Rich Rodriguez set to see his first Jacksonville State football game in Saturday’s opener


He plans to make a fashion statement by wearing shorts, will keep his starting quarterback a secret, at least from the public, until kickoff, and has had to adjust a few things as he thinks a few staffers at the opening day opponent were to his team. spring game.

This covers some of the highlights from the first game week press conference for Jacksonville State freshman head coach Rich Rodriguez.

The first two things make perfect sense, given that the weather forecast calls for a high of 87 degrees with 75% humidity for Saturday’s season opener against Stephen F. Austin at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl, and Game planning takes more effort for the Lumberjacks if they don’t know who’s playing the quarterback. The third thing, however, is a little different.

“Whether it’s true or not, a pretty good source said it was true, they had a couple of staff in our spring game, which isn’t really supposed to happen,” Rodriguez said. “We are making plans accordingly. If they’re there thinking they have our games and what do you have, we (changed it).

This is only the beginning, apparently. Rodriguez said last week that they also caught two people filming during practice. He said his daughter, Raquel, caught the first offender. The second had a scarier experience.

“I sent in one of the biggest guys in our program, one of our assistant strength coaches (Cru Birdyshaw) – he’s about 6-7, 350, probably benches about 1,000 pounds or something. thing like that,” Rodriguez said. “I sent him into the stands to chase him, and this guy got out of here pretty quick.”

Rodriguez told the story in a relaxed manner, which he carried throughout his 20-minute press encounter. This is his first home opener for Jacksonville State. Clearly, this is far from the first season opener for the former West Virginia, Michigan and Arizona head coach. But, even for a veteran coach, there is a hint of nervousness.

“For the first game, I always hope that as a coach you have butterflies,” Rodriguez said. “The same goes for a player. If you don’t, then maybe you’re not as invested as you should be. There will be excitement and nerves. I’ve probably been doing this long enough to not have as much anxiety or nervousness as I did when I was maybe 30, but at the same time I can’t wait for this program to come out and work. I’m trying to temper everything because we have so many questions. Everything is new for our players. I come back to the first game of the first year, it’s always the hardest. It’s a whole new system and all that.

This brings us to the quarterback situation. Redshirt senior Zion Webb was an all-conference player in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021. However, an injury suffered in the spring sidelined him last fall. The other two candidates are Aaron McLaughlin, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound transfer from North Carolina State, a redshirt freshman, and real-life freshman Te’Sean Smoot.

Want to know the starter? Buy a ticket for the game or tune into ESPN.

“Even if I know, what I will know before, why would I tell anyone?” Rodríguez said. “You only have one game and one chance to do it. I don’t think it matters much. We’re going to run what we run, it doesn’t matter who’s in there.

Rodriguez said he expects more than one quarterback to play Saturday.

“We will consider playing with several guys,” Rodriguez said. “It sounds like coaching language, but it’s really true. We told the whole team not to worry too much about where you are in the depth chart. Just worry about knowing if we’re good enough to win with you Some people say you have to have a quarterback and roll with them I’ve never been like that I’ve played two in the past but we have to be able to run the whole offense with any quarterback. I think we have more than one that we can win with. Hopefully we have three. I’ll be surprised if we don’t play at least two on Saturday .

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