An Early Look at South Alabama – From the Bird’s Nest
It's not very often you have a conference game and have little knowledge of the opponent.
But, that's the case with the South Alabama Jaguars.
The Cajuns' coaching staff, of course, has been watching film. And Cajuns assistant coach Mitch Rodrigue used to be on Joey Jones' staff at USA.
But this is the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
South Alabama is 2-9, 1-6 in the Sun Belt. Their wins are over Nicholls State early in the season and a double overtime win over Florida Atlantic, the first FBS win in the programs' history.
But if you look at the Jaguars' results, they've been close more than once. Five of their losses are by ten points or less.
And, the Jags can thank their defense for that.
If you look at the rankings in the Sun Belt, South Alabama is in the top half of virtually every defensive statistc. In fact, they're in the top three in five different statistics on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker Jake Johnson (6-1, 240, Sr.) is an all-conference caliber player with over 100 tackes. He leads the team in tackles for loss (13.5.) and has had double digit tackles on three occasions. Will linebacker Enrique Williams is second on the club with nearly 100 tackles on the year. Tyrell Pearson anchors a solid secondary. South Alabama will play a multiple defense with their base being a 3-4.
While South Alabama's defense has been good enough to win games, their offense, frankly, has not. Demetre Baker (595 yards) did not play last week and is not listed on the depth chart for this week. If Baker doesn't play, two sophomores, Kendall Houston and T. J. Glover should get bulk of the carries along with redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons.
Junior quarterback Ross Metheny has thrown for 1677 yards and ten touchdowns, but he's also thrown ten interceptions and his 54.5 completion percentage is near the bottom of the league. Jereme Jones is the leading receiver and has caught six touchdown passes.
South Alabama is just 32% on third down, and, in a telling statistic, has scored a touchdown in fewer than half their trips to the red zone (20-41). Conversely, the Cajuns are 30-41. Michael Chapaseaux is a solid kicker (17-23 in FG) with a 53 yarder to his credit. South Al runs a multiple/spread offense.
Coaches talk turnover margin all the time and if you want to point a finger at the 2-9 record of the Jags, that's the category you point to.
The Jags have turned it over 29 times this year, including 15 lost fumbles. Their defense has only gotten 16 turnovers.
South Alabama has scored twenty or fewer points in seven of their eleven games. They've scored over 30 just twice and one of those games went two overtimes. But they also have not given up forty points in a game this season.
Statistically, it's pretty easy to observe the Jaguars defense is pretty sound. It's also easy to see the offense as pretty pedestrian and, more often than not, its own worst enemy.