Jaguars First Practice Of 2010 Preseason Camp

August 7, 2010 · By · Filed Under Football 

South Alabama hit the field early Friday morning for their first day of preseason practice. With more returning players, the Jags have more leadership and more organization in their first practice. Not that last years practice was disorganized by any means. These returning players have a determined focus and knowledge of the South Alabama system that they can help guide the incoming freshman through their initial paces.

In a little over two hours of practice time, it quickly became obvious to both the new transfers and the incoming freshmen that the Jaguars mean business. After coming off of an undefeated inaugural season, it would be easy to begin preseason camp with ease. But that would not make their road to FBS any shorter.

Practice began with about 15 minutes of special teams punt coverage before the offense and defense split to opposing sides of the field. The quarterbacks went through pass plays beginning with wide receivers, then running backs and finally tight ends. While the defense worked on pursuing ball carriers down the sidelines.

After about 35 minutes of split offensive and defensive drills, or about 50 minutes into the practice session, linebackers and defensive backs grouped up and began going through pass play coverage while the offense continued going through passing plays but they also added running plays.

The next 15 minutes had 7-on-7 skeleton passing drills while defensive linemen and outside linebackers faced the offensive line and attempted to pressure the quarterback.

After that session, the offense and defense split again. The offense went back to working on its plays while the defense focused on formations, coverages and rushing the passer.

A 10 minute period had 11-on-11, offense versus defense, drills. The offense was able to complete three of ten passing attempts, including the last two attempts by Brennan Sim. The only other to complete an attempt was Raymond Cotton who found Erling Riis on a screen play.

The returning players came out and were definitely bigger and stronger. Coach Jones attributed their first day effort to their weight and conditioning training over the summer. During the summer, only the strength and conditioning staff are allowed to work directly with the student-athletes. Coach Jones commented, “One thing I noticed in walking around with the other coaches is that we look a lot better than we did last year physically on the field. Now, we have to translate that into playing well. Just because we look good doesn’t mean we’re going to play good. The challenge for the guys is that they have to transfer some of that weight they’ve gained into being great players.”

Linebacker Justin Dunn, one of ten returning defensive starters, was quoted saying, “The talent level has improved, and so has our depth.” Not only are more players are on the team in the way of freshmen, but five transfers from  FBS (formerly Division I-A) should make an immediate impact for the Jaguars.

Raymond Cotton, one of the latest and definitely biggest press garnering transfers to the South Alabama program was quite impressed with his first practice. “They bring it out here, harder than I thought they would,” he was quoted saying.

Jake Johnson, linebacker transfer from Virginia Tech, was also impressed with his first practice with the Jaguars. “It was intense, especially compared to what I was used to at Virginia Tech. This is the hardest practice I have been a part of since high school two-a-days. It was non-stop, which made it tough, but it was a fun practice.”

Coach Joey Jones can see improvements in the size, strength and depth of his team as they hit the field in preparation for their second season. But one of his goals since the end of last season was to make sure that he and his staff take time to thoroughly examine the program to see where they could improve as well. Coach Jones said, “We spent the whole off-season trying to get better. The staff has done a great job of looking at what we did last year, seeing what people are doing around the country and trying to learn. We’re not going to make wholesale changes, but would like to add things that fit with us.”

With the unfortunate passing of Jaguar running back Anthony Mostella, Coach Jones announced that his memory was to be honored by having a distinguished senior wear his jersey in his honor. The team took a vote on Wednesday when the players reported to campus and Coach Jones announced that Justin Dunn would wear the number 5 jersey. “I’m excited about it,” Dunn said about the honor. “Mo was a close friend of mine, my next-door neighbor actually, and we played together at Birmingham-Southern for three years. It’s an honor, because he’s one of the best people I know, a great athlete, a great student and a good person. More people like him would make the world a better place.”

The Jaguars will return to the field at 7:10am Saturday morning for another two hour practice in shorts and helmets. On Sunday and Monday mornings, the Jags are scheduled to hit the field in shells before donning full pads on Tuesday.

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