The South Alabama Jaguars are playing a full slate of Sun Belt games in 2012 as they continue their transition to the FBS level. They aren't eligible to win the league title, but they will be full members beginning in 2013. Below, I review what State did against the Jags last season and how their personnel has changed since that meeting.
What happened last time?
NC State beat South Alabama 35-13 behind Mike Glennon's four passing touchdown. The running game struggled, but Glennon completed 17-20 passes for 274 yards. I wasn't real enthused about our performance afterward, though there's no question State was far superior in the game, gaining 6.6 yards per play to USA's 4.4.
What's South Alabama look like now?
The Jags' offense returns five starters, including quarterback C.J. Bennett and running back Kendall Houston. Bennett had a decent day against the Pack, going 17-32 for 182 yards, though he did throw a pair of INTs. Houston had an outstanding game, picking up 117 yards on 18 carries. Returning receiver Bryant Lavender caught three passes for 39 yards in last year's meeting.
But South Alabama returns just two offensive linemen, which can be extra problematic in these games against FBS teams, for obvious reasons. If they can't open up holes for Houston they way they did a year ago, they might be in for a little extra pain this time around.Through two games, USA is averaging under three yards per carry, as is Houston. Demetre Baker has actually gotten more of the carries so far and has been more productive to boot.
Defensively, the Jags are in better shape, as they return nine starters from 2011. That includes linebacker Jake Johnson and safety Charles Harris, who both finished with over 80 tackles last season. Johnson had eight tackles against NC State, including a sack. He also recovered a fumble. Harris also recorded eight tackles against the Pack.
On special teams, they've got a new field goal kicker. Michel Chapuseaux was the regular FG kicker during his redshirt freshman season in 2009 but just handled the kickoff duties in 2010 and 2011.