Coach Jones alluded to the Jags making some really good strides on the practice field. He said, “We really have had great practices. The last three days of last week were tremendous, we came out this week ready to go, and the kids are practicing at a high level. Usually that transfers into games, so I’m not worried.”
On Monday they practiced in shells for almost two hours then returned to full pads on Tuesday and Wednesday before cutting back to just helmets for Thursday’s practice which lasted about an hour. Coach Jones further noted about the weeks’ practice by saying, “It’s been a good practice schedule, they came to work every day and we’re executing very well too. One of the concerns on defense is they run a lot of formations offensively, and we’re trying to make sure we adjust to those formations correctly.”
Things to note about today’s match-up against Fork Union.
Look for the Jags to come out and throw more passes. Coach Jones remarked over the last couple weeks that they want to be more balanced instead of leaning so much on the run as they have the previous four games. But the Jags offense will also be tested by the Fork Union defense, which is probably their strong point.
Also look for the Jags defense to really get after the Fork Union quarterback and put some pressure on him. Coach Clark thinks that if they can get pressure on the quarterback then they can cause some mistakes and turnovers.
Jags and Fork Union kick off at 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Coach Jones called in for a few minutes during the show while he was traveling to Birmingham. But Lee Shirvanian was joined at Baumhower’s Wings Restaurant by Coach Crain, Coach Craig and Coach Rodrigue. Coach Crain and Coach Rodrigue both got the Joey Jones Plate (AKA the black and white chicken) while Coach Craig ordered the grilled chicken.
The coaches mentioned that they practiced this morning from about 5:30am until about 9:00am and had a really good practice.
Lee asked Coach Jones about Fork Union Academy which he said they were very athletic on defense and will definitely be a challenge for the Jags on offense. Lee then asked Coach Jones and the rest of the staff on hand if the players would favor the flurry of games coming up, three in 12 days. Coach Jones said that he thinks they want to play games and that they will favor this. Typically coaches think they need more practice time while players are ready to play. Coach Rodrigue said that he thought that having a game at the end of a week of practice helps to keep them focused and interested. While Coach Crain said that an open week is good especially to recover from playing week after week and the bumps and bruises you get during a normal schedule. But he likes to get into game week and scheme and do everything that goes with that.
One of the South Alabama marketing people came on and said that they were asking tailgaters to decorate their area for halloween. They are calling it Truck Or Treat. The kids can dress up in their costume and trick or treat from tailgate to tailgate. Kids 12 and under can wear their costumes or their favorite teams shirt (hopefully the Jags) and get $5 tickets to the game.
Lee then moved to recruiting and mentioned Alabama’s Terrance Cody and if there were many of them out there. Coach Rodrigue said they are if you are looking to stop the run. But they are recruiting more speed now, some places are recruiting runningbacks and fullbacks to play linebacker because of their vision. Since they are used to looking for holes, they fit good being a linebacker who is supposed to fill those holes before the backs find them.
Lee then asked the coaches about how much time that USA spends on special teams, which Coach Crain said that they spend alot of time on every phase of it. Knowing when to pick up the ball and when to get away from it and things like that. He said it has really helped the Jags to be as successful as they have been this season. They both also praised Tommy Perry’s work with special teams as well.
Lee ended the show asking the coaches what is the toughest position to recruit for. Coach Rodrigue said he thought it has been defensive line so far for the Jags. Coach Crain said the quarterback would probably be the toughest in his mind, because once you get a good guy, its hard to get another one to commit.
I have to apologize because I missed a segment in the middle due to technical difficulties not related to the radio station. I hope you enjoy the recap nonetheless.
Coach Jones and his staff decided to shorten practice last week by a day by wrapping up on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Wednesday’s practice lasted about two hours that morning.
Over the three days of practice last week they covered basics by position. But the main focus was working on the passing game which included pass protection and being able to throw the ball when called upon to do so.
The accumulated work that the team has done since preseason camp and how hard the players practiced those three days last week contributed to the long weekend for the players. However, the weekend wasn’t so long for the coaches. Another reason for the short week was to help the assistant coaches to get a head start on their recruiting trips over the weekend. The early morning practice on Wednesday allowed the coaches to get on the road and recruit Thursday and Friday.
Coach Jones commented about the weeks’ practice: “I thought it was a great three days, we were really good. I’m very proud of how we practiced, we came out and got better. Any time you have change during a long season, it’s good for the team. I think it really perked the guys up, they practiced well. We came out these three days and gave great effort. I challenged them in Monday’s meeting and told them we have two choices – we can take these three days and get through them or we can take them and get better.”
“We want to be a Division I football program. That means we have to take every opportunity we have to build a foundation for how we do things. They guys really responded and practiced like champions.”
Coach Jones also spoke about what they practiced on during the week: “We really dedicated these three days to ourselves. We backed off and concentrated on fundamentals and just working hard – in other words, playing hard and playing fast. If you can do those things you have a chance to win every time out. If we would’ve worked on preparing for Fork Union, we would have lost some of the fundamentals. It was a good time to focus on those instead.”
