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South Alabama Jaguars preview

Roman Buchanan provides veteran leadership on defense. Bobby McDuffie/Icon Sportswire

South Alabama reached its first bowl game in program history last year. But even an influx of UAB transfers is no match for a depth chart that is in flux. With 17 new starters, a second-straight postseason berth is a long shot.

Offense

How the Jaguars beat you: After UAB folded its program in December, seven Blazers opted to call South Alabama their new home. Tops among them? Last year’s QB1 Cody Clements (2,227 yards, 14 TDs), the likely heir to departing starter Brandon Bridge. Clements, a senior, completed 66.5 percent of his throws in 2014—good for No. 13 in the nation—and will have a familiar target come fall. Senior TE Gerald Everett (6-4, 215) is another former Blazer and connected with Clements 15 times for 231 yards last year.

How you beat the Jaguars: South Alabama cobbled together just 41 drives that reached the red zone last year (No. 91 in the FBS) and rarely hit pay dirt. Once inside the 20, the Jaguars recorded TDs just over half the time (51.2 percent, No. 102).

Defense

How the Jaguars beat you: Junior S Roman Buchanan was the lone defensive player to start double-digit games as an underclassman last year. He’ll bring productivity lacking elsewhere on the D: 3½ TFL and seven pass breakups.

How you beat the Jaguars: Gone are the D’s best disrupter along with its top ball hawk—DE Theo Rich (13 TFL, 8 sacks) and LB Maleki Harris (4 forced fumbles)—from an aggressive front that limited opponents to a respectable 37 three-and-outs in 2014 (No. 56 in the FBS). The Jags didn’t build much depth last year: Three linemen with seven combined starts return to the D-line, and the returning linebackers combined for 46 tackles, three fewer than the unit’s third-leading tackler in 2014.