Thursday, December 30, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

FOOTBALL 2011: A Look Ahead – The Defense

The Gamecocks defense was a little down this year compared to 2009 giving up 25 p/p/g compared to 19 per game the previous year. They will look to rebound under new Defensive Coordinator Chris Boone with assistance from resident genius, Brother Oliver. Boone employed multiple defensive looks at UT Martin and he will likely bring that strategy to JSU. Here is a look at what Boone will have to work with as he attempts to bring a championship to Burgess-Snow.


Key Losses:

Tim McGee. The Memphis transfer was here for only one year, but provided a big body and was a great run stopper. The coaches really liked the progress he made during the year and McGee may get an opportunity to play professionally. Note- the Gamecocks also lost Kevin Dix, but we have him as a linebacker although he frequently lined up with a hand on the ground much more like a defensive end.

Outlook for 2011:

The Gamecock 2011 defensive line will be a blend of youth and experience. A lot of the experience will come from Jamison Wadley who will be a senior bringing a ton of career starts to the table. Wadley, a Southern Miss transfer, has a motor that doesn’t stop and scored a touchdown on a turnover against Ole Miss.

A wildcard on the defensive line is Michael Ellis, a 300+ pound noseguard. Ellis played dozens of snaps early in the year starting most games, but may have been moved back to offensive line at the end of the season. If anyone knows the current plan for the Clay County product, let us know.

Dimetrio Tyson, Marquis George, and Monte’ Lewis (an all OVC performer) will be back as Defensive Ends, although Lewis could be moved to his more natural position of outside linebacker. Either way, look for Lewis to be in the opponents backfield more next season. Another player who will likely provide an immediate impact is junior college transfer Tanner Robertson. Robertson had 17 tackles for a loss for his junior college team last year.

The Gamecocks also have a bevy of young defensive linemen who will surely be given an opportunity to step up in the spring. Among them are Barry Stafford, Armani Williams, David Maness, Michael “Moosolini” Lewis, Bryant Hawkins and Shawn McAlister. Stafford, from Chamblee, and Hawkins, a Guntersville product, got some playing time this year as freshmen and therefore may have the edge on contributing even more in 2011.

Overall, there are certainly some players here, but the Gamecocks could use some help in 2011. In 09', they added Florida transfer Torrey Davis. In 2010, it was McGee. Is there a big body out there that could help the Gamecocks in 2011?


Key Losses: Antonio Bonner (All OVC), Morrell Jones, Kevin Dix. This is three huge losses for the Gamecocks. These three players accounted for 167 tackles last year. Bonner was an all conference performer and Dix made a ton of plays before missing the second half of the season with injuries. Finding able replacements for Dix, Jones and Bonner will be a key for the Gamecocks in 2011.

Outlook for 2011:

The cupboard is certainly not bear, however. Moving Monte’ Lewis to linebacker might fill one position. Almost every JSU player will tell you that Lewis is probably the most dominant defensive player on the Gamecock roster. It would be exciting to see what he could do in space.

Also, Rodney “BigTexas” Garrott will be back, and should be an early candidate for All-OVC as he is already on the All-American team for 2011. Garrott led the 2010 team in Tackles for Loss with 13 on the season and 6 Forced Fumbles.

An inside player that will likely fill one of the spots vacated by Jones and Bonner is Brannan Byrd. Byrd, a JUCO transfer, was one of the biggest hitters on the Gamecock defense in 2010. He had 45 tackles even though playing only a reserve role. Byrd is a dark horse all conference player for 2011.

Behind Lewis, Garrott and Byrd, the Gamecocks have several players that share several traits: they are young, can really run and have the potential to be great.

It starts with James Powell. Powell, from Mill Creek (Ga.) high school, got playing time in a regular rotation at linebacker as a true freshman making 25 tackles in the process. He should be better next season simply because of the learning curve.

Another player to watch is Rashad “Spiderman” Smith. Spiderman originally committed to N.C. State out of high school after earning player of the year accollades on the Florida Gulf Coast. Smith has the potential to do big things at Jax State.

Yet another runner and hitter is Anniston product, Brent Tolson. Tolson got playing time as a redshirt freshman and finished with 29 tackles.

Wildcards at linebacker are Eric Russell and Mike Whittier. Russell, a Prichard, Alabama product burst on to the scene in 2009 with 45 tackles, but sat out last year to concentrate on academics. If he returns in 2011, he will likely battle for a starting postion. Likewise, Whittier, a transfer is a great athlete who played quarterback last Spring. We need to confirm, however, that Whittier is still with the Gamecocks.

