With less than 36 hours until kickoff of the Jaguars third season of football, the excitement is in the air. Coach Jones is excited, the players are excited and the students and fans are excited.
South Alabama is encouraging everyone in attendance to wear their home Red colors. The USA Athletic Marketing Department will be handing out free red shakers at all gates beginning at 4:30pm. The parking lot will open at noon for tailgaters to start their festivities.
Shuttle service will begin at 2:30pm and will be running continuous from the Bel Air Mall parking lot south of Target and J.C. Penny until 90 minutes after the conclusion of the game. The price of a round-trip ticket is a mere $2.50, so if you don’t have a parking pass and still want to come out to the game this is an excellent deal. The Jaguar Prowl is scheduled for 4:10pm with kickoff scheduled for 6:30pm. After the game there will be a fireworks show.
The Game will be televised locally on UTV44 and nationally on ESPN3.com.
South Alabama will try to extend their winning streak to 18 games when they host fellow in-state foe West Alabama. Last seasons stats for both teams looks like we could see a shoot-out.
West Alabama averaged just over 449 yards per game while the Jags averaged over 439 yards per game. Though USA’s average points per game was 41.3 to UWA’s 29.7.
C.J. Bennett returns as one of nine returning starters, to guide the offense after starting the final three games of the season totaling 1,189 yards and nine touchdowns in his redshirt freshman season. UWA’s will be without Deon Williams who went 223-for-356 for 3,392 yards and 25 touchdowns last season.
Kendall Houston returns to lead the Jaguar rushing attack with transfer Demetre Baker. Houston rushed for 891 yards with five 100+ yard games and 10 touchdowns. He averaged over six yards per carry. UWA returns T-Ray Mitchell who ran for 843 yards and six touchdowns. Gerald Worsham caught 80 passes for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns as their go-to receiver.
Bryant Lavender, Jereme Jones and Corey Waldon will step up to try to fill in for departed wide receiver Courtney Smith. Lavender caught 16 passes last season for 276 yards and two touchdowns, Jones added 15 catches and two touchdowns and Waldon caught 14 passes for 291 yards. Tight Ends Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms both caught nine passes as well.
The Jags return seven starters on the defensive side of the ball. They held opposing teams to an average of just over 81 yards per game and just over 254 yards per game and a mere 13 points per game. They also average 2.5 turnovers per game and only allowing the opposing team to convert third downs 26% of the time.
Enrique Williams lead the team with 48 tackles while also breaking up three passes. Ken Barefield who also had three pass break-ups with 37 tackles and Jake Johnson who had 31 tackles and four sacks both ranked in the top five on the defense in tackles. Romelle Jones lead the group with six tackles for loss.
UWA returns linebacker Gabe Poe, their top tackler, who recorded 97 tackles, eight for a loss. Poe’s number was 33 more than the next closest defensive player. Deon Lacey added 49 tackles and Bryant McGowan added 46 tackles at linebacker. Defensive back D’Eric Jackson lead the team with three interceptions while returning two for touchdowns.
Their defense allowed 375.7 yards and 22.3 points per game.
Both teams return their punter with USA’s Scott Garber averaging 40.4 yards per kick including 16 punts downed inside the 20. UWA’s Brock Sharp averaged 37.9 yards per kick and should also handle placekicking after going 12-of-19 last year.
As for South Alabama’s placekicking duties, it is expected that Jordan Means will handle the duties after showing improvements. Although South Alabama has two other kickers who have experience and have competed for that role throughout preseason camp. Means was 4-for-4 last season. It is unknown if Means or Chapuseaux will be handling kickoff duties for the Jags.
Jereme Jones averaged 19.4 yards per punt return last season and will share time with transfer B.J. Scott as the Jags will be without the T.J. Glover as he was deemed ineligible this season. UWA’s Wes Mounger averaged 21.9 yards per kick return and 11.9 yards per punt return is expected handle the same duties again this season.
USA Cheerleaders leading the team onto the field.
