Start Time: 6:00 P.M. ET, Saturday, Sept. 5
Location: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL
Radio: South Alabama: Here. Gardner Webb: WKYM FM 101.7.
Records: First meeting between the two programs.
Live Stats: N/A
Betting Line: No line.
South Alabama Outlook: The Jaguars are very UAB heavy after accepting the highest number of UAB transfers after the program went under in 2014. Quarterback Cody Clements was the starter for UAB last fall in 11 games and looks to have the starting job at South Alabama in control heading into the season. Clements will have a duo of running backs to take some pressure away in Xavier Johnson (81/438/1TD) and Terrance Timmons (75/403/4TD). The Jaguars should have an excellent group of tight ends with Braedon Bowman (18/234/0TD) taking a larger spot in the offense along with UAB transfers Gerald Everett and Kyle Sappington. Senior Danny Woodson II is the only wide receiver on the roster with over 25 catches last fall and should be able to improve on those numbers this fall. Offensive linemen Chris May (13 starts) and Joseph Scelfo (13 starts) are key returning players with UAB transfers Cameron Blankenship (24 career starts at UAB) and Lee Dufour (2 starts at UAB) expected to see significant playing time.
The Jaguars should be more settled on defense this fall as lineman Jimmie Gipson III (28 tkl, 6.5 tfl, 3 sacks) linebacker Demarius Rancifer (34 tkl) and defensive backs Roman Buchanan (74 tkl) and Antonio Carter (54 tkl) all return after seeing significant playing time last fall. A pair of transfers in linebackers Kalen Jackson (UAB) and Blake Dees (77 career tkl at Texas Tech) will make the Jaguars linebacker corps one of the best in the Sun Belt.
Gardner-Webb Outlook: The Gardner Webb Runnin' Bulldogs have 23 returning starters from a 4-8 team in the Big South Conference last fall. All 11 starters are back on offense with quarterback Lucas Beatty leading the way with over 2,400 yards passing last fall. Beatty will be flanked by running back Juanne Blount, a 1,000 yard rusher on 257 carries with nine touchdowns on the season. Rounding out the top skill position players for the Runnin' Bulldogs is wide receiver Kenny Cook, a 1,000 yard receiver on 76 catches with nine touchdowns on the season. The offense must improve on the dismal 18.8 points scored per game in 2014.
Defensively, Gardner Webb plays a 3-4 base defense and are led by All-Big South selection Tanner Burch (107 tkl) at linebacker. Fellow All-Big South honoree Chad Geter will line up at linebacker as well, giving the Runnin' Bulldogs one of the best linebacker duos in the FCS. Defensive lineman OJ Mau was also an All-Big South honoree and should give stability to an experienced defensive that gave up 27.9 points per game last fall.
Prediction: Everyone in Mobile has been looking forward to seeing the new UAB transfers on the field as Jaguars and we are finally here. South Alabama will be able to slowly work in several younger players in this game as Gardner-Webb is totally outmatched physically in this game. The Jaguars are just looking to get out of this game with some early confidence, no major injuries, and a win. Injuries are fickle but the confidence and the win should be accomplished.