No. 1 Valdosta State made it 25 straight wins and back-to-back undefeated regular seasons after walking over West Georgia 42-14 on Saturday. Here are six takeaways from the game and the season, too:
Just Keep Running
Valdosta State’s offense has been unmatched for almost two years now. After the Harlon Hill runner-up campaign from quarterback Rogan Wells last season the running backs have stepped up in 2019. Jamar Thompkins and Seth McGill just might be the best backfield duo in the nation, and if you add Rogan to the mix the Blazers have the most productive trio by a margin. Thompkins just won the GSC rushing title and scoring title, McGill tied for the most rushing touchdowns, and the three rushed for a combined 2,169 yards with 27 touchdowns. VSU is the No.10 for rushing offense in the nation, first in yards per carry, and have ran the ball the least out of the 50 ranked rushing offenses; giving VSU a case for the most efficient running game in the country. Speaking of efficiency Thompkins just put up 129 yards with three touchdowns on just nine carries against West Georgia.
The most changed aspect of VSU’s team was the defense entering this season. A group of key seniors graduated and players like Cory Roberts, Thomas Incoom, and Alex Brown have filled the spots as key playmakers and that’s just to name a few. But one player has stood out lately and it’s linebacker Jackson Bull. Seeing Bull’s number 38 wasn’t common at first, now 38 is making a bigger impact the more chances he gets.
“Ever since the start of the season his role has grown,” said Defensive Coordinator Lee Stalker. “He’s earned the opportunity to be on the field more and more. He’s shown the ability to the make plays… He’s playing at a very high level right now, we’re extremely happy about how he’s playing.”
Bull left a mark against West Georgia with five tackles and two sacks. His energy radiated after big plays while teammates on the sideline marveled at the product of hard work and trusting the process.
“It took time and patience,” said Bull about his growing role. “But every opportunity I got I tried to make the most of it and live it up to the fullest. Now I’ve got a couple more chances so I’m just trying to make plays and get noticed.”
Expect to see more of number 38 in the postseason.
VSU showed signs of improvement with penalties against West Georgia. Being a team this good can only beat themselves, and they almost did that against Florida Tech and West Florida. They amassed more penalties than both opponents and squeezed by in narrow wins. It was the opposite against West Georgia, they committed five penalties for 60 yards which is half the amount of penalized yards they had against West Florida. Their discipline has fluctuated throughout the year so it’ll be crucial to keep the penalties limited if they want to make a deep postseason run.
As expected, Valdosta State clinched the No.1 seed in Super Region 2. Making their path to the National Championship start of with a matchup against Wingate or a rematch with West Florida depending on the winner between the two. VSU has a first round bye with home field advantage, they’ll host the winner at Bazemore-Hyder on November 30th.
Ready for Anything
From facing top defenses, strong run games, and lethal passing attacks VSU has prevailed through them all. West Georgia tried the Blazers 48 times through the air and found just one touchdown. They ran for 358 yards against a top Delta State defense and shutdown West Alabama’s dynamic receivers. All year they’ve been ready for anything and that should pay off down the line.
The Usual Suspect
What’s a Valdosta State football story without talking about Rogan Wells?
He’s the quarterback that’s quietly having another impressive season. The numbers aren’t near as high as last year’s but his efficiency is still top tier. Wells has thrown 17 touchdowns with four interceptions, completed 71.7% of his passes, and picked up 680 yards rushing with six touchdowns. He’s a gamer that does what it takes to win, he’s not worried about the personal accolades or stats, Wells plays to win. He even reminded people that he can take control when he ran for the 40-yard game winning touchdown against North Greenville. He’s a usual suspect, so expect him to continue his winning ways.