South Alabama Strives for Improvement
(This is the tenth in a series previewing the 2019 opponents of the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns. Today: South Alabama. The Cajuns visit Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile on Saturday, November 16th. Phil Steele's College Football Preview contributed to this story.)
South Alabama struggled to a 3-9 record under first year coach Steve Campbell and the struggle was real on both sides of the football. South Alabama scored 17 or fewer points six times and gave up 38 or more on eight occasions. Campbell believes the Jaguars can be better in 2019, pointing to the final two games when they were competitive against Louisiana and defeated Coastal Carolina, keeping the Chanticleers from becoming bowl eligible. But Campbell was more hopeful about 2020, when the Jaguars move into their on-campus stadium.
The good news on offense is leading rusher Tra Minter, who was a second team all conference selection last year, returns. And, four of the five offensive linemen are back as well. But there are questions at quarterback, where only Cephus Johnson has any experience. Johnson played sparingly last season. He's being pushed by a junior college transfer and a redshirt freshman and it's anybody's guess who will come out on top. South also lost four of their top five WR, including all league performer Jamarius Way.
Defensively, only four starters return with two of them on the defensive line. This could be the strength of the defense as South Alabama returns eight players who have at least one career start. There's also a bit of experience in the secondary with three players with starting experience return. With the offense a big question mark, Campbell is hoping the defense can start strong.
SCHEDULE: South travels to Nebraska and UAB, while getting Memphis and Jackson State at home. Their home conference schedule is brutal, with Louisiana, Georgia Southern, Arkansas State and Appalachian State all going to Mobile. ULM, Georgia State, Texas State and Troy are the road games.
OUTLOOK: The Jaguars will be favored in exactly one home game all season. When your most winnable games are away from home, that does not bode well for your season. But South has a bunch of early commitments and that stadium is going to help recruiting. The Jaguars need that...because this year isn't looking good.