South Alabama Jaguars Preview 2022: Season Prediction, Breakdown, Key Games, Players

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South Alabama Jaguars Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the South Alabama season with what you need to know and keys to the season.

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South Alabama Jaguars Preview
Head Coach: Kane Wommack, 5-7, 2nd year at USA
2021 Preview: Overall: 5-7, Conference: 2-6
Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
South Alabama Top 10 Players | USA Schedule

South Alabama Jaguars Preview 2022

It’s not really fair or right to tag any Sun Belt team with being the next Coastal Carolina, but there’s chance South Alabama might just be this year’s out-of-the-blue team in the conference.

The program hasn’t had a winning season since getting up to the big level and the Sun Belt in 2012 – although it has been to two bowl games – and it’s had a a few near misses, like last year’s team that had several chances to go bowling but couldn’t get that sixth win.

Head coach Kane Wommack is only 35, he’s known for his talent as a defensive coach both as a coordinator at South Alabama and then Indiana, and he’s got the guys in place to do big things in a year when all of the Sun Belt focus is on the new additions and the expected big things out of the established stars.

He’s been fantastic in the transfer portal, he’s got a good coaching staff, and this team is loaded with as much starting experience as any team in the Sun Belt.

No, this might not be a dominant force like Coastal Carolina became, but in the winnable Sun Belt West – in a year of transition for Louisiana – just coming up with a breakthrough winning season in Year Two under the rising young head coach would be more than good enough.

South Alabama Jaguars Preview 2022: Offense

The Jaguar offense might have died down the stretch when the team just needed one win in the final four games to go bowling, but it’s a LOADED group coming back full of experience and help from the transfer portal for offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to work with.

The passing attack should be fine, but the scoring has to be there after averaging under 25 points per game. The improvement has to come from …

The running attack has to take over at times. The offensive line has lots of size and plenty of experience, but it struggled in pass protection and it generated a push for just 111 yards per game on the ground.

Four starters are back up front, and now it needs to work for leading rusher Terrion Avery – who ran for just 508 yards and a score – and a ground game that averaged just three yards per carry.

The main backs behind Avery are there, and the help is coming in from the transfer portal with Marco Lee from Virginia Tech and Omni Wells from Mississippi State looking to make a push.

The star of the passing game is gone. Jalen Tolbert caught 82 passes averaging 18 yards per pop with eight scores, and now he’s a Dallas Cowboy. However, the rest of the main receivers are back led by 53-catch Jalen Wayne and speedy Caullin Lacy. All-star TE Lincoln Sefcik caught 32 passes and five scores as a short-range receiver.

Can Desmond Trotter take his game up a few notches? The veteran quarterback was good in 2020, and he’s strong at limiting the mistakes, but he only played late last year in a rough three-game road stretch and now he has to make the O sing. If he can’t, Toledo transfer Carter Bradley will get his shot.

South Alabama Jaguars Preview 2022: Defense

The defense is getting even more help from the transfer portal than the offensive side. The Jaguars get back eight starters, but the Power Five new guys are going to at least build up the depth for a defense that wasn’t bad.

The Jaguars allowed 355 yards and 26 points per game. They need a better pass rush, but the pass defense should be fine. Speaking of the pass rusher …

The Jaguars got production from a variety of spots – mostly outside linebacker – but the line has to find more from the ends. DT Charles Coleman led the team with 4.5 sacks, and the rest of the starters are back.

On the way is Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge from Oklahoma and James Miller from Indiana to try bringing some heat from the edge – if 6-7 Brock Higdon doesn’t turn out to be a star a the Bandit position.

AJ DeShazor led the team with 64 tackles, but he’s hardly alone among the inside linebacker to use in a good rotation. That includes 245-pound Quentin Wilfawn – a thumper in the middle who made 45 tackles.

The secondary has the playmakers to work around, but more of a steady pass rush would be a big help. Darrell Luter was a First Team All-Sun Belt star with a team-high four interceptions and ten broken up passes at one corner spot, and the safety combination of Keith Gallmon and Yam Banks should combine for around 100 tackles.

Keys To The Season
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
South Alabama Top 10 Players | USA Schedule

South Alabama Jaguars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats NEXT

South Alabama Jaguars: Keys To The Season, Top Game, Top Transfer, Fun Stats

South Alabama Jaguars: Key To The 2022 Offense

Score EVERY chance possible.