Then on Monday Coach Jones spoke and media day about their upcoming opponent Fork Union Military Academy. “We’re excited about the game this weekend. We had a week off again, our last off week for the season, and we play three games in 12 days. It’s a little different because we’ve been in a slow-down mode and now we’re in a speed-up mode, especially with Saturday, Saturday, Thursday. I’ve been watching Fork Union on film and they’re a very good defensive football team. They have great talent on the defensive side of the ball, some really good players. I think they’ve got four guys that signed with Temple on that defense, so they’re a very skilled defensive football team. We’ve been working ourselves, and we talked to our kids last week about how we want to work against ourselves. We pretty much said forget game planning, we’re going to show the speed of the game with the offense going against the defense and the ones versus the ones. We had some great practices, the kids really picked it up, and I thought we really didn’t waste a day last week. We had some of the best practices we’ve had all year, I was really proud of that, and we’re looking forward to this weekend.”
Answering a question about the Jags not having any more off weeks, Coach Jones said: “There’s going to have to be a little more urgency to each practice. Our kids have been practicing that way, I’ve been really proud of them, but the interesting thing is going to be after that second Saturday game when we play a Thursday game. That’s going to be an interesting week. This week and next week will be no problem getting prepared, but that last week will be interesting.”
Speaking about improvements he wants the team to undertake: “Offensively it’s throwing the football, and that starts with protection and throwing and completing passes – that’s something we’ve got to work on. If we’re going to become a great football team we’ve got to be able to do that. That’s an area we need to work on.”
When asked what the team plans to do against Fork Union, he said “We’re going to come out and definitely try to throw the ball more than we’ve been throwing it. We feel like we can run the football, and that’s something we can always hang our hat on, but we need to try to work on the throwing game. We need to find out about our quarterbacks and receivers and what they can do for next year. We want to learn more about them in the next couple of weeks.”
When asked about Fork Union’s team coach Jones said: “They’ve got some good athletes. They’re a multiple offense like most of the teams we’re playing – they’re in the shotgun and under center. Looking at their team, if you looked at offensive and defensive sides of the ball, you’d probably say the defense shines a little bit more than the offense. They’re very sound defensively.”
To round out his portion, coach Jones commented on his goals for the Jags this week: “One of my goals for this week is to come out playing fast, start the game playing fast, proceed with that and play throughout the game that way. We’ve done a good job of playing hard, but I think offensively we’ve come out a little slow in a couple of games, and that had something to do with the defense we were playing being pretty good.”
Linebacker Enrique Williams answered a few questions as well, but the most striking answer he had was when he was asked about being a Mobile native and how important and how much fun it has been playing as a Jaguar. He said, “It has been great. A lot of my family and friends have been able to come to the games. It’s been the big talk around town, so it has been great to be part of the team and contribute on the field. One of the main reasons I signed at South Alabama was to be one of the first people to play for a big university in my hometown.”
The Jags host Fork Union on Saturday October 31st at Ladd-Peebles Stadium with kickoff set for 4pm.
There is no doubt the Jaguars first season of football has already exceeded many peoples initial vision. They thought that if the Jags could win a couple games, it would be a pretty good season. But with the Jags 4-0 and dominating every opponent in all phases of the game, this was unexpected by many local observers.
South Alabama is starting to get noticed around the state too. UAB and Troy fans are already talking up their programs and talking down to the Jaguars. This started after the first game and again after the second game. Are they already worried about their place in the state’s college football pecking order? If not, then maybe they should.
Looking at the Jaguars and the current #1 team in the state, the University of Alabama, you can see some parallels between the two teams (overlooking the last two or three games by Alabama). The Jags and UA are both led by good defensive play based on stopping the run.
The Jags Justin Dunn would probably be the Jags closest player to parallel the impact of Dont’a Hightower. Hightower played (out for season with a knee injury) inside linebacker and made lots of tackles and stuffed the run. Charlie Higgenbotham would be the closest Alabama’s Rolando McClain. He does a good job helping to stop the run and is able to drop into coverage as well. Although Josh Chestang could also be tagged as a possible McClain parallel too.
In the secondary, Jerron Mitchell is probably the closest cornerback to the skill and ability to match Javier Arenas in coverage and tackling. Althought I haven’t seen him blitz the quarterback like Alabama does with Arenas. While Zach Brownell seems to have the same nose for the football as Alabama’s Mark Barron. They seem to put themselves into the right position to pick off an opponents pass.
Even the Jags and Alabama seem to have somewhat similar strengths and weaknesses on offense. Both teams run the ball very well with a good stable of running backs, but both are somewhat struggling in the passing game. The Jags don’t utilize the ‘pistol’ formation nor do they use the ‘wildcat’ formation either. Coach Jones and Coach Gregory feel that freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon is athletic enough that they do not need to use those formations. So they are too different to be compared to each other beyond the fact they are both starting quarterbacks.
Courtney Smith is big, fast and is a threat to score anytime he gets the ball, which is exactly what you would say about Julio Jones. Its hard to compare the rest of the receiver corps because of how few passes have been thrown and how many receivers have caught passes.
Again, both teams are very strong in the rushing game. Obviously Alabama’s Mark Ingram is quite a spectacular player, but so is Trent Richardson too. There are many traits that are shared by Ingram and Richardson for Alabama and Brandon Ross, Santuan McGee and Anthony Mostella.
