Jags First Day In Pads Plus Media Day Coverage

August 11, 2010 · By · Filed Under Football 

Tuesday was the Jaguars’ first day in full pads and it did not disappoint. An hour long, 70 play “mini” scrimmage in addition to Coach Jones, the coordinators and a handful of players talking with the media to preview the 2010 season.

Reflecting on the scrimmage, coach Jones thought it wasn’t very good. Actually he said, “I think that our practice today was marginal at best. It was our fifth day of practice in a row, we had a heavy lifting session yesterday afternoon so there legs were tired, it was our first day in full pads, it was hot and we had a scrimmage. We didn’t have a good energy level today for the first time this camp. Our first four days were great, but today we hit a wall.”

He continued, “Is that okay? It will be if we come back tomorrow and work our tails off. I’m okay with having a bad day because sometimes I think it shakes you up. You rattle the tree, shake out all the bad apples and then you continue. I don’t want every practice to be happy, sometimes you have to struggle to succeed.”

In the press conference on Tuesday, Coach Jones talked about looking into the future of the program and their goal to be a big-time Division I program. He spoke about how the kids understand the process they are going through and how they have to work hard to get there. He said from day one they have taken a Division I mentality and that they will continue to do so, from the classroom to the weight room and to the practice field.

Coach Jones himself and the players are all excited to move up in competition by facing all four year institutions, including several Division I-AA schools.

Coach Jones went on to mention some of the differences between last year and this year. They tried to get the best player they could get and get them out on the field. Last year they didn’t have any standards, they went out and did their best. Now they can use last season as a standard to improve upon.

During recruiting, they had higher standards. They only went for players better than what they had on the roster. I’m sure this was a time consuming task as they brought in some really good players last year.

My favorite segment was about the character of this seasons team. He said, “It’s probably as good as I’ve ever been around, and I’ve had some great teams with tremendous character. We preach that and believe in it, it’s something we can control. We can’t control how big they are, if we have a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman that’s what he is. But we can do something about character and the choices we make, and we really harp on that. I think our edge is doing things that are intangible. By that I mean, the work ethic and commitment to the team. We stress that every day.”

In the state of Alabama their are two teams which everyone compares every other team against. Nick Saban’s philosophy is character and work ethic. Coach Jones philosophy, similarly, is to outwork their opponent. But unlike other programs, South Alabama is not where they want to be yet and that gives them a fire to work harder than the team on the other sideline.

However, he still stressed that they are taking great strides but that they are not ready to face a Division I opponent yet. Having North Carolina State scheduled for next season, the Jags have work to do and a target to meet.

Talking about preseason camp, coach Jones said he stressed to his team that they are going to win games this week. The Jags are in the middle of a nine consecutive day stretch of practice. With heat indices of around 108 degrees, he stressed that the one who fight through these workouts will be on top in the fall.

Coach Jones spoke about the ghosts of an undefeated season. “We’re fighting our success last year a little bit. Just because we were 7-0 doesn’t mean anything. If we had been 0-7 it wouldn’t have meant anything to me either. I think that as coaches and players we need to look at it through regular glasses rather than rose-colored glasses because we all get comfortable and think everything is okay. We have to keep looking to be critical of ourselves no matter what the circumstance.”

When he spoke about offseason transfers, he said “Sometimes they fall into your lap, it just kind of works out.” The excitement of a new program and opportunity for early playing time is quite alluring. They can also see how they are doing thing right from the coaching staff to the facilities. Those kind of things are quite compelling to very good players at big schools where they don’t see much playing time.

Coach Jones addressed South Alabama’s quarterback talk by saying, “We are trying to get every one of our quarterbacks reps now, I’m not going to rank them one through four because they all have good qualities. We have a good problem. It will filter out as time goes, and we will have to make a decision in three weeks.”

Then he spoke about Brennan Sim specificly, “Brennan’s a leader. When I talked to [head strength and conditioning coach] Justin Schwind last summer when Brennan came, he told me that he was one of the best leaders we had in the weight room, and he had just gotten there. He is one of those guys who is just a born leader. I haven’t known him since he was growing up, but when he walks into a room there is a presence he has. Brennan has a calming effect on our young players, he has an experience factor that a lot of guys on the team don’t have right now.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark spoke next about the defense. He spoke about how he could not think of how last season could have gone any better from a team standpoint. But that they will have a larger challenge to tackle this season with back to back weeks of games. Last season they had several breaks between games. His list of positives was that they have lots of veterans returning from last season. Last year they were trying to find out who could play, this season they will have to step up.

Players have returned bigger and stronger and they are working on developing depth. One position that he feels that they have developed depth is at cornerback. A position of concern is safety and that the coaches are working on that. He is said that the coaches were very excited about linebacker position with a lot of depth. Defensive end, however, is a position he is looking for players to step up in.

He has a goal of getting three players at each position for depth. They want the defense to be dynamic, which means they need the new players to come in, get the scheme down and play at the level they expect them to. It will take some time in order to progress to that point.

Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said that he expects the offense to be a good football team since they have so many players returning with experience. The continued by saying that they are fostering as much competition at every position as they can. Returning players know that they have pressure on them from the new guys.

However, the Jaguars are returning a good core of skill players in addition to the entire offensive line from last season. Add into the mix the “exceptional” group of freshmen and incoming players and he thinks the pressure and competition will drive them to be even better.

They know that they need to improve since every team on the schedule this season is better than any team they faced last season.

The hot question, again, was about the quarterback position. Coach Gregory said he thought Sim was a little better than Gibbon in the spring, but only slightly. But C.J. Bennett has picked things up quickly since he was there all summer. The newest addition, Raymond Cotton, is in a position where he is playing catch up since he wasn’t on campus during the summer. He was quick to point out that he was very talented. But he ended the QB talk by saying, “The bottom line is we’re going to play whoever gives us the best chance to win games.”

There was no hesitation from Coach Gregory when he spoke about what the offense needed to get better. “The key to getting better offensively is the line. I think a great quarterback deflects praise to the offensive line, because it’s not going to happen if we don’t have an offensive line. I think that’s where we have to make the biggest step in our football program. We’re a little bit undersized with our returning guys, but they are athletic and we need them to step up and play at a high level. Our freshman are just young, but they have size. We’re trying to find out who can provide us depth at each position, but I think we have some young guys who are going to help us out up front.”

He spoke similarly about the freshman running backs as he did about the quarterbacks saying, “The best players will be out there, and if they’re capable of playing, we’ll get them out there. They all have a chance.”

For a more in depth read and quotes from players, check out www.usajaguars.com.

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