid-nineties, had never won an FCS playoff game. First year Head Coach Bill Clark has had his team buy in to the fact that JSU can be a true contender in the FCS.  Jax State is led offensively by power running back DaMarcus James, who has 28 rushing touchdowns on the season. Dual threat quarterback Eli Jenkins, who resembles a rough version of Adams, but needs a little more seasoning to be at that level, will likely direct the offense although Max Shortell may make QB appearances as well during the contest. Still, of late the Gamecocks have been driven by the defense that has suffocated what were supposed to be lethal offensive attacks by Samford and McNeese State, giving up less than 100 yards of offense in the first-half of both games. Led by seniors Rashad Smith and Pierre Warren, the defense has held opponents to 14 or less points in five of the last seven games; six of those being wins.

This game can likely be a back and forth contest if Adams, James, Kupp and Jenkins find the end zone several times. The advantage certainly goes to the Eastern offense, but they will go against the best defense in the game. While JSU’s offensive attack isn’t as strong, neither is EWU’s defense. If it comes down to the kicking game, a couple of senior kickers could decide their team’s fate. JSU’s Griffin Thomas is 23/30 while EWU’s Kevin Miller is just 5/7.


See All FCS Playoff Breakdowns