BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is a commentary blog from WBRC FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Let me cut right through the chase: I consider the Alabama Crimson Tide the deepest, most physical, most talented football team in the nation. Like a hungry boa constrictor, Nick Saban's players will squeeze the life out of opponents midway through the fourth quarter, and in just about every game played they will slither from the field victors. But if you're looking for the most entertaining, the most exciting football team in our state, simply turn your eyes toward the Jacksonville State Gamecocks. Have I ingested too much holiday eggnog? Far from it. I've simply watched the fastest, slickest, most eye-popping team I've seen in some time, and now the men from JSU are a win over 4-time defending champ North Dakota State from bringing home an FCS national championship.
While the JSU defense is as strong as any in the FCS, the Gamecock's offense is a masterpiece to watch. Remember when Cam Newton and Nick Marshall would run that Auburn HUNH offense to perfection? Now that was something! This season, the Gamecocks look like a lighter version of those great Tiger offenses, so much so that the Gamecocks are re-writing several conference records and have opposing OVC coaches shaking their heads.
The latest illustration of the Gamecock's offensive dominance? The beat down of Sam Houston State in the FCS semi-finals. Coach John Grass saw his offense put up 639 yards against a talented opponent. How dominating was the JSU "O"? Over the last 8 games the JSU basketball team has averaged 64 points a game. The JSU football team scored 62 points last weekend. Said Sam Houston State coach KC Keeler after his powerful team lost 62-10, "We just played as good a team as I've ever coached against in FCS football. I saw our team lose to Appalachian State the year they beat Michigan and this JSU team is every bit as good as they were. If our team played JSU ten times we'd probably win twice." High praise from an opposing coach! But the best way to illustrate how dominating this offense has been? Look at the numbers!
Ashville native John Grass has been the head coach at JSU for two seasons- he's 21-3 and his offenses have averaged over 500 yards a game in both seasons. The 'Cocks only loss in 2015? In overtime to Auburn (and if not for a bad punt JSU would have won that one). The 41 points scored in the first half last Saturday were the most for one half in JSU history. And the individual numbers don't stop there:
*QB Eli Jenkins' 8212 career yards has catapulted him past Tony Romo into 8th all-time in OVC history.
*Jenkins has 3804 total yards in 2015 which is 4th in OVC history.
*RB Troymaine Pope has thirteen 100-yard games, third most in school history.
*Pope has extended his school single-season rushing yards mark to 1757, 29 yards shy of the all-time OVC mark.
*WR Josh Barge now has 204 career receptions, extending his school record and now tying for 5th in OVC history.
*The Gamecocks have averaged 41 points a game in the post-season (they hit that mark in one half in the FCS semi-final game).
Yes, this JSU team is a high-octane, thrill-a-minute unit that makes people wait to use the restroom. Seemingly scoring at will, the Gamecocks are an Xbox game in real life. The Crimson Tide? Run Derrick Henry early and often, get Calvin Ridley in space and let Jake Coker take a few shots down the field. The Auburn Tigers? They're still looking to get that NASCAR offense rolling. But the Jacksonville State football team? It's certainly not the BEST team in our state, but hands down it's the most electrifying team in our state. My advice come January 9th as the Gamecocks play for a national championship? You better not leave your seat or take your eyes off your TV screen , because if you do, you won't miss a JSU score.... you will miss two of them.