Joey Jones was the football coach from the start for South Alabama. Jones did a great job building this program, but he resigned at the end of last season and now it is Steve Campbell’s turn to take over in Mobile. Campbell came over from Central Arkansas, where he led the team to a 33-15 mark in the last four seasons.
South Alabama returns 13 starters, and Joey Jones did recruit well in 2015 and 2016, so there is more talent here than in some spots in the Sun Belt. The cupboard certainly isn’t bare. There are some units where the Jaguars have some real issues though. It will be interesting to see how Campbell does in year one. Campbell was able to get Kenny Edenfield to be the team’s offensive coordinator. Edenfield has been at Troy the last few years, and he did a great job there. Edenfield is a graduate of Troy, so he left his alma mater to come here. Campbell and Edenfield were teammates on Troy’s 1987 Division II championship team. The new defensive coordinator is Greg Stewart, who has worked with Campbell at Central Arkansas the last four years.
South Alabama has shown potential in recent years, but consistency has been an issue. It’s up to Campbell and the staff to implement the new systems and get this team to perform up to its capability on a weekly basis.
South Alabama’s season win total is set at 4 wins at 5Dimes, but the over is juiced all the way up to -160. South Alabama is +4,000 to win the Sun Belt.
South Alabama Schedule:
|09/08/18||@ Oklahoma State||Loss|
|09/29/18||@ Appalachian State||Loss|
|10/06/18||@ Georgia Southern||Loss|
|11/03/18||@ Arkansas State||Loss|
Edenfield was tremendous as offensive coordinator at Troy. He’s presented with a bigger challenge here at South Alabama. At Troy, he worked with some great offensive lines and veteran quarterbacks. South Alabama’s single biggest weakness is their offensive front, and they don’t have a veteran quarterback either. I do think Cephus Johnson has the potential to be a very good quarterback for them though, and his play in spring ball really encouraged the coaching staff.
Noah Fisher was clearly the Jaguars best offensive linemen, but he left the team just a couple months ago and will transfer to Tulane. That’s a huge loss for a unit that was already weak, and now they have serious problems. On paper, I think this South Alabama offensive line is the worst in the Sun Belt. South Alabama ran for only 3.2 yards per carry a year ago. It isn’t just the offensive line that is an issue, but also the lack of talent and depth at tailback. I wouldn’t expect much from the South Alabama run game this year.
The wide receivers should be solid. Jamarius Way is the best of the bunch, but their top four guys from a year ago return, and there is plenty of talent here. If Johnson gets adequate protection from the line, there is certainly potential in the passing game.
South Alabama’s defense was the strength of the team last year, and that should be the case again this season. The defensive front only allowed 4.2 yards per carry last year, but they didn’t get in the backfield enough and create negative plays for their opposition. They will likely be solid against the run this year, but it remains to be seen if they can get some pressure on the quarterback. The defensive front has talent at the starter spots, but they aren’t very deep here. At linebacker, South Alabama is in great shape. Bull Barge is a senior leader for that unit, but watch out for transfers Roy Yancey and Shawn Jennings to make a big impact here too. Yancey is a junior college transfer while Jennings transferred over from Alabama. There is depth and plenty of talent here.
The secondary loses its best player in Jeremy Reaves, but overall the unit is more talented this year. Jalen Thompson missed last season due to an academic redshirt. Thompson was great in 2016, and he should be one of the best corners in the league again this year. Nigel Lawrence was tremendous at the rover spot last year, and his versatility in the secondary is important. Spencer Perry is a transfer from Notre Dame with a lot of potential. There is a decent amount of turnover in the secondary, but this unit has the highest upside of any on this defense.
Corliss Waitman is easily the best punter in the Sun Belt. Overall, I would expect special teams to be a clear strength for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars have a difficult non-conference schedule, so there will be no edging into the new systems with cupcakes here. They need to win their Sun Belt opener against Texas State, because their next four Sun Belt games are against Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Troy, and Arkansas State. The schedule does get a bit easier at the end, but on the whole this is a difficult schedule for a Sun Belt team.
Win Total Pick: South Alabama under 4 wins
This was the hardest team in the Sun Belt for me to set a power rating on. I do like under 4 wins some partially because of the large juice on the over. Still, I do like the hires this team made, and it is possible they will start clicking sooner than I project. This will be a team I’ll be quick to adjust in my power ratings. South Alabama is good on defense, but I think their weakness on the offensive front will be hard to overcome.