11 Reasons to Be Excited About Football Season
1. The New Stadium. As a Jacksonville State alumni, isn’t it a great feeling to have your football team playing in one of the top facilities in the country, combined with a beautiful new dorm that was desperately needed. You can be a part of history on September 11th. It is going to be a great day. The Gamecocks, fresh off an upset of Ole Miss will be hosting regional rival UTC. Coach Ken Bodiford has an unbelievable Southerners’ performance planned. Then, JSU alumni, Randy Owen will sing at half time. As my buddy Charlie Robinson used to say: “It don’t get no better than that.”
2. The return of the Red Bandit Defense. Don’t let anyone fool you, we are going to be good on defense this year. JSU has the luxury of playing man coverage with Heath and Davis (see below) which will open up big play opportunities for sack masters Kevin Dix and Big Texas Garrott (see below). I kind of feel bad for some of the opposing quarterbacks. Just kidding.
3. Calvin Middleton carrying the football. If Calvin improves as much from year 2 to year 3, as he did from year 1 to year 2, look out. Middleton went from a reserve fullback his first year to a bona fide tailback his second year. Calvin has his weight right and rushed for 147 yards in the Spring game. He is ready.
4. Marques “Cool Hand” Ivory. Our readers under 40 may not remember one of the greatest movies of all time- Cool Hand Luke, but it’s about a guy that never loses his cool no matter what the situation. JSU’s quarterback fits that description. Here is a guy that went out and performed like a champ in his very first start in a college football game against Georgia Tech. While we will miss the flash of RP, Cool Hand knows what to do and when to do it. He has the respect of his teammates for his work ethic and approach to the game.
5. The Best Corner Tandem in FCS. Mr. All American #15 gets a lot of the publicity, but there’s a guy that may be just as talented on the other side- A.J. “Jet” Davis. A.J. is probably the fastest player on the team (although I’d like to see him, Blanchard, Jamal Young and Gabriel Chambers race). A.J. would have more picks, but opposing quarterbacks won’t throw the ball to his side of the field.
6. Terror on the Edge. Every great team, seems to have guys that can get to the quarterback. JSU has two- #23 Kevin Dix and #49 Big Texas Garrott. Dix is 260 pounds, but is capable of playing about any position on the field. He returned punts in junior college and ran a kick back for JSU in the Spring Game. Big Texas is an immensely talented player from Huntsville that plays with a great deal of swagger. He has great body control. A great competition this year will be who gets the most sacks, Dix or Garrott.
7. Best Band in the Land. JSU has “never lost a half time” and the streak will continue this year. There is a rumor that the Ole Miss band has decided not to play at all in order to allow their fans more time to enjoy the Southerners. We don’t know if that’s true, but plan on an interview with Coach Ken Bodiford later this month to find out.
8. Three Games on TV. JSU’s opener against Ole Miss will be televised along with two OVC games.
9. Big play wide receivers. Jeff Cameron from Tupelo is poised to blow up this year after sitting out last season. Also, watch out for Alan Bonner – he played remarkably well as a true freshman, but is not just a punt returner. A lot of the players quietly mention La Ray “Big Play” Williams as a wide receiver that will emerge as one of the top threats this year for the Gamecocks. Finally, don’t forget about John Houston Whiddon and James Shaw, both capable of starting. Gamecocks Wide Receiver Coach Matt Wannebo is like a fat kid at Baskin Robbins- there are a lot of great options, you just have to pick which three (of four) you are choosing.
10. The Return of the Burgess Boys. Burgess-Snow Field has a great ring to it. The support JSU will receive from the guys that were part of the Burgess era is even better. It’s great to have the Gamecock Nation reunited.
11. The emergence of the Cherokee (County) Nation. Everyone knows about Coty Blanchard. However, what would Butch Cassidy be without the Sundance Kid. Coty is not the only playmaker from Cherokee County that will be donning Gamecock Red this year, his cohort Gabriel Chambers will be there as well. Chambers is a legitimate 4.4 guy that dominated more heralded receivers at 7 on 7 camps last summer. These two Cherokee county guys could have gone a lot of places. It’s good to have them at JSU.
JSUfan.com took the pictures used in this blog post. Thanks James. You do a great job.