The Ohio-Valley Conference favorites come to The Flats on September 9th for Georgia Tech’s home opener.
It will be the Yellow Jackets second game in Atlanta but it will be their official home opener as the Jacksonville State Gamecocks come to town on September 9th.
Jacksonville State will look for their fourth consecutive regular season Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2017 but do they have enough to pull out an upset victory over the Jackets on September 9th?
Since this is an FCS team, this will be a shorter opponent preview than others.
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The Jacksonville State offense will look a bit different in 2017 as they’ll be losing starting quarterback Eli Jenkins to the NFL. Last year, Jenkins was one of the best quarterbacks in all of FCS last year with over 3,000-yards and 24 total touchdowns.
Like the Yellow Jackets, the Gamecocks offense focuses on the run-game with a majority of their play calls being run plays. With a new starting quarterback in 2017, the Gamecocks offense may even be more run heavy especially only two games into the season. Their starting quarterback most likely heading into the 2017 season will be Bryant Horn. Last season, Horn was 6-for-7 with 95-yards and two touchdowns.
Their main running back in 2017 will be Roc Thomas, who last year was the Jackets third best rusher which is saying a lot since he had 127 carries for 803-yards. His 6.2 yards per carry was most among rushers with more than 50 rushing attempts on the Gamecocks roster. Thomas also had seven rushing touchdowns last season.
Their receiving core won’t put up the big numbers but the Gamecocks will spread around the ball a good amount in 2017. Last season, seven Gamecocks had 10 or more receptions and 100+ receiving yards. Top receiving threat Josh Barge has moved on from JSU so the Gamecocks will have to find a new top receiving threat.
The Gamecocks didn’t light the scoreboard last season per say but with a very strong defense, their offense often scored well over enough points to pull out a victory.
Last season, Jacksonville State’s defense was among the best in the FCS, allowing just over 18 points a game. Take out their defeats at the hands of Auburn and Youngstown State and that number drops to 14.5 points. While the defense did lose a pair of starters, the Gamecocks return a huge group of starters on defense as well
The good news for the Gamecocks is leading tackler, safety Marlon Bridges returns after having 87-tackles last season. Bridges also had four interceptions, the second highest total on the team last and the highest among returning starters.
The most interesting aspect between Jacksonville State and the Yellow Jackets is the exact opposite of Tech’s game against the Volunteers. Unlike Tennessee, the Gamecocks defense was stout against the run last year, giving up an average of 89 yards per game. Obviously, the Jackets will find success against the Gamecocks defense but how much will Jacksonville State be able to keep Tech at bay in hopes of pulling off an upset.
Overall, the Gamecocks will be one of the best teams in all of the FCS subdivision in 2017. But it’s hard to see them coming to The Flats and pulling off an upset. After all, the Jackets have never lost to an FCS program and it doesn’t like it will happen on September 9th either. That being said, don’t be too surprised if Jacksonville State keeps it close for a majority of the game. In the end, the Jackets should pull out the victory even if it’s not the easiest or prettiest.