The Jags won the second annual USA Thanksgiving Tournament held at the Mitchell Center on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Jags shot over 58% in the second half in order to overcome a slow start to win easily over Alcorn State in the first game, 83-67. This win was Ronnie Arrow’s 600th win as a head coach at both the Junior College and Division I levels. However, Coach Arrow was not at the game since he was ejected on Saturday at Tulsa, he had to sit out due to suspension.
Alcorn State controlled play in the first half and lead for most of the period and converted four of nine 3-pointers. The Braves had not lead in a game all season, took a 41-39 lead into halftime over the Jags.
However the second half was a different story. They scored the first seven points and did not allow a Braves bucket in the first 3:19 of the second half. South Alabama really pulled away with an 18-2 run midway through the second half and stretched a three point lead into a 74-55 advantage.
In the championship game of the USA Thanksgiving Tournament the Jags hosted Georgia State. Late in the game Gary Redus came through for the Jags when he nailed a 3-pointer with 1:03 left in the game to give the Jags the lead for the final time as they held on for a 70-66 win.
The Jags have been out rebounded in their last two games. The first of which was at Tulsa when the Jags had their season-worst showing on the boards when the Golden Hurricane out rebounded the Jags 53-29. But against Georgia State the Jags won the battle of the boards 37-26. Georgia State is the second best rebounding team in the Colonial Athletic Association.
With these two wins the Jags improve to 5-2 on the season.
The Jags will travel to Arkansas on Sunday to take on the Razorbacks and the Jags former coach John Pelphrey who are 4-3 on the season so far.
On Saturday the Jags basketball team traveled to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa won 84-62 over the Jags to stay undefeated at 4-0 while the Jags fell to 3-2 for the season.
Tulsa put on a showcase of rebounding by pulling down 53 boards en route to their victory. The Jags kept it close in the first half until a late 12-0 run by Tulsa (10 of which came from the free throw line) put them ahead for good. The Jags could only get within 12 points twice in the second half.
The Jags did not match-up well against the Golden Hurricane. With a 7′ center and a pair of 6’10” forwards, the Jags were just outsized and out reached on the boards.
Tulsa made 38 of 50 free throw attempts which accounted for 45% of their scoring offense while the Jags defense held them to 38.9% shooting from the floor for the game. However the Jags were called for 29 fouls which lead to the 50 trips to the line.
Coach Arrow said after the game, “We held them to 38 percent shooting and did what we wanted to there and put 62 points up on the board,” said Arrow. “But when you shoot 50 free throws you’re going to score a lot of points.”
Tim Williams lead the Jags with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. While Gary Redus II scored 11 off the bench.
Coach Arrow also commented about the Jags rebounding after the game. “We’re still not rebounding like we should,” said Arrow. “We have guys standing around. Our ‘3s’, ‘4s’ and ‘5s’ have got to rebound better than what we’re doing.”
The Jags will host the Second Annual USA Thanksgiving Classic on Wednesday and Thursday. The first game has Georgia State facing Utah Valley at 5pm then the Jags will face Alcorn State at 7:05pm.
Tyler went 24-6 last season and tied for the North Zone championship with a 14-5 league record. Tyler lost in the semis to Paris JC who was led by current Jag Raymond Sims.
Sledge ranked fourth on his team in scoring with 9.8 average per game while hitting 63 3-pointers. He averages 42.9 percent from 3 point range and had 67 steals.
Coach Arrow had this to say about the signee. “Sledge is one of the best shooters in that conference,” said Coach Arrow. “You always have room for a shooter of his caliber. Not only that, but his high school coach said he was the best defender on the ball they had. So he brings shooting ability plus defensive ability, which is good.”
The Jags have gone 3-1 so far in basketball with wins over West Florida 79-63, Houston Baptist 76-64 and Sacramento State 70-58. Their only loss was to Rice by two points, 71-69.
The Jags will open their home season on Thursday when they host Spring Hill college at 7:05pm at the Mitchell Center. USA will be honoring the football team for their accomplishments in their inaugural season at halftime of the men’s game.
Mentioned today on the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the NCAA has granted USA players who have not already used their redshirt year, the ability to count this year towards that. Since USA was not competing against “varsity” teams, the NCAA has allowed them to do this.
However this will apply differently from player to player. For instance, someone like Brandon Ross who has only used one year of eligibilty (at Memphis) will get to count this year as his redshirt year which means he has three more years to play at USA. But a player like Courtney Smith who has used his redshirt and played two years at UAB will only have one more year of eligibility left for next year. Charlie Higgenbotham and Justin Dunn both have the same eligibility status as Smith. All but one of the offensive linemen, who are JuCo transfers, have only used two years of eligibility and will have two more years to play for USA.
