This week, Tommy Hicks of AL.com and the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register took time to answer our questions about the South Alabama team that will come into Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday. The Jaguars (6-4) are out of the Sun Belt Conference.
1. What facet of South Alabama’s game will be the biggest problem for South Carolina?
Probably the defensive front. The defense has been the backbone of South Alabama’s team all season, and the defensive front, led by Jesse Kelley and Jerome McClain on the interior and Jimmie Gipson III and Theo Rich at the end positions, has been the strongest aspect of the defense. They don’t possess great size, but have good quickness and techniques and make plays.
2. What area is South Alabama most worried about not being able to hold up against an SEC school?
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With all the weapons the Gamecocks have on offense, the concern is aimed there. Coach Joey Jones said South Carolina has several playmakers on offense, and any of them could turn the game in USC’s favor. If the South Carolina offense gets on track, that requires the South Alabama offense to keep pace, which has been a problem at times this season.
3. Do you get any sense on if the Jaguars are just happy to be coming for the experience, or if they really believe they can win this game?
This isn’t a group that is happy just to play an SEC opponent and have its game on regional TV. The Jags are still looking for that big win that will attract more attention to the South Alabama program. Certainly, a win over South Carolina would be such a win. Players have said this week that, while they are looking forward to playing an SEC opponent in a stadium that will feature a full house and enthusiastic crowd, they aren’t going just to make a good showing. They are going there to win the game, and they believe, if they play well, they can win the game.
4. Who is the player South Carolina fans should look forward to seeing the most Saturday?
Linebacker Maleki Harris is a player to keep an eye on. He is the unquestioned leader of the Jags’ defense and is a very active and aggressive player. He’s, certainly, not a big presence in terms of stature, but he will usually be found around the football and he has good instincts that help him make plays.
5. What’s your prediction for the game?
South Carolina may not have produced the season that many expected it it this season, but it remains a team that has a lot of talent. The Gamecocks are not going to look past South Alabama; they need the win to lock up a bowl invitation. South Carolina 33, South Alabama 20.