Yet another linebacker who showed promise in 2010 was Jewon Williams. Finally, although he hasn't played yet, watch out for Chase Williams, a 2 Star player from Boaz that redshirted in 2010.

In sum, the Gamecocks are 2 Deep at Linebacker and it should be a position of strength in 2011.


The Gamecocks will surely look to improve their pass defense in 2011. They gave up almost 700 more yards in the air in 2010 than they did in 2009.

Key Losses: TJ Heath. The Preseason All-American TJ Heath didn’t have the year he had hoped for after missing the Spring with an injury and suffering a serious automobile accident in the summer. Nevertheless, the Gamecocks will miss the Alexandria product who made tons of plays during his time at JSU.

Outlook for 2011:

Even without Heath, the Gamecocks will have two senior corners returing in Jawaan Booker and AJ “Awesome Jet” Davis. Francis Duncan, a rising junior from Cartersville, Georgia appears to be next in the rotation.

Aside from Duncan, the Gamecocks have almost no known depth at corner. Tiger Williams, from Lincoln, Alabama may be a candidate to play and it was rumored that Rayce Whiddon, might move from cornerback to safety. Finally, Darian Thomas, a transfer from Florida International is a wildcard. He would have likely helped in 2010, but an injury forced him to miss the season. We are unsure if he is still on the team. Cornerback is one of the real need positions the Gamecocks must address in recruiting this year.

In contrast, the Gamecocks will be loaded at safety. Starters Keginald Harris (All OVC) and Jason Horton will both be back. Harris, led the 2010 team in interceptions with 5 and Horton was third on the team in tackles. Horton and Harris have the potential to sweep all conference honors in 2011.

Amazingly, the Gamecocks also return all of their reserves at safety as well. Brooks Robinson, Rob Gray and Nick Johnson, all of whom made significant contributions in 2010 are all returning. Robinson, a converted quarterback, thrived in his first year playing safety. Gray, is a physical player from Collinsville that the coaches were raving about in the Spring.

Overall, the Gamecocks appear set at linebacker and safety heading into the 2011 campaign. Hopefully, recruting and transfers will add some talent and depth at corner and defensive line.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Taylor Warner Commits to JSU

It was reported earlier this month that Taylor Warner, an offensive lineman from Jacksonville High School has committed to play for the Gamecocks. Warner, a 3 Star rated prospect, had interest from a host of bigger schools but chose to stay close to home. Cut and paste the link above to your browser and it should take you to a video interview w/ Warner by TV24.

Tanner Roberston Coming to JSU

The Star reports that JSU has landed a mid-year transfer in Tanner Robertson from Holmes Ms. Community College. Robertson, a defensive end, had 69 tackles last year, 17 for a loss. It appears that he was offered by Army out of high school and took an official visit to Ole Miss. This was a need position for the Gamecocks as Kevin Dix is out of eligibility.

Jacksonville State University - Chris Boone Named Jax State Defensive Coordinator

Jacksonville State University - Chris Boone Named Jax State Defensive Coordinator

Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

Anniston Star - Local News, Business, Sports, Events, Blogs, Videos, Podcasts

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lady Gamecocks get OVC Win

The Lady Gamecocks got another one in the win column today at home against SEMO. SEMO was 4-6 overall, but 1-1 in conference play coming in. Our team gave a great effort on both ends of the court. It's encouraging to see great defense rewarded with easy transition baskets on the other end of the court, and that's what we got to see today. Zenobia Pitts led the Gamecocks on defense with 7 steals.

On offense, Brittany Wiley led the team with 16 points, and the team shot 44% from the floor, which is the highest field goal percentage for any of their games this season. The effort has been there all season, the shots haven't always bounced the right way. Today, they did - and the result was a Gamecock win.

Great job today ladies!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Good Line From a Bad Loss

Where are you Keith McKeller?

Its been a while since JSU basketball had much to celebrate and this has been a tough season to date. We loved this subtle line from's recap about the officiating in JSU's overtime loss to Presbyterian College earlier this week:

"The Blue Hose used a 77 percent outing in their 30 free throw attempts to make the difference in the game and almost quit committing fouls at the 10-minute mark of the second half. They were whistled for seven in the half's first 10 minutes and were only charged with two over the game's final 15 minutes. JSU shot 67 percent from the line but only got 15 attempts."

Go to for the full article.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Football 2011: A Look Ahead - The Offense


9-3 with wins over Ole Miss, UTC and a home playoff game. We all wanted an OVC and a national title, but this was still a season to remember. Here is an early look at next year.


