Tuesday, November 11, 2008

FB: Title road leads through J'ville

When James Webster got the Tennessee State coaching job, one of the first things he did was grab the most recent copy of Ohio Valley Conference statistics to see what he was up against.
It didn’t take him long to decide the road to the OVC championship went through Jacksonville State, largely because the Gamecocks were at or near the top in three specific categories — rushing offense, rushing defense and total defense. He still feels that way.
Don’t look now, but Webster’s Tigers are leading the league in each of those three categories this week. They No. 1 in rushing (206.0 yards per game), No. 1 in rushing defense (124.0 ypg) and No. 1 in total defense (315.9). Jax State is 2, 4 and 3, respectively, in those three categories.
Individually, the Tigers have the OVC’s leading rusher (Javarris Williams, 103.7 ypg, 15 TDs) and quarterback Antonio Heffner leads the league in total offense (266.9 ypg).
“I’m real excited about the statistics we have,” Webster said. “That’s very, very tough to do, it’s a tough league, a tough physical league. You’re not just gonna hand the ball off and run it. You’ve got to be physical in this league.
“It’s a league of quarterbacks, but you better be physical and you'd better be tough. It’s no place for the weak of heart in this league. You ought to be able to smack people in the face. If you’re not a physical football team, it’s gonna be difficult to be successful in this league.”
The Tigers may have risen to the top of the OVC in the statistical categories Webster holds most dear, but guess who stands in their way of winning the OVC title — that same JSU team coach has so much respect for.
“I still believe the championship goes through Jacksonville State; you have to be able to beat them to have a chance,” Webster said. “That doesn’t mean you can’t beat them and still win the league, but they’ve shown they’re a consistent program. They’ve done a great job of building a winning program there, they’re not going to have a down year, up and down. They’re going to be good every year, at the top or near the top, so you’re gonna have to beat them.
“I’ve tried to put together a football team that can compete on the field with them in those areas. It’s what they’ve done ever since they’ve come into the league and what they're still doing.”

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