The University of South Alabama held their National Signing Day this afternoon in the John Counts Room at the Mitchell Center. In addition to announcing the signees for the 2016 class, there was a big announcement from the from Jaguar Sports Properties and iHeartMedia.
The first announcement was by JSP and iHeartMedia concerning a new partnership between the two. Beginning April 2nd they will begin broadcasting on 99.5FM The Jag which will be a home for all sports and coaches shows in addition to a simulcast of The Uncle Henry show. Additionally they will be an affiliate of Fox Sports with shows by Rich Eisen (good stuff) and Colin Cowherd (groan).
The football broadcast will remain on Lite Mix 99.9, a 100,000 watt FM broadcast. While The Jag will only be a greater Mobile area broadcast (4,100 watts), it can be heard worldwide via the iHeartRadio app.
As for the signees, the Jags signed student-athletes that were committed to or recruited by schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma and West Virginia among others.
Riley Cole, 6’3″, 220-pound linebacker from Oneonta HS, Oneonta, Alabama. A three-star rating from all four national recruiting services and was considered the third-best outside linebacker in the state by Scout.com. He was committed to Alabama until, as reports surfaced that he was asked to grey shirt. Riley then signed with Alabama after decommitting. South Alabama’s relationship through the recruiting process landed Cole with the Jaguars.
Jalin Buie, 5’7″, 165-pound running back from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida. Buie was committed to Auburn before decommitting. He was also rated a three-star recruit by all four national recruiting services. He also ranked 12th nationally among all-purpose athletes by Rivals.com and 14th by 247sports.com. Jalin’s speed is fantastic, think J.D. McKissic from Arkansas State in the size and speed.
Chris Henderson, 6’4″ 232-pound defensive lineman from Lovejoy HS in Hampton Georgia. He was rated a three-star recruit by Scout.com and ESPN.com, he helped Lovejoy finish 4-1 in the region to qualify for the 6A playoffs as a senior. He recently decommitted from Indiana and also had offers from Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and Old Dominion.
Bobby Flott, 6’2″ 160-pound cornerback from Baker HS in Mobile, Alabama. Flott had interests from Alabama, Auburn and Oklahoma but he was a solid USA commit for some time. He adds some height in the secondary to go up against the tall receivers the Jags face.
Jared Stewart, a 5’10” 165-pound cornerback from Fultondale HS in Birmingham, Alabama. He was part of the varsity team since 8th grade. He was rated a two-star athlete from Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com and brother of ArDarius Stewart (Alabama). Stewart is recovering from a torn ACL and will not participate in spring drills but should be ready by fall camp. Stewart is already enrolled at USA.
Clay Burt, a 6’5″ 310-pound offensive lineman from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M. He was an All-Southwest Junior College Football Conference honorable mention selection as a sophomore. He is able to play all three positions on the line: center, guard and tackle. His size and strength will be useful to replace Cameron Blankenship.
Sean Brown, a 6’3″ 285-pound offensive lineman from Pleasant Grove HS in Pleasant Grove, Alabama. Also a three-star rating from Scout.com and 247sports.com. He was the top-rated center in Alabama. He was listed as a defensive lineman by USA. Brown had offers from several schools including Arkansas State, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Jacksonville State, Middle Tennessee State, Southern Miss and Troy.
Jay Woods, a 5’11” 180-pound cornerback from Pinson Valley HS in Pinson, Alabama. He was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com with Scout also rating him the fourth-best cornerback in the state. He had a long list of offers from the likes of Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Army, Jacksonville State, Marshall, Memphis, Middle Tennessee, Pitt, Southern Miss, UAB and Wake Forest among others. Woods is a dynamic player that can force fumbles, return kicks and cover well.
Jahmmir Taylor, a 5’11” 170-pound wide receiver from Hinds (MS) Community College with offers from Memphis, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss.
Darrell Songy, a 6’1″ 225-pound outside linebacker who originally signed with Oregon State and played during the 2013 freshman season, but ended up going to Garden City CC where he racked up 68 total stops and 11.5 stops for loss.
D’Tavieus Taylor, a 6’5″ 280-pound offensive lineman from Pearl HS and Hinds (MS) CC. Taylor earned honorable mention National Junior College Athletic Association All-American and a first-team MACJC All-State and All-Region as a sophomore. He also had offers from Houston, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State, North Texas and UT-San Antonio. He also had an official visit planned for West Virginia but he cancelled it when committed to USA.