During Monday’s media day Coach Jones reflected on the Jags inaugural season. One of the first questions he was asked was about how he felt after realizing that the team had played its final game of the season. He answered by saying, “This weekend I was emotionally and physically drained from a year and a half of putting this thing together, but at the same time I’m just really excited for where our program is at this point. So much hard work has gone into putting this together, and I’m just really pleased with where we are in the process of moving into Division I.”
Another question was about where the team will go from here. “The biggest thing we’ve got to meet with the team about today is that we’ve got to continually raise the bar starting today and all the way through next season, and even beyond that,” Coach Jones answered. “We’ve got to realize where we want to be as a football program, and we’ve got to continually raise the bar every day, because we’re by no means a good Division I program right now. We’re going to be there, but we know that we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that point.”
He was then asked about what areas the team needed to improve upon. “It’s obviously in the weight room and the strength and conditioning area,” he said. “We’ve got to become a bigger and faster team, and then the second thing is recruiting. We’re hitting the recruiting trail this week, and have been recruiting, but we can focus all of our energies toward recruiting and signing what we deem are Division I players. We’ve got to make decisions along the way that we’re going to sign better players than we’ve got, or we’re not going to sign them. We don’t need numbers anymore. We need higher quality players as we go, so we’ve got to focus on that and not get caught up in trying to sign numbers.”
Coach Jones was asked what he would remember from this first season. He answered, “The number one thing I’m most pleased about is how the team came together. I’m not just talking about our players and staff, I’m talking about our trainers, equipment people, graduate assistants, and strength and conditioning guys. Everybody that was involved with the program seemed like they were all on the same page, and that was the most pleasing thing – to bring that many people together and get them all going in the same direction. We really had a bunch of great people.”
One of the last questions asked was what it means to the program to win all seven games this season. “Number one it makes a statement that South Alabama is here to build a Division I football program,”he said. “The 7-0 thing is a confidence builder. Success breeds success and losing breeds losing, so I would much rather be 7-0, because I think that carries over. It’s not that if we had lost a bunch of games that we wouldn’t have had a chance to have a great program, but any time you win kids get used to it and it’s harder for them to lose down the road.”
South Alabama sporting their all-white uniform and the offense debuting a new wrinkle. We’ll call it the ‘Wild Jag’ instead of the Wild Cat formation.
Thursday night the Jags capped off their first season of football the way they wanted, with a win. But this win wasn’t like any other win, this was a very special victory. It marked the end of an undefeated season for the Jags. The Jags had several things to overcome in the game, but they worked hard and won 35-0 over a very good Huntingdon team in front of their second largest crowd of the season at 23,683.
Last week the Jags saw starting quarterback Myles Gibbon go down after a pass play and had to be helped off the field by the trainers. He was quickly looked at and sent to the locker room on crutches to dress out. This week it was discovered that his injury was not a serious as first thought. Instead of a broken ankle it was just a bad sprain. So Junior Brennan Sim got the start in his place.
But Myles was not the only injured player missing the game for the Jags. Actually a couple missed the game due to various injuries.
Huntingdon College arrived in Mobile ready to play and for the first half they gave the Jags all they had. They held the Jaguar offense in check on their first drive forcing a punt, but it would be the Hawks that would get the first big play to make a difference in the game.
The Hawks would get the ball on their own 23 yard line after a Jaguar punt and would eventually connect on a 78 yard pass on a broken play to get the ball down to the Jaguar 2 yard line. With the Jags defense facing allowing the first score in the first quarter for the season and also possibly trailing for the first time in a game, the defense stepped up. The first play from the two the Jags stopped the runner one yard short of the end zone. Then the following play the Jags would force a fumble and recover it near the two yard line.
Then the Jaguar offense found their gear and methodically marched down the field in 8 plays to cover 98 yards to score the first points of the game. Brandon Ross capped off the drive with a 5 yard run for the score with 5:28 left in the first quarter.
The ensuing Hawk possession saw a Jaguar interception but the ball was turned right back over to the Hawks two plays later. From there there were several punts. Then with 3:21 left until halftime the Jags attempted a field goal however Michel Chapaseaux’s kick missed wide right.
The second half was much different from the first for the Jags. After a good return of the second half kickoff, the Jags drove 54 yards in 7 plays to open the second half with a touchdown drive. Again, Brandon Ross capped it off with a 1 yard touchdown run.
