It has not been a perfect season for the South Alabama Jaguars with life after Joey Jones no longer as their head coach. The Jaguars entered their final home game of the 2018 season with a 2-9 record under Steve Campbell’s first year. South Alabama came into this Friday night as a rare favorite against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. Both teams wanted to prove their worth in the Sun Belt still fresh into their membership going into next year’s season. The South Alabama Jaguars conclude 2018 by beating Coastal Carolina 31-28. Both South Alabama (3-9) and Coastal Carolina (5-7) will not participate in bowl games this year and prepare early for 2019.
Jaguars defense shuts down the Chanticleers run-heavy offense
Most of Coastal Carolina’s success as a multiple formation/multiple option scheme offense comes from the running game. The Chanticleers have multiple design looks to throw off any defense but South Alabama remained unhinged for most of the game. The Jaguars held the Chanticleers to 385 total yards on offense. But, only 92 yards were from the ground. The Chanticleers ran the ball 30 times for an average of 3.1 yards per rush with their short-yardage back getting two rushing touchdowns.
The Jaguars defense suffocated Coastal Carolina’s offensive line by accounting for eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Jaguars 3-technique defensive tackle Tyree Turner accounted for five solo tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry. Linebacker Bull Barge accounted for five total tackles, three solo tackles, one tackle for loss, and a quarterback hurry. After the game, Barge mentioned how well the defense played when playing in base defense.
Barge also mentioned of the team’s energy, “Before the game, you just saw the energy and saw how everybody was focused. We’re just going to come out and play good, we just finally put together four quarters worth.” That focus forced a shutdown on the Chanticleers’ crucial offensive philosophy and forced them to beat them through the air. Cornerback Darien Mills accounted for three tackles, a fumble recovery, two pass breakups, and an interception off an excellent read. The Jaguars defense forced four turnovers in the game including three in the first half in critical moments. Five of the starters on defense were seniors including Mills, a long-time starter in safety Nigel Lawrence, and Barge. Defensive end/outside linebacker Sean Grayer and defensive end Chason Milner are the other seniors who each accounted for a sack.
The Jaguars power offense run through the Chanticleers defense
This was the most complete performance from the Jaguars offensive line in the words of head coach Steve Campbell. The offensive line led the way for an incredible rushing game for running back Tra Minter against the Chanticleers defense. Minter had an incredible night by accounting for 203 yards on 24 carries, averaging 8.5 yards per rush. Minter had a great depth of running room up the middle created by the offensive line With his performance against Coastal Carolina, Minter became the single-game rusher in total yards accounted for.
Deonta Moore accounted for 72 yards on nine carries for an average of eight yards per rush. The Jaguars went through multiple run schemes to get the Chanticleers on edge and get them in disarray. Wide receiver Kawaan Baker had seven runs from the jet sweep runs for 26 yards and a rushing touchdown. Quarterbacks Cole Garvin and Evan Orth also had an impact in the run game by accounting for a total of 40 yards without taking a loss of yards. The Jaguars offense ran the ball 51 times for a total of 346 yards averaging 6.5 yards per rush. The offense line only gave up four tackles for loss and no sacks from this Chanticleers defense.
South Alabama’s two-quarterback system succeeds
Throughout the season, South Alabama has been switching back-and-forth between quarterbacks Garvin and Orth. Each quarterback has a different strength, but coach Campbell could not figure out each scheme they wanted to stick with. When the Jaguars wanted to stick to a run-dominated offense, the Jaguars weren’t concerned with who would be under center. Garvin and Orth didn’t mind splitting the reps at almost 50% of the snaps to the schemes against Coastal Carolina. Garvin got the start on senior night. He accounted for seven completions on nine attempts for 111 yards and two touchdowns. Orth accounted for three completions on four attempts for 91 yards and a touchdown. Garvin and Cole both were excellent in the pocket and leading their team down the drives.
One of the biggest reasons for success in the passing game is their big, fast wide receiver in Jamarius Way. He was dominant against this Chanticleers defense with his breakout agility and explosive speed. Way caught six receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns against a worn-down Chanticleers defense. Way was explosive in the game early with the two different Jaguar quarterbacks. Late in the first quarter, Way beat a corner in tight man coverage for a 45-yard deep pass from Garvin. This was the first touchdown of the game. His second touchdown came early in the second quarter off a blown assignment from Chanticleers freshman cornerback Derrick Bush for a 75-yard bomb. His final touchdown came in the first two minutes of the third quarter for 7 yards.