Duh, that’s sort of the point of playing offense, but South Alabama really can’t give away good chances.

Even with the lack of a running game and the painful inability to convert third down chances, the offense was still great at controlling the time of possession and had several chances to pull off a few great wins that slipped on through.

It lost to Louisiana 20-18 – it also came away with two empty trips in the red zone.

It lost a week later to Texas State – there was one empty trip inside the 20 in that, too.

On the year, the Jaguars were among the worst teams in the country in red zone conversions, scoring just 37-of-50 times.

South Alabama Jaguars: Key To The 2022 Defense

Don’t get bombed on.

The pass defense was good, and the 15 interceptions were great, but there were some strange times when the secondary melted down.

The win over Bowling Green was on the road, but it was also a bit tougher than it had to be. The pass defense was picked apart and allowed way too many downfield passes.

The ULM loss was inexcusable – the USA D allowed 369 yards and four touchdowns through the air with a total inability to stop the passing attack.

Again, overall things were fine – teams only his 59% of their passes – but more consistency would be a plus.

South Alabama Jaguars: Key Player To The 2022 Season

QB Desmond Trotter, Jr.
The passing game has to be stronger, and it has to do it without Jalen Tolbert.

The Jaguars were able to throw okay throughout last year, but the third down conversions weren’t there and the downfield plays were lacking, averaging just 11.25 yards per completion. Former QB Jake Bentley handled the work for most of the season, but Trotter stepped in late in a tough situation.

He’s a veteran with the program, and he has to elevate an offense that won’t likely have a top running game and needs the passing attack to shine.

HOWEVER …

South Alabama Jaguars: Key Transfer

QB Carter Bradley, Sr.
In theory this should be Desmond Trotter’s quarterback job, but Bradley is being given every opportunity to win it.

The 6-3, 215-pound transfer from Toledo might not be all that accurate, but he’s got four years of playing experience throwing for just under 2,400 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight picks. He’s not a runner, but if Trotter can’t make the O go, the passing game will get a different option.

South Alabama Key Game To The 2022 Season

Troy, Oct. 22
South Alabama has a Troy problem.

It lost four straight times to the Trojans including a 31-24 battle last year that was a MUST to get to six wins and a bowl game. This year it comes before road games against Arkansas State and Georgia Southern. Both are winnable, but win this, and the back half the season might take on a different tone.

South Alabama Jaguars: 2021 Fun Stats

– USA 1st Quarter Scoring: 52 – USA 2nd Quarter Scoring: 112
– Penalties: Opponents 77 for 663 yards – USA 58 for 526 yards
– Kickoff Return Average: Opponents 27.9 – USA 16.4

Offense, Defense Breakdown
Season Prediction, What Will Happen
South Alabama Top 10 Players | USA Schedule

South Alabama Jaguars Season Prediction, What Will Happen NEXT

South Alabama Jaguars Season Prediction, What Will Happen

The Jaguars were really, really close to getting bowl eligible last year in the first season under Kane Wommack. The Sun Belt might have become tougher with all of the new additions, but the schedule isn’t that bad, there’s too much experience across the board, and with this team, anything less than the program’s third bowl game won’t do.

It might take a little while to get there to be among the Sun Belt elite, but the lines are the best they’ve been since beginning FBS life in 2012, and there’s a ton of depth now with the help of the transfer portal.

The one problem is the star power. There are plenty of good players, but are there enough elite ones to push through the Sun Belt West?

Set The South Alabama Jaguars Regular Season Win Total At … 6

On the plus side, the West is the easier of the two divisions – no Appalachian State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia State, or Marshall. The Jaguars mis all four of them.

Forget about the trip to UCLA, but everything else is potentially winnable. Going to Louisiana could be a make-or-break moment, and dealing with Georgia Southern and Central Michigan on the road will be tough, but beat Nicholls, ULM, Texas State, and Old Dominion at home. Do that, and there’s a base of four wins with a whole lot of 50/50 games to get to six.

More than that – even if it includes the bowl game – there’s a chance for the program’s first winning season since joining the FBS.

Offense, Defense Breakdown | Keys To The Season
South Alabama Top 10 Players | USA Schedule

2022 College Football Schedules: All 131 Teams