Huntingdon’s next possession ended with an interception which the Jags could not capitalize on and was forced to punt themselves on a three and out. Forced to punt again on the next Huntingdon possession, the Jags then put their offense into high gear. Scoring on their next three consecutive possessions on drives of 62 yards in 10 plays, 85 yards in 8 plays and 37 yards in two plays. The first drive was capped off by a pass to Santuan McGee but the next two saw him carry it in from 1 and 12 yards out.
Brandon Ross gained 144 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns for this third 100-yard game of the season. Santuan McGee ran 11 times for 93 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Brennan Sim ran 8 times for 50 yards. Several other jags also carried the ball.
Brennan Sim was 13-for-20 for 150 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Nick Owens only threw one pass which was incomplete.
Courtney Smith was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 73 yards. Corey Waldon caught 3 for 39. Five other Jags caught passes as well.
In total, the Jags had 22 first downs with 345 yards rushing and 150 yards passing for a total of 495 yards. The Jags also had 9 penalties for 85 yards in the game.
Huntingdon College had 11 first downs with 54 yards rushing and 182 yards passing for a total of 236 yards. The Hawks had 11 penalties for 72 yards. The Jags defense shut Huntingdon down in the second half by only allowing 83 yards during those 30 minutes of play.
Coach Jones praised his players after the game. “It feels great of course, and we had that as a goal, but we really concentrate on the little things,” he said. “That’s what gets you to 7-0 – those little things you do every day in practice that the coaches keep harping to the players, and that’s just nothing but a reward for your hard work each day. I never thought we’d be 7-0.”
The Huntingdon College coach also had good things to say about the Jaguars. “We haven’t played anyone like that has frustrated us that much defensively,” he said. “They were able to really shut down the things we were trying to do and make us go places we’re not accustomed to going as far as the game plan. A lot of credit goes to coach Jones and his staff. They are doing a fantastic job, and they obviously outcoached us tonight. It was obvious to me that they had their guys a lot more prepared for us than we were for them.”
Zach Brownell mentioned that the Hawk offense was a little surprising to the Jaguar defense. “They were a good offense.They came out and hit us in the mouth. Their receivers were physical and they showed us some stuff we didn’t see on film.”
Brennan Sim, who filled in for an injured Myles Gibbon, spoke after the game. “It means a lot to the team to finish the season 7-0, to face a little adversity for the first time, and to come out with a really strong second half. For me, it was exciting to be able to end the season on a high note.”
Coach Jones also spoke about the challenge the Jags faced in Huntingdon. “We kind of wanted a challenge. Of course I would’ve rather scored a few more points, but the bottom line is Huntingdon came out and played great. Those guys are scrappy, and I knew it. When I watched them on film I knew they would present a challenge. Hats off to them for coming out and playing well.
We needed a game, we needed to be able to come in at halftime and regroup, refocus and make some changes. We did that, the staff did a great job at halftime, and we came out and played a great second half.”
The Jaguars halftime adjustments were excellent. But their determination and hard work really payed off. The Jags are a very physical team, just like Coach Jones wants, and it showed in the second half. They just wore Huntingdon out down the stretch of the second half.
The Jags have alot of build on over the next several months to prepare for next season. The coaches will be recruiting hard over the next several weeks leading up to National Signing Day in early February.
The excitement has reached new heights this football season in Mobile. Even though Alabama is undefeated, it is very encouraging to see so many people wearing their South Alabama merchandise to various places.
Another exciting thing is that the students and fans can keep wearing their “Still Undefeated” shirts for the next nine months leading up to the 2010 season. This can only help recruiting. But if Alabama happens to slip up anytime during their last few games of the season, those shirts can take on new meaning.
What does next season have in store for the Jags? Only time will tell, but one thing we can clearly see right now is that the sky is the limit. To take the words from Casey Kasem, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Go Jags! Still Undefeated!
The Jags opponent in just two short days may be the teams biggest challenge of the year. The Jags are coming off of back to back 64 point games then will follow it up with a short week for the Thursday night match up. But Huntingdon College may not be like most of the schools the Jags have faced this season.
Huntingdon has experienced players, they will have juniors and seniors. They are averaging around 550 yards of offense and about 44 points per game. Although they are a Division III school, they have experience and they have talent. What they may lack would be size on the offensive and defensive lines.
Here are some comments from Coach Jones during Monday’s media day on Huntington College. “When you look at Huntingdon you see a very good football team,” said Coach Jones. “We may have played some other teams with better athletes, but this is by far the best team we’ve played. They’re extremely well coached, and they do all the right things. They’re very good on offense, averaging 44 points per game, with 550 yards a game. They’re leading the nation in Division III offensively. We realize they’re a very good football team, and we’re really looking forward to Thursday night.”
