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2012 South Alabama Preview – Offense
South Alabama C Trey Clark
South Alabama C Trey Clark
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 4, 2012


CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - South Alabama Jaguar Offense


South Alabama Jaguars

Preview 2012 - Offense

- 2012 South Alabama Preview | 2012 South Alabama Offense
- 2012 South Alabama Defense | 2012 South Alabama Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews is going to change things up a bit bringing in a spread attack to replace the pro-style scheme that worked a few years ago but struggled in 2011. The idea is to give the line a bit of a break and not make it have to hold up as much in pass protection. There’s good size across the front, but only two starters return. All the front line has to do is open up small holes and the veteran backs will fly through. The 1-2 rushing punch of Kendall Houston and Demetre Baker will be among the best in the Sun Belt. The passing game needs QB C.J. Bennett to bounce back after an interception-plagued season, and the potential is there to do more with all the top receiving options returning.

Returning Leaders
Passing: C.J. Bennett
129-235, 1,640 yds, 7 TD, 17 INT
Rushing: Kendall Houston
121 carries, 558 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Bryant Lavender
28 catches, 370 yds, 0 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Kendall Houston
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior OT Tremain Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR T.J. Glover
Best pro prospect: Sophomore WR Jereme Jones (as a returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Houston, 2) G Melvin Meggs, 3) C Trey Clark
Strength of the offense: Running Back, Tight End
Weakness of the offense: Interceptions, Line

Quarterbacks

The passing game struggled even though sophomore C.J. Bennett actually had a year of experience before getting the starting gig in 2011. He threw for 1,189 yards and nine scores with two picks in 2010, but struggled mightily last season completing 55% of his throws for 1,640 yards with seven touchdowns and 17 picks. The 6-0, 205-pounder has just enough mobility to get by, but he’s a passer who has to start keeping the mistake to a minimum with five multiple pick games in ten starts. Ultra-efficient two years ago, he has to start bombing away again while making better decisions.

6-0, 195-pound redshirt freshman Trey Fetner was wanted by Auburn and a few other big names as a possible safety, but he wanted to play quarterback. A dual-threat option, he’s a far better runner than Bennett with good enough passing skills to get by. He has a year in the system, and now the No. 2 job is his.

Alcorn State transfer Brandon Bridge is a 6-5, 215-pound bomber with terrific rushing skills, but he won’t be eligible until next season. Virginia transfer Ross Metheny will be eligible immediately, but he won’t beat out Fetner for the No. 2 job. Watch Out For … more from Bennett. Even with an upgrade in competition he should be stronger. With two years under his belt he knows what he’s doing, and he’s a proven passer who came up with a nice 2010. He’ll be better. He has to be.
Strength: Smallish, quick ballers. That will change once Bridge is ready to go, but the USA quarterbacks are plucky and tough. Bennett and Fetner do a little of everything well.
Weakness: Backup experience. Myles Gibbon completed 6-of-15 passes for 82 yards with a score and a pick, and he was the starter in 2009. He went through the process this spring, but he chose to transfer. The backup situation is now really, really green.
Outlook: The passing game all of a sudden hit the skids last year finishing 91st among the FCS world and 103rd in passing efficiency. Bennett has too much experience to be so mediocre, but he has to learn to kep the mistakes and the picks to a minimum.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

5-10, 185-pound sophomore Kendall Houston started out his career at Arkansas State before transferring over, and he turned out to be a key part of the puzzle right away with 891 yards and ten scores. Last year he wasn’t quite the same workhorse, especially at the end of the season, but he still led the team with 558 yards and eight scores averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Quick through the hole and tough, he’s a back to work around.

Sophomore Demetre Baker is more of a power back at 6-1 and 215 pounds. He turned into a key part of the attack later last season with two straight 20-carry games before getting hurt. Even so, the Georgia transfer finished with 492 yards and nine scores highlighted by a 111-yard, two score day against Henderson State.

6-0, 240-pound junior Brandon Ross is a former Memphis Tiger who missed all of last year getting past a leg injury, but now he’s expected to be back, healthy and ready to become a good all-around part of the rotation. Not just a thumper, he can work outside as well as in.

Speedy sophomore J.J. Keels is only 5-10 and 175 pounds but he can move. Wanted by several BCS schools and after committing to Vanderbilt, he came in and finished third on the team with 142 yards while returning two punts for 22 yards and five kickoff returns with a score against Mississippi Valley State.

