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Jacksonville State has high hopes
Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe says everything is in place.
The Gamecocks have a ton of talented players. They have a quality coaching staff. They have great facilities. They have great support from the administration, their fans and the community.
As a result, Crowe says there’s no reason why this JSU football team shouldn’t be the best one he’s ever had.
“It should be the best we’ve every experienced because I think there are more things in place now that it takes to do it right,” Crowe said Thursday afternoon during media day. “I expect us to be the best we’ve ever been.”
The Gamecocks have been pretty good, but Crowe is demanding more this season.
“I put this thing on to remind me and remind our players,” said Crowe, who wore JSU’s 2003 Ohio Valley Conference championship ring. “We’ve been winning a lot of games. We’ve been picked to win the league on a regular basis, but we haven’t won the league on a regular basis.
“We’re raising the standards back to a championship level. I’m not going to handle this well if that’s not where we end up.”
JSU won back-to-back OVC championships in 2003 and 2004, but saw both seasons come to an end in embarrassing playoff losses to Western Kentucky and Furman. After three straight 6-5 seasons, JSU has won 25 games over the last three years, but the way last season ended still rubs Crowe the wrong way.
The Gamecocks, lost three of their last four games, including a disappointing 17-14 home playoff loss to Wofford, after starting 8-0 and being ranked No. 2 in the country.
“I know I haven’t met my own standards here lately,” said Crowe, who is 74-48 entering his 12th season. “We didn’t finish the year very good. We came up short in a lot of ways. I think our preparation let us down.”
That won’t be a problem this season, says Crowe, whose team returns 16 starters, including seven on a defensive unit that is expected to be among the best in the country.
“If their work leading up to this proves out, we’re going to get back to where we’re supposed to be,” he said.
Running back Washaun Ealey, a transfer from the University of Georgia, is the final piece to the puzzle, Crowe said. Ealey, a 5-11, 215-pounder, started for the Bulldogs the last two years. He rushed for 811 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season and rushed for 717 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman.
Crowe says Ealey will help the Gamecocks get over the hump.
“He’s a power back,” he said. “He’ll wear you down and make you not want to tackle him. He’s got the ability to make you miss and accelerate down the field. He’s a got that can get you to the fourth quarter and in the fourth quarter separate you from everybody else. He’s just the kind of back we need right now.”
By Reggie Benson, The Huntsville Times