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2013 South Alabama Preview – Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 12, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - South Alabama Jaguar Offense


South Alabama Jaguars

Preview 2013 - Offense


- 2013 South Alabama Preview | 2013 South Alabama Offense
- 2013 South Alabama Defense | 2013 South Alabama Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: It was a rocky first year for the USA spread attack after changing over from a pro-style system, but offensive coordinator Robert Matthews has lots of interesting pieces to work with to expect more consistency and pop. The passing attack has a world of upside with left-handed veteran Ross Metheny back under center and a loaded receiving corps to play with – just about all the top pass catchers are back. The line has promise after going through a rough year in pass protection, but it still might take a little while longer before everything starts to come together. Top running back Demetre Baker was kicked off the team, but there should be a decent rotation with Jay Jones and Kendall Houston.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ross Metheny
189-345, 2,148 yds, 12 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Kendall Houston
81 carries, 217 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Jereme Jones
45 catches, 513 yds, 7 TD

Star of the offense: Junior WR Jeremé Jones
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior C Matt Calcagnini
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RB Jay Jones
Best pro prospect: Jones
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jones, 2) WR Corey Besteda, 3) OT Melvin Meggs
Strength of the offense: Receiving Corps, Veterans
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Running Game

Quarterbacks

Senior Ross Metheny transferred over from Virginia and ended up taking over the starting job early last season completing 55% of his passes for 2,148 yards and 12 scores with 12 touchdowns. At 6-3 and 205 pounds he has decent size and he has decent mobility, netting 141 yards and a score highlighted by a 56-yard day against FIU and with 13 carries for 34 yards and a touchdown against FAU. While he was able to get the passing game going once in a while with 241 yards and three scores against Arkansas State and 360 yards and two touchdowns against Louisiana, he spread out too many picks and with the three against Middle Tennessee a killer.

6-5, 220-pound Brandon Bridge is a huge bomber with terrific rushing skills, but he wasn’t eligible last season after transferring over from Alcorn State. He’s going to have to push hard, but he’s still in the mix for the starting job getting plenty of chances this offseason to show what he can do.

Watch Out For … Brett Sheehan, a 6-3, 170-pound solid recruit out of Georgia who was originally off to FIU before deciding on the Jaguars. He can run a bit, but he’s at his best when he’s getting the passing game moving, throwing for 2,351 yard and 22 scores in an injury-shortened season.
Strength: Big runners. Metheny and Bridger are passers, but they can take off from time to time and they can’t be ignored when there’s a lane. The USA quarterback situation went from having a few smallish, quick ballers to big, quick ballers.
Weakness: Consistency. The passing game disappeared way too often with an inexcusable 59 yards against Troy and 148 against a miserable Hawaii defense. The quarterbacks have enough talent to do far, far more.
Outlook: This was one of the least-efficient passing games in America with few downfield plays and too many picks, but Metheny has a year of starting experience and a stronger supporting cast to start doing more.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Running Backs

5-9, 180-pound junior Jay Jones was a fantastic JUCO runner for Northwest Mississippi CC doing a little of everything averaging 6.2 yards per carry and catching 27 passes. Originally wanted by Ole Miss and Mississippi State, he chose USA to be the main man for the offense, and after sitting out last season, it’s his time to take over and be the No. 1 option in the rotation.

Junior Kendall Houston contributed some nice moments in a relief role last season finishing second on the team with 217 yards and two scores. The 6-1, 220-pounder started out his career at Arkansas State before transferring over, running for 891 yards and ten scores in 2011. However, last season he was bottled up averaging 2.7 yards per carry and catching just eight passes for 34 yards and a score.

Watch Out For … Kaleb Blanchard, arguably the team’s top recruit with 6-0, 195-pound size and tremendous home run hitting ability finishing his career with over 3,000 yards with 41 touchdowns. He was all set to go off to Arkansas, and had a few other SEC offers, but he chose to be a Jaguar and should be used sooner than later.
Strength: A potentially decent rotation. Houston has the skill to be a bigger factor after struggling to find any room to move, and Jones is a dangerous speedster who should become the team’s leading rusher. The two should be able to keep each other fresh.
Weakness: Demetre Baker. The team’s leading rusher had a few problems with an ankle injury and had more issues off the field over the course of his career, but he was also a key part of the offense averaging five yards per carry rushing for 595 yards and three touchdowns. This would’ve been his ground game, but he was kicked off the team for violations of team rules. The Jaguars could’ve used his 6-1, 235-pound size.
Outlook: Losing Baker hurts, and there’s no reliable power if Houston isn’t creating more on his own, but there should be decent production if the line can provide a little bit of a push. Even with Baker averaging five yards per pop, the ground game still averaged a painful 3.3 yards per try.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Receivers

Leading receiver Jeremé Jones is back after coming up with 45 catches for 513 yards and seven scores, finding the end zone twice against ULM. Only 5-8 and 160 pounds, he’s a jitterbug of a target who does a nice job of making things happen with the ball in his hands. Extremely quick, he wasn’t used much as a runner or on kick returns, but he’s a key factor who has to get more work. Providing a wee bit more size at the Z is the 5-9, 170-pound T.J. Smith, who came back after injuring his wrist in a car crash a few years ago and finished fourth on the team with 27 catches for 206 yards – averaging a mere 7.6 yards per play – while also being used as a runner finishing fourth with 210 yards and a touchdown.

