Start Time: Saturday, September 16th, 7pm ET
Announcers: Matt Stewart (play-by-play) and Doug Graber (analyst)
Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Series: First ever meeting
South Alabama Outlook
Cole Garvin was knocked out of the Oklahoma State game last Friday on the first possession and Dallas Davis took the rest of the snaps behind center. The junior, who started 10 games last fall, really struggled against the Power Five defense of Oklahoma State. For the night, Davis completed only 13 passes for 126 yards and tossed one touchdown with one interception. It was fairly obvious Davis hadn’t received many practice reps with the first team and he should look much better this Saturday after a full week of practice.
Look for offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent to make a concerted effort to get the ground game going against the FCS competition. Xavier Johnson has only received 16 carries on the season and those numbers could double in this game alone. Meanwhile, junior college transfer Tra Minter struggled against Oklahoma State after a solid debut against Ole Miss. Expect a bounce back performance from him and the offensive line after being dominated by the Oklahoma State front seven.
Get to know the name Jamarius Way as he is one of the bests wideouts in the Sun Belt. Way has played very well in his first two FBS games as the junior college transfer has consistently gotten open against Power Five secondaries. Now South needs to find him a sidekick. The candidates here will be upperclassmen Sa’Mory Collier and Sam Harris. However, sophomore Jordan McCray has some nice size (six-foot-five, 190 pounds) and the offense has yet to utilize athletic tight end Maaseiah Francis yet. This group has the potential to do some damage in Fun Belt play.
It’s hard to judge the South Alabama pass defense after the first two weeks as both Ole Miss and Oklahoma State have some of the best passing attacks in the country. Add in the fact that defensive coordinator Kane Wommack is playing some young corners and it’s been ugly to this point. But that front seven has been impressive.
The Jags have been very strong against the run to this point as opponents are only averaging four yards per carry. South Alabama’s defense has been getting tired towards the end of games and then the floodgates start to open. Safety Jeremy Reaves has been tremendous and he’s made a lot of plays near the line of scrimmage. Linebackers Bull Barge, Riley Cole, and Darrell Songy have all been very active. Defensive tackle Tyree Turner is a stud. This unit still has a chance to be one of the better defenses in the Sun Belt.
Corliss Waitman has been amazing in the punting department as he is averaging just under 48 yards per attempt and dropped some absolute bombs against Oklahoma State. Gavin Patterson is still solid in the kicking department and Xavier Johnson has a shot at a big return whenever he touches the ball. This group is looking pretty strong.
Alabama A&M Outlook
The Bulldogs of Alabama A&M are an FCS program that will be playing their third consecutive games against an FBS opponent to start the season. James Spady’s program fell to UAB and Vanderbilt to start the season and has been outscored 80-7 in their first two ballgames. Spady enters this game with an 11-25 record in his fourth year as the head coach.
The running game for the Bulldogs has really struggled to start the season as the they are only averaging 1.6 yards per carry. Their biggest run of the season has been 18 yards so this is an attack that just does not have much pop. Running backs Trevon Walters and Joseph Burke will split carries for most of the game.
A&M has played two quarterbacks to begin the season and neither has yet to be successful against the FBS competition. Ageel Glass and Damion May have combined to complete 42% of their passes and are only averaging 3.6 yards per attempt. The South Alabama pass defense will be catching a much deserved break this weekend.
The defense has been okay against the two FBS opponents, but the fact of the matter is they are just not getting much help from their offense. Bryan Brower and Harvey Harris have been all over the field making plays for the Bulldogs. Senior linebacker Kenneth Davis has shown some disruptiveness early posting three tackles for loss and two sacks.
It’s an obvious bounce back spot for South and they should be collecting their first victory of the season on Saturday. Alabama A&M is a squad that has really been beaten up by FBS competition to start the season and they will have a difficult time matching up with South Alabama’s athletes.
Expect much improved quarterback play from Dallas Davis after a week of practice as the starter while the running game finally gets rolling for the Jags. The secondary finally gets a break and has a solid chance to force a few turnovers. The solid front seven play continues and the Jags are able to force a fair amount of negative plays on Saturday.
Prediction: South Alabama 34, Alabama A&M 10