Zac Crosby, a 6’4″ 210-pound tight end from The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida. He was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com and 247Sports.com. He caught 30 passes for 750 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior. He also had offers from Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Middle Tennessee among others. The coaches believe he will be similar to a Wes Saxton and Gerald Everett type player for the Jags.
Nick Fields, a 6’1″ 275-pound defensive lineman from Dothan HS in Dothan, Alabama earned a two-star rating from Rivals.com and 247Sports.com. He was invited to play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic after his senior season. He also had offers from Jacksonville State, Nevada and Alabama A&M. He was clocked as a 4.97 40-yard dash, a 5.0 shuttle and a 30″ vertical leap.
Diantae Thomas, a 5’11” 218-pound safety from Dothan HS by way of Butler (KS) CC. He primarily played on offense last season. He caught 23 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in addition to 115 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He brings an offensive mind to the defense where coaches think he will be a great fit.
Konnor Houston, a 6’4″ 225-pound linebacker from Army Prep. Houston posted 171 tackles and 15 hurries during his prep career helping Buford HS to three consecutive state titles. He actually signed back in December.
Taji Stewart, a 6’3″ 210-pound linebacker from Walton HS in Marietta, GA. He earned a two-star rating from Rivals.com and 247Sports.com after recording 79 tackles including six for a loss in HS.
Andrew Reinkemeyer, a 6’4″ 265-pound tight end from Butler (KS) CC. He recorded 15 catches for 173 yards and three touchdowns in 2014. He helped Butler CC go 8-3 and 15th in the final NJCAA rankings. He actually signed back in December. He will be a power blocker and will fill a necessary role on the offense.
Neiko Robinson, a 6′ 175-pound defensive back from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC. As a sophomore he recorded 44 total tackles and six pass breakups, the second-highest total on the team, and helped them to finish 8th in the final NJCAA poll.
Zach Befort, a 6’3″ 280-pound defensive lineman from Butler (KS) HS. He earned second-team All-Jayhawk Conference honors after 50 total tackles which included 8.5 of them for a loss. He signed back in December and had offers from Idaho, Louisiana-Monroe, Tulsa, Ball State and others.
Romello Riley, a 6’3″ 245-pound defensive end from Mississippi State Gulf Coast CC. He finished with 30 total tackles in nine games during his sophomore season, five of them for a loss and three sacks. He was also a December signee with offers from Arkansas State and Troy.
After back-to-back loses, the South Alabama Jaguars (5-6, 3-4 SBC) have one last shot at guaranteeing themselves a spot in postseason play when they host Appalachian State (9-2, 3-4 SBC) on Saturday.
The Jags went on the road to Georgia State on November 21st and lost a 10 point lead en route to falling 24-10 to the Panthers. Then after the Jags took an early 7-0 lead at Georgia Southern last Saturday, the Eagles came to life in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead into halftime. USA would only manage a field goal in the second half on the way to a 55-17 loss at the hands of the Eagles triple-option attack.
In the regular season finale, the Jags will host Appalachian State for Senior Day and needing a win to guarantee a bowl slot. With 80 bowl slots in games, only 75 teams have achieved bowl eligibility with three teams vying to get their sixth win and earn bowl eligibility this weekend.
Basically, it’s win or stay home for the Jaguars.
“The players are taking this week very personal,” head coach Joey Jones said in his Monday press conference. “They want to win. They want to get into a bowl game, that’s one of our goals obviously. We’re going to be all in this game, and the guys will be ready. You can tell a lot of those guys know it’s their last chance.”
But the Appalachian State team they will be facing is not the same team they faced last season in Boone, NC. Defensively they are leading the conference in the fewest amount of points allowed.
“They are very active up front and do a lot of things out of a three-man front – a lot of blitzes,” Coach Jones explained. “They are much more diverse than they were last year. They play zone coverage extremely well. That’s one thing that they are really good at. They drop to their spots, break on the ball and have fast guys back there who do a good job. Offensively, they are really good running the football. They execute very well. Their passing game is not the most complex in the world, but they really know how to do it. Their offense is really methodical about what they do. They have a lot of long drives and move the ball down the field consistently.”
