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Former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez wins debut with Jacksonville State


RichRod is back in charge, and he might have himself a pretty decent team to work with.

Former Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez had a successful debut on Saturday afternoon with his new program, Jacksonville State, which beat Stephen F. Austin 42-17 in Montgomery, Ala.

Jacksonville State is an FCS program that plays in the Atlantic Sun Conference but will be moving up to FBS and Conference USA in 2023.

The Gamecocks were down 17-7 late in the second quarter before scoring 35 consecutive points, including 14 in the final 1:56 of the first half. For the game they gained 484 yards, including 285 on the ground, with quarterback Zion Webb scoring three rushing touchdowns.

And that was in only a little more than three quarters. Lightning caused the game to be called off early in the fourth quarter

Rodriguez, 59, coached Arizona from 2012-17, going 43-35 with a Pac-12 South title in 2014 and five bowl appearances. Since being fired in January 2018 he’s spent time as offensive coordinator at Ole Miss and Louisiana-Monroe, with his son (and former UA quarterback Rhett Rodriguez) playing for him at ULM.

We couldn’t find any footage of RichRod losing his mind on the sidelines, but he was in full character during the postgame press conference.

It wasn’t nearly as great a debut for one of RichRod’s old assistants at the UA. Charlie Ragle, who was on the Wildcats’ staff from 2012-16, saw his Idaho State team get crushed 52-21 at UNLV.

One bright spot for the Bengals was the play of ex-UA receiver Jalen Johnson, who had three catches for 69 yards including a 55-yard TD.