South Alabama held a press conference on Monday ahead of the season opening game against West Alabama. Head Coach Joey Jones along with wide receiver Bryant Lavender and defensive lineman Andy Dalgleish were available to the media.
Coach Jones previewed the game against West Alabama. He said that last season they were 7-4 and did not lose a game by more than four points. He also mentioned that fourteen of the teams 22 starters are junior college transfers so they are experienced and talented.
Coach Jones expects former Gulf Shores High School quarterback Gary Johnston to start, which West Alabama head coach Will Hall confirmed in a radio interview yesterday morning.
Gerald Worsham had 80 receptions last season and is poised to break the career receptions record for the Tigers. Coach Jones said that he is extremely quick and a very good football player.
Defensively Coach Jones said that the Tigers have some big guys up front and that will make it tough to run the ball. He expects to play a talented football team but is looking forward to the challenge.
Coach Jones continued talking about the teams progress this offseason and preseason. He said they have been building the program for the last three years now and he feels good where they are. Players have gotten bigger, faster and more mature and also more experienced.
He said that he believes that the team is where it wants to be at this time, but he does not know how that compares to the teams we have on our schedule this year. The team returns most of the starters from last year, so he knows what to expect and he also is ready to see how they step up their game against the teams they will face this season.
Talking about ticket sales and fan support Coach Jones said that most upstart programs, including South Florida, saw good support in the first two years. However they saw support fall off in years three and four, but the Jags support has continued to increase as we go into season three.
Coach Jones attributed the continued support to the excitement in Mobile over the football team. The players also get excited to see the fans full of red and white cheering them on.
When coach Jones talked about how good the team is in year three, he was cautious by saying that this is a building process. While the team may be where it wants to be at this point in the process, but it will take years to get where the team ultimately wants to be. But there are several games this season that will give insights into where the team really is. Coach Jones also cautioned that everyone should wait until the end of the season to reflect on the entire body of work before judging where they are.
On the opening season game, Coach Jones said he is very excited. Actually he is as excited about this game as any game he has been involved with. He also said that the players are very excited too. The players had a very high intensity during practice and their emotion levels have been up the last few days.
Video and interviews with Dalgleish and Lavender are available on the South Alabama sports website here.
The Jags have three days until kickoff against West Alabama at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. They will have two more practices in preparation for the game then a walk-through at the Stadium on Wednesday before going into full gameday preparations before the 6:30pm kickoff.
On Tuesday, the first Jag-Gals social of the football season will be held at Tacky Jacks on the Causeway from 5:30pm-7:00pm. Head Coach Joey Jones, Associate Athletic Director Travis Toth and Equipment Operations Manager Jeff Bailey will be there previewing the upcoming season. Also they will be talking about the Jaguars gameday operations.
Jag Gals Tickets are available for $15 in advance or $25 on the day of the event.
When West Alabama visits Mobile, they will be lead by a new head coach. Division II legend Bobby Wallace announced his retirement last season and former Offensive Coordinator Will Hall was chosen to take over the head job. Will Hall, at age 30, has established himself as a rising talent in the college football ranks.
In 2009 Hall’s offense ranked 3rd in the Gulf South Conference and 21st in the nation. In the 2010 season the offense ranked 17th in the nation with the passing offense finishing 10th in the nation averaging over 300 yards per game.
The Tigers will test South Alabama’s newly revamped secondary
On Thursday the Jaguars held a situational scrimmage at the Jaguar Practice Facility. With the September 1st season opener less than a week away, the coaches wanted to cover as many game-like situations that the player could face this season as possible.
The first team and second team offenses and defenses faced the scout teams for about 80 plays as well as all special teams. The scrimmage began with a kickoff by Jordan Means with the first-team defense starting the day against the scout team offense at the offense’s 20-yard line.
The defense forced a three-and-out then the first team offense started at mid-field. The offense ran six plays with Kendall Houston rushing three times and C.J. Bennett finding Corey Waldon open for a seven yard gain. The offense got to the 35-yard line, but a field goal attempt was missed wide left.