I strongly urge you not to misconstrue these comparisons. It’s not meant to further praise Alabama or to proclaim the Jaguars just as good as Alabama. It’s merely meant to go towards showing what a good job coach Jones and his staff are doing here in Mobile. Alabama is currently ranked in the top two spots in all of the polls and rankings. Both teams are winning with fundamentals, strong defenses and a lots of rushing yards.
As mentioned in the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the Jags need to work on their passing game to be a more complete team. They are definitely dominating by running the game, but a football team wants and really needs to be able to move the ball by passing or running the ball.
Something else the Jags need to work on lately are their penalties. In the first two games the Jags did not commit many penalties. Against Hargrave they committed 4 for 30 yards and against Army prep they committed 5 for 40 yards. But against Georgia Military they committed 10 for 158 yards and against Louisburg they committed 6 for 52 yards. The Jags improved against Louisburg by reducing their number of penalties and yards but it is still more than the first two games. The Georgia Military game is obviously the low point of the Jags season thus far. If you subtract their penalty yards from their offensive production, they only gained 93 yards.
With this type of play out of such young players the Jaguars have quite a bright future ahead of them. With increasingly better opponents coming in the near future, the Jags will be in the position to play competitively and win.
Chuck Dunn, the outside linebackers coach, joined Coach Jones and Lee Shirvanian at Wing’s Sports Grill for the show on Tuesday. Once again Coach Jones ordered the ‘unofficial’ Joey Jones Special, which is the black and white chicken platter with steamed broccoli.
Lee asked Coach Jones about an email that a listener sent that they didn’t get to cover last week. They asked if the records from this year, like the win-loss, rushing yards etc. would be included in the future since we are not playing Division-I schools. Coach Jones said they would, they may have an asterisk by them but yes they will be kept for the future.
Lee also had a question about red shirting. They were wondering if he was going to be red shirting anyone this year, is anyone being red shirted right now? Coach Jones answered that they are doing some red shirting, they have some players that are being red shirted this year and they will look at it next year as well. He also mentioned that they have to, they have to plan ahead and spread their graduation classes out. They have to look four and five years down the road to plan that out so they don’t have 40+ players graduating in one year.
It was mentioned about Brandon Ross, how he has two more years of eligibility after this season. Lee asked wouldn’t they like to have a player like him around when they reach Division-I play. Coach Jones said yes they definitely would and that they have talked to him about that and have worked it out.
Talking about Louisburg, Coach Jones said they may have under estimated them a bit at first. The game film they got was from pretty far away so they couldn’t tell their size and were caught a little off guard by their speed.
Lee asked Coach Jones which of the quarterbacks played better on Saturday. He said he thought they all played better. Myles played better, completed more passes and managed the game well. Brennan Sim came in and threw a couple really good passes. He said he was proud of them.
Back to Brandon Ross, Lee asked how did Memphis ever let him go. Coach Jones said he didn’t know but he was sure glad they did. Coach Jones said he was a great running back and has a lot of potential. But said if he learns how to run every play like its his last, then he could continue his career in the NFL.
Lee asked Coach Dunn what kind of rotation he had for the outside linebackers and if he was satisfied with it. He said that he was satisfied and that hey had three guys in the rotation, Josh Chestang, Clifton Crews and Logan Bennett. He said they are a great good and probably the most coachable group of players he has ever had.
Lee asked how Coach Dunn and Coach Crain, who coaches the inside linebackers, coordinate to coach the linebackers. He said they are good friends and do a good job communicating.
Lee asked if it was easier to be an inside linebacker or an outside linebacker in the Jaguars defensive scheme. Coach Dunn answered that both are tough. Coach Clark asks the linebackers to be the quarterbacks of the whole defense basically.
Coach Jones said that they are more than just two positions of linebackers, inside and outside. Everything has gotten much more specialized now. The inside linebackers are covering the A gaps and the B gaps as well as chasing the ball outside. The outside linebackers are really covering two halves of the field, they have to contain the quarterback and running backs inside and not get outside of their defense. They can rush the passer from the edge and drop back into coverage. He said he thought the outside linebackers really had to learn more as far as different skill sets than inside linebackers.
Lee asked if their decision to run the ball more came from the weather being so windy. Coach Jones confirmed that and said that they had planned to throw the ball more but the wind was blowing 25 MPH. He watched snaps before the game and saw the ball get blown two feet to the side before the ball reached punter. Thus if the quarterback throws the ball down the field then its probably going to get blown six feet which can cause interceptions to happen.
Coach Jones talked further about the Jaguar passing game by stressing that the Jags definitely have to become a better passing team. He said that that is their goal this week is to improve their passing game and he wants to really put the ball in the air in the next two games.
Lee was a little surprised by Coach Jones commentary and asked why when they are running the football so well. What difference does it make? Coach Jones answered by saying that he wants them to be a complete team, a better team by the end of the year. In staff meetings and player meetings they said they want to work on their weaknesses and their weakness on offense is their passing game. Coach Jones said he thinks that the Jags are an average passing team and a great running team right now. He did qualify his answer by saying that they are not going to sacrifice a win just to throw the ball more. If they are struggling throwing the ball, then they will run the ball if that is what works.