Watch Out For … more from Baker. Houston might still be the main man, but the Baker showed he could be a power back for the offense and good enough to be the workhorse when needed.
Strength: Experience. The top three running backs return. Throw sophomore Ellis Hill in the mix after running for 71 yards and a score, and add QB C.J. Bennett, and the Jaguars return all 21 rushing touchdowns.
Weakness: Receiving. The USA backs weren’t a part of the passing game like they probably should’ve been. That might change now that the offense is going to the spread, but they need to be more involved.
Outlook: With the new offense the backs will be asked to do far more. This is a quick group that should be able to take advantage of the chance in style, but everyone has to get and stay healthy and there needs to be a steady rotation. With a little bit of time this should be one of the team’s bigger strengths.
Unit Rating: 5

Receivers

The Jaguars need a big year out of 6-0, 185-pound junior Bryant Lavender after leading the team with 28 catches for 370 yards. While he didn’t score, he was steady and good enough to come up with 13.2 yards per catch. Now it’ll be his job to stretch the field more at the X, but he’ll have to hold off junior Corey Besteda, a 6-3, 190-pound speedster who cranked out 18.5 yards per catch with 203 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches. He wasn’t exactly consistent, but with his size and speed he’s a difference maker.

Sophomore T.J. Glover didn’t do anything last season after injuring his wrist in a car crash, but now he’s fine and ready to go at the Z. The 5-9, 170-pounder is one of the team’s best all-around players with great rushing ability and good enough speed to be used as a kick returner. He led the team in all-purpose yards two years ago, and he should come close again.

Sophomore Jeremé Jones is a 5-8, 160-pound jitterbug who took off for a 57-yard dash as a part-time runner and finished third on the team with 21 catches for 205 yards and two scores. Extremely quick, he’s one of the team’s top kick and punt return option and can be used in a variety of ways. He’ll work in a rotation with 5-10, 175-pound junior Corey Waldon, who grew into a key part of the equation finishing second on the team with 23 catches for 294 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a good option in the slot and could move to the outside.

6-4, 225-pound junior Greg Hollinger is a nice deep threat tight end averaging 19 yards per catch helped by a 56-yard touchdown. He only made four grabs for 76 yards and a score, but he has the potential to do more when he gets his chances in a rotation with junior Kevin Helms, a JUCO transfer who's 6-2 and 245 pounds and a bigger blocking option as well as a receiver.

Watch Out For … even more spreading the ball around. This is a veteran receiving corps that might not have any one standout on a regular basis. The No. 1 target could rotate weekly.
Strength: Experience. In Lavender, Waldon and Jones the Jaguars have a terrific threesome to work around. The tight ends will be a major plus.
Weakness: Big plays. There were some big, long catches, but the receivers only combined to catch eight touchdowns in ten games. The averages weren’t bad, but the receivers didn’t make a big enough difference.
Outlook: The offensive style might be changing, but the receivers should still be able to play a huge role with almost all the key parts back. There’s experience, depth and options to play around with. There’s enough speed and athleticism to make this one of the team’s bigger strengths if the quarterback play is up to snuff.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

The offensive line wasn’t anything special last season, but there’s enough experience returning to hope for more production in the new offense. Manning the middle will be 6-1, 270-pound senior Trey Clark after starting every game in each of the last two seasons and seven games in 2009. Smart, tough, and good at blasting away for the ground game, he is a proven producer. Adding more size and looking to get into the mix for next year will be 6-2, 300-pound redshirt freshman James Elliott, who’s versatile enough to move to guard if needed.

Also returning to a starting spot is 6-3, 300-pound sophomore Melvin Meggs after taking over the job as a true freshman two years ago and making the gig his. A terrific practice player, want-to isn’t a problem. He’s always working and always looking to hit. He’ll be backed up 6-4, 295-pound sophomore Shane Doty, a versatile blocker who’ll also back up sophomore Drew Dearman on the other side. The 6-3, 310-pound Dearman could’ve gone to Mississippi State but chose USA where he’s growing into an anchor in the interior.

6-4, 290-pound Shaun Artz will take over the right tackle job after spending last season as a reserve. A promising technician, the sophomore should hold down the position for the next three years and he should be one of the team’s best pass protectors. He could work on the left side if needed, but 6-4, 305-pound senior Tremain Smith will take over after working as a backup. Very big and very strong, he’s one of the team’s most experienced linemen after seeing time in nine games last year.

On the way as a pure center is Joseph Scelfo, a terrific prospect for the middle. Only 6-0 and 280 pounds, he’s a bowling ball of a blocker who gets great leverage and could be one of the team’s key blockers sooner than later.

Watch Out For … the interior. The guards aren’t going to have to blast away like they were supposed to in the pro-style attack, and now they should be able to do more for the offense by simply walling off their men. The middle three blockers can do that.
Strength: The new style. The idea is to make life easier on the offensive linemen with the spread, and it should work out fine. Pass protection was a problem and there wasn’t enough consistent production. The line won’t have to work as hard this year.
Weakness: Veterans. Last year’s line was a rock with all five starters starting all ten games. While Meggs and Clark are back, the other three spots might need a little time to gel.
Outlook: It takes a little bit of time for lines to get the timing of spread attacks down, but USA has a decent-looking line that should be good inside and promising outside. There won’t be enough overall consistency for this to be a strength, but the line will hold its own in the Sun Belt.
Unit Rating: 4.5
 
- 2012 South Alabama Preview | 2012 South Alabama Offense
- 2012 South Alabama Defense | 2012 South Alabama Depth Chart