The first team defense forced a second three-and-out. However they were quickly back on the field following a simulated turnover where the offense took over at the defense’s 45-yard line. The defense answered with a Charles Harris interception in the back of the end zone to end the drive.
First half highlights include a Lawson McGlon 37-yard field goal as well as a two-yard Demetre Baker touchdown run followed by a Jordan Means extra point.
The second half highlights saw a 41-yard touchdown run by Ellis Hill, a Gabe Loper interception in the back of the end zone during two-minute drills and extra points by McGlon and Means.
“It was a pretty crisp practice. We didn’t have a lot of mental errors out there,” Said head coach Joey Jones after the scrimmage. “The kids came focused and ready to go. I think they are ready for the game next week – there’s no doubt about it. We keep talking about working hard, and they have done that. They have paid their dues. We have been here three weeks and a lot of good work has been done, so they are ready to play.”
Coach Jones continued, “They know it is game week and that from this point forward we have three or four days of practice before the first game. They have worked all year, from January until now, just to have a chance to play in the game. That’s one thing about football; you work a long time just to have a few chances to get out in the spotlight, so our kids are looking forward to it.”
Coaches and Players return to the practice field at 7:15am on Friday morning to continue preparation for West Alabama.
The University of South Alabama will kickoff their third season of football one week from today when West Alabama visits Ladd-Peebles Stadium for a 6:30pm kickoff.
The Jaguars backed off some in Wednesday’s practice by hitting the practice fields in shells ahead of Thursday’s scrimmage.
The usual flow of practice continued with special teams focusing on kickoff returns which was followed by individual work, skeleton passing drills and inside drills. Later in practice, the team faced the scout teams for about 30 minutes with the offense running over 30 plays on the turf field while the defense ran plays on the grass field.
A 10 minute segment near the end of practice focused on two-mintue drills. Both the first team and the second team defensive units prevented the offense from putting up any points. The second team had a chance after Trey Fetner completed a long pass to Jake Howton down the left sideline to set up a field goal attempt. However missed in the waning seconds of the drill.
The Jags ended the practice with more special teams work focusing on kickoff coverage.
Coach Jones thought it was a good practice, but he had one concern. “I thought it was a really good practice, though we lost our focus a little bit at the end. Just watching the offense I thought we had some missed assignments late. But other than that, it was a great practice. We have to learn to focus at the end when it’s the fourth quarter and we’re a little tired and it’s hot.”
Coach Jones also previewed the Thursday scrimmage. “We’ll start off with kickoff and bring the defense out,” he said. “We’ll run a few plays and have the punt return team come out, we’ll play it just like a game. Every situation can come up, I have a script that we go through that will include situations that we haven’t been able to cover in practice; special things like taking safeties, kickoff return after a safety and the last play of the game where we take a knee.”
The Jags will return to the Jaguar Practice Facility in full pads on Thursday for the situational scrimmage. No time was announced for the srimmage.
Tuesday morning the Jaguars hit the practice field to continue to get ready for the quickly approaching season. The practice session lasted around two hours and the players were in full pads.
Practice kept the same flow with special teams work first before going into individual drills. During individual drills the offensive line focused on screens and pass fundamentals while the skill positions worked on routes and blocking. They also worked on inside running drills before transitioning into skeleton passing drills. While Skeleton drills were occurring, the offensive linemen were working on pass protection.
The offense and defense then faced scout teams with the offense running around 35 plays. After scout team work, the offense and defense then came together to work on picking up the blitz. The defense recorded three sacks and four forced incompletions in an eight play series. The lone completion was a four yard gain by Corey Waldon on a pass from C.J. Bennett.
The Jags then ended the practice with more special teams work as they worked on punt returns.
Coach Jones commented on the practice by saying, “I thought it was a very good practice with good intensity. We picked it up during inside drills. I felt good about practice today. The kids came out a little slow at first because it was so early, but after 15 or 20 minutes they kicked it in gear.”