Key losses: None.

Outlook for 2011:

There is no position at JSU with more depth. Marques Ivory had a great season. If he could lose 20 pounds and get a little quicker as a runner, the sky is the limit.

Coty Blanchard, the OVC freshman of the year and former Alabama Mr. Football, will certainly push Ivory for the starting job in 2011. It seemed like as the season wore on, other teams knew what plays JSU was going to run with Coty. He is a gifted runner and passer, hopefully with another year under his belt the Gamecocks can open up the playbook for Blanchard.

Insiders say redshirt freshman Steven Coates is a very talented player as well. Finally, Thomas Darrah will be a senior. He might have the strongest arm of the bunch. While it was only limited duty against Austin Peay, Darrah certainly looked impressive.


Key losses: Jamal Young. Jamal Young was a tremendous player for the Gamecocks. His pass catching ability out of the backfield was missed after he was injured against SEMO.

Outlook for 2011:

Even without Young though, the Gamecocks are loaded at running back in 2011. Calvin Middleton will be back for his senior season. Middleton battled foot problems all year long, but was very effective every time he played. If he stays healthy, he is easily capable of rushing for 1,000 yards.

Middleton will be pushed by Tig Barksdale and Richard Freelon. Tig, who was playing safety at Ole Miss, seemed to get better every single game. If he can start breaking some more tackles, he might rewrite the record books at JSU.

Another promising player is Richard Freelon. Several insiders have told us that Freelon has the talent to do great things at JSU. He showed some glimpses late in the year. Hopefully, the Gamecocks can sign one more player to add some depth to this spot.

While Freelon and Barksdale are gifted runners, both must master the playbook and improve on pass blocking. All in all, the Gamecocks are loaded at running back for 2011; however, it would be nice to sign one more player at a position where injuries frequently occur.


Key losses: Alphonso Freeney. #46 in your program, but #1 in your heart. Freeney was a great fullback and a great leader. I wish we could have gotten the ball more to him this year because other teams had a hard time bringing him down. In addition to his physical skills, Freeney's leadership will be missed.

Outlook for 2011:

There is still reason to be optimistic about the fullback spot though. Lequintez Reynolds will return. He is a smaller, but faster version of Freeney who plays with a lot of heart. Also returning is Jahron Brown who sat out this year to concentrate on academics. Brown, a former Arkansas commitment, put up some big numbers in high school and played a lot as a true freshman. Again, however, this seems to be a position the Gamecocks need to address depth wise in recruiting.


Key Losses: Curt Porter, Justin Kay and Tyler Ogletree. We said earlier this year "Smouse for President." The reason was that it was amazing how well the offensive line performed after losing All Conference level players in Tyler Chambers and Matt Jones. But, a lot of guys stepped up. Tyler Ogletree went from being a reserve to a real team leader. He pancaked a few guys at Wofford. One bit of good news, we haven't seen the last of Curt Porter. He will be playing on Sundays next year.

Outlook for 2011:

With only Odie Rush and Tori Mobley returning, the Gamecocks have the unenviable task of replacing 3 of 5 starters on the offensive line; however, Matt Jones, a redshirt junior from Hoover is certain to fill one of those spots. Jones brings a wealth of experience after starting his freshman and sophmore seasons and completing spring practice in 2010. Thus, the Gamecocks realistically will be looking to find two new starters. Perhaps the Gamecocks will look for an FBS transfer to fill some immediate needs as no other returning player on the roster has significant experience.

However, there is an amazing stockpile of untested talent on the roster. Candidates to emerge from the pack and grab one of the spots include: Tristan Hardin (3* recruit); Ricky Clemons (2* recruit from Michigan); Tree Johnstone (Georgia Southern Transfer); Preston Hatcher (2* recruit); Colt Kennedy (a mammoth tackle from Douglas, Georgia); Max Holcombe from Tuscaloosa; Chad Hampton; Johnny Ubi, Jr., Ronald Johnson and Terrence Pendleton. Coach Crowe was bragging on Pendleton earlier this year and the coaches were very excited when Johnstone transferred from Ga. Southern. One wildcard, it looked like Monte Ellis had moved to offensive line (where he previously played). If that's the case, The Gamecocks could actually start an offensive line with four upperclassmen.

In sum, on offense, the offensive line is the biggest question mark heading in to the offseason.

Wide Receiver:

Key Losses: John Houston Whiddon, Jeff Cameron and La Ray Williams.

