5-1 Jacksonville State, in their first year in FBS, have been one of the best teams in CUSA through the first half of the season.
A huge factor has been their scoring defense, the best in CUSA, allowing just 17.5 points per game. This unit has been spurred on, in part, by some monster performances from redshirt junior defensive lineman Chris Hardie.
Hardie’s stat line from the Gamecocks’ win against Middle Tennessee on Wednesday night included six total tackles, 4.5 TFLs, two sacks, and an interception with a 58-yard return.
“For the most part, we just wanted to attack and be physical,” Hardie said of his team’s performance against MTSU. “We knew coming into this game that they were a good team, they were going to play hard, and honestly, I didn’t worry too much about what they did, it was about us. We wanted to make this game about us and get back to playing Jax State football. Against Sam Houston, we came out with a win, but it wasn’t the best looking win. So this week we wanted to get back to that hard edge football.”
In a team press conference on Friday, Hardie went on to discuss how he prepared himself for the Gamecocks’ jump to the FBS.
“Last year I know I had a pretty decent season, but this year I wanted to come in and focus on the details of my overall game because I know that is what’s going to get me playing better on this higher level of football.”
Hardie earned CUSA Defensive Player of the Week Honors on September 25 following a Jacksonville State shutout win over Eastern Michigan in which he had 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFLs, and broke up a pass.
On the season, Hardie has 35 total tackles with nine for a loss and 3.5 sacks.
The Gamecocks continue their season with another tough opponent on October 10 against undefeated Liberty.