JACKSONVILLE — By the time you finish that second helping of banana pudding at lunch today, Jacksonville State should have a pretty good idea what its two-deep depth chart is going to look like for the Arkansas game.
JSU coach Jack Crowe said Tuesday the chart is about 80 percent complete with “probably 10 bubble guys” making up the difference. The Gamecocks were expected to work those players later in the day to make that determination.
“We made a few adjustments in the two-deep (Monday) and have today to validate whether they’re going to stick,” Crowe said.
There were at least two so-called “litmus tests” — one on each side of the ball — the coaching staff was eager to see.
Prior to that, the Gamecocks did make five lineup adjustments after Saturday’s scrimmage that have stuck — all on defense.
The most radical was moving true freshman quarterback Eli Jenkins to safety.
The others include moving safety Brooks Robinson to linebacker, outside linebacker Erick Butler to defensive end, cornerback Aries Lockhart to safety and giving Blake Glaze a home at will linebacker.
Jenkins’ skill set as a quarterback has been compared favorably to former JSU All-American Montressa Kirby, but with fifth-year senior Marques Ivory, junior Coty Blanchard and third-year sophomore Steven Coates all ahead of him in the pecking order he wasn’t expected to play this year. But he is too athletic to be left behind.
He’s not the first quarterback the Gamecocks have moved to the secondary (think Robinson and Brooks Barron). And that doesn’t mean he’ll stay there.
“He may go back, because he’s a really talented quarterback,” Crowe said. “But like with Maurice Mullins — and I told Eli when I signed him — his talent is such we’re going to try to get him on the field, so that’s what that’s about.
“That doesn’t mean he won’t play quarterback again one day; he’s a talent. I really don’t think we’d be doing credit to him or it’d be in the best interest of this program if we put him in the long-term pipeline. The pipeline for a quarterback is so critical, you sort of bite the bullet sometime.”
There also is some movement underway in the offensive line, but it’s more about deciding which positions guys will play to produce the most solid group of five.
The preseason FCS Coaches Poll — the second of the two major FCS top 25s — is expected to be released today. Crowe is one of the two Ohio Valley Conference coaches on the panel this year (along with Murray State’s Chris Hatcher).
Crowe confirmed he voted reigning national champion North Dakota State and runner-up Sam Houston 1-2 on his ballot. He also voted for three OVC teams, but wouldn’t disclose their identities (presumably they’re Eastern Kentucky, Murray and Tennessee Tech). He’s prohibited from voting for his own team.
The Gamecocks were No. 22 in the preseason Sports Network poll and Crowe said it would “bother me” if they weren’t in the top 25 of the Coaches Poll.
“I just want us to be on the radar screen so we can be recognized when we do something, because I do thnk we’re going to make a move somewhere this year,” he said. “I think we’re going to help ourselves. I don’t know when.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.