Jags Defeat Georgia State 4-0 For Third-Consecutive SBC Title
The South Alabama Jaguar soccer team earned their their consecutive Sun Belt Conference title with a 4-0 win over Georgia State on Sunday to punch their card to the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Rio Hardy scored the lone goal in the first half with help by Danielle Henley who drove a low cross to Hardy who hit it home.
Just three minutes into the second half Sophomore Chelsea Followwell hit home a loose ball in front of the net after a corner kick at the 60:36 mark.
Charde Hannah took advantage of a defensive miscue at the 63:35 mark to make it a 3-0 lead. The final score came in the 85th minute when Nini Rabsatt-Smith headed the ball into the net on a corner kick from freshman Jemma Purfield.
“I’m obviously delighted that we managed to win,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “I was really happy because usually at this time of the year, it’s about the result and not the performance, but today we put in a fantastic performance and got a fantastic result. I was really happy for the girls; it means a lot to them and to me to lift the trophy again.
“We’re scoring lots of goals and they’re coming from lots of areas,” Winkworth noted. “They really showed up today; it was maybe one of our stronger performances of the season.”
The Jags had five players named to the All-Tournament team: Sophomore Ashlynn Jones, senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith, Sophomore Rio Hardy, sophomore Charde Hannah and junior Sarah Hay. Hannah was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
“All five of them were crucial to our success, but in all honesty, we could have picked anyone that played this weekend,” Winkworth said. “Those five humble young ladies would be the first to admit that if it wasn’t for the squad that we’ve got, they wouldn’t be receiving those awards this weekend and we wouldn’t be taking the big one home.”
“We were solid from front to back,” Winkworth said. “The forwards worked hard limiting quality longballs from their back line and the midfield pressed extremely well. The defense dropped when they needed to drop and intercepted passes rather than needing to make tackles. Only once did they get in behind us, and when that happened, Sarah pulled off an excellent save on a 1-on-1. All in all, I’m very happy with the defensive performance from front to back.”
South Alabama Set To Host LSU In First Round Of NCAA Tournament
On Monday afternoon, the Jags learned their fate for the NCAA Tournament from the Division I Women’s Soccer Committee and it was not only historic for South Alabama, but also for the Sun Belt Conference.
South Alabama will host LSU for the first-round match on Saturday night. The first in South Alabama history and also the first in Sun Belt Conference history.
This will be the Jags third consecutive tournament appearance and enter the tournament with a 17-2-2 record overall and a 14-match unbeaten streak.
“This is huge,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We’ve created something very special here. It wouldn’t have matter who they sent us, we’d have been excited to have a game on campus. We need the whole community to come out on Saturday and cheer us on.
“It will be great for our community to have such a big team coming into town. We know a lot of people will think they’re the big favorites coming from the SEC, however, we feel like we’ve got a good product here as well. We hope it’ll be an excellent game and hopefully we’ll get the right result.”
LSU (13-5-4) earned their way into the postseason for the first time since 2011 after advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. The Tigers lead the all-time series against USA 5-4 with wins in their last three meetings, the most recent in 2010.
With the Jaguar Football team’s game on Thursday night, the Saturday night date against LSU is a great opportunity to support the Lady Jaguars in their quest for a National Title.
Tickets are $7 for Adults, $3 for Seniors, Children between 2-12 are also $3 and Children under 2 are Free.
Student tickets are also $3 however the first 300 students are able to claim free tickets on a first-come, first served basis Saturday night when the gates open by showing a valid student ID.
Tickets can be purchased over the phone only by calling 251.461.1USA (1872). All tickets will be held for pickup on Saturday night and no tickets will be distributed before the match. Gates will open 90 minutes prior to the match.
The match is scheduled for 7pm on Saturday.
All tickets will be general admission and grandstand seating is first-come-first served. Fans are recommended to bring portable outdoors chairs with them.
Homecoming was looking as dreary as the weather on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the Jaguars were facing a 24-0 deficit midway through the second quarter when the got the spark they needed. Xavier Johnson provided that spark with a 41 yard kickoff return on the ensuing kickoff with more to come.
The Jags would drive down to the Idaho 1 yard line and be turned away on fourth down with 2:30 left in the opening half. The Jaguar defense would then stand tall and force a three and out with the Jaguars using timeouts to force the Vandals to punt and give the Jaguars a short field with just 1:58 left until halftime.
