Jacksonville State’s head football coach Rich Rodriguez spoke to local media on Tuesday regarding his team’s upcoming matchup against the 24th ranked Eastern Kentucky. The game is also set to be the second to last game for Jacksonville State on the year.
“In our eyes we’re playing for a conference championship (in) these next two games,” Rodriguez said. “I think your conference games always have a little bit more meaning, especially under our circumstances.”
This Saturday’s game will feature Jacksonville State’s senior night, as it will be the last home game for the large group of seniors on this year’s team. Coach Rodriguez spoke about the importance of these veteran team captains, and what this game would mean for them.
“We’ve got eleven seniors, and this is their last home game. I like making a big deal out of it,” Rodriguez said. “Every one of them (seniors) will have success in whatever they do because of the type of people they are.”
Rodriguez talked about the transition for the players this season under a new coach and a new staff coming into the season. He talked about how instrumental the seniors were in helping with that transition.
“They took a tough situation for all of us and made it better,” Rodriguez said. “I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way they adapted to all of this, and it speaks to their character.”
The ASUN Conference released a statement earlier this year saying that Jacksonville State could not be recognized as conference champions even if they won all the games. However, Rodriguez insists that his team is still playing for a conference championship despite what others think.
“Whatever the ASUN rules are, in our eyes everything counts,” Rodriguez said. “If we can win the next two games, we’re conference champs in my eyes, and I think that’s a big deal no matter how you look at it.”
Senior linebacker Stevonte Tullis and senior quarterback Zion Webb represented a few of the senior players at the press conference on Tuesday. Both players spoke about the emotions behind playing their last two games here at Jacksonville State.
“I have mixed emotions about all of it,” Tulis said. “After practice we were just standing there looking around the stadium taking in the whole moment.”
The Gamecocks will host Eastern Kentucky this Saturday, November 12th. Kickoff will be at 1p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.