The Jags hit the practice field Thursday morning for their first practice of their final two-a-day practices of fall camp. On Wednesday, the Jags skipped the practice field to visit Camp Grace for team building exercises off the field.
Thursdays practice was a bit different than previous practices. Not only did they hit the field in shells only, but they also did not have team segments like in previous practices. Instead of situational drills, the offense and defense faced scout teams.
Coach Jones was not very pleased with the Jags final practice leading into the last day of camp and the Jags final scrimmage. “I thought it was average, and not the way we want to practice in order to be a great football team. You practice average, you play average. It was hot, and we can make every excuse in the world, but that’s the way it was. It wasn’t a terrible practice, but the bottom line is they can pick it up more than that. I think they might have thought it was an off day because we have a scrimmage tomorrow. I probably didn’t do a very good job of getting them ready.”
For the final scrimmage, Coach Jones has a a few things he wants to see. “What I want to see is great sideline organization, I want to make sure it’s like a game on the sidelines, and out on the field I want to see us executing,” Coach Jones said. “They have to know their assignments and their alignments, they have to have great technique. Football is all about execution, most teams beat themselves. If we can concentrate on our deal individually, then we will be great as a football team.”
With the first game a mere 13 days away, the coaches will be looking to set the depth chart and start letting the first-team players get the majority of snaps. As for the scrimmage, it will focus on specific situations as well as every aspect of special teams play. The defense would be allowed to hit, but tackling will not be allowed in the scrimmage.
“We’ll evaluate players over the weekend and decide who we will go into the first game with,” Coach Jones explained. “I think it’s good to get the kids away from us more so than physically rested. They’ve been around us pretty much 10 hours a day for the last 11, 12 days, so I think they need to get away from us and clear their heads a little bit.”
In other news, preferred walk-on Trey Fetner was rewarded for his hard work and ability which was showcased in preseason camp with a scholarship. Fetner, a 6′ 1″ 204-pound quarterback from Woodland High School in Woodland, AL, threw for 1,611 yards and 13 touchdowns in his Junior season in addition he rushed for 612 yards and eight touchdowns. Additionally, he had 11 starts at safety where he averaged 8.4 tackles per game.
Fetner received an offer from West Alabama, but FBS schools did not take a chance on him. South Alabama invited Fetner to join the team as a preferred walk-on. When Coach Jones had a scholarship come available, the coaching staff decided to give him one. The Jags hope to reshirt Fetner this season and keep him around for five years.
The scrimmage Friday morning will be the final day of preseason camp and will be the final practice until Monday morning, which is also the first day of classes for the fall semester. It will also begin full scale preparation for the season opening game against West Alabama on Thursday, September 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30pm.
The Jags returned to the practice field after their second two-a-day of the preseason camp. After the offense shined the day before, the defense stepped up their game.
As the preseason routine has gone, practice began with special teams work moving onto individual and group drills. They then worked on inside running game and play-action passing before moving into skeleton passing drills while Offensive and defensive linemen worked on pass protection.
The team took a 10 minute break before returning to team work against the scout team. The offense and defense came together and worked on third-down situations and two-minute drills.
In the third down drills, the defense forced five incompletions, two pass breakups and a sack in 12 plays. The offense gained positive yardage on only four of the 12 plays. Two of the positive yardage plays were quarterback draws by C.J. Bennett and Trey Fetner. Fetner would be key to the other two positive yardage plays with completions to Corey Besteda for 40 yards and a swing pass to Tyrome Bivins for 10 yards.
The defense stood strong again in two-minute drills. The first play saw Damond Smith intercept a pass to kill the drive. The next drive saw the defense force an incompletion. Fetner would follow up with a 21 yard completion to Donte Rome to get to the 29 yard line. Fetner would move the ball between the hashes to set up a 47 yard field goal. The defense would attempt to ice Jordan Means with timeouts, but it would not faze him as he would slip the uprights anyway.
Coach Jones spoke after practice how he liked seeing the defense respond. “You like to see guys who respond to adversity. The defense had a rough day yesterday and it responded (today). That’s what it’s all about – getting out there and fighting. We have a bunch of competitive guys.”
Speaking about how the practice went in general, Coach Jones had the following to say, “It went really well. I thought it was a better overall practice today than it was yesterday. For the end of camp, I think we’re okay. We don’t have anyone with dead legs, we just have some tired guys. But I’m real pleased with where we are.”
