Know Your Enemy: Jacksonville State

By now, you have probably heard all the hype about the biggest game of the season. Michigan State will have to travel across the country to Eugene, Ore. to prove themselves against an elite, non-conference opponent early in the season.

But wait, there is actually a game before that?

So what is Jacksonville State all about?

First lesson — They are not in Florida. If you are picturing a school that neighbors the NFL team the Jaguars, you have the wrong Jacksonville in mind. There is actually a Jacksonville in several states — Illinois, Texas, Maryland, Maine and of course Florida, just to name a few. The Jacksonville, that is home to the JSU Gamecocks, is in Alabama. Luckily for Spartan fans, the game will be played at Spartan Stadium so technically it is not a necessity that they know the location of their opponent.

Here is some information that may be useful to Spartan fans leading into Friday night’s season opener:

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Division: NCAA Division-I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS)

Conference: Ohio Valley

2013 Record: 11-4

Recent History Against FBS Opponents:

The Gamecocks did not play any notable Division-I competition in 2013, but their program does have some history against larger schools like MSU.

In 2012, JSU opened the season with a 49-14 loss to a preseason top 10 Arkansas team. They ended that season with a 23-0 loss to Florida.  In 2011, Jacksonville State lost on the road to Kentucky 38-14.

Their most recent victory against a FBS opponent came to Ole Miss in the 2010 season opener.  The Gamecocks shocked the Rebels, winning 49-48 in double-overtime.

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Impact Players on Offense:
QB Eli Jenkins
RB DeMarcus James
OL Max Holcombe
Impact Players on Defense:
CB Jermaine Hough
DL Caleb Lawrence
OLB Dustin Gayton
Head Coach:
John Grass

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Thoughts on Michigan State:

In their first weekly press conference of the season, junior defensive back Jermaine Hough, senior offensive lineman Max Holcombe and redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Justin Lea gave their thoughts on playing the Spartans.

Jermaine Hough:

“The excitement of the game is like no other game. You really don’t get nervous out there because you are feeding off their fans. There are so many people out there and you just want to make that one play. Going up there is going to be a great challenge and I have been looking for this opportunity since last spring.”

Max Holcombe:

“It is great because I love playing in front of a big crowd. The excitement is great and you just feed off the fans. I know that the fans that we will have there will be loud. Our band is going, so they will be rocking. I love playing in the big stadiums and a great experience.”

Justin Lea:

“It is going to be new for me and being on the offensive line, I get to play next to guys like Max and others who have been there before. I am really confident in our ability to perform at a high level. We are going to go up there and play with confidence.”

Bradley Allen is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports

Photo: David Defever/Impact Sports