Back against the wall
South Alabama enters Saturday just one win shy of reaching the six-win total required for NCAA bowl eligibility, meaning they have a lot to play for. App State, on the other hand, clinched a bowl bid weeks ago.
Coming off of back-to-back losses to conference losses, in which both games could’ve clinched bowl eligibility, South Alabama has backed themselves into a corner. I’d expect the Jaguars to be prepared to play their best game of the season given the “win or go home” stakes the matchup presents them.
The Mountaineers, who enter the game with little to play for other than reaching a 10-win total after Arkansas State wrapped up the conference last Saturday, should be ready for a hard fought game that could even feature some trick plays. Often, the most dangerous opponent is with their back against the wall.
It’s as simple as this: If you win the turnover battle, you win games.
App State has a positive turnover differential on the season (+3) while South Alabama does not (-6), something that can likely be attributed to their disparity in the win column.
Jaguar quarterback Cody Clements has thrown for a total of 13 touchdowns, but more importantly has thrown 12 interceptions, meaning he’s a risk taker.
I expect Nate Woody to disguise his defensive coverages to confuse Clements and bring pressure from the interior linebackers as well as the secondary. If they can confuse Clements, he’s obviously got a track record of dishing out turnovers. We may see two or three on Saturday.
More from Moore
In his last two games, redshirt freshman running back Jalin Moore has amassed an astounding 348 yards on 40 carries, good for 8.7 yards per carry, while leading the Mountaineers to back-to-back blowout victories.
The increased production has helped the Mountaineers two-fold: it has given their offense confidence that they can still be effective on the ground without star back Marcus Cox in the lineup, and it has allowed Cox to rest and recover from the gradual wear of a season of Sun Belt play — just in time for the Apps to go bowling.
With a bowl game looming and Moore playing historically well, there’s no reason to risk the chance for injury to Cox. I expect we’ll see a heavy dose of Moore in the backfield early and often for the Mountaineers, with Cox receiving only about 10-15 carries at most.