The next question asked was about the consideration about the wind in the game against Louisburg. Lee asked how much consideration went into it before the coin toss. He then mentioned remembering hearing about Coach Saban in a recent windy game that he based everything so that he had the wind at his back in the fourth quarter. Coach Jones said they certainly consider that in game situations. One thing they have to look at is the time of day. Coach Jones said that they wanted the wind in the first quarter because they thought it would be the strongest and that it would die down in the evening. But if you know that the game will be gusty the whole time, then you would want the wind at your back in the fourth quarter.
Coach Jones was then asked why the offense took so long to get going against Louisburg. He answered that it was probably a couple things, the first he mentioned was that maybe it was his fault that he did not prepare them well enough and he took full blame for that. The second thing was that the defensive front showed a look that was not on film and so the first couple series the line was confused about where to go and who to block. Then it was a matter of one guy making a mistake while everyone else did their job and that one guy came through to make a play.
Coach Jones then mentioned how it goes on offense versus defense. On offense everyone has to do their job and if one guy messes up it can throw everything off. While on defense you want all 11 players going to the ball but it only takes one guy to make a play thats the difference.
The injury report was slim yet again. John Mark Patrick still has the knee problem but the good news is that he came onto the field in Monday’s practice to do some drills and light workouts. Coach Jones said that hopefully, by next week, he might be able to play. That depends on if they can get him ready in time. Its still touch and go really. They had a couple people injured yesterday that were just one or two day issues and that they should be back this week.
Lee asked Coach Dunn if the Jags practices were tougher than the games. Coach Dunn replied that they get after it and Coach Jones does a good job of setting up practices where they get good competition against each other.
They have talked before about putting together an offensive game plan for a game, so Lee asked Coach Dunn about how they go about putting together a defensive game plan. It all starts with Coach Clark obviously, but Lee asked what part Coach Dunn plays in that process. He answered that his part is that he takes the opponent and breaks them down play by play, personnel, down and distance, formation, strong, weak and other factors. He compiles all of that into what they call a hit chart. He breaks it down into formations, both right and left, and if its a run or pass and where they threw it or where they ran it. He then gets a percentage and gives the numbers to Coach Clark so he can plan according to that.
Coach Jones said he likes to know what is going on in the defense but he doesn’t get into the middle of it all the time. He mentioned that he is a 3-4 guy. Lee asked him why to which he answered that from an offensive standpoint blocking an odd front (3 is odd, 4 is even) there are several ‘bubbles’ that can change in a 3-4 scheme. But against an even front like a 4-3 or even a 4-4, there are more predetermined ‘bubbles’. Coach Jones said that based on his standpoint from the offense, there is a better running game against a 4-3 than a 3-4 because of the predetermined ‘bubbles’. Based on their game plan and play list, when they play against a 4-3 defense their run play list was more than they had against a 3-4 defense. So that tells Coach Jones that if you can hold up with 3 guys on the defensive front and hold the running game then you have a better chance to stop and offense.
Coach Dunn said that they (the linebacker coaches) like the 3-4 because its a chance to put more speed on the field. The offense tries to match the personnel, but with the 3-4 they can keep the same guys on the field no matter what the offensive formation.
Lee then mentioned how they have talked about the wildcat formation and how its just a throwback to the old days and the single wing and box formations. He asked how long it will be before the defenses catch up to what the offenses are doing.
Coach Jones said that he does not think that the offenses have explored the offense enough in college. He mentioned the offenses they used in High School when he was coaching that utilized the shotgun and was very multi-dimensional with it all the way back in 2000 and 2001. But he said that it involved the quarterback running the ball a lot. The Jags does not use that wildcat formation because they don’t have to put someone back there that can run because they feel that the quarterbacks are athletic enough as it is.
The quiz question was name the player who had the most sacks in the game versus Louisburg JC. The Vanguard’s own Hannah Skewes answered and won with Josh Chestang. Check out her work online.
Lee and Coach Jones also mentioned that the Jags will be sporting a slightly different look on October 31. Instead of wearing their red jerseys with white pants they are going all red. Red jersey’s and red pants to take on Fork Union Military. Come on out to Ladd-Peebles Stadium and bring your kids. If they wear their costume or the jersey of their favorite team (which should be the Jags) they will get in free. Plus they will have some extra special kids activities since its Halloween.
The Jags posted another big win on Saturday with their 41-7 victory over Louisburg JC. Brandon Ross scored a season best three touchdowns in the win with 138 yards on 13 carries.
The Jags started out slow on this windy, chilly day. The Jags and the Hurricanes traded possessions and both sides were less than stellar punting the ball. But finally the Jags got their offense in gear after holding Louisburg to a three-and-out situation. Brandon Ross found a hole and broke free for a 60-yard run before the Hurricanes stopped him five yards short of the goal line. Anthony Mostella scored up the middle on the very next play to give the Jags a 7-0 lead.
Ross’ big run would be the only premiere play of the first quarter as both teams would combine for less than 100 yards of offense and seven punts.
