One Bad, Very Bad Loss, Shouldn’t Ruin South Alabama’s Historic 2022 Season.
The loss to Western Kentucky in the New Orleans Bowl will not be an easy one to get over. But one bad loss, and it was very bad, shouldn’t take away from South Alabama’s sensational season.
South Alabama will need to put Western Kentucky’s 677 yards of total offense behind them. Same goes for Austin Reed’s 497 yards passing. Both school records for an opponent against the Jaguars.
As for the Jags offense, that sputtered in the 1st Half, scoring only three points before coming alive in the 2nd half with three touchdowns. South Alabama averaging more than 166 yards per game on the ground, rushed for a grand total of 44. And that’s against a Hilltoppers defense that allowed over 150 yards per game.
So, yes the New Orleans Bowl was bad for the Jaguars. Very bad. I believe the technical term is ‘stinker’. But once the team starts to look back on 2022, they should put their shoulders back, stick their chests out and smile.
For the first time since joining FBS, South Alabama won 10 games. No small feat. Especially when you consider combining the ’19, ’20, ’21 seasons they won 11 games.
Transfer quarterback Carter Bradley set school marks for yards thrown (3,316) and touchdowns (28).
Throughout the season, Head Coach Kane Wommack continued to compliment the offense live as the most improved position group on the team. And it showed. Transfer running back LaDamian Webb rushed for over 1,000 yards (1,062) and set a school record 247 yards in the come-from-behind 38-31 win against Georgia Southern.
And one more for the books. For the first time ever, South Alabama will have two former Jags suit up for the Senior Bowl; wide receiver Jalen Wayne and corner back Darrell Luter, Jr.
So you can plainly see, there were things to be excited about from the 2022 Jaguars…but that’s not all.
The morning after the game, I hopped on the Opening Kickoff with Mark & Lee to discuss the game. Mark wasn’t wrong in his assessment about the Jags needing to take the next step due to coming up short in their biggest games of the season; UCLA, Troy and WKU.
But after I thought about it, the Jaguars won plenty of big games this season. South Alabama hadn’t beat the Cajuns in Louisiana until 2022. The Jaguars found themselves down 21-7 in the 1st Quarter at Georgia Southern only to finish the game on a 31-10 run. And against Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, the Jaguars needed a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns for a 27-20 victory.
And while South Alabama may have been the better team and favored in those games, that hadn’t stopped the Jaguars from losing those type of games before. The Jaguars have a reputation of winning games they shouldn’t followed by inexplicable losses. That wasn’t the case for the 2022 Jaguars.
And plenty of reasons to smile looking ahead to 2023. Bradley and Webb both return as do wide receivers Devin Voisin and Caullin Lacy. Wayne & Luter will have to be replaced, but based on what Wommack accomplished in the transfer portal last season, I see no reason why the Jags won’t be picked to at least win the Sun Belt’s West Division, if not the entire Sun Belt.
If the 2023 Jaguars meet or surpass their lofty expectations, it’ll be the 2022 squad that will be remembered for turning the entire program around.
It’ll take awhile for them to shake off their bowl performance. And it probably should. Unless you’re going to use motivation from the game to improve, there wasn’t a whole lot of positivity coming from the Superdome via South Alabama.
That doesn’t change the fact, 2022 was an historic season for South Alabama and should be treated as such. Even if the last game a was ‘stinker’.