Then the Jaguars used the spark that Johnson provided jump start a two-minute drive for points just before halftime. It began with a Cody Clements pass to Chris Lewis for 9 yards and into Idaho territory before stepping out of bounds. Terrance Timmons took the handoff four yards for the first down before Clements came back and found Marvin Shinn for 20 yards to the Idaho 25 before going out of bounds to stop the clock. Clements found Danny Woodson for 19 more yards to the Idaho 6 yard line before he too stepped out of bounds. The drive would be capped off by a 6 yard slant pass to Shinn for the touchdown. The 5 play, 58 yard drive would only take :38 off the clock but the Vandals were content to go into halftime with a 24-7 lead.
Johnson, after providing the spark to get the Jags in gear, would lit them on fire by taking the second-half kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown to further cut the Vandal lead to 24-14.
After exchanging a number of punts, the Jags Josh Magee would take a Vandal punt by 22 yards before fumbling near midfield which was recovered by Idaho in front of their bench. But Blake Dees was having none of it as two plays later he forced Elijhaa Penny to fumble, which Devon Earl would pick up and scamper 57 yards to the endzone with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
The defense would keep their pace by forcing another three and out, but this time the Jaguars freshman cornerback Jalen Thompson would block the kick with Margo Reed covering it at and returning it six yards to the Vandal 6 yard line. Cody Clements would take the next snap into the endzone untouched to give the Jaguars a 28-24 lead with 3:08 left in the third quarter.
Idaho was not ready to give up as quarterback Matt Linehan would continue he passing clinic with a 32 yard strike to Hightower on third down to keep the drive alive. Three plays later Penny would take it into the endzone from 19 yards out to regain the lead 31-28 with :44 left in the third quarter to set up a fourth quarter for the Jaguar history books.
The Jags would lean on their rushing attack that began with a nine yard gain by Johnson to end the third quarter then continue with runs of 5 and 18 by Tyreis Thomas and runs of 7, 13, and 1 by Timmons before Clements took the air to find Gerald Everett for a 16 yard touchdown to give USA the lead once more with 13:14 left in the game at 35-31.
The ensuing kickoff would bounce off Idaho’s Rueben Mwehla’s shoulder pads to be recovered by Jaguars Buford-Hughes at the Vandal 9 yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct call on Shinn, in addition to a four yard loss on the play set the Jaguars back at the 29 with the goal to go. USA would settle for a 41 yard field goal by Aleem Sunanon with 11:47 left in the game to take a 38-31 lead.
The vandals would drive out to their 49 yard line before Margo Reed would make a great over-the-shoulder interception at the Jaguar 16 before going out of bounds.
Johnson would bust out a 50 yard run to the Idaho 34 yard line on the first play of the drive to set up Clements to find D.J. Vinson for a 14 yard touchdown a few plays later to put USA up by two scores at 45-31 with 7:42 left in the game.
The Vandals would only need 1:59 to answer with a touchdown of their own to make the game a one-score game again at 45-38.
Chris Lewis would return the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Jaguar 39 to set up Xavier Johnson for another huge play. Johnson would take the handoff on the first and only play of the drive 61 yards for a touchdown to put the Jaguars up 52-38 with 5:19 left in the game.
Linehan was not done either.
He would throw and run his way to the Jaguar 18 before he combined with Penny to help get down to the 1 yard line before he called his own number and took it in to cut the Jaguar lead to one score once again at 52-45.
Braedon Bowman would cover up the onside kick attempt allowing the Jaguars to take the victory formation and end the game.
Clements was an efficient 11-of-19 for 114 yards and two touchdowns while Linehan went 26-of-39 for 317 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Elijha Penny rushed 35 times for 135 yards and two touchdowns. Linehan added 49 yards on 8 carries and two touchdowns.
Xavier Johnson had 9 carries for 148 yards and a touchdown to go along with 141 yards in kick returns to give him 289 all-purpose yards for the game. Tyreis Thomas had 15 carries for 88 yards, Timmons added 33 yards on seven carries, Clements added 29 yards on seven carries as well.