Huntingdon’s quarterback, Justin Ridgeway, has made some plays this year. Coach Jones had this to say about him. “He’s very athletic. He has a good arm, is a big quarterback with size to him, and he rolls out of the pocket and throws the ball really well. One thing I notice about him is he makes plays when things seem to go awry. If the protection breaks down he will scramble and make a throw, and that always scares you as a coach because you do everything right, things break down and you feel like you’ve got him, and then all of a sudden he makes a big play.”
Again, the other elephant that was in the room about this weeks game is the short turnaround time from Saturday to Thursday. “It is different. We’ve cut back two days of preparation from the normal week to week cycle,” Coach Jones answered. “We came in on Sunday and worked, and the coaches have been here nonstop getting ready for this ballgame. The biggest thing is our coaching staff has to have time to put a game plan together, put it in a simple way for the kids to understand it, and we’ve done that. I told the team yesterday that we’ve got to be ready to play. We’ve only got two more practices left, and so we’ve got to get everything done. I’ve challenged them to do that, and they’ve responded to it.”
The Jags kick off against Huntingdon College on Thursday at 6:00pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for their last game of the season and a chance to go undefeated in the Jags inaugural season of football. They are billing the game as a white out. The Jags will wear their white helmets with their white jersey’s and white pants. They encourage their fans to wear white as well to support the Jags.
The Jags homecoming saw yet another impressive showcase of South Alabama talent. The Jags score four touchdowns in the first quarter, score a total 64 points and win by 50+ points for the second consecutive game.
Big Brandon Ross opened the scoring when his 15 yard run up the middle finished the 6 play 73 yard drive with less than two minutes gone in the first quarter. The defense would force a three and out punt to set up the Jags second touchdown drive of 5 plays covering 77 yards. Myles Gibbon capped it off with a 15 yard run to put the Jags ahead 14-0 with 9:47 to go in the first quarter.
A second consecutive defensive stand forced the Falcons to go three and out again. Brennan Sim then came in to lead the offense in its third drive and quickly showed his stuff by hitting Courtney Smith (AKA Quick 6) on a 73 yard touchdown strike to extend their lead to 21-0 with 7:02 left in the first quarter still.
The Falcon offense finally got their first first down of the game on their third drive but could only manage to go 28 yards in 5 plays before being forced to punt to the Jags again. The Jags started at their own six yard line but Brennan Sim showed his poise and led the Jags on a 94 yard march in seven plays to score. Brandon Ross carried it in for this second touchdown of the first quarter. This 94 yard drive was the longest by the Jags so far this season. The Jags led 28-0 with 2:11 left in the first quarter.
The Jags then forced the Falcons to punt on their next possession and pinned the Jags back within their 20 yard line again. But the Jags would drive again. Moving the ball 76 yards in 10 plays they settled for a Michel Chapaseaux from 25 yards out to run their lead out to 31-0 with 11:49 left in the first half.
The Jags defense held again and forced their third three and out punt of the game. However a mental error in special teams play gave the ball back to the Falcons at the Jaguar 31 yard line, which they would take advantage of by scoring on a 30 yard pass but failing to convert the PAT left them at 31-6.
A big return on the ensuing kickoff put the Jags at the Falcon 19 yard line. Five plays and 19 yards later, Anthony Mostella took the ball in for a touchdown from one yard out to extend the Jaguar lead to 38-6 with 6:32 left in the first half.
The next Falcon possession was another three and out punt. However the Jags would give the ball right back on the next play with an interception at the Milford 12 yard line. Forced to punt from their own endzone, the punter mishandled the low snap and the Jags pounced causing a safety to put the Jags up 40-6 with 4:35 left in the first half.
With the safety, the Falcons were forced to kickoff to the Jags from their own 20 yard line with a free kick. The Jags would march 44 yards in 5 plays to cap off the first half scoring. This time Eli Smith carried the ball in from 8 yards out to run their lead to 47-6 with 2:18 left until halftime.
Milford would get the ball on the kickoff and put together their best drive of the game, moving the ball 67 yards in 8 plays only taking 1:38 to do it. Their drive ended with a 7 yard touchdown pass with 40 seconds left in the half. Would kneel on the ball to go into halftime with a 47-12 lead.
The Jags rolled up a dominating 456 yards of offense in the first half with 322 of them coming on the ground.
