Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2009-02-18

February 19, 2009 · By · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show 
Artists rendering of what Ladd-Peebles Stadium could look like in the fall.

Brian sitting in for Lee Shirvanian who is heading to Tennessee with the basketball team for a matchup with MTSU. In the studio at Wings Sports Grill is Coach Joey Jones and the new Offensive Coordinator for the South Alabama Jaguars, Coach Greg Gregory.

Coach Jones was the Grand Marshal of the Mardi Gras parade Wednesday night. At the end of last week, Coach Jones announced Greg Gregory as the new Offensive Coordinator for the Jaguars. Coach Jones said he tried to stay patient in the light of how important the position was on the staff. He wanted to fill it as soon as possible so the players can start to get to know him, his philosophy and start getting stuff together. But he also did not want to rush to fill the position with just anyone. Coach Jones wanted to get a good coach with the philosophy that he wanted that fit the players and the staff he already has in place.

Coach Jones and Coach Gregory have very similar philosophies. Both feel that a balanced offense is a necessity to keep the defenses from targeting the run or the pass. Coach Jones did not want a coach that was of the fun-n-gun mentality who throws every down and has only a handful of running plays. But he did not want a coach that ran the wishbone either. Probably above all, Coach Gregory wanted to be at USA. He wanted to be part of a new start-up program. Obviously he has been around that with his time at South Florida, which is to date the fastest program from inception to playing Division I-A football in the history of the NCAA.

Coach Gregory said that he and Coach Jones talked about a month ago and some things happened at USF as well. He said it was not negative but from what I have gathered online he may have talked with Urban Meyer at Florida about the open OC position there and Coach Leavitt stripped him of the Offensive Coordinator name and/or duties. Coach Gregory also said that it has been a goal of his to be at a program that is starting its football program. He wants to be a part of starting a quality program and be there when the history is made and when the traditions are started.

Brian asked the question that everyone wants to know obviously, what the offense going to resemble when we see the Jaguars take the field this fall. Coach Gregory said they want to be pretty balanced. Last season at South Florida they ran the ball a little over 500 times and threw the ball somewhere in the 400’s which is pretty balanced. The passing game yielded a little more yardage than the running game but was still pretty close. But his goal for the offense is to be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want on the field. Being able to run the ball or throw the ball in any given situation really gives the offense a huge advantage over the defense and allows them to dictate the pace and tempo of the game. They also want to have the tough, hard-nosed element as well as the exciting element of the game. This translates into them having the ability to run through or over someone for those tough yards but also having the spark for an 80 yard run or pass reception for a touchdown.

During Coach Spurrier’s time at Florida their offense was seen as a passing offense however if you look back at the play breakdown, they probably passed about 60% of the time and ran about 40% of the time. Plus if you look at the yardage breakdown it would roughly be about the same. However their offense was perceived at a passing offense. The coach can craft the image of the offense to be what he wants it to be and Spurrier wanted it to be perceived that way. Their philosophy was to throw early and run late so they would throw the ball to open up the running game. So they were still a pretty balanced offense but not in the conventional manner.

But really what it boils down to is doing what it takes to win game. If it takes throwing the ball to win games, you want to be able to throw the ball well. If it takes running the ball and grinding out yards then you want to be able to do that well also. Additionally it’s a team sport, so the offense cannot just do what it wants to do at the expense of the offense. An offense cannot pass and throw interceptions all game long and expect the defense to bail them out every time. But in a similar way the defense cannot blitz every down and give up quick touchdowns and expect the offense to bail them out as well.

A listener called in asking about how important is it for USA to get a stadium on campus. Obviously, if it were not for Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile we still may not have college football at USA and Coach Jones also acknowledged this. He went on to say that there are possible plans for a stadium on campus but nothing solid and also nothing in the near future. Teams who have gone with on campus stadiums tend to have larger student turnout for the games. Currently, they (the staff and players) are only focused on playing at Ladd-Peebles. South Florida play in Raymond-James Stadium which is the Tampa Bay Bucs stadium which is obviously off campus so Coach Gregory is familiar with this type of setup.

In the Sunday edition of the Mobile Press-Register, there was an article about a group of people from the C.P. Newdome Foundation that that wants to build an extensive network of sports facilities in the county for a price that could reach $1 Billion. Included in their plan was a 50,000 seat stadium. When brought up by Brian, Coach Jones said he had not heard of it which was not surprising since he has been working diligently on the recruiting class announced recently. Most small Division I-A schools average about 25,000 per game Coach Jones said. With USA playing at Ladd-Peebles, which seats 40,646 (but is said to have a maximum of capacity of 50,000), it will be very good if every game is a sell-out.

While the size would be great, he acknowledged he does not know anything about it. However my thoughts about it is, yes it sounds nice if it comes to fruition, however the place they have been talking about building it is less than ideal to say the least. Their idea is for more than 1,000 acres near Interstate 10 and McDonald Road which is, at the shortest distance, is at least 15 miles from both campus and downtown Mobile and is roughly a 40 minute commute from campus. If a location that is large enough could be found that is closer to the campus or downtown Mobile, then I think it would be a more realistic dream but at the moment I think this is still a dream in this groups mind.

Brian said that he has gone on record before saying that Ladd-Peebles stadium is not the nicest facility in North America but it is located in a good place. It is close to what is happening downtown as well as the nice hotels like the Battlehouse which is where they put recruits when they visited Mobile.  However, campus is where everyone wants to build a stadium but, as he was saying, $20-30 Million dollars could be invested in Ladd-Peebles to make it a much nicer facility and it would satisfy South Alabama’s needs for several years to come.

Coach Jones said he likes where it is and the tradition behind the stadium as well. He had several recruits make their official visit to USA over Senior Bowl weekend and while he could not give them tickets to the game, he did get to let them on the sidelines at one point and he credited that as a great recruiting tool for them. He does not have any negatives about Ladd-Peebles Stadium however it will be the President’s choice ultimately about future stadium possibilities.

Coach Gregory said he does not believe that the stadium being off campus (or being Ladd-Peebles Stadium) makes that much difference in where they choose to go play. It is about the coaches, the environment and the school.

Coach Gregory was asked about the offense again and he was talking about his previous experience how his team went from like a regular I formation offense to a wishbone offense from one year to the next. But they had experience with the offense and college ball. At USA with a new program it’s a bit different. Coach Gregory said he has to keep in mind how much can they put it, play wise, for the offense. That will depend on how well the players internalize the offense and the plays as to how much he can get installed before the fall.

Most teams by now at least have some idea of who is going to start under center at quarterback or as running back and so forth. But in USA’s case, these are all unknowns. Coach Gregory hardly knows their names right now much less who is going to start where. But all the players will have a chance and the good ones will come to top.

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