The powerful JSU running back made school history Saturday when he ran for three touchdowns for the third straight game in Saturday’s 41-27 win over Tennessee-Martin.
James scored on runs 8, 1 and 50 yards and finished with 184 yards on 23 carries.
“I feel like it’s just another day at the office, come out and execute just like we do every week,” he said. “I just believed in the line. The O-line, they block good, I’m going to run it.”
It was the second straight week he rushed for more than 180 yards. During the last three weeks he has gone for 414 yards on 66 carries.
“He’s just on a huge roll,” JSU coach Bill Clark said. “All our running backs have done a great job. They’ve all had their moment in the sun, but he’s just the guy that’s got it going. He really had a good night after first contact and breaking that big one at the end of the game just iced it.”
Some people might consider being scheduled as someone’s homecoming opponent is the ultimate sign of disrespect.
If Jacksonville State ever thought that way, the Gamecocks usually have made those programs pay. And they’ve managed to uphold their end at their own homecoming as well.
The Gamecocks were UT-Martin’s homecoming foe Saturday, which was the fifth time in the history of the series. They never have lost. In fact, they never have lost to the Skyhawks in any homecoming situation, going 5-0 in their own homecoming games with them as well.
The Gamecocks have been homecoming fodder for every team currently in the league except Eastern Kentucky, Southeast Missouri and Tennessee State.
They are 9-3-1 as homecoming opponents against the current teams in the Ohio Valley Conference — 5-1 since joining the league in 1993. They also have played Austin Peay (2-2-1), Eastern Illinois (0-1), Murray State (1-0) and Tennessee Tech (1-0). They will be Tech’s homecoming foe later this month.
The Gamecocks celebrate their own Homecoming next week against Tennessee State. They are 54-11-2 in those games since 1946, 11-4-1 against the current OVC teams — Austin Peay (2-0-1), Eastern Illinois (0-1), Murray (1-0), Tennessee State (1-1), Tennessee Tech (2-2) and UT-Martin (5-0).
No Gray area
There were rumors trickling out of the field house a few weeks ago the Gamecocks were going to wear grey next week for homecoming.
Not if athletics director Warren Koegel has anything to say about it.
Koegel is a staunch traditionalist — after all, he did go to Penn State — and said Saturday it would be nothing but traditional colors for the Gamecocks.
“It’s gotten to be you don’t know who’s playing each other,” Koegel said of the bunch of color schemes on the college sports landscape. “I’m not for blue turf, red turf, multi-colored turf, either. Let them play on green turf — it looks like green grass.”
The Gamecocks say they don’t even have a gray configuration of uniforms — just four sets of red and four sets of white.
“We’re going to wear red,” Clark said.
Speaking of turf
It’s getting about time for JSU officials look at upgrading the artificial playing surface in JSU Stadium. It’s actually under consideration although no decision has been made. Raising the funding is always a consideration.
The current carpet was installed in 2005 at a cost of just over $700,000. Typically the life of the turf is about eight years, but the Gamecocks’ turf has held up reasonably well.
“When we roll and brush it, it’s still in pretty good shape,” Koegel said.
The Gamecocks are still looking for two games to complete the 2014 schedule — one to replace Central Florida bailing on them and the existing opening.
Koegel said he has been involved with “six or seven” schools over the last three weeks — none of which he identified — but dominoes have to fall in place.
“It’s all about timing,” he said. “We’re trying to get other people to make some decisions to help us make our decision.”
Earlier this week Austin Peay announced a time change for the Nov. 2 game with JSU.
Kickoff now is set for 4 p.m. — three hours later than the original start — for what AP officials said will allow participants in their visitation day a full day’s experience on their campus.
The Gamecocks return to JSU Stadium on Saturday to play Tennessee State at 3 p.m. for homecoming.
Like several teams in the OVC — including JSU — the Tigers also have a two-headed quarterback situation, although that’s not exactly what coach Rod Reed planned.
“Ours was kind of forced on us,” he said. “We wanted (freshman Ronald) Butler to come in and be a backup, (but junior) Mike German didn’t do the right thing. It’s great gaining them experience now.”
Butler is a little more athletic of the two, but German has the stronger arm and experience. German threw for 204 yards and three touchdowns on eight completions in the Tigers’ OVC opener last week, while Butler was 12-of-19 for 139.