The third quarter saw a lul in the scoring with only Michel Chapaseaux adding a 39 yard field goal with 8:57 left in the third quarter for a 50-12 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter Clifton Crews picked off a Falcon pass and returned it 49 yards for a Jaguar touchdown. Lawson McGlon added the PAT for a 57-12 lead. Then on the next Jaguar possession, Ryan Scott scored on a one yard run to end the 11 play 64 yard drive for the last Jaguar touchdown for the final score of 64-12.
Unfortunately Myles Gibbon went down with a foot injury late in the game after a long pass completion. He was helped off the field by the trainers and immediately went to the trainers table where they worked on his ankle. He walked off on crutches and later came back to watch the remainder of the game with the South Alabama students. The initial prognosis is that its a broken ankle but X-rays are scheduled on Monday to confirm.
Twelve different Jags carried the ball for a total of 396 yards, led by Brandon Ross’ 6 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Myles Gibbon ran 3 times for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Passing Gibbon went 2-of-5 for 33 yards, Brennan Sim was 2-for-3 for 90 yards including the 73 yard strike to Smith for a touchdown. Nick Owens was 2-for-6 for 40 yards and an interception. Gabe Graham was 0-for-1.
Receiving Courtney Smith was the only Jag to catch more than one pass with 2 for 76 and the only touchdown. Erling Riis caught one for 30 and Taylor Noon caught one for 29.
Clifton Crews led the way with 7 total tackles but Ken Barefield led the team in solo tackles with 4.
The Jags totaled 538 yards of offense (the most this season) with 397 of them on the ground. The Defense only gave up 185 total yards with only 35 of them rushing.
The Jags were penalized eight times for 89 yards and the Falcons were flagged seven times for 67 yards.
After the game Coach Jones had this to say: “It was a big win again. I’m proud of the kids for playing well. It’s just a matter of executing well and playing hard. We’ve got a short week coming up, and we’re going to start getting ready early in the morning for the game on Thursday. We’re looking forward to it because they’re going to be one of the best teams we play. They’re leading the nation in offense in Division III, so we’ve got a great game to look forward to this week.”
Brennan Sim thought the offense did its job. “I think we moved the ball well. We executed, which we need to continue to do,” he said. “What we saw on film is what we got. We hit them big on a couple of plays because they played a lot of cover zero, so they didn’t even have a safety out there.”
Ryne Baxter, an offensive lineman who got his first start in place of an injured Cory Pitman, said, “The coaches prepared us well. We worked hard all week, so I was ready to step up when I was called on. I was a little nervous at first, but after the first play I knew I was going to be alright.”
Milford Academy head coach Bill Chaplick joined the ranks of opponents coaches who spoke highly of the Jaguar team. “This was a great experience for my guys to come down here. We are normally a blitzing defense and South Alabama was able to take us out of that. We weren’t able to get to the quarterback until we were down 28 points and that killed us. Offensively, we just weren’t able to do anything either.”
The Jags will have a very quick turnaround with their next game coming up on Thursday night. The weather over the next couple days may cause the coaches headaches in preparing for Huntingdon College with the potential for heavy rain for Monday and Tuesday. The Hawks will come into the game with an 8-1 record after downing Coach Jones’ former team, Birmingham-Southern, on Saturday.
Kickoff Thursday night is scheduled for 6pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
At media day on Monday Coach Jones was joined by quarterback Brennan Sim and defensive lineman Romelle Jones. Following are some of the highlights from the press conference.
When asked about Milford Academy coach Jones said that they have some similarities to the last few teams the Jags have faced. One difference is their defensive front. They will put eight guys in the box, which really crowds the line. So they have to play man coverage outside. The Jags have already seen that with Georgia Military.
On offense they are more similar to everyone the Jags have played with multiple formations, but not nearly as many as Fork Union, who utilizes 42 different formations.
Coach Jones’ answer to the question about what the team will do in practice this coming week, he had the following to say. “We’re going to go against each other again offensively and defensively. That’s making us better as a football team. I’ve learned over the course of this season that getting ready for the speed of the game by the way we practice with our ones against ones has really helped us. We’re going to focus on that.”
One question reflected back on last weeks thrashing of Fork Union asking what the team could take away from that win. “We’re trying to really evaluate ourselves,” Coach Jones said. “I talked to the coaches and told them we ought to evaluate as if we lost the game. Normally when you lose a game you’re mad, you’re upset about something, and you overanalyze things. Let’s do that now, even though we won, because there are a lot of things our guys can do to get better fundamentally, and we need to just focus on those things. I’m taking the focus off of who we’re playing and putting the focus on what we’re doing to be a good football team. The bottom line is it’s reality for us right now, and we’re just focusing on getting better in practice, as well as how we approach practice and how prepared we are mentally to practice.”
