South Alabama Releases First Schedule And Holds Its First Practice In Pads

March 24, 2009 · By · Filed Under Football 
Jaguar going out for a pass - Photo by Doug Roberts

Jaguar going out for a pass - Photo by Doug Roberts

The University of South Alabama Jaguars continue on their road to playing Division I football today with the release of their first football schedule and their first practice of the spring in full pads.

South Alabama’s 2009 football schedule currently has games against a Division III school, two junior colleges and four prep schools. The Jaguars will have about 40-45 scholarship players on the roster in the fall but they will need a minimum of three seasons to reach the NCAA Division I-A/FBS limit of 85 scholarship student-athletes since the school can offer no more than 30 scholarships in one year from 2008-2010.

So, for the first two seasons of play, the jaguars will be an unclassified NCAA program before beginning a two-year transition to the NCAA Division I-A/FBS level and will count as a NCAA Division I-AA/FCS school on opponents schedules in 2011. But the following season (2012) they will be considered an NCAA Division I-A/FBS opponent for schools. Then in 2013, the Jaguars will be eligible for a bowl game and the Sun Belt Conference Championship for the first time in the schools history.

The Jaguars 2009 Football Schedule:

  • September    5th    4PM                Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy
  • September  26th   4PM                Army Prep School
  • October       10th    11:30AM      Georgia Military Junior College
  • October       17th    4PM                Louisburg (N.C.) Junior College
  • October       31st     4PM                Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy
  • November   7th     4PM                Milford (N.Y.) Academy
  • November  14th    4PM                Huntingdon (Ala.) College

Coach Jones and his staff put the players through a good workout on Tuesday with Coach Jones not wasting any time getting into contact drills. Even though the team was coming off a 10 day layoff due to Spring Break, it only took about 15 minutes to get into the contact.

Most of the time was devoted to actually running plays. The offense dressed out in blue jerseys while the defense dressed out in red jerseys.

After some warm-up drill periods, similar to what the Jags went through in the opening week of spring practice, coaches put defenders against skill position players in a pair of excercises. First were one-on-one tackling drills then later defensive players were forced to take on a blocker before reaching the ball carrier.

The first group contact drills started around half way through the workout. Offensive and defensive linemen battled each while they ran through inside handoffs. Later the running backs departed in order to take part in 7-on-7 skeleton passing drills.

Then with about 45 minutes left in the practice, they lined up for some 11-on-11, full contact drills for the first time. The defense intercepted three passes while knocking down several others while playing against both running and passing plays.

The offense and defensive squads were on opposite sidelines while practicing the formations and plays. They started with first and ten plays which leaned more towards shotgun formations and passing for a while. Then they transitioned to third down and four plays. These seemed to have a good mixture of running and passing both from the shotgun and from under center. Finally, they ended the practice working on red zone plays.

Coaches were rotating squads of players in and out depending on plays. Coach Craig would prepare a group to go in, then cycle them in and the other group off the field. They would repeat this cycle for a while to not only to teach the plays but also to work on getting groups onto and off of the field in game-like situations.

Overall the players seem to progressing at a good rate, which is very good considering how short spring practice is and how much this time means to the Jaguars new program. Coach Jones was pleased with the intensity level. He also like how the defense stepped up, which they should do the first day in pads. Coach Jones also said, “We improved a little bit offensively, but their timing was off because of the break.” However, what he was looking for was the intesity level and that was there.

Coach Crain had a few words to say about the defense and his linebackers, “We take a lot of pride on defense that we’re going to outhit you. If you’re going to be a great defensive football team, you have to win the contact battle.  I saw good contact today, guys hitting with their head up and I didn’t see anyone hit a player low. Football is not for everybody.  It’s a very physical, violent game.”

Coach Crain also commented on how excited the coaches are to finally have contact drills: “It’s been such a long haul.  It seems like we have been in shorts forever.” He continued, “I told my guys that this is like going to Disney World.  It’s a chance to be out doing something that has never been done at South Alabama.  If that doesn’t get you excited as a player or a coach, you shouldn’t be here.”

Probably the most important part of practicing in full pads is that the coaching staff can start to truly evaluate the players. Coach Jones said, “We’ll be able to watch tape tonight and tomorrow morning to evaluate each player.” He cautioned, “But, where they are right now is not where they are going to be.  Every one of them has to know that. I don’t care if they thought they did well today or if they played poorly, they just have to keep getting better.”

This week the Jaguars will continue practicing Wednesday and Thursday before taking part in the program’s first scrimmage on Friday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Go Jags!


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