He continued speaking about the defense, “Defensively, we have a good feel for what they [West Alabama] have been doing on offense, and hopefully we can adjust to some of the things they do. The coaches are doing a good job of getting them a lot of reps and seeing things that we think they are going to do. Offensively, they are a little different coverage-wise from what we’ve been going against in practice so we have to look at those coverages. The front is fairly similar, so we’re going to make sure we expose our kids to that as much as we can the next week-and-a-half.”
The Jaguars return to the Practice Facility on Wednesday at 7:15am to continue preparing for the season. The Jags open season game against West Alabama is only eight days away.
The Joey Jones Radio Show started season three with host Lee Shirvanian and guest Joel Erdmann today.
They started the show off by talking about the depth chart now that they are finished with preseason camp and are into game prep mode. The first thing that Lee asked coach Jones about were there any surprises that emerged that he wasn’t thinking about. Coach Jones said that they don’t have many changes.
He mentioned on the offensive line that Levi Slaydon did not return so they had to fill that position. Jermaine Smith and Brian Krauskopf have stepped up and are neck-and-neck for that starting job. Other than that change, the offensive line is the same as last season. At tight end it is pretty much the same with Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett there. A little bit of a change will be the backfield with the addition of Georgia transfer Demetre Baker with Kendall Houston. He indicated that they would be co-starters in the backfield.
When coach Jones moved onto receivers, he mentioned that they have more names out there than they did last year. Last year Courtney Smith was the big name and the other receivers were ‘the others’.
Lee then started talking about the defense and mentioned that there were many familiar names on that side of the ball. He first mentioned Cori Barnett at the Sam position with Ken Barefield as his backup. Barefield played defensive back last season for the Jags.
When asked about how Cori emerged as being a starter, Coach Jones said that he had a great spring and awarded him with a scholarship for how well he did in the off-season. He mentioned that he is a bit undersized but still plays very well, he’s smart and knows all the answers to questions over on defense. Ken will still play alot.
The University of South Alabama Jaguars returned to practice on Monday after having the weekend off. Additionally, the players returned to class on Monday as well.
Monday’s practice was structured similarly to practices during camp. They began with special teams, concentrating on kickoff returns. They then moved to working on screens and double-team individual player drills.
The offense also ran skeleton passing drills before 11-on-11 work. The offense and defense worked against scout teams as they continued installing plays for the season opener against West Alabama on September 1.
More 11-on-11 work had the offense picking up blitz packages with the first and second team units running about five plays each. C.J. Bennett was able to connect with Corey Waldon running a crossing route, but the offense would only manage one other completion which was an out route consisting of the Bennett’s, C.J. to Paul.
The defense recorded sacks by Cori Barnett and Romelle Jones against the first team, then Desmond Jones against the second team. Damond Smith and Alex Page both recorded pass breakups on attempts by the second-team quarterbacks.
The practice ended with more special teams work on kickoff coverage.
Coach Jones was pleased with the practice in his post-practice talk. “I thought it was a great practice, especially for the first day of classes. Usually that’s a bad one because they have their minds on school, pretty girls coming to class and those kinds of things. They were focused this morning, it was a really good sign. I think giving them Saturday and Sunday off really helped.”
“We had some good situational stuff done today with the third-down blitz, the defense did a good job of getting to the quarterback today,” continued Coach Jones. “They looked a little fresher on defense, which I thought was good. We’re starting to game plan now, the kids have been watching film on West Alabama.”
The Jags will continue game preparation at 6:45am on Tuesday morning at the Jaguar Practice Facility with a mere 9 days until kickoff of the 2011 season.
South Alabama wrapped up preseason camp with a scrimmage lasting about one and a half hours focusing on game-like situations. They will then have the weekend off before returning to the practice field on Monday as well as beginning fall classes.
The scrimmage featured the first and second team offense and defense versus scout teams including special teams. The coaches had them refrane from tackling although they were in full pads.
