THE COUNTDOWN: No. 123: South Alabama
July 19, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
South Alabama didn’t rush into things: the Jaguars took things slow, didn’t overplay their hand, stayed cool while other F.B.S. wannabes rushed through the motions while climbing the ladder. The university christened its program in 2009 against a seven-game slate of military academies — not Army and Navy, but Hargrave, Louisburg and Fork Union — and junior colleges. A year later, the Jaguars added four F.C.S. programs into the mix. The end results remained the same: young and untested South Alabama started 17-0, outscoring its 17 opponents from 2009-10 by a combined score of 734-171. Not a misprint. South Alabama knew one thing before it started this whole endeavor: you aren’t spotted a touchdown because you moved to the F.B.S. quicker than the rest. That might get you a few headlines, but a rapid climb isn’t worth the ink if you’re not ready once you arrive.
Last year’s prediction
Again, not applicable. No longer a Countdown first, after Texas-San Antonio broke the seal, and not a last, with Massachusetts and Texas State still to come.
In a nutshell The winning streak reached 19 games before South Alabama suffered its first defeat in program history: the Jaguars opened last season with wins over West Alabama — likely the best victory on the season — and Lamar before dropping back-to-back games to N.C. State and Kent State, the latter by only eight points. South Alabama would go on to lose another two games, including a 41-10 loss to Cal Poly in the season finale, handing the program the worst record in its three-year history: 6-4. The underlying issue nearly throughout the season was a drop in offensive production: the Jaguars averaged 24.4 points per game, nearly 17 points per game fewer than in 2010. Part of that has to do with the beefed-up schedule, of course.