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Position Battle: Cowboy Passing Game vs. Jaguars’ Disruptive Secondary



Although the Cowboys are heavily favored in their upcoming contest against South Alabama, they face a defense that’s better than fans may realize. The Jaguars feature some serious talent in the front seven, specifically with Missouri transfer Rocel McWilliams, star linebacker Bull Barge and Alabama transfer Shawn Jennings.

Their secondary is also one of the best in the Sun Belt and should prove an adequate test for the Cowboy receivers and quarterback before next week’s clash with Boise State.

The Jaguars’ secondary is led by the upperclassmen duo of Jalen Thompson and Darian Mills. Thompson, who sat out last season as a redshirt, led the defense in interceptions in 2016 with four. He also finished second in pass breakups with six. Mills led the team in pass breakups last season with 13, which was the most in the Sun Belt in 2017.

South Alabama’s secondary started the season off with a three-interception performance in last week’s loss to Louisiana Tech. Jalen Thompson, Jay Woods and linebacker Chris Henderson all recorded a pick. Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith was 19-29 for just 209 yards and those three picks.

This will be a good test for first-year starter Taylor Cornelius before Boise State next week. Cornelius threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns last week against Missouri State, but he also had his fair share of struggles, throwing one interception and missing multiple open receivers. Additionally, if it weren’t for a drop by the Bears’ defense in the first half, he could have had two picks.

If last year’s 335-yard passing performance against USA was any indication, OSU’s offense should be able to score early and often. The Cowboy receiving corps. should still have a significant advantage over USA’s cornerbacks, but the Jaguar defense is still an upgrade over the Pokes’ opponent last week.

Expect Cornelius and Co. to roll once again, but don’t be surprised if the senior signal caller has some early struggles against more talent in Week 2.

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