The second quarter was a much different story. The Jags would rack 173 yards to 46 yards for the Hurricanes in the second quarter alone. With 7:50 left until halftime, the Jags would march 50 yard in five plays which was capped off by a 10 yard touchdown run by Brandon Ross for a 14-0 advantage.
Ross would get his second touchdown run of the game with 4:26 left in the half with a two yard run to top off a four play 60 yard drive in 1:21 to put the Jags up 21-0.
The Jags would drive once more before halftime to add to their lead. Lead by Myles Gibbon, the Jags went 77 yards in seven plays taking 1:49 off the clock. Gibbon would find Kevin Helms wide open in the left corner of the endzone for a 6-yard touchdown reception. Michel Chapuseaux would miss the PAT leaving the Jags up 27-0 with 53 seconds until halftime.
A good kickoff return to start the second half would set up the Jags at the Louisburg 34 yard line and it would only take the Jags 43 seconds to find the endzone. Brandon Ross would get his third touchdown of the day to top off the three play 34 yard scoring drive with a 20 yard romp for the score. Chapuseaux would make the PAT to put the Jags up 34-0.
The Jags would kickoff after the touchdown and the Louisburg return man would bobble the ball and retreat back trying to find a hole to advance but would be tackled at the one yard line. This would lead to the Hurricane’s longest sustained drive of the game. Going 11 plays for 33 yards in 6:52 before punting away to the Jaguars.
The Jags would start at their own 20 yard line and drive 80 yards in nine plays. Santuan McGee would finish up the scoring for the Jags with a one yard run for the touchdown, putting the Jags up 41-0 with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes would avoid the shutout though. Driving 60 yards in seven plays in 3:03. The big spark was a 30 yard pass play to the Jaguar one yard line to set up the touchdown. It was the one and only time the Hurricanes made it into the red zone all day. The touchdown capped the scoring for the game with the final score being 41-7.
The next two Jaguar drives would end with fumbles before the final possession ran out the clock to end the game.
The Jags had 474 total yards for the game, 310 rushing and 164 passing with 22 first downs. Louisburg had 222 total yards, 52 rushing and 170 passing with 12 first downs.
A total of 10 Jaguars carried the ball for the 310 yards. Brandon Ross led the way with 13 carries and 138 yards, Ralph Turner had 2 carries for 49 yards, Santuan McGee 6 carries for 41 yards were the highlights.
Myles Gibbon was 6-of-9 for 89 yards and a touchdown, Brennan Sim was 6-for-7 for 70 yards and Nick Owens completed his only attempt for five yards.
Nine Jaguars combined for the 13 receptions. Courtney Smith had 2 for 25 yards, Drew Ezell had 2 for 23 yards, Kevin Helms had 2 for 15 yards and the only touchdown reception of the game, and Corey Besteda also had 2 for 13 yards to round out the multiple catch receivers.
Josh Chestang, Anton Graphenreed and Justin Dunn all had five tackles for the Jags.
Brandon Ross spoke after the game about his performance. “I always practice keeping my feet moving. I’m still trying to get better at it,” he said. “I do not want to get tackled by one person. If I’m going to get tackled, I’d rather get tackled by a group of defenders.”
Coach Jones mentioned Ross’ running in the post game press conference. “We challenged him to run like that every play. He’s starting to understand that he’s got a 230-pound body that’s hard to tackle,” coach Jones said. “When you lower your shoulders and a free safety is coming up to tackle a guy like that, that’s a tough thing to tackle. When he learns to run like that all the time, he’s got a chance to be a great one. He’s got a chance to be a very special running back and probably play beyond college.”
Gibbon also commented on Ross’ running ability as well as the entire running back stable. “Brandon is a great running back; everyone has seen that,” Gibbon said. “Even when he gets tired and we take him out, we have another three running backs that can get in the game and get the ball rolling. Having good running backs makes our lives a lot easier.”
Coach Jones further commented about the Jags play. “I thought we came out and played fairly well. The biggest thing we’re challenging our kids with is no matter who we’re playing, we’ve got to play with character,” Jones said. “We’ve got to practice with character, we’ve got to work hard to study our opponents film, and we’ve got to not change anything about the way we prepare for a game. That was our challenge this week. I thought the kids did that, they were prepared.”
Louisburg head coach John Sala gave a glowing commentary about the Jags in the post game press conference. “We came into this game with the mind-set to win it. We had a great chance and thought we could do a really good job,” he said. “Give a lot of credit to South Alabama. When they are that sound fundamentally and you have those types of players, that is a hard combination to beat. We go against better players all the time, but none that are that well-coached. That combination is just hard to beat at any level.”
For the first time this season, not to mention in South Alabama history, the Jags only had one week to turn around and prepare for an opponent. But the schedule was constructed to work up to this point in the season.
Lousiburg Junior College from North Carolina will enter the game with a 5-1 record and ranked #18 in this weeks NJCA poll. They are quite similar to Georgia Military by running multiple sets on offense and utilizing the 3-3 stack on defense.
The results of the last game versus Georgia Military was a 31-3 win for the Jags while limiting the Bulldogs to 234 yards of total offense.
Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory mentioned that the similarities is a definite benefit for the Jags. “What really was a blessing for us is that Louisburg’s defensive scheme is the exact same as Georgia Military’s,” he said. “All we had to do this week was tweak some things – maybe we want to use some plays we didn’t last week or vice versa, we have taken out plays that we ran against Georgia Military that we didn’t like.
Defensive coordinator Bill Clark said something quite similar about the defense. “Obviously we won’t do all the same things as last week, but it will help us,” he said. “If we went from Army Prep running the option to more of a traditional offense it would’ve been harder.” Coach Clark also mentioned that their workouts through the season has helped the defense to get to this point where they can adjust to playing back-to-back games. “It’s a little bit different, everything is compacted, but we’ve handled it well,” he said. “On defense, we are so focused on adjusting to what the other offense does – the formations, the plays, the tendencies – so we’ve been lucky to have extended amounts of time prior to this week. Of course, Saturday will be the test to see how well we’ve handled it.”
The Jags are approaching this week like it was any other. Their goal is to be a better football team by weeks end than they were at the beginning of the week. “One of the ways we have approached this is to say that we are going to work to improve,” Coach Gregory said. “Sure, we have to work against the scheme of the opponent, but we are really focusing more on ourselves. We want to win every game this year but we are trying to build a football program and lay a foundation, so half of our practice is based on improving fundamentals like throwing, catching and tackling rather than the opposition.”
Even though the Jags are 3-0, the coaches are quick to point out there are improvements to be made. “Right now we don’t throw the ball as well as I would like to throw it,” Coach Gregory said. “That’s a combination of not being good enough at quarterback yet and that we’re not a great pass protection football team yet. That always takes the longest amount of time. We’d like to work on that more in some of these ball games if we get the opportunity, but we’re playing to win.”
Through the first three games the Jaguars have been clearly dominant in the ground game, gaining an average of 257.7 yards per game while only averaging 135.7 yards per game through the air. The coaches are pleased with the performances, however they want a more balanced attack. “The one thing we are trying to do is build a tough, hard-nosed, attacking football team,” Gregory explained. “We’re doing that, but we have to become a more balanced football team not in how much we throw but just having more confidence in our ability to throw.”
On defense the Jags are doing good as well. They have allowed an average of 268 yards per game and only surrendered 16 points in the process. In addition to the yards, the defense has held strong on third down by only allowing seven of 38 attempts to be converted into first downs, which is an 18% success rate.
“Our guys know tackling and takeaways, and when you talk to them and they shoot it back you feel like they are getting it,” stated Clark. “We want to get better fundamentally, we want to be better tacklers. There are things in the last game we saw that we believe we can improve on. We had their quarterback trapped four or five times and couldn’t get him down – he’s a great athlete, but we should be able to do that. The way the players have bought in has been excellent. When you’re a coach they are going to do what you say, but to really get them to believe has been important because we have a really high standard. We feel like we are about excellence, and one of our goals is a shutout. That’s a tough goal when you play four 15-minute quarters, but that’s what we’re looking for. Every week is a chance to improve, we’re only as good as our last game. I’m pleased at this point, but know we have work to do.”
The Jaguars kick off against Louisburg JC on Saturday, October 24 at 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Coach Joey Jones joined with Lee Shirvanian and Dameyune Craig at Baumhower’s Wings Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for today’s show.
First question they are going to start with, now that the Jags are 3-0 and they have defeated what they think will be their best competition of the year. Where do you think this program is in terms of what level of competition could you compete with Division I-AA, Division II or division III. If you could redo the schedule where do you think they could go? Coach Jones talked to the team yesterday about some of their goals for the rest of the year and what they can do to get there. He then, kind of reluctantly, went on to talk scores. The #2 Junior College team beat Georgia Military 28-8 and the Jags beat them 31-3, but by the scores they could compete with that team. However, Coach Jones was quick to remind the listeners that it does not mean they could beat them but it indicates that they could compete with some of the best JC’s in the country.
Coach Jones then said they could probably get on the field with many of the Division I-AA schools, but not the Appalachian States or other traditional big schools in that division.
Lee then asked Coach Craig said he really didn’t know because they have alot of freshman. But that they have a really great group of kids that go out and work hard and learn, so its hard to compare. He thinks they could do well in Division II and maybe Division I-AA. He also thought they could probably do well in the SWAC conference.
Lee also mentioned that they tried to schedule Alabama State but it didn’t work out. But Coach Jones hopes to schedule them in the future thinking it would be a good game.
Lee mentioned that the team has a lot of Freshman but they also have a fair amount of Junior College linemen and asked if that was the difference for the team. Coach Jones said that they came in and gave the team a maturity factor that rubbed off on the younger guys. They are more calm with something bad happens in a game.
Lee followed up asking if the Jags would be looking to bring in some more Junior College players and transfers like Courtney Smith and others. Coach Jones said you should always look to better your team any way you can. Meaning that they have Brandon Ross that expressed an interest in coming to USA. The same with Charlie Higgenbotham. He said they have to spread their wealth, they took Brandon even though they had a pretty good line-up at running back because he was a difference maker.
Lee asked Coach Craig what positions they were looking to focus on this recruiting season. He answered that they are looking at defensive ends, cornerbacks and safeties. They feel pretty good about receivers and running backs but they can always use offensive lineman.
