Gulf South Week 5 Preview: West Florida Rolls On
Gulf South Week 5 Preview: West Florida Rolls On
Here's what to know about the Gulf South Conference football games in week 5, including West Florida against North Greenville.
The bulk of the Gulf South Conference season got underway last week, and for the most part, there were no surprises across the first full week of league play, with the home team winning all four league showdowns, and doing so in impressive fashion, with three of those wins coming by 25 points or more.
This week sees what might be the top four teams in the league on the road looking to avoid an early-season upset, while a couple of teams hope this is the week they start to dig themselves out of an early hole in the GSC standings.
No. 6 West Florida (3-1) Vs. North Greenville (2-2)
Where: Younts Stadium; Tigerville, South Carolina
Last Week: West Florida defeated West Georgia, 49-21; North Greenville lost to Valdosta State, 28-3
Series History: West Florida leads 4-0; Last Season: West Florida defeated North Greenville 34-31
A pair of teams who opened GSC play in opposite ways last week, with West Florida crushing West Georgia by four scores, while North Greenville was locked down by Valdosta State in a 28-3 defeat.
The Crusaders hope that a return home can get them back on track, while also getting them their first ever win over the visiting Argonauts.
As they have all season, except for their loss to FCS Florida A&M, the West Florida offense was machine-like a week ago against West Georgia, scoring 49 points in three quarters, and finishing with just under 500 yards of total offense. As has been the case all season, Peewee Jarrett was borderline unstoppable, hitting on over 70 percent of his passes in that win, tossing three scores, and rushing for another 35 on the ground.
On the season, Jarrett has completed 67 percent of his throws for nine touchdowns against just two interceptions.
His top target, both last week and this season, is John Jiles, who snagged eight balls for 175 yards and a pair of scores, earning GSC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts. Jiles is one of three Argo receivers who has double-digit catches, and leads the team in catches, yards, and touchdowns through four games.
While the UWF offense was its usual self, the Argo defense flexed its muscles for three quarters. West Georgia’s only points early on came courtesy of a scoop and score, while the UWF defense held them to under 200 yards before a pair of late scores with the game out of hand got them over 300 yards.
On the season, UWF’s defense has been a force, giving up just 14.5 points per game, and under 270 yards of offense. The key has been a rush defense that barely allows three yards per carry. John McMullen has been a beast for the Argos, already posting six sacks on the year.
That all adds up to a tough task for a North Greenville team who has had a stout defense of their own to open the year, but has struggled to get its offense in gear.
The 28 points given up to Valdosta State were the most the program has allowed this season, and against the high-flying Blazers held their offense to just 337 yards, Valdosta’s lowest output this season.
The rush defense in particular was tough for the Crusaders, holding the Blazers to just 44 total yards on 27 attempts.
On the whole, the Crusaders give up just 308 yards per game, and have held opposing passers to just 50 percent completions, though they were hurt by the big play last week, yielding 16 yards per completion in the loss.
Despite the tough defense, the Crusaders haven’t forced a ton of turnovers, netting just four on the year while their offense has coughed it up nine times in the early going.
While NGU’s defense has kept them in games and helped the team to a 2-2 start, the offense hasn’t found its footing, scoring just 15 points per game, with those nine turnovers being the big culprit. If NGU is going to pull the upset, it’ll come via the passing game, where they have six touchdowns and average north of 250 yards per game.
The two teams played a classic last season, with NGU feeling like they let one slip away. The Crusaders led 23-10 late in the third quarter, and by seven with under seven minutes to go, but the Argos rallied with a touchdown in the final three minutes, then booted a walk-off field goal for a 34-31 win.
Gulf South Games at a Glance
*All games scheduled for Saturday
Mississippi College (1-3, 0-2) Vs. Shorter (2-2, 1-1)
It was tough going for different reasons for both teams last week, with Mississippi College dropping a 10-7 defensive slugfest on the road to West Alabama, while Shorter was blitzed by host Delta State in a 56-20 loss.
The Choctaws have lost three in a row, including two league games. They’ve been a bit of a roller coaster this season, with a pair of games that were offensive showdowns with two more that were defensively-focused. They’ll look to rebound after netting just 243 yards, including just 109 for their vaunted running offense.
Shorter saw its two-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of GSC favorite Delta State, pulling within two scores early in the third quarter before DSU responded with 22 unanswered points to close the game out.
Mississippi College took last season’s game in Mississippi by a 35-21 final, rushing for 527 yards in that game.
No. 23 Valdosta State (4-0, 1-0) Vs. Chowan (0-4, 0-2)
The Blazers continued their redemption tour coming off an impressive win over North Greenville in the GSC opener, holding the Crusaders to just 333 yards and forcing a pair of turnovers, while keeping them out of the end zone.
While the 28 points are low for Valdosta, the passing game clicked in a big way, hitting for 293 yards and over 16 yards per completion.
Chowan played a non-league game last week, getting handled at home by an undefeated Benedict team, 31-3, getting just 104 yards of offense in that game. Their defense played admirably despite constantly being on the field, holding Benedict to 303 yards and forcing a pair of turnovers.
Delta State (4-0, 2-0) Vs. West Alabama (2-2, 1-1)
Delta State continues to roll along, crushing Shorter last week to the tune of 56-20, scoring all 56 points in the first three quarters while posting 572 yards of offense, including 316 and over 10 yards per carry on the ground. Through four games, the Statesmen have won all four games by an average of 39 points per game, and are gaining over 500 yards per game on offense.
That makes for a big challenge for the host Tigers, who put the clamps on Mississippi College last week to even its record both overall and in the GSC. The Tigers defense has been tough, giving up just 20 points per game so far, but the offense hasn’t kept up, netting less than 17 points per game. The big struggle has been passing, where they’re hitting on less than 50 percent of their throws for just 155 yards per game and five interceptions.
The two teams met twice last season, with DSU sweeping the series, but in closer than-expected games, 20-7 at UWA and 17-7 at DSU.
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