University of South Alabama looks to bounce back after rebuilding year

University of South Alabama looks to bounce back after rebuilding year
Gerald Everett runs for yardage during South Alabama's game with Arkansas State last season. Everett played one season at UAB before heading to South Alabama. (Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire)

A 5-7 season was not unanticipated for South Alabama in 2015.

“We lost 17 starters from the year before, 31 seniors,” coach Joey Jones said. “We knew it was going to be a rebuilding year. We just lost some close games. We had two or three games that could have gone our way that didn’t go our way, so we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to be.”

Alabama NewsCenter is posing five questions to state college coaches as the 2016 football season draws near. Next up are Jones and his Jaguars, who open their season at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Mississippi State in a game on the SEC Network.

NC: What is the outlook for this season?

JJ: Much better. We’ve got everybody – the staff and the players – all on the same page. Everybody’s going in the right direction. We’ve got better players coming through. We’ve got some experience from last year so we’ll be an improved team for sure.

NC: What is your team’s strength?

JJ: I would say on defense in the secondary and linebacker positions. Those guys are playing really well back there. They’ve got a lot of experience, they’re good athletes. I would say the back end on defense.

NC: Who are your standouts this season?

JJ: Gerald Everett, our tight end, will be drafted, probably around the third round next year. Probably about the best overall player in the league. And then Roman Buchanan on defense. He’ll be a four-year starter for us. He’s our starting weak side linebacker. He’ll have a chance to play in the NFL as well.

NC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?

JJ: The Georgia Southern game, the second game, is a big ballgame. They’ve gotten us the last two years. They’re obviously a great football program. That’s the game that our players will certainly be looking forward to.

NC: What is your lingering question?

JJ: I would say our defensive line. We’ve had three injuries to starters – Jimmie Gipson III, Tre Alford and Dewayne Alford – (who are) out for the year, two defensive ends and a nose guard. Can we build enough depth inside? I think that would be the biggest question.

Also in this series: Read Alabama NewsCenter’s interviews with head coaches Reginald Ruffin of Miles College, Bobby Wallace of the University of North Alabama, Brett Gilliland of the University of West Alabama, Eddie Garfinkle of Birmingham-Southern College, Willie Slater of Tuskegee University and Chris Hatcher of Samford University.

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