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South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack called it an “identity drive.”
It came late in last Saturday’s 31-3 win at Arkansas State. The Jaguars were looking to melt time off the clock and eat up yardage. That’s exactly what they did, using 11 plays to cover 52 yards and take seven minutes and 16 seconds off the clock. La’Damian Webb, who carried the ball on every play in the drive, ended up in the end zone to complete the scoring.
Have any idea what Wommack would like to take with him from last Saturday?
“There's a lot of momentum that can be carried from one game to the next and I hope we see some of that passion that we created for ourselves and some of that physicality continue to build as we work towards the end of the season,” Wommack said.
He brings Webb with him into this week’s important Sun Belt Conference game at Georgia Southern, so there’s a good chance the physical running game will follow.
The 5-foot-7, 208-pound Webb was banged up and limited, at best, in the Jaguars’ two most recent games heading into this past week’s victory. Webb had two carries for 12 yards in a win over Louisiana-Monroe and eight carries for 12 yards in a loss to Troy.
This past Saturday, playing in the rain, he came back with a vengeance, compiling season highs in carries (28), rushing yards (162) and rushing touchdowns (three). And he ended it with the 11 consecutive carries.
"I have had the opportunity to coach some (great) backs before, and there's certain guys who just have a mentality,” South Alabama offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “(Webb) carried it 54 times in his state championship game, so 11 carries are nothing for him. And it's a mentality that ‘As long as coach keeps calling my number, then I am going to keep producing.’ It develops confidence in the guys in front of you when you run with that kind of vigor and tenacity. It motivates the guys in front of you and the entire sideline; you could feel it, even all the way up in the box you could see it."
It certainly motivated the players on the field, according to receiver Devin Voisin.
"With the conditions like they were, in the passing game as receivers it's hard because looking at the ball is different whenever rain is pouring down; the visibility is off and the rain hitting the ball in the air just kind of takes the timing off. We're such a good offense that we can trust our offensive line and running backs to make plays, and as you saw this past weekend they did that and just ran the clock out. Taking the air out of the game with eight minutes left, that's just big for us. We didn't have to do much work; just put the ball in Webb's hands and let the offensive line kill the defensive line. It was awesome to see."
Pure numbers suggest that Georgia Southern has one of the worst rushing defenses in the country, ranked 125th, allowing 210.8 yards per game with 18 rushing touchdowns by the opposition.
Applewhite said those numbers don’t tell the entire truth about the Georgia Southern defense.
"I see a tenacious group that plays with phenomenal effort – guys who fly to the ball and great athletes across the board up front,” Applewhite said. “They have corners, linebackers and safeties who can play sideline to sideline. I just see a mentality more than a scheme. They have a great scheme as well, but I see a mentality, which I think as a coach is the greatest compliment you can get is that your guys play hard and tough. They do a great job on that side of the ball, and we're going to have a challenge."
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