Coach Jones answered a question about where the team needs to improve, which he has been saying for weeks now: “It’s still going back to the passing game. We threw the ball deep very well last week, had some big plays down the field. Where we struggle a little bit offensively is converting the third and four to eight types of plays, and we’ve got to get better at that. We have a problem with that in practice, our defense brings a lot of pressure, and so converting on third and medium would be a concern of mine offensively. Special teams we’ve been really pleased with, and the only thing I would say there is tackling, that sometimes gives the kids some problems, but as far as assignments go everything is good. Defensively, getting back to more turnovers. We had so many takeaways in the early games, and they’re playing well, but we didn’t have as many turnovers come our way in the last couple of games as we had in the previous three.”
With the season winding down, one of the questions was about how Coach Jones feels about areas that were a concern coming into the season. “The offensive line is still thin, but we’ve had a couple guys step up into the playing rotation,” Coach Jones answered. “The secondary was our other concern earlier in the year, and some guys have really stepped up and played well there. Jerron Mitchell has really stepped up and had a great year at cornerback, and having Jerron there has really helped us.”
Another question about the season winding down, was about having only 11 days left in the first football season. To which Coach Jones answered, “I’ll probably think more about that once it’s over, but reflecting back on it one thing is it’s gone fast. It seems like every day I come to work it’s a great experience. Our kids are reacting really well on the practice field and in games. One thing looking back on it is the team chemistry has come together in a great way. I’ve coached a lot of teams, sometimes you work on those things and talk about those things with the players, and some years the chemistry may be good. On a scale of one to 10 some years it may be an eight, some years it’s a seven, some years it’s a nine, and I think this year it’s a 10 as far as the team chemistry goes. That’s one thing I look back on and feel like we’ve accomplished, and the kids are certainly a big part of that. It’s been a very gratifying season from the standpoint of we didn’t look very good at all last spring. This fall we’re a totally different football team, it’s not even close, and that makes you feel good that you’ve made some progress and the kids are going in the right direction.”
Next up was Brennan Sim who was asked about Saturday’s game. He said that from his positions standpoint, he thought the coaches was happier with their performance. They have progressed over the course of the season and they want to keep getting better. They are not where they want to be going into next season and they have a long way to go to get there.
He was also asked about knowing what to work on each week. “There are still things that we can improve on,” Sim said. “The teams we’re playing have really talented players, it’s just tough to put a team together in one year. Most of them have players who are one year removed from high school, and we’re a four-year program, so we’re going to have more chemistry. But these are really solid teams that we’re playing, so you can still get good feedback.”
The final Jag player to speak was Romelle Jones. He was asked about the defense’s performance against the Fork Union offense. He said that the defensive line is still young and are trying to improve every game. He also said that Coach Clark has been on them saying they need to get more sacks as a group. But that their goal is to shut out their opponent each game.
When asked about the defense’s performance this season he answered, “Our coaches preach perfection each practice, and to never let down in the game. We don’t underestimate any of our opponents, and we have respect for everyone on our schedule. We prepare for every game the same way, no matter who we’re playing.”
One of the final questions was about what the defense is working to improve on every day. Jones answered that they are working this week to prevent big plays. He said it seems that every game they have given up a big play in every game this season and that tehir goal is to limit them.
Don’t forget all of the homecoming activities Friday at South Alabama. 4:30-5:30pm they will be hosting an open house as the new football field house followed by an hour long alumni lawn party outside of Alumni Hall which is then followed by USA’s Homecoming parade starting at 6:30pm.
The Jags will take the field against Milford Academy at 4pm on Saturday to try to stay undefeated at 6-0 for their first season of football.
Coach Jones said that after the success of this year and the progression of the team that they were going to go ahead and schedule some tougher teams next season. He mentioned they are looking to schedule some Division I-AA schools. Some schools in California and Texas were examples.
Lee mentioned that he talked to the coach from Milford Academy and he said they were taking a two day bus trip, leaving out on Wednesday, to travel down to Mobile for Saturday’s game. Lee joked he was just glad that, after their loss the weekend before and the Jags big 64-6 win, he was glad they didn’t cancel the game.
Coach Jones jumped in and said that they (other schools) want to win the game but they also want to expose their players to different places and schools. He said that after last weeks game they had players coming up to them saying that they were Freshman and that they really liked what they have going on here (South Alabama), he mentioned the crowd and the atmosphere then he mentioned that they would like for them to consider them for next season.