“That was big,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones stated about the score just before halftime. “We were down on the one-foot line and didn’t score, and called three timeouts and got the ball back. We drove down and scored, and that was big; some good things happened there. You just have to keep plugging, you have to go to the next play. What are you going to do about the last play? Nothing — you have to move forward, and our guys learned a big lesson tonight. I think they knew that, but they really understand it now.”
“That score really sparked us and turned our whole momentum around,” Clements added. “As a team though, we fought so hard the whole game tonight and we never let up. We knew it was a four-quarter game and that you have to play all 60 minutes. The score at the end of the game is what matters.”
“We just kept telling ourselves that we had to keep the motor going. That’s what we’ve been preaching all week,” Blake Dees commented. “You can’t ever give up. Giving up isn’t something we do here at South Alabama. Getting down like we did early kind of sucked, but we persevered and kept going and never gave up.”
“We needed to make a few changes, and just do our job,” Devon Earl added. “In the first half, I don’t think guys were doing their jobs. We came in at halftime and talked it over, and it all came together in the second half.”
“I want to commend our football players for the guts and mental toughness to be able to come back in a game like that,” Coach Jones stated. “Everything was going wrong there for a quarter-and-a-half, and we just got it turned. The big kickoff return gave us a spark, and the kids came back and kept fighting. Sometimes you can’t play four quarters of football the way you want to, and you just have to deal with it. Nobody panicked, and that was the biggest thing. Had we panicked, I think we might have lost that ballgame.
“We just beat a good team; they have a really good offense obviously. They have a great quarterback and running back, they moved the ball up and down the field. What a win for our program to be able to come back and take another step toward a bowl [game].”
“Overall, I just can’t believe it,” said Vandal head coach Paul Petrino. “I really thought we had a great game plan, and we came out and executed it really well, both offensively and defensively. You can’t give up a kickoff return for a touchdown, a blocked punt and a fumble. Even after all that, we still came back and scored twice. We just had to get one stop, and we had the chance.
“I think everybody sees how much better we are; the program is on the right track to be a really good football team, but to have two games in a row end like that is really sad.”
Johnson’s kickoff return for a touchdown was the first since J.J. Keel in 2010. It was the first game that the offense, defense and special teams scored since defeating Pikeville on September 4, 2010. The game set a new record for largest deficit overcome in a victory surpassing the 14 point deficit the Jags overcame to defeat Florida Atlantic on October 20, 2013 for their first FBS win. It also set a record for most combined points scored with 97, surpassing the previous record by 15.
South Alabama will have a short week of preparation as they host Louisiana-Lafayette on Thursday at 6:30pm in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
The South Alabama soccer team watched two leads slip away during regulation play but sophomore Sarah Hay made the key stop in the 11th round of penalty kicks to put the Jaguars in the Sun Belt Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament Final over Appalachian State on Friday night.
USA, the top-seed in the tournament, for the third consecutive season to face #6 seed Georgia State who defeated Troy also on penalty kicks.
While the match goes down as a 2-2 draw and ended the Jaguars 11 match win streak, but the 13 match unbeaten streak stays alive.
There were only two misses in the shootout before Hay’s final save. Early in the shootout, App. State’s Kate Ward was stopped by Hay in the second round and sophomore Chelsea Fallowwell’s attempt was stopped by Megan Roberson in the fourth to even it up.
Jaguar freshman Jemma Purfield put the Jags up 10-9 to set up Hay for game-winning stop.
Charde Hannah put the Jags on the board first in the 25th minute after sophomore Ashlynn Jones took control of an App. State goal kick and quickly fed Hannah.
The Mountaineers would respond just over 7.5 minutes later on a free kick from Ward in the upper left corner. Both teams would go to halftime knotted at 1 goal each.
It looked as though sophomore Danielle Henley had won the game for the Jags at the 60:32 mark when a header by senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith was saved off the line but the rebound went to Henley who knocked it home.
Appalachian State managed only two shots in the next 27 minutes before a cross from the byline by Jane Cline was parried by Hay, who was unable to corral it. Then Sam Childress beat Hay to the ball and punch it in at 88:02 mark.
“I’m really pleased that we managed to find a way through to the next round, which is a characteristic the girls have shown all season long – they’ve managed to find a way, but our performance wasn’t up to scratch today,” Jaguar head coach Graham Winkworth said. “We need to make sure we do a better job on Sunday in the final.