The Jags will visit Camp Grace for team-building exercises instead of hitting the practice field on Wednesday. “It helps you overcome your fears,” Coach Jones said. “You have your team helping you, and you find ways to work out a solution out there. It’s really a neat deal, and our kids love it. It’s just another way we can get together and team-build without having to be on a practice field, so I think it’s a valuable tool for us in the middle of camp.”
It also allows some of the banged up players to heal and for everyone to get a little rest from the drills they have been going through for the last two and a half weeks.
They will return to the Jaguar Practice Facility with their final two-a-day practice of preseason camp beginning at 6:15am on Thursday morning.
The South Alabama athletics ticket and marketing offices have free yard signs available. They are free and available for pick up right now. Show your support of the Jaguars as they begin their two year transition to full FBS membership.
They are available for pick-up on the USA campus in the HPELS building, which is adjacent to the Mitchell Center in room 1151 (Ticket Office) and 1105 (Marketing Office). Go get them and show your support today!
The Jaguars returned to the practice on Monday after a well deserved day off on Sunday after seven practices in six days. Monday’s practice was another two-a-day where they would hit the field at 6:15am and again at 4:30pm.
The day off allowed the team to recover and it was evident on the practice field. It also allowed the team to review their performance in Saturday’s scrimmage and make adjustments. The first-team offense made first downs on all six third-down plays they faced. Additionally, they drove 35 yards in 30 seconds to score a touchdown in one of their two-minute drills.
C.J. Bennett completed passes to Jereme Jones and Corey Waldon for first downs in the first two plays of the third-down plays. Bennett then scrambled for a third first down. Jereme Jones then caught another pass from Bennett when the first team returned to the field. Bennett also found Taylor Noon and Anthony Ingram for first down catches as well.
Bennett opened the two minute drill with a completion to Tyrome Bivins for 14 yards and Bivins dove out of bounds to stop the clock. The next play was an incomplete pass, then Bennett found Waldon open over the middle to get the ball down to the 10-yard line. Bennett would rush the offense to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock.
On the next play, Bennett would find Jones in the back corner of the end zone for a touchdown but it would be negated on a penalty, backing the offense up five yards. Bennett would respond with a 14-yard pass to Bivins, who would get out of bounds to stop the clock again at the one-yard line. Bennett would find Corey Besteda on the fade route in the right corner of the end zone for the touchdown.
Trey Fetner could only manage one first down in six attempts against the second-team defense. Fetner would pick up the first down when he scrambled when the pocket broke down. He would also be sacked four times. Fetner would find Noon for a nine-yard gain to set up Jordan Means to make a 46-yard field goal.
The final week of preseason camp will end on Friday, giving the student athletes Saturday and Sunday off prior to starting classes on Monday.
Speaking after practice, Coach Jones mentioned that the day off on Sunday was visible in practice on Monday. “It was good — the legs came back a little bit, but I still think we are a little tired from camp. But I thought they fought through it and had a good practice. The offensive line is getting better, they have really made some improvement over the last couple of days.”
Coach Jones also spoke about the how the offense has improved in camp. “They [the offense] were getting beat on for a while the first couple of weeks, but they have turned it around and played a little better. It’s good to see them bounce back, though I’m sure the defense will bounce back tomorrow. It’s good competition out there.”
Pleased with the teams progress, Coach Jones does have a concern. “We are happy with how things are going other than injuries, we have a lot of people banged up right now. It’s nothing major, but we have several of them with bumps and bruises; guys have been out three or four or five days, they’re missing practice. Other than that, I think everything is going good.”
The Jags will practice once on Tuesday then one final two-a-day on Thursday before the final scrimmage of preseason camp. Coach Jones stressed that time is running out for player to make their way into the depth chart. “This is basically the last week they will have a chance — not that they won’t have a chance ever — but the bottom line is we are looking hard at this week to make decisions what to go into game week with.”
South Alabama held their first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday in conjunction with Fan Day at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. They also debuted their new blue uniforms as well, but it not know when and how often they may be used this season.
The first half of the scrimmage was not open to the fans to view but the offense scored three times. The first team offense scored a touchdown and a field goal, while the second team offense added another field goal on their final possession before a break.
C.J. Bennett lead the offense on a 10 play 57-yard drive leading to a Jordan Means 30-yard field goal. Demetre Baker carried the ball four times for 39 yards in his only appearance of the day. Bennett also connected with Corey Waldon for a 25 yard completion on the drive.
