Where: JSU Stadium in Jacksonville
Radio: 91.9 FM (Jacksonville), 97.9 FM (Oxford)
1. Remember the past: If the Gamecocks ever thought about overlooking their Division II visitors, they only have to recall 10 years to know how quickly the smaller guy can turn on them. In UNA’s last foray into playing up, in 2003, it beat the Gamecocks 28-16. Non-Division I teams have beaten FCS teams at least eight times this season.
2. Start quickly, seal the deal: That’s something the Gamecocks haven’t done this season. Curiously, they have done the bulk of their scoring in the second and third quarters. They have been outscored 7-0 in the first quarter and 16-3 in the fourth. In between, they have outscored their opponents 69-12. “The first quarter we’ve got to do better,” JSU coach Bill Clark said. “We want to start faster.”
3. Familiar faces: UNA has several players familiar to Calhoun County and JSU fans. Senior Dimitri Orr, one of two former Oxford High standouts on the roster, is one of the Lions’ starting defensive ends. Sophomore Coty Spurling is the other, and he’s in the mix to play, but is in a group with two senior wideouts, a sophomore slot receiver and a junior college transfer. Linebacker Blake Glaze redshirted at JSU last year, transferred to UNA in the summer and will probably play as the season goes on.
4. Run or pass, Eli or Max: In the first two games, the Gamecocks have shown two distinctive offensive patterns depending on which quarterback comes off the bench. They moved it through the air with Max Shortell in the opener and ran their opponent to death behind Eli Jenkins last week. They say they have an encompassing attack designed to take advantage of what their opponents give them, and it has worked so far, but what happens when an opponent is balanced defensively? This might even be a game to give No. 3 quarterback Kyle West a look.
JSU offensive line vs. UNA defensive front: The Gamecocks’ offensive linemen, still playing without their best player, were the unsung heroes of last week’s dominating rushing performance. The Gamecocks ran for 523 yards with no holds, no false starts, no penalties at all. UNA’s defensive front has size and speed, particularly on the ends. The Lions’ simplified approach tends to work better against tempo teams that JSU wants to be.
The Gamecocks took a big step forward in their development in last week’s home victory over Jacksonville University. Tonight’s contest gives them a chance to flex their muscles even more against a smaller-level opponent. ... Jacksonville State 38, North Alabama 7