“Despite not playing our best soccer though, we still managed to hit the bar, had a couple saved off the line and had a goal disallowed, so we created chances but they didn’t fall for us. At the same time, we managed to do that and not play our best soccer, so I’m encouraged knowing that there’s more to come from us.”
“We’ve got to do a better job of managing the game,” Winkworth noted. “With two minutes to go, we’re making poor decisions at the back, whether we’re playing short when it should’ve gone long, or not putting it out of play and trying to do too much out of the back. When there’s two minutes to go, you have to make quality decisions to manage the game well.
“We’ll talk about it, but to be honest, these girls have done so much for us all season, they’re all entitled to a mistake now and again. We’ll brush that off and think about all of the positives that they’ve done today.”
USA won the shots balle 23-8, including 22-6 in regulation, but only got eight on frame compared to four for the Mountaineers.
“It was opposite of the other day (in the quarterfinals), because we weren’t clinical in front of goal,” Winkworth said. “We should have put them away early in the game. The fact that it was tied at halftime, that wasn’t a fair reflection of the first half. We didn’t take our chances and we didn’t put them away; we came in at halftime disappointed to be level. But like I told the girls, we were the team on the ascendency trying to win the match, and that positive attitude will be rewarded.”
The Jags will face Georgia State at noon on Sunday for the Conference Championship. The game can be seen on ESPN3.com.
The win was the largest ever for the Jaguar program in postseason play.
The Cajuns opened the scoring early on a loose ball in the goalmouth following a throw-in. Just 1:35 after the Cajun’s score, Rio harded headed home a cross shot from senior Alyssa Mayer. Sophomore Charde Hannah put the Jags ahead with her team-best eighth goal of the year in the 29th minute on a breakaway from sophomore Steffi Hardy.
Sophomore Ashlynn Jones recorded a second-half brace. She opened the scoring in the second half in the 57th minute on a breakaway by taking a long pass from senior Nini Rabsatt-Smith and putting a low shot past the goalkeeper.
Then just over four and a half minutes later Jones took a pass from freshman Jemma Purfield and put in the left side of the net to put the Jaguars up 4-1.
The fifth score for the Jags started with junior goalkeeper Sarah Hay gathered in a Cajun free kick then distributed it to Purfield who found Jones in the middle. Jones would pass it off to senior Jordan Duncan who slipped it past the defender to sophomroe Danielle Henley who would put it in the net from just inside the 18-yard box past the goalkeeper who was rushing the ball.
Sophie Haywood slit two defenders and found Duncan who put it in the net int he 76th minute. Junior Anisa Patterson finished off the scoring in the 84th minute off of a deflected ball from junior Nikki Shirtcliffe.
South Alabama has scored 16 goals in the last three matches. In the game, 13 of the Jaguars 16 shots found their target with seven of them coming in the second half.
“I thought we did well,” head coach Graham Winkworth said of the teams play. “We started off a bit slowly, getting used to the change in surface, but I thought the girls handled it very well. Overall, I was pleased with the result and the performance wasn’t too bad at all.
What pleased me is the level of play didn’t drop once we made a number of changes,” Winkworth saod. “I thought it was good that we were able to get everybody some playing time and we continued to play attractive soccer even after making a lot of changes. It just shows that team is not about whoever starts the match, but it’s a squad game and I was really pleased with the squad overall today.”
“Appalachian is a very good team,” Winkworth said of their next opponent. “They have a lot of depth and use a lot of numbers. They work extremely hard and are well-coached, so I think it will be a very tough game.”
The top seeded Jaguars will face #4 seed Appalachian State on Friday at 3pm for a spot in the Championship Match on Sunday against the winner between #2 seed Troy and #6 seeded Georgia State.
After a week off to rest and heal from all the bumps and bruises that accumulate through the grind of a college football season, the Jaguars continue preparing to host a much improved Idaho team for homecoming on Saturday.
The Jags are coming off of tough 36-18 road loss to Texas State, in what was a rainy mess of a game, and look to get back on the winning side coming down the stretch.
The team and coaches can put the tumultuous month of October behind them and start fresh in November. The worst part of October was the total disruption of their schedule, it varied from week to week. They had a long layoff to play a Tuesday night game, then another long layoff to play a Saturday game. Now they hit reset on all that flipping of schedules and concentrate on a more normal game week.
