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Opponent Preview - South Alabama

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NC State takes on a collection of transfers known as South Alabama in week four

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Schedule & Results

@ Kent State W 23-13
Mississippi State L 3-35
Georgia Southern L 6-28
@ Idaho W 34-10
@ Appalachian State W 47-21
Georgia State W 30-27
Troy W 27-13
@ UL-Lafayette L 9-19
@ Arkansas State L 10-45
Texas State W 24-20
@ South Carolina L 12-37
Navy L 40-42
Bowling Green L 28-33

Overview

Could somebody please explain to me why it was a good idea to go to South Alabama? I don’t understand it (I feel like I’ve said this before), but whatever, on with the preview.

Finally, after a two season hiatus, the NC State vs. South Alabama rivalry can add another chapter. NC State owns a commanding 2-0 lead all time in the series, but this will be the first time the two teams meet in Mobile. The pack earned they’re 2-0 record in 35-13 and 31-7 wins at Carter-Finley in 2011 and 2012. South Alabama is coming of off a 6-7 season that saw them reach their first ever bowl game of their six year existence. The program is 37-28 all time (NC State has way more wins than that. Advantage: Wolfpack).

This year’s edition of the Wolf-Jag Brawl© will have an odd twist thrown into it. In an effort to replenish their roster, Joey Jones and South Alabama went out and attempted to sign the entire UAB football program. Seven UAB transfers and the former UAB offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent have joined the team, and should make an instant impact for the South Alabama-Birmingham Jagblazers. In all seriousness though, the UAB infusion might save the team from what could’ve been a disastrous season. USA will need to replace quite a few starters from last season, and several of the transfers will be immediate difference makers, with a few starting right out of the gate.  UAB transfer Cody Clements could slide right into the quarterback spot where Brandon Bridge had a lot of success last year. The good news for Clements is that he won’t have to quickly adjust to a new system, because he will be playing under the same offensive coordinator that he did his previous seasons. The same is true for D.J. Vinson, who played running back at UAB but will make the move to receiver for the Jags. He will do his best to help rebuild a receiving corps that lost four of its top five receivers. Elsewhere on the offense, the Jaguars return two running backs, Terrance Timmons and Xavier Johnson that had "meh" seasons last year, while bringing in juco transfer Tyreis Thomas. The right side of the offensive line should be strong, with senior right tackle Chris May anchoring and UAB transfer Cameron Blankenship taking over at right guard. The center and left side of the line will have a lot of questions however, with multiple underclassmen expected to start.

South Alabama’s defense is definitely in worse shape than its offense. They had some quality players last season, but all those players are gone and only two starters are back for 2015. The defensive line features a quality pass-rushing end in Jimmie Gipson, but the interior is filled with youth and there are questions aplenty in the position group.  Texas Tech transfer (this team is literally all transfers) should fill one of the two linebacker spots, probably the middle, in the 4-2-5 defense. Senior Demarius Rancifer, who was a Kentucky transfer, and junior UAB transfer Kalen Jackson should see time at outside linebacker alongside Dees. Safeties Roman Buchanan and Antonio Carter are the only two returning starters in the secondary, but cornerback E.J. May saw plenty of action and should have a starting spot. Other than that, the Jaguars will have to deal with a lot of inexperience in the defensive backfield. Jeremy Reaves and Malcolm Boggs are the two most likely to fill the nickel spot, and both of them are underclassmen. The defense as a whole last year wasn’t awful statistically, but will probably be taking a small step back this year with the mass exodus of graduates. Luckily for them, the season won’t be as much of a rebuilding effort due to the mass inodus (I know that’s not a word).

Previous Weeks:

Old Dominion

Eastern Kentucky

Troy