Lee asked Coach Jones about the progression of Brennan Sim and if he has closed the gap between him and Myles Gibbon. If that they were trying to get him more playing time because of that. Coach Jones said that they both play well and that with the 7 game season they could play both of them and get a better evaluation of them. Brennan only has one season left, he will be a redshirt Senior next year. Lee ended the segment by asking if they were looking to bring in another quarterback which Coach Jones answered quickly by saying that they are.
There are alot of activities going on at USA on Friday. From 4:30 to 5:30pm they will be having open house at the new Football Fieldhouse with a couple coaches and players giving tours and talking with fans. Then at 6:30 there will be a homecoming parade on campus followed by a bonfire. Then Saturday is the homecoming game with Miss America to sing the National Anthem.
Coach Jones said he was pleased with the passing game beyond the first two throws. He was pleased with Sim and Nick Owens passing. Lots of high percentage completions and they looked pretty sharp. He said they are getting more comfortable with it. He also mentioned that its something you have to work on day in and day out. They have a blitz period almost every day, at least two out of three days. Constantly getting that over and over again, they get used to it and adjust to it.
Justin Schwind, the strength and conditioning coach, came onto the program with Coach Jones. Coach Schwind said first off they have to sell the program to the kid, that they will get stronger and that the work will pay off by better play on the field. Next he has to meet with them individually to see what their goals, wants and desires are and try to amend their program towards that.
His first goal after that is to keep the player healthy and off the injured list. Then after that goal, he wants to help these guys get bigger and stronger which will help their play. But the number 1 thing performance wise that these guys need to do is mature physically. He used Clifton Crews as an example that he has gained about 15 lbs over the summer but still needs to gain about 15 lbs more to be the right size for Division I-A and be able to push some guys around and there are other guys he could name to that list.
Coach Schwind also works with the players for their diet. He doesn’t like the word ‘diet’ he likes uses the word ‘lifestyle change’ because thats what it really is.
Lee asked Coach Jones if they knew who they were opening up the season against. Coach Jones answered that they don’t know yet but they are talking to some people like UC-Davis and Nicols State but don’t know who its going to be yet.
Asked by Lee to make a case for Milford, Coach Jones said that most of the teams they have faced this year have had better defense’s than offense’s but Milford may be the best offense they have faced this season. They have a couple good commitments to schools, one to Florida.
The Jags continued their march towards an undefeated inaugural season with a big victory over Fork Union on Saturday with a spectacular display of passing. Coach Jones said over the last two weeks that they wanted to be able to pass the ball more effectively and be a more balanced team and it showed.
After stopping the Blue Devils on their first possession, the Jags did not hesitate to put on a display. The first Jaguar play from scrimmage saw freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon find Courtney Smith open for a 64 yard touchdown pass. Then the Jaguar defense stopped the Blue Devils on their ensuing possession forcing a second three and out punt. Again Gibbon threw to Smith who would take it 60 yards for a second touchdown and putting Courtney Smith in the record books as the first Jaguar to have over 100 yards receiving in only two plays.
The Jags defense would hold the Blue Devils to a third consecutive three and out punt. With the offense moving the ball again, covering 36 yards on two plays, the Jags would lose a fumble at the Blue Devil 19 yard line. But the Blue Devils would not have the ball long after being force to punt for the fourth consecutive possession of the first quarter.
The Jags would score their third touchdown of the opening quarter when Brandon Ross took it in from two yards out. Michel Chapuseaux would miss the PAT attempt so the Jags lead would be 20 with about four and a half minutes left in the first quarter. Ross’ run was set up by the previous play when Brennan Sim found Lamontis Gardner for a 40 yard gain.
Even with a 20 point lead in the first quarter, the Jaguar defense could smell blood. On the ensuing Blue Devil possession, Zach Brownell pounced on an interception and returned it 30 yards. This set up a field goal by Michel Chapuseaux of 24 yards to extend the Jags lead to 23.
But the defense wasn’t done yet. Just two plays later the Jags forced a fumble which Montavious Williams scooped up and returned for a 24 yard touchdown to round out the Jaguar scoring in the first quarter. The Jags would outgain the Blue Devils 217-8 on their way to the 30-0 first quarter score.
The Jaguar defense would forst another three and out on the next Blue Devil possession. After getting the ball on the Blue Devil 15, the Jags only took three plays to punch it into the endzone with Santuan McGee’s 2 yard touchdown running capping off the short drive for a 37-0 score.
The Blue Devils would finally get get a first down and move the ball on their eighth possession going 31 yards in seven plays before turning the ball over on downs at the jaguar 34 yard line. Sim would then lead the Jags on an 8 play 66 yard scoring drive which saw Brennan Sim throw his first career touchdown pass to Anthony Mostella for a 44-0 lead with 6:57 left until halftime.
