This week's question and answer session was done with Gamecock Illustrated. My responses to their questions will be up soon I'm sure.
1. Talk a little bit about Jack Crowe's decision to take Tig Barksdale as a transfer this year and Ryan Perriloux two years ago. I personally think that coaches should generally take a player that will help them win, but that's not the opinion of some. What are some of the reasons that Gamecock fans are giving as to why it's acceptable to be the landing ground for players who have been kicked off of their teams at big programs?
Coach Crowe will take a transfer player if he believes that it is a good kid worthy of a fresh start at a new program. In Ryan's case, our understanding is that JSU did a lot of due diligence and thought that Ryan was such a player. Ryan even met with the President of the University before JSU admitted him. Once he was at JSU, he was extremely well liked by his teammates and there were very few problems. He was suspended for our season opener last year against Georgia Tech for undisclosed reasons, but that was it. Our understanding is that Ryan is only one class away from graduating and is now playing pro football in Canada. He was a great player to watch and a yes sir/no sir type person off the field. He certainly did not conduct himself in the "thug" like manner that he was portrayed by some in the media.
Tig's cousin, Kory Chapman, was a great running back for JSU and played for the Colts for a couple of years. We know Tig got a DUI a while back and was involved in another indiscretion, but again nothing to indicate that he cannot succeed if given a fresh start. He has not spoken to the press much since arriving at Jacksonville State, but what little he has said has shown us that he is a guy sorry about past problems and anxious to make the most of this opportunity. It says alot about the relationship between the two coaches that Coach Nutt recommended that Tig go to Jacksonville State.
2. Who's the best offensive player on your team about whom no one is talking? Defensive?
Offense- its hard to say because there is no Perrilloux this year. We have a senior left tackle named Curt Porter that is apparently projected to get drafted. Also, Calvin Middleton, our featured running back, gets better every year. JSU fans are particularly excited about him because he gained 147 yards in our Spring game against what we believe is a very good defense.
Defense- #90, Monte Lewis is a top player for us on defense. His teammates talk about him with some degree of awe as a big guy that can really run and hits hard. He is a classic example of the type of player FCS schools try to develop. He came to JSU at 6-2, 220 and is now 6-3, 280 and can still really move. We also have a cornerback named T.J. Heath that is a pre-season All American and really makes a lot of plays. He had one game last year where he had three intereceptions and returned two for touchdowns. We understand that we are heavy underdogs in this game but we are looking forward to seeing how our corners will do against SEC competition. We think they are really good.
3. What type of offense should we look for against Jacksonville State? (I'm looking for more than just the offensive mindset on this one. I want to know about specific plays that work well, four wides, utilization of particular playmakers, etc.)
If you look at Jack Crowe's history as a coach, he has always been run first. We had several 1000 yard rushers in this decade. The last couple of years we changed to a more pass oriented philosophy to take advantage of Perrilloux's talents. We look for the Gamecocks to run it more this year out of a traditional two back set. The offense really clicked in the Spring, but we lost a starting guard (Matt Jones) in summer practice. It would be hard enough to run against Ole Miss at full strength. You may see the Gamecocks try to work some short passes into the attack. Ivory is a very good quarterback and actually played well in his first start ever, JSU's opening game last season against Georgia Tech. Much like Ole Miss, Tech had a dominant defensive line led by Derrick Morgan.
4. We were all cheering for you last year against Florida State. What did you do to stay in that game so well? What did Florida State NOT do?
Thanks. Despite some of the back and forth on the blog recently, we are SEC fans when we are not pulling for Jacksonville State. We recognize that the Rebels have an elite football program. The FSU game was quite an experience. The players that we have talked to said that early on in the FSU game they realized that they could stay on the field with them and that their confidence grew during the game. You could say JSU stopped the run or you could say FSU did not run well, it's a matter of perspective. On offense, Jacksonville State did not run it well, but Perrilloux hit some big passes. While Jacksonville State did get some breaks, two plays stand out to us: 1) early in the 4th quarter, JSU went for it on 4th and 1. FSU did not cover the tight end and he was open for a touchdown. Perrilloux double pumped when he didn't need to and was sacked; 2) on the first or second play of what proved to be FSU's game winning drive, our cornerback Heath made a tremendous break on the ball and had both hands on what would have been a game winning interception. He just could not come down with it. If he did, JSU could have held the ball until time expired.
5. What's your prediction as to how this game will finish? What's the final score?
We will give you two predictions- one from the heart one from THE brain. Our heart says that Jacksonville State plays a perfect game led by what we believe is an elite FCS defense and perhaps takes advantage of the transition/uncertainty Ole Miss has at quarterback. Score - Jacksonville State 17 - Ole Miss 15. More objectively, we realize that Ole Miss has way more depth, more superstars, a great coach, and is at home against a team from a different classification. The fact that we are banged up on the offensive line really concerns us against Ole Miss' great defensive line. Score- Ole Miss 35 - Jacksonvlle State 14. We will guarantee one thing however; JSU's players will never quit and will go hard for the entire game.