Last season the Jags went to Moscow, Idaho and defeated the Vandals in the Kibbie Dome, that Vandal team finished the season 1-10. Head coach Paul Petrino has his team playing much better this year as they are sitting at 3-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play with wins over Troy and Louisiana-Monroe under their belt. Though they lost last Saturday to New Mexico State, which snapped the Aggies streak of 15 consecutive losses.
The Vandals offense has really spurred their improvement this season. Petrino, brother of Bobby Petrino, ran the offense for his brother at Arkansas and Louisville and is the same offense the Jaguars faced when USA played Western Kentucky a few years ago. Jaguar head coach Joey Jones understands it to a point, but is quick to point out that it’s very complex and they do lots of things differently, more so than any team the Jags have faced.
Texas State was a very uncharacteristic game for the Jaguars as they were hit with 10+ penalties in the first half. They had more penalties and yards in the first half than they have averaged all season long or more than they have committed in a single game all season.
South Alabama (3-3, 1-1 SBC) travels to San Marcos, Texas to face Texas State (1-4, 0-1 SBC) this weekend. South Alabama opened their conference schedule with an emotional, hard fought win over rival Troy before returning home for a hard fought loss to Arkansas State on October 13 where the Jaguars went from leading the Red Wolves by 11 early in fourth quarter to losing by 18.
Meanwhile the Bobcats enter the game after an off week since their loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on October 10.
In only two games between the two teams, there have been plenty of fireworks between the two. In 2013 the Jags traveled to TSU and took a 31-30 lead but saw the game slip away when the Bobcats converted a 41-yard field goal with :04 left in the game.
Then last season the Jaguars took a 24-17 lead early in the fourth quarter and had to hold off a potential game-winning drive that saw quarterback Tyler Jones’ pass on 2nd-and-goal on the four yard line fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired to give the Jaguars a 24-20 win. But it also gave the Jaguars bowl eligibility and a bowl invitation.
The Bobcats finished the season 7-5 but without a bowl invitation. Now they want to get revenge on the Jaguars.
Both team have needed the extra time between games to heal. Texas State will reportedly be without a starting offensive lineman and one of their top two running backs. Meanwhile the Jaguars bumped and bruised offensive line has had a chance to get some rest.
Offensive lineman Cameron Blankenship will miss the game and possibly up to three weeks after a knee injury required minor surgery following the loss to Arkansas State. Running back Xavier Johnson missed most of the ASU game with an injured foot but is expected to be ready by Saturday. Additionally, Antiono Carter will finally be able to return to the field after missing the first half of the season due to a preseason injury.
By the Numbers
The Texas State defense ranks last in the conference in Scoring Defene, Total Defense, Pass Defense and Pass Defense Efficency, Interceptions, Kickoff Coverage, Field Goal Percentage, Opponents 3rd Down Conversions and ranks 8th (out of 11) in Rush Defense.
If the numbers are telling, the Jaguars have a great opporunity to move the ball and score this weekend, which they may need because the Bobcat offense ranks in the top half of the conference offensively.
South Alabama’s defense ranks second in the conference against the pass, allowing under 190 yards per game whiel ranking third in the conference in pass efficiency defense (130.22 rating). Roman Buchanan and Kalen Jackson both have two interceptions each, while E.J. May and Jalen Thompson have broken up four and three passes respectively.
The Jaguar defense only allowed 345 yards to Arkansas State in their last game, which put their season average under 400 yards per game. Texas State’s offense averages 458.4 yards per game (3rd in the conference) and 34 points per game (also 3rd) and is second in the conference with an average of 258.2 yards per game passing.
Tyler Jones leads the Bobcat offense with 1,501 yards of total offense. He has completed 62.3% of his passes for 1,154 yards while being his teams leading rusher with 347 yards and five touchdowns on just 58 attempts. He ranks second in the conference in total offense and is among the top five in passing yards per game and efficiency while ranking eighth in rushing.
Meanwhile Cody Clements threw for a career high 273 yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas State. He ranks third in the conference in passing yards per game (234 ypg), sixth in total offense (226.7 ypg) and seventh in passing efficency (123.5).
Josh Magee is fifth in the conference in receiving yards on only 14 catches for 402 yards. His only catch against ASU went 76 yards for a touchdown. Gerald Everett is right behind Magee in sixth place with 375 yards on 26 catches. His seven touchdowns puts him in the top 10 in scoring as well as catches per game.