Senior Bryant Lavender is back after finishing second on the team with 41 catches for 378 yards. He didn’t score and he only averaged 9.2 yards per play, but he has good speed and should be doing more. At the Z, the 6-0, 185-pound veteran will be steady go-to target. He’ll combine on the inside with Corey Waldon, an experienced target who came up with 23 catches for 294 yards and two scores two years ago and made nine catches for 88 yards last year. The 5-10, 175-pound senior will see action in the slot.

Senior Corey Besteda has to crank out big plays at the outside X position after finishing third on the team with 28 catches for 430 yards and two scores averaging a terrific 15.4 yards per try. While he only came up with more than three catches once, he proved he could stretch the field a bit highlighted by a 75-yard play against FIU. He’ll have to fight off Shavarez Smith, a 6-1, 190-pound transfer from Dean CC in Massachusetts. A pure deep threat, he should be able to make teams pay in single coverage.

Tight end Wes Saxton turned in a surprising sophomore season catching 26 passes for 336 yards and a touchdown, coming on late in the year making seven grabs for 83 yards and six catches for 92 yards against FIU. At 6-4 and 235 pounds he’s like a big wide receiver and can stretch the field at times. 6-3, 235-pound junior Rush Hendricks will be more of a blocker and an occasional midrange receiver.

Watch Out For … Dejon Funderburk, the best of a huge lot of receiver recruits. He had offers on the table from all the big boys including Alabama, Florida State and South Carolina, but where was he going to play? The 5-11, 160-pounder is a receiver, but he could be tried out at defensive back and has the skill to possibly be a runner out of the backfield.
Strength: Experience. Everyone of note is returning. The top five pass catchers are back and there’s good depth to help provide a nice rotation. Everyone knows their roles.
Weakness: Consistent big plays. The Jaguars averaged 11.2 yards per catch and only came up with three plays from more than 40 yards. The lack of explosion would be fine there was steadier overall production.
Outlook: This wasn’t a bad situation last season and now it could become one of the team’s bigger strengths. There’s so much experience returning that there has to be more third down plays and more dangerous plays across the board. Everyone is back, and now the passing game has to crank out more than 3,000 yards.
Unit Rating: 5

Offensive Line

The line struggled in pass protection allowing 33 sacks, but there’s experience returning led by right tackle Melvin Meggs, a 6-3, 310-pound junior who took over the job three years ago and hasn’t let it go. While he’s not an athlete and he struggles way too much against speed rushers, he’s a big veteran who’s always working. On the other side is sophomore Chris May, who took his lumps in his first year at left tackle but has the 6-4, 285-pound size and mauling ability to lock on to his man. The athleticism is there, and now the consistency has to come.

Short, squatty, and perfect for getting underneath a tackle’s pads, 6-1, 290-pound senior Matt Calcagnini is a strong puncher who’s ready to take over the job from longtime veteran Trey Clark. While the experience isn’t there compared to Clark, Calcagnini is bigger.

6-3, 320-pound junior Drew Dearman is a versatile blocker who can play just about anywhere up front, but now he’ll take over for Tremain Smith at left guard. With excellent size and decent mobility, he could’ve gone to Mississippi State, but now he needs to be one of the anchors up front. The left spot is set, and so is the right with 6-4, 290-pound junior Shaun Artz back in his starting job. The starting right guard is a good technician with the potential to be a stronger pass protector. He has the tools and the experience, and now he needs to be steadier.

Watch Out For … a slew of redshirt freshmen. The starting five should be set, but the Jaguars have an interesting base of young players to build around. 6-2, 280-pound Daniel Aust is a promising guard who can move, while 6-3, 320-pound Steven Foster is a big plodder who could take over on the right side. At 6-4 and 295 pounds, Clay Machen has a tackle’s build for the right side, but he could end up playing on the left, while 6-1, 285-pound Joseph Scelfo will spend the year as an understudy behind Calcaginini in the middle.
Strength: The right side, with is a big, big deal considering projected starting quarterback Ross Metheny is a lefty. Artz and Meggs might not have been terrific in pass protection last season and might need to be more consistent, but they’re experienced and should be able to lock down the right side. The best part is that they’re still growing into the jobs and have two years left to go.
Weakness: Pass protection. It was a big problem, and it needs to be improved in a big hurry if the offense is going to work. The receiving corps is loaded and the quarterback situation should be settled, but everyone needs time to work.
Outlook: The line didn’t quite get the spread attack down, but everyone has had enough time in the system to know what they’re doing and be better. There’s enough experience and size to see an quick improvement, and the backups were recruited last year for the Jags’ style of play, so things are coming together. It just might take a little while longer.
Unit Rating: 4.5
 
- 2013 South Alabama Preview | 2013 South Alabama Offense
- 2013 South Alabama Defense | 2013 South Alabama Depth Chart