With only three games remaining in the 2013 Football Championship Subdivision football season, the Gamecocks have made statistical improvements in 12 of the 17 similar categories the NCAA listed in its team reports in 2012. They hold the same ranking position in two others.
In 34 similar categories overall, they improved in 23. In what the NCAA considered official statistics in 2012, they Gamecocks were better in 11 (even in the other).
“Jacksonville State has a history of success and one of the big things we talked about was we’ve been good, (but) we want to be great,” said Clark, who engineered the turnaround in less than one year after being formally introduced as coach Dec. 19. “We had a big challenge to get our defense to play good and find a quarterback. We knew it would be a work in progress … but I felt like we’ve gotten better every week.”
The Gamecocks made their biggest improvement defensively, jumping 48 spots overall. They improved 86 spots in pass defense, 78 in efficiency, 62 in points allowed per game, 97 in sacks, 84 in tackles for loss and 62 in turnover margin.
The only places they dropped among those 17 similar categories were in the passing game — 25 spots in passing offense, 28 in efficiency and 26 in sacks allowed. They also dropped in time of possession, but that’s because they ran a higher tempo offense.
It’s not expected those positions will move significantly with only two FCS semifinals and the national championship game left to be played.
The Gamecocks (11-4) wrapped up their season on Saturday with a 35-24 loss at Eastern Washington in the FCS quarterfinals. Clark’s first season since replacing Jack Crowe a year ago marked JSU’s best season since moving up from Division II in 1992.
They Gamecocks also scored their first two playoff vi ctories since 1992.
“It’s been crazy,” Clark said of the whirlwind. “Just the amount of work we put into it. You finish one season (at South Alabama) and thought you had the foot on the pedal, then you really put it down to get a staff together and getting players and getting them in workouts. That’s tough stuff.”
Al Muskewitz covers Jacksonville State for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577.