NCAA

Jacksonville State vs Michigan State: College Football Week 1 Preview and Analysis

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Michigan StateEAST LANSING, Mich. – The Jacksonville State Gamecocks lost in the FCS Quarterfinals 35-24 to Eastern Michigan closing out an impressive 11-4 season and will kick off their 2014 campaign at the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans who defeated No. 11 Stanford 24-20 in the Rose Bowl as the icing on the cake of a 13-1 season.

The Gamecocks averaged 35 points a game running a balanced offense that will be in the hands of sophomore Eli Jenkins to start the season. Jenkins was a solid, dual threat quarterback with a 124.52 passer efficiency and nearly 1,000 yards rushing. Senior running back DaMarcus James is coming off a 1,477 yard season in which he scored 29 touchdowns. Sophomore Josh Barge will continue catching passes out of the slot from which he caught 58 balls for 885 yards last season. The offensive line will be experienced between the tackles which will help the production stay on track led by senior center Max Holcombe.

The strength of the defense that allowed 24 points a game in 2013 will remain up front while a lot of new faces will be in the starting lineup. Senior nose tackle Caleb Lawrence returns with 11 tackles for loss that included 5.5 sacks while junior defensive end Chris Landrum had 10.5 tackles for loss with four sacks and together hope to be the teeth of the defensive unit. Senior linebacker Dustin Gayton had 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while junior cornerback Jermaine Hough broke up eight passes last season.

The Spartans averaged 30 points a game with a 60/40 mix of run/pass offensively last season which is a solid number. Junior Connor Cook looks to better his quarterback performance of 2013 in which he threw for 2,755 yards and 22 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Senior running back Jeremy Langford ran for a 4.9 yards per carry average that led to 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with 28 catches for another 157 yards and a touchdown receiving. Senior receiver Tony Lippett caught 44 balls for 613 yards and two touchdowns last season to lead the receiving corps. The rest of the returning pass catcher caught 39 balls combined for 515 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior guard Travis Jackson is a key part of an experienced offensive line.

Michigan State’s defense was its strength allowing 13 points a game a year ago. The 2014 version is missing a few key pieces but should be equally strong led up front by junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun who contributed 14 tackles for loss and seven sacks last season. Junior cornerback Trae Waynes and strong safety RJ Williamson will bring a lot of experience to the secondary. Senior linebacker Taiwan Jones will take the lead at linebacker.

Keys for Jacksonville State Win

The Gamecocks need James to have a big game to control the clock and open opportunities for the offense. Hough will need to make an impact in the secondary as they must force turnovers.

Keys For Michigan State Win

The Spartans need Langford to continue to carry the offense while Cook picks apart the secondary in play-action opportunities. Defense must control line of scrimmage so Calhoun and Jones must make impact.

Key Injuries :

None

Favorite:

Latest Line, N/A

Conclusion:

Michigan State will look to impose its’ will offensively and defensively and control the game.

About Mark West

Mark West grew up playing and loving baseball. In college, he found an interest in writing and reporting on sports. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television Broadcasting with a News emphasis and a minor in Political Science. Mark began writing a few years ago informally about politics and sports on various blogs, but has focused primarily on baseball writing for the last two years. He loves Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball and writes about the games and the players for the Red Wolves and the Sun Belt Conference. Mark is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting.

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