Looking back at Georgia Military, Coach Jones said that they knew that defensively they were a good team. Also they felt like there were some deficiencies on their offensive line that they could exploit and pressure the quarterback. They hurried and hit the quarterback a lot but didn’t get too him. The defense ran him around the field so much that at one point he had full body cramps and they also hit him every time he threw the football which was good for the Jags.
Lee asked about Michel Chapuseaux’s injury which Coach Jones said he was alright. It looked worse than it was and it scared him some. It was a hard hit but he’s okay. Offensive guard Jon Griffin turned an ankle but is expected to be fine for the game on Saturday. Then John Mark Patrick who continues to out due to his knee problem.
The offense only scored two touchdowns and didn’t have a chance to catch many passes because they didn’t throw much. They just want to do what they can to win, players are working hard to make a play when its their time and to just do their roll in the game plan.
Lee joked with Coach Craig about his days at Auburn and how the Georgia Military quarterback moved around to make plays. Coach Craig joked that his games ended better, he didn’t throw interceptions but rather threw more touchdowns. But he gave credit to Coach Clark, the defensive coordinator, for doing an outstanding job with the guys on defense and that it has been a pleasure working with him and everyone on the staff.
He even included Coach Schwind the strength and conditioning coach on what a good job they have done and how well they work together. He continued saying that the summer workouts they did with the players getting them prepared for camp really made a huge difference.
A listener emailed in a question about the special teams punt coverage. He was saying that one punt went into the end zone where the coverage team had a chance to catch it close to the endzone but allowed it to hit and go in for a touch back. He wanted to ask if they are coached to catch it if they have a chance like that and the receiving team is not trying to catch it.
Coach Jones said that the kids are instructed to catch the ball in that instance. They have stressed that and have worked on it. He said as a coach he looks back on that and asks himself if they did that enough in practice and did they put their kids in that situation enough for them to make it happen in the game. He then said he takes full blame for that because they should work on that enough so that it becomes second nature to them.
Certain positions they are looking at Junior College players to recruit. But right now they are looking to find the best players at the positions that they are looking to fill in. If they could find some Junior College defensive backs, coach Craig said that would be great. It would help them to get more experience in the backfield. Lee then made the observation that Zach Brownell and company are doing a good job in the defensive backfield. Coach Craig said its more about creating depth. They are comfortable at certain positions about their depth but when if one player gets hurt and it completely changes your game plan, that is a pretty tough situation.
The Jags finally have back to back game weekends. It feels good to finally have this and the kids are ready for it too. But Coach Jones said they feel they have used the previous off weeks very wisely and it has paid off on the field.
After Coach Jones said previously that Georgia Military was going to be their biggest test of the year for the Jags. Where do they go now? Coach Jones said they are trying to teach these kids to work every day. This is something that will help them on the field and in life. He also told them if they come out onto the practice field and work for two hours every day and get a little bit better every day then they are going to be better the next game and better at the end of the season. Coach Jones says he does not like to talk about going undefeated but that is their goal for the season. But how do they get there? They don’t get there by talking about it every day. They work towards achieving that by going out and working hard to get a little bit better every day.
Lee said that previously that it was mentioned that they felt like some of their receivers could possibly play in the NFL. So Lee asked if that was possible and who they might be. Coach Craig said that Courtney Smith has the intangibles. He has size and speed but some things he needs to work on to get there and he is willing to work to get there. They also have some young guys that are being redshirted right now. Kelly Vail from LeFlore was also mentioned.
When asked by Lee about who has the best hands, Coach Craig answered it would either be Lim Windham or Corey Besteda.
Coach Craig again praised the other coaches on the staff and said that the biggest thing he learned was that they can get Freshmen ready to play. Before he thought that they just were not ready to play coming into the team but what Coach Jones and the rest of the staff have done has changed that. They got these player in summer so they could work out and it has payed off big time because they are ready to play.
Coach Jones said that Louisburg may not be as talented as GMJC but they are still talented. They have players committed to Temple and other schools like that. They mentioned that they like to roll out the red carpet to teams when they arrive to play the Jags. They like to show them around the field house and to show off their facilities. Coach Jones said he has not been to many schools but he is pretty confident that they probably have among the best if not the best facilities in the Sun Belt and probably are good enough to make some of the lower end SEC schools a bit envious.
The Jaguars defense smothered Georgia Military at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday. One name, Zach Brownell, became pretty familiar to the 15,178 fans in the stands as he had three interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown.
The Jaguar defense held the bulldogs in check for the most part. They only gave up 10 first downs and 234 yards of total offense. Including a mere 88 yards rushing and holding them to only 1 of 15 in third down conversions. However the Jags bid for a second straight shutout was thwarted in the final minute of the third quarter on a 31-yard field goal by Evan Kay.
South Alabama’s offense started off slow against Georgia Military. The first three possessions ended with a punt, a fumble and a punt. But the Jaguars would put the first points on the board with a seven yard touchdown run by Brandon Ross early in the second quarter to cap off a ten play 67-yard drive.
The Jags next possession would end with an interception on an ill advised pass by Myles Gibbon. However the Jaguar defense would give the ball right back to the offense with an interception three plays later. The offense moved 37 yards in six plays but were forced to punt themselves which they downed on the nine yard line.
