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Scouting Report: Auburn welcomes Jacksonville State for home opener

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins is regarded as one of the players to watch in FCS after putting up more than 2,500 total yards last season (Courtesy of JCS)
Jacksonville State quarterback Eli Jenkins is regarded as one of the players to watch in FCS after putting up more than 2,500 total yards last season (Courtesy of JCS)

Week 2 Opponent: Jacksonville State

When: Sept. 12 at Jordan-Hare (Noon EST)

Coach: John Grass (11-2 at JSU, all-time)

Last year’s record: 10-2; 8-0 Ohio Valley Conference

Key returners: WR Josh Barge (Jr.); DB Jermaine Hough (Sr.); QB Eli Jenkins (Jr.); DE Darius Jackson (Soph.); S Folo Johnson (Sr.); S DeBarriaus Miller (Sr.); RB Troymaine Pope (Sr.); DL Devaunte Sigler (Sr.)

Key losses: LB Michael Carlisle; LB Ben Endress; OL Max Holcombe; RB DaMarcus James

Series History: First Meeting

Key Stats: With Grass running the offense, in 2013 as offensive coordinator and 2014 as head coach, JSU has put up more than 6,000 yards each season. Last year, the team averaged 510.8 yards per game. The only time the offense struggled last season was in a 45-7 loss to Michigan State. The Spartans held JSU to only 22 rushing yards on 25 attempts.

Betting line: Auburn (N/A)

Up for the challenge: Jacksonville St. has an upset over a SEC team on its resume. The Gamecocks beat Ole Miss 49-48 in double overtime back in 2010 with a 2-point conversion. Jacksonville St. trailed 31-10 at halftime in the game to hand Ole Miss its first loss to a FCS opponent. The Ohio Valley Conference school is 4-15 all-time versus FBS opponents. In 2012, JSU kept within striking distance of No. 10 ranked Arkansas for two and a half quarters. A 49-yard field goal with 9:44 left in the third quarter pulled the Gamecocks to within 35-24. The Razorbacks scored a pair of touchdowns to pull away.  Teams from the OVC have knocked off one FBS school in four of the past five seasons.

Highly touted: Jacksonville State is one of the top FCS teams in the country this season. It beat No. 8 Chattanooga 23-20 on the road in its season-opener, and is currently ranked No. 5 overall in the STATS media poll with 24 first-place votes. Last year, the team finished as the No. 2 ranked overall team in the country, and lost in the second round of the playoffs. The Gamecocks have two senior defenders -- defensive back Jermaine Hough and defensive lineman Devaunte Sigler -- on the FCS Defensive Player of the Year  watch list while junior quarterback Eli Jenkins is on the National Performer of the Year watch list. Jenkins had more than 2,500 total yards of offense last year with 18 touchdowns. Sigler is the reigning OVS Defensive Player of the year, and he had 3.5 sacks with nine tackles for loss as a junior.

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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