The Gamecocks are losing three talented receivers. Cameron, who had a breakout game against EKU, really emerged as a big play threat as the season progressed. Williams was slowed by injuries, but still contributed. He would have likely had a TD against Wofford but for being held by the defender in an amazing non-call by the referree.

Outlook for 2011: James Shaw, Alan Bonner and Kevyn Cooper are all back. All three of these guys had game winning catches this year: (Cooper- Ole Miss; Shaw- UTC; Bonner- SEMO). GI heard that Rayce Whiddon may move to cornerback.

The name to watch however, is Gabriel (a/k/a "TouchDown" "Country" "G4)Chambers. The cousin of Gamecock legend Maurice Dupree has the ability to do things after the catch that will really help the 2011 Gamecocks. Even counting Chambers, however, this is only four wide receivers unless highly regarded recruit Jeremy Nicholson is going to play wide receiver. One stop gap solution might be to play A.J. Davis some at wide receiver. He is probably the fastest player on the team and played the position in high school.

Tight End:

Key Loss: Cory Freeman

Every offensive coach we've spoken with has great things to say about Cory. He was a tough blocker, in fact, during one game, he even play played at guard because of injuries. While Cory only caught 12 passes for 100 yards, those numbers don't reflect the leadership Cory provided.

Outlook for 2011:

Justin Howard will be a senior. He caught 12 passes on the season. Denzel Cheeks switched to TE after playing defensive end as a freshman and really came on strong. Cheeks, at 6'6", is a big target and he can be a challenge to cover. Coach Crowe intimated that Cheeks might have next level ability. Run blocking is still a key to this position in JSU's offense. The Gamecocks will be looking to add depth to this position before 2011.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

JSU's Walker Russell Getting It Done

Here is an article from Heidi Busch about the recent success of Jax Stat grad Walker Russell:

Heidi Busch - Mad Ants Media Relations
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Walker Russell of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants was today named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played during the week of Nov. 29.

A 6-0, 175-pound guard out of Jacksonville State who has been in training camp with the New York Knicks, Russell led Fort Wayne to a 2-0 record for the week, averaging 24.5 points, 12.5 assists and 3.5 rebounds in the Mad Ants’ road victories at Maine and Springfield over the weekend.

On Friday, Russell had 18 points and 12 assists to lead Fort Wayne to a 105-99 victory over the Red Claws. In the Mad Ants’ 130-124 win at Springfield on Saturday, Russell shot 12-for-16 from the field and 7-for-9 from the free throw line for a team-high 31 points, and added a game-high 13 assists.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Lady Gamecocks Basketball Showing Great Progress and Effort

The 79-63 loss to Tennessee Tech doesn't really reflect how well the Lady Gamecocks played last night. We saw the Gamecocks playing hard, getting good shots, and fighting for a win. Coach Annette Watts has our ladies playing hard, and it shows.

Coming up on the short end last night came down to missing shots, not lack of effort. Many shots from the paint bounced off the rim or went in and out. Danielle Beneby, Danielle Vaughn, and Brittany Manning shot at 50% or better, but as a team, we shot at 40% for the night.

That's really all the bad news though...just getting the shots to drop. This team needs to keep doing what they are doing. They are getting the right shots, they are playing tough defense, and fignting for rebounds. Consistent shooting will bring wins. This team has the heart and the effort to bring our program to prominence.

Keep fighting, ladies. We're proud of the effort. We're looking forward to seeing you play more this season, and know that the wins will come.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

To win this game, we need...

Not exactly a "keys to the game" article. Just some thoughts on what it may take to win. Both teams have played some exciting games, and it may come down to a something like going for it on 4th down or a long field goal to win. We've completed the next sentence in 5 different ways. To win the FCS playoff game this Saturday vs. Wofford, we need:

1- to win the turnover battle. These two teams are very different, but could be very evenly matched. The team with the fewest turnovers has a great chance to come out on top.

2- the defense to stay disciplined. Playing against a "wingbone" offense is much like playing a team like Ga Tech, whom we've played the last 2 years. Missing a defensive assignment can mean giving up very big plays.

3- playmakers to make plays. This is on both sides of the ball. Monte' Lewis, Brannon Byrd, Tim McGee and Antonio Bonner must be able to slow down the running game. Big Texas Garrot needs to do what he told us earlier this year - show Wofford that he works harder than them every day. On offense, Ivory, Cameron, Whiddon, Allen Bonner and Calvin Middleton have to keep their defense off balance.

4- control both lines of scrimmage. Use our size advantage.

5- win time of possession. Keep the ball out of their hands. This may end up being the real key.