They began the scrimmage with special teams work on kickoff coverage. That was followed by the first team defense facing the offense with them beginning at the offense’s one-yard line. Later possessions begain at the 20 and 30 yard lines.
The first team offense began at their own 30-yard line and drove down the field to set up a Jordan Means 37 yard field goal.
The punt team came on for some work before the first team offense and defense retured to the field for another series. They worked on second and long, third and long situations for the defense. Then the offense worked on first down, second and long and third and short situations. The final play of the first half of the scrimmage saw Lawson McGlon make a 40-yard field goal.
After the mid-scrimmage break, the first and second team defenses faced short field situations. The second team offense started with a short field and also starting on their own one-yard line.
The second half of the scrimmage saw more special teams work on kickoff and punt returns. Lawson McGlon also notched another 40-yard field goal as well as a 22-yard field goal to end the scrimmage.
The coaches will review the film from the situational scrimmage over the weekend to develop a depth chart as they go into preparation for their September 1 game against West Alabama.
“We exposed our team to a couple of things; sideline organization of the game, which I thought was pretty good for the most part though there are a couple of things we need to talk about as a staff to fix, and situational things on the field,” said head coach Joey Jones. “We didn’t tackle today, which I thought was good. We had a pretty good tempo, sometimes they tend to back off too much when you do that. We got all the special teams covered, we had three reps with each; we’ll watch the film and see what corrections we need to make there.”
Coach Jones then spoke about what the coaches will be doing over the weekend. “Number one, we’re going to evaluate the film and our players, what we need to do offensively and defensively and any corrections we need to make. Then we’ll talk about sideline organization, the things I noticed that we need to go over and get fixed for next week. And we’ll plan next week, how we’re going to attack it with a game a week from Thursday; how we are going to handle those three days before we get into game week. We know we’re going to have a situational scrimmage Thursday as well, bring them in Friday to watch the film and then it will be game week at that point.”
Coach Jones then went over their plan, beginning next week. “We’re going to go ahead and start working on the first ball game — we’ve done a little bit here and there before now, but it will give us an extra three days to work on West Alabama and put our game plan in, then go back and make corrections. There may be a scheme we don’t like or a blitz we don’t like that we will throw out. We’ll whittle it down and get ready for game week.”
Coach Greg Gregory, the Jaguar offensive coordinator, has been pretty pleased with the progression of the offense. “I think our first offense is good. I think the question mark that the so-called experts had about our football team — our offensive line — might be the strength of our offense,” he said. “I think those guys know how to play, they’re not the biggest but they don’t have to be; they block, they run, they’re athletic and they are competitors.”
“I think we’re really good at quarterback with our starter, though we’re thin at receiver right now because we have guys hurt; the guys that are here are having to take every rep, it’s wearing them out and their legs are getting tired,” Continued Coach Gregory. “We’re strong at running back, tight end and fullback. I’m really pleased other than I think we need our backups to make a huge jump. You don’t always need them right away in the first game, but somewhere in the season somebody’s going to have to play. Overall, we are about where I thought we’d be right now, we just have to polish things up between now and Sept. 1. Our kids are chomping at the bit, they’re ready to play.”
Defensive coordinator Bill Clark also spoke well of his unit. “The first thing as far as our guys go is we feel good. We’ve started developing some depth. We’re starting to see those twos, though some of it is due to injury. We’ve been able to see some freshmen and other guys that you wouldn’t see as much, we’ve gotten to throw them into the fire so we feel better about that. Obviously now our focus will start changing next week where we really start concentrating on West Alabama where we’ve been a little more general to start with. Overall we’re pleased with where we are, and we hope we’ll get everybody back well Monday.”
Probably the most encouraging words were spoke by Coach Gregory about the offensive line. If the starting five are solid with three or four really good second string backups ready at any time, then the team will be ready the tests they will face during the season.
The players will have the weekend off to rest and recover before beginning their preparations for the first game against West Alabama and classes starting on Monday.