With Gators, JSU to keep things simple
by Al Muskewitz
Nov 12, 2012 | 4020 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jacksonville State wide receiver Alan Bonner hauls in a long pass against Austin Peay defensive back Montez Carlton. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
Jacksonville State wide receiver Alan Bonner hauls in a long pass against Austin Peay defensive back Montez Carlton. (Photo by Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star)
JACKSONVILLE — One might think the best chance Jacksonville State has of staying in the kind of game it figures to be in Saturday at Florida is just open up the arsenal and let it all fly.

While it might be fun to watch, those people would be wrong.

For the Gamecocks this week, less is more.

They haven’t cobbled together a game plan yet, but the Gamecocks go into what coach Jack Crowe agreed is the most demanding play-up game in the program’s history by taking out rather than putting in pages in the play book.

“We’re just going to have to be smart,” Crowe said Monday as his team opened preparations for its final game of the season. “The first part of this game plan starts with subtracting — you can’t do that, can’t do that, can’t do that, can’t do that. ... then we’ll go to a matchup kind of situation — and there are matchups — and we have to live with our matchups wherever they’re at.”

The Gators (9-1), ranked No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the latest BCS standings, don’t figure to allow much of whatever JSU decides to do.

They rank fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision this week in total defense, third in scoring defense, first in pass efficiency defense, 11th against the run and 17th against the pass. Only three other teams in the country have a better aggregate among the NCAA’s five major defensive categories — 10th-ranked Florida State (15.5 points), No. 4 Alabama (24), and No. 8 LSU (27), a group that just happens to be ranked 1-2-3 in total defense.

“What we’re facing is one of the special defenses in the country,” Crowe said. “They could easily be undefeated. ... What I see on that football team is the way (head coach Will Muschamp) has been raised and what he believes in, which quite honestly is what I believe in.

“They’re a run-the-ball, stop-the-run, win-the-turnover-ratio football team, just like Alabama, just like LSU, and they’re every bit as good as those two in my opinion.”

The Gamecocks (6-4) know what they’re in for. They opened the season against a Top 10 FBS team — Arkansas — and while there are some aspects of that game they can draw upon for Saturday, this will be a “completely different” challenge.

Arkansas’ strength was on offense and the Razorbacks torched a young JSU secondary for 400 yards passing in a 49-24 win. “The animal,” as Crowe likes to call it, in this game is on the other side of the ball.

JSU has played 19 games previously against FBS teams, winning four — famously and most recently in 2010 at Ole Miss. They had Florida State on the rainy ropes in 2009.

Most of them have been early in the season where you needed to be a little tighter on the reins to avoid any long-term negative impact on the rest of the season. But this will be the first time they’ve closed the schedule with one, and with no playoff bid forthcoming they can let it all hang out for one final glory blaze.

“With this being the last game for us — and me — we don’t have anything to lose now,” senior receiver Alan Bonner said. “I think we can get everybody fired up to go out here and knock their swagger off or whatever they’ve got going on for the end of their season.”

Earlier in the day, Muschamp said sophomore Jacoby Brissett will start at quarterback in the game. Sophomore Jeff Driskel sprained his right ankle in the third quarter of Saturday’s 27-20 win over UL-Lafayette and probably won’t practice this week. He was getting around in a protective boot.

The Gators have won 50 straight games against non-BCS teams and have never lost to a team from the FCS.

Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.

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