By any quantitative measure, South Alabama made the right move by hiring Steve Campbell. In fact you probably couldn’t have engineered a better coach for South Alabama in a lab.
After ten years of Joey Jones, chapter two in South Alabama football history starts off with a bang.
The former Central Arkansas Head Coach has a career .750 winning percentage, 59-23 lifetime record, not including his 100-30 record at the junior college level. He won a Division II championship at Delta State in 2000, an NJCAA championship with Mississippi Gulf Coast at 2007, and ran the table in the Southland with UCA last year. He’s won Coach of the Year three times at three different levels.
He’s a turnaround king with ties across the region. His extensive CV lists stops at the following places: Auburn, Delta State, Nicholls State, SW Mississippi JC, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, Mississippi Gulf Coast, and Central Arkansas. He played college ball at Troy and Southeastern Louisiana. If there’s an institution in the Gulf Coast region with a football team, chances are Campbell has been there before. Important for recruiting to know the neighborhood you coach in.
Beyond that, the scheme on both sides of the ball will look different. Campbell is known for being a great offensive mind. His offenses were explosive at Central Arkansas. Up-tempo, no-huddle, spread. Music to Jaguars fans ears I’m sure.
The defense will most likely be a 3-4, scheme that seems to be gaining popularity with the proliferation of spread offenses today. More speedy linebackers on the field to cover slots and backs (sounds dirty).
But what does a Steve Campbell coached team look like? Well, let’s look at the tape and numbers.
Not bad, eh?
RPO stuff. No huddle, up-tempo. Quick short passing game with a power running game. It works and the numbers back it up.
Central Arkansas Offensive Stats:
Total Offense: 7th in FCS, 465.3 YPG
Scoring Offense: 12th, 35.8 PPG
Rushing Offense: 24th, 196.6 YPG
QB Hayden Hildebrand – QB Efficiency of 177.2, 29 TDs, 9 INTs, 67% Completion, 3,129 yards, seven different receivers with at least ten receptions on the season.
Is that a flashlight in your pocket Jaguar Nation? Or are you just happy to see Steve Campbell? 😉
South Alabama finished the 2017 season 117th in scoring offense at a shade under 20 points per game. That is why Campbell hired. The Pensacola native was brought to make Jaguar football exciting. Things are about to get wild on the Floribama Shore.
What about the defense?
Well, the defense has never really been the issue, Jags were middle of the pack nationally (63rd) in scoring defense. But in case you’re curious, here you go:
Total Defense: 24th, 318.8 YPG
Scoring Defense: 15th, 17.5 PPG
Rushing Defense: 16th, 108.8 YPG
Turnover Margin: 31st, +6
Team Sacks: 7th, 39
Team TFLs: 6th, 79
I can go on. You get the picture. Central Arkansas is a solidly coached team on both sides of the ball. Campbell’s defense is fast and opportunistic. They have no problem getting pressure on opposing backfields.
It will be interesting to see the South Alabama offense and defense transition into their new schemes. Campbell needs a QB to run his system efficiently. Perhaps Campbell can get more out of Dallas Davis or Cole Garvin’s talents. He might also use his JuCo connections to snag a couple of transfers to make the transition a bit smoother.
The cupboard isn’t bare at South Alabama. The Jags just made a bowl game in 2016 (they went 6-7, but hey, a bowl’s a bowl). Campbell has never had a losing season as head coach. I would go ahead and scratch them in as a bowl team next season, and a real conference contender after he gets at least, two recruiting classes in there.
The future is bright in Mobile.