On the first team’s last possession, Bennett lead a 60-yard, seven-play touchdown drive. Santuan McGee would pick up the first first-down of the drive on an 11 yard rush. McGee would finish with 26 yards on five attempts. J.J. Keels would move the chains again after rushing for eight and four yards respectively. Bennett would move the the team into the red zone after a 13-yard strike to Waldon. The very next play appeared to be a touchdown pass from Bennett to Waldon again, but it was negated by an offensive pass interference call.
Keels would move the ball 16 yards before Devin Robinson would find the end zone on an 18-yard run.
Trey Fetner lead the second team on a 54-yard drive that culminated in a 28-yard field goal by Michel Chapuseaux on the final snap before the break.
Fetner completed a pass to Jake Howton for 47-yards of the 54-yards the drive covered on a post pattern. Devin Robinson also rushed three times for 12 yards after the big completion.
The only score of the second half came on the next to last series. Fetner found Anthony Ingram open down the middle of the field for the 40-yard touchdown pass.
The Jaguar offense gained 328 yards and averaged just under five yards per play for the day. Fetner went 4 of 7 passing for 106 yards and a touchdown. Bennett finished 2 of 4 for 38 yards. J.J. Keels carried the ball 13 times for 74 yards and Devin Robinson rushed 14 times for 57 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Desmond LaVelle lead the team with seven stops total, five of them were unassisted. Cori Barnett and Cordivido Grice also added five stops themselves. B.J. Scott and Damond Smith added three tackles for the first team. Ameriol Finley, Ben Giles, Maleki Harris, Ceasare Johnson and Ramon Lewis all added three tackles for the second and third team units.
The scrimmage ended with some special teams work on kickoff returns and placekicking. Each kicker attempted three field goals each. Jordan Means split the uprights from 37, 40 and 50 yards. Chapuseaux made a 49 yard attempt and Lawson McGlon also made a 45-yard attempt.
“I thought we responded well today,” said coach Joey Jones after team’s first live scrimmage. “We put them in some situations that they hadn’t been in in practice where you are tackling full speed. There is a difference, I don’t care who you are and how hard you practice — and we practice hard — games are different because there is that little extra burst that you always have to give. We realized in the scrimmage today that we have to do a little bit more of this where they are used to game-type situations. I thought they got a little tired, but that’s due to the fact that we’ve been practicing 10 days in a row. The bottom line is they need to realize that the game is a little different than practice. The kids are fighting through it, I thought they gave good effort.”
Coach Jones continued speaking about the running backs in this scrimmage, “Of course Kendall Houston didn’t play today and Demetre, we got him out after about six plays. We know good and well what he can do. We’re trying to develop some depth, and J.J and Devin looked good. And Santuan has always looked real good, so we feel like we’ve got five guys back there that can play.”
“We had plans to have our No. 1 units go in there for 15-18 plays then have the twos and threes work a good bit today, which is what we did,” Jones commented. “I thought the offense picked it up today and put some things together. It had been looking pretty bad the last few days to be honest, the defense had kind of been dominating them. The offense played a little better today, it was good to see them fight back.”
“We’ve got some good freshmen, I believe they are going to find some playing time,” Jones finished. “We’re going to have to make a decision next weekend after the scrimmage whether to redshirt them or play them; that’s a valuable decision. Some of those guys are stepping up and could fill some starting roles before long, but we’ll see how things progress.”
Jake Johnson, finished with an unassisted sack at inside linebacker, spoke after practice about the scrimmage. “I think we got game speed, because in practice we’re going full speed to the ball but we have to slow up and not hit. Today it was up tempo with linemen coming off hard and cutting us, running backs were running hard. We’re not there yet, but it was good for a first scrimmage to see that and where we need to be.”
The team will be off on Sunday to rest. They will return to practice at 6:15am on Monday at the Jaguar Practice Facility.
Speaking about quarterback C.J. Bennett: “I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama.“
Announced TV dates and Kickoff times
South Alabama announced Wednesday evening that the Jaguars first televised game will not be the North Carolina State game as first thought. Actually it will be much sooner than the September 17th game.
Dr. Joel Erdmann, USA’s Athletic Director, announced that South Alabama’s season opening matchup against West Alabama will be aired live locally on UTV 44 as well as being aired nationally on ESPN3. While he was at it, he announced the kickoff times for the first four games of the season.
