MAYES: Gamecocks face uncharted territory with season-opening loss

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Despite the Gamecock loss, the play of Quarterback Zerrick Cooper was a bright spot for JSU (Matt Reynolds/JSU)

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief


November 16, 2013. That was the last time that the Jacksonville State Gamecocks lost in the regular season to a non-FBS foe before Saturday night’s 20-17 heartbreaker at the hand of the defending HBCU champion North Carolina A&T.

Not since Jimmy Garoppolo, current starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, torched the Gamecocks for a 52-14 victory has JSU felt the sting of defeat to a team on their own level in a regular season, snapping a streak of 41 straight victories.

John Grass, who was the offensive coordinator at the time, says his team would much rather feel the sting of defeat now than come early December.

“I’d rather have this feeling right now than at the end of the year in the playoffs,” Grass said. “This will grow our football team.”

When you look at the laundry list of plays that didn’t go the Gamecocks’ way and consider that JSU still had a chance to win the game on its final drive, you have to agree with Coach Grass that this game will only help the team going forward.

It took an offense that struggled to find any sort of rhythm in the first half. It took 14 penalties for 149 yards, most of which occurred in the first half. It took four turnovers. It took allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown. It took a blocked kick and a missed one. It took all that to take down the Gamecocks. And JSU still had a chance to win at the end of the game.

Despite the L in the win-loss column, the positives are there. A 403-108 total yard disparity. A Defense that allowed 37 rush yards on 36 attempts. A quarterback that went 24-38 for 320 yards. A receiver that put up 147 receiving yards.

The Gamecocks are going to be fine.

When you win as much as JSU has in the past five years, a wake-up call like Saturday’s loss can be more beneficial than another convincing blowout win on national television. For the first time since 2013, JSU can carry a chip on their shoulder, using the growing national sentiment of “overrated” to fuel their quest to return to the national spotlight.

For a team as talented as JSU is, a chip on their shoulder can be a scary thing for the rest of the OVC and FCS.

I’m thinking the Gamecocks won’t waste any time starting a new streak.

 

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