The Jaguar run game is led by Xavier Johnson and Tyreis Thomas. Johnson leads the team with 410 yards rushing while Thomas has 251 yards.
Head coach Joey Jones cautioned that USA will not be able to just show up and win. “With the teams they’ve played — Florida State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss — they have had a tough schedule and a tough road. They are very good on offense, but they lost their defensive coordinator a couple of weeks ago and are trying to fix things. I know (head coach) Dennis Franchione very well, he’s a great competitor who is going to have his team ready so we are looking forward to a great ballgame.”
Jones understands the team hurts when they lose, but they already have a lot to pull from this season such as their big road wins against San Diego State and Troy. “When you go through a season there are going to be times when you do make mistakes and lose ballgames, you saw that this weekend across the country,” Jones stated.
One thing the Jaguars have to do in order to win: run the ball. “If you look at the games we’ve won we have run the ball well,” Jones said. “We didn’t run the ball well against Arkansas State. In the fourth quarter when you are ahead you have to run the football to run the clock, and we didn’t do that. But we ran the ball well against San Diego State and against Troy, and that translated into wins, so we know that we have to be able to run the football. Our coaches know that and our players know that.”
In the teams three wins they have rushed for over 200 yards per game on average. But in their losses, they have rushed for an average of just over 30 yards per game.
Look for South Alabama to try to establish the run and soften up the defense with some big passes downfield. Texas State’s pass defense has obviously been susceptable to the pass all season, but the unknown is how they will respond after the loss of their defensive coordinator recently.
The Jaguar defense, led by Roman Buchanan and Kalen Jackson, have played very well the last few games. They will be tested by the Bobcats and their variety of looks and ability to score points.
South Alabama started their conference schedule with a win over Troy last weekend and brought home the championship belt in its debut between the two schools. Jaguar fans traveled well and made their voices hear in Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The Jaguars will host Arkansas State on Tuesday evening for a nationally televised game with big implications for the conference.
The Red Wolves are perineally in the mix for the conference championship and have represented the Sun Belt Conference in the GoDaddy Bowl in each of the last four seasons.
One of these two teams will suffer their first conference loss of season.
The Jaguars fell behind early and the Red Wolves capitalized on three interceptions and a fumble recovery to defeat the Jaguars 45-10 in Jonesboro, Arkansas. ASU rushed for 227 yards and threw for 186 more while the Jaguars only managed 90 yards passing and 111 on the ground. It was the second loss in a row as they were trying to get bowl eligible. The team regrouped and won a hard fought game against Texas State the next week to get bowl eligible and eventually earn their first-ever bowl invitation.
After replacing 17 starters, the Jaguars seem to be meshing well and getting ready for the remainder of their conference schedule. They had painful setbacks against Nebraska and NC State, but showed guts and determination in both games despite the score. That work could pay dividends throughout the rest of the season.
On the other hand, Arkansas State has florished through uncertainty. This is the first season the Red Wolves has had the same head coach since 2010. Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin all spent just one season in Jonesboro before moving on to bigger programs.
South Alabama’s start against NC State had the fans excited. Cody Clements connected with Chris Lewis for a 47 yard gain on the opening play and a couple plays later Clements found Gerald Everett for an 11 yard touchdown pass to put the Jaguars up 7-0 less than two minutes into the game.
However, except for two field goals, the rest of the scoring would be all Wolfpack.
NC State came in and showed why they were undefeated on the season, why they came into the game averaging over 440 yards per game and why they averaged over 40 points per game. They were undoubtedly the best team the Jaguars have ever faced in their short history and the scoreboard reflected that with the Jaguars worst loss in program history, 63-13.
But the story is not all doom and gloom and the score might indicate. The Jaguars found found opportunities to throw the ball downfield. Clements finished 14-of-33 for 201 yards and a touchdown, but he also had two interceptions. Lewis hauled in the longest pass for a Jaguar at 47 yards, but D.J. Vinson also had a catch for 45 yards and Marvin Shinn hauled one in for a 36 yard gain as they took advantage of deep opportunities. However the running game could never get going as the Jags only managed 45 yards rushing.
But now the second, and most important, part of the season begins: Conference play.