The Blue Devils would then see their longest possession of the game get cut short just before halftime when the Jags Jerron Mitchell intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards with 1:07 left until halftime. The Jags would run two plays and go into halftime with a 44-0 lead.
The Jags would open the second half with another first in Jaguar history. Ralph Turner would open up the scoring in the second half with an 85 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put the Jags up 51-0 when Lawson McGlon tacked on the PAT.
However the Jaguars shutout would be disrupted on the ensuing Blue Devil drive. Fork Union would go 76 yards in 5 plays to score their only points of the game. They attempted a 2 point conversion which fell incomplete to leave the score 51-6 with 12:49 left in the third quarter.
The Blue Devil defense would finally find a way to stop the Jaguar defense on their next possession by holding them to three yards and forcing a punt. Fork Union, forced to start deep in their own territory, had a fumble on a bad snap that Clifton Crews fell on in the end zone for a touchdown with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter for a score of 57-6.
Again the Blue Devils were forced to punt on their next possession. Then the Blue Devil defense forced the Jags to a three and out and a punt. Fork Union then moved the ball 34 yards in nine plays before turning the ball over on downs at the Jaguar 47 yard line.
On the Jags first offensive play, Nick Owens found an open Kelly Vail for a 53 yard touchdown pass to end the scoring at 64-6.
The Jags would end the game with 60 yards rushing and 321 yard passing and 13 first downs. while Fork Union finished the game with -22 yards rushing and 213 passing.
Santuan McGee and Ryan Scott were the only Jaguar running backs to have double digit yards with 39 and 25 respectively on five carries each. Myles Gibbon would go 2-for-4 in the game for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns while Brennan Sim went 9-for-9 for 130 yards and a touchdown and Nick Owens went 3-for-4 for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Courtney Smith was the first Jaguar receiver to go over 100 yards in a game with 131 on 3 receptions with two of them for touchdowns. Lamontis Gardner would catch 2 for 73 yards and Kelly Vail would have one reception for 53 yards. Six other Jaguars caught passes as well.
Erling Riis would return 4 punts for 50 yards, one going 44 yards to set up a Jaguar score. Ralph Turner would return one punt for 23 yards as well as his 85 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Scott Garber would only punt twice with a 40 yard average and both punts ended up inside the Blue Devil 20 yard line.
Ken Barefield led the defense in tackles with five. Romelle Jones and Bryson James were credited with forcing a fumble each.
Coach Jones spoke after the game about the Jaguars performance. He said, “We came out and executed very well. The protection got better, and that’s where it all starts in the passing game. We had some wide open guys down the field on the first two passes, and Myles did a good job hitting Courtney. We just executed well.”
Courtney Smith commented about the offensive production, “We practiced it all week and I knew the first play was going to be to me, so I expected the ball and Myles threw a good one. After the first one they told me they were going to throw it to me again, so I expected it again.”
Myles added the following after the game as well, “Coach stressed to us that he wanted to open up the passing game. On the first two plays, I knew they wanted to hit something deep. They played the perfect defense for it, and it worked out. It’s one of those things where you drop back and everything just slows down. Although it was wide open, those are the passes quarterbacks hate throwing because you don’t want to overthrow them.”
Ralph Turner had this to say when asked about his kickoff return, “It’s been a stressful last four games for me because I haven’t really been touching the ball,” he said. “Once I got the ball the hole was wide open and I just ran.”
Again the Jaguars received high praise from the opposing teams coach after the game. Fork Union head coach John Shuman had this to say, “We had seen in the paper that South Alabama was working on its passing game. As we got here and watched the pregame warm-up, we knew that they would try to take advantage of the long ball early, and they did. They came back out and did it again. Once you get down 14 points, you become one dimensional – we couldn’t run the ball. South Alabama did a great job on the defensive side, they called some great blitzes and used a good scheme against us. On offense, it was obviously men against boys here. It just didn’t go our way today.”
Coach Jones commented about the Jaguars overall performance and Fork Union’s team by saying, “I’m proud of the guys today. After the last two games, we’ve really stressed coming to work every day. We’re trying to teach these kids a life lesson, and if they’ll approach their work the right way then good things happen. We probably out-manned the team we played, and we know that, but we played well – we didn’t play sloppy. The other team came in here and had a 15-hour bus ride, which I’m sure was a tough thing to do, so my hat is off to them for that. They had some really good athletes and good coaching. I think it was just a matter that our kids played well.”
The Jaguars will host Milford Academy next Saturday, November 7 for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.