With the Bulldogs deep in their own territory, the defense turned up the pressure again forcing another interception. Brownell would return it for a touchdown with 1:35 left before halftime to put the Jags up 14-0.
The second half continued the with the Jaguar defense playing strong. They forced the Bulldogs to go three and out and punt on their first possession of the second half. They Jags offense would go three and out as well but would pin them inside their own 15 yard line on the punt. The South Alabama defense would come up big once more when they forced a fumble at the Bulldog 10 yard line which Clifton Crews would pick up and return for another defensive score for the Jags. This put them up 21-0 with 9:05 left in the third quarter.
After the kickoff the Bulldogs started to move the ball, going 29 yards in eight plays before the third and final Brownell interception with 5:12 left in the third quarter at the South Alabama 20 yard line. The Jags would be forced to punt again a few plays later.
The Bulldogs would mount their only other scoring threat of the game at their own 38 yard line. The Bulldogs connected on a long pass to move them into Jaguar territory. But the defense held strong and forced the Bulldogs to settle for a field goal with 47 seconds remaining in the third quarter for a score of 21-3.
Both teams would go three and out on the two ensuing possessions. Then the Jaguar offense found another spark and covered 54 yards in four plays for another Brandon Ross touchdown. On the extra point, the bulldogs would be flagged for a personal foul and would leave the first team kicker, Michel Chapuseaux injured and have to be helped off the field. The trainers took him to the sidelines and was examining his right knee. Shortly they took off his pads, gave him crutches and sent him to the locker room to get out of his uniform. He rejoined the team on his crutches as they gathered for the alma mater after the game.
Both teams would, again, see three and out possessions. The next Bulldog possession would cover 25 yards in six plays but went for it on fourth down and came up short. The Jags would take the ball from their own 40 yard line and drive 38 yards in eight plays eating 3:45 off the clock before Lawson McGlon nailed a 39 yard field goal to cap the game off at 31-3.
Brandon Ross lead the way for the running backs with 15 attempts for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Santuan McGee had 8 carries for 60 yards, Anthony Mostella had 9 for 34 yards, Myles Gibbon had 6 carries for 20 yards and Eli Smith carried the ball twice for 8 yards.
Gibbon went 6 for 13 for 44 yards and an interception for the game. His longest pass went for 32 yards. Nick Owens completed his only pass attempt for eight yards.
Courtney Smith was the only receiver with more than one reception at two for five yards. Kevin Helms, Paul Bennett, Corey Besteda, Erling Riis and Brandon Ross each had one reception each.
Scott Garber punted 7 times in the game and averaged 45.3 yards per punt and downed two inside the Bulldog 20 yard line.
Justin Dunn lead all Jaguars in tackles with 11 followed by Zach Brownell with six. Also Brownell had the three interceptions.
The Jags had 13 first downs with 199 yard rushing and 52 yards passing for a total of 251 yards (their lowest numbers of the season). The game was marred with lots of penalties. The Jags had 10 for 158 yards while Georgia Military had 14 for 136 yards.
After the game Coach Jones spoke about the defense. “Those guys want to get a shutout if they can, but they love scoring touchdowns as well – it’s always fun for them to do that. Those are game changers,” he said. “Obviously, we were great defensively and played a solid game against a very good football program. Zach has a nose for the football, he’s just a very smart football player. The one he ran back for a touchdown right before the half was certainly a big play in the game.”
Coach Jones also spoke about the Bulldog defense. “We knew that their defense was very good. They fly to the football and hit you,” he said. “They gave us some problems and we knew that would happen.”
Myles Gibbon also spoke about Georgia Military after the game. “We knew coming into this game that they were one of the best teams we’ll play all year,” he said. “You have to give credit to them, they’re a good team and a good defense. They were coming with pressure, but we studied their different blitzes and how to block them all week – our offensive line did a fantastic job today.”
Georgia Military head coach Bert Williams spoke about the game against South Alabama. “You have to take your hats off to South Alabama. They played well, played consistently and played hard,” he said. “We got what we expected out there. We just didn’t expect to be as generous with the ball as we were – we gave them touchdowns two and three on turnovers. Those two plays put us in a bad way.”
Justin Dunn had this to say about the game. “We were ready for everything they threw at us. That just goes back to coaching and team play,” he said. “We played our butts off today. What we did was nice, but we’re never satisfied as a defense. We have another opponent next week that we need to prepare for.”
The Jags will host Louisburg Junior College next Saturday with kickoff set for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This will mark the first time this season that the Jags will play games in back-to-back weekends.
Today is shaping up to be the Jags toughest opponent so for this season. Georgia Military has players the size of Hargrave, but since they are a Junior College they will also have Sophomores to lead the Freshmen. They probably have the best running back they have seen all year, plus a quarterback that can run and make plays himself. This could shape up to be quite an interesting game.
Its an early game with kickoff at 11:30am, so as I’m writing this they are waking up and either eating breakfast or will be in the next few minutes. The WAVE transports will start running at 8am from Bel Air Mall. If you are not coming to the game, make sure to tune into UTV-44 from 10:30-11:00am for the Joey Jones Show.