South Alabama and West Alabama will kickoff at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 1 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Jim Cox will handle the play-by-play, Dan Brennan will handle the color analysis and Pat Greenwood will handle sideline reporting for the broadcast. Actually Pat Greenwood will being handling sideline reporting for both WNSP’s radio broadcast and the television broadcast.
South Alabama’s first ever game against a FBS team will take place in Raleigh, North Carolina against NC State which can also be viewed on ESPN3. Kickoff is scheduled for 5pm Central time and will be the Jags first road game of the season.
Other kickoff times that were announced were games against Lamar on September 10 with kickoff at 4pm and the second FBS opponent for the Jags on the road at Kent State will kickoff at 2:30pm Central time. Other times will be officially announced in the future. However according to the season tickets, home games against Tennessee-Martin, Henderson State and Cal Poly will all kickoff at 4pm. The Thursday night game against Mississippi Valley State will kickoff at 6:30pm.
ESPN3.com is currently available to over 70 million homes across the country to fans who receive high-speed internet from providers who are affiliated with ESPN.
Dan’s inteview with Coach Greogory
Dan of Dan and Shelby, the morning show for local radio station 95WKSJ, has a football blog on the 95KSJ website. On Wednesday he was able to speak to Coach Greg Gregory about the upcoming season.
I will hit some of the notable pieces from the article. When asked to compare South Alabama to his former school, the University of South Florida who is arguably the measuring stick for modern start-up program. Coach Gregory said that “There is no doubt South Alabama will get to the same level as USF prior to them getting in the Big East.” He continued, “I think this program can go as far as the administration wants it to go.”
Another big question that everyone has for the 2011 Jaguars is how will the offensive line do when facing such an upgraded schedule. “We block better than a lot of football teams that you see on tape. I think we have enough talent to compete with anybody we play. I don’t really worry about our line. They are tough and they are going to compete. I don’t think it will be a major issue for us.”
Probably the answer that will get the most scrutiny by people around the state is when he is asked to evaluate quarterback C.J. Bennett. “Even when he came in last year as a 17 year old, all along I knew he’d be our guy,” said Coach Gregory. “I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama. He’s a player. He can really throw it. Smart, sees things. When he tells you something happened on the field, that’s what happened. He is very polished. And he’s very excited to be here. He’s as accurate as you want, has as quick a release and the biggest thing is his willingness to pull the trigger. He’s got the best release I’ve ever been around.”
With Brandon Ross set to miss probably the first half of the season at least, Coach Gregory had some good thoughts on the Jaguar backfield. Kendall Houston picked up the role of being the big, hard running back where Ross left off after the injury. But this season he will have some help with the addition of Demetre Baker from the University of Georgia. Coach Gregory said that, “Baker has more flat out speed. Both of them are violent runner. They run the ball hard. Kendall’s probably a little more reliable right now at holding the onto the ball but Demetre’s a really good player.”
Go on over and read the whole write-up. He talks about replacing Courtney Smith, Jereme Jones place at receiver and transfer B.J. Scott possibly playing a part on offense in the future.
South Alabama had their first two-a-day practice on Tuesday. In their morning practice, they had a very physical and vigorous workout that might have been a preview for the Fan Day scrimmage coming up on Saturday, August 13.
Practice began with special teams work with roughly the first 10 minutes were devoted to work with the punt team. After that, the offense worked on individual and group work which featured screen drills along with routes for tight ends, receivers and running backs.
The next session had the offense and defense working on the running game, both inside and outside, along with play-action passing. The offense then went to skeleton passing drills against the their defensive counterparts. While the skeleton drills were going on, the offensive line worked on pass protection against the defensive line.
The team then took a 10 minute break from the heat before resuming practice. After a stretching session, the offense took the field against the scout team working primarily on reverses.
The offense and defense then took the field against each other. The first 12 plays from scrimmage were snapped from the offense’s 20-yard line. Demetre Baker took the first ball for no gain. Then Myles Gibbon recovered a fumbled from a low snap which resulted in a loss of yards for the offense. Kendall Houston then rushed for 15 yards on the third play which was followed by a six-yard run by Devin Robinson. Baker kept the momentum with a 10-yard rush on fifth play.
The Jaguars started their second week of preseason camp by donning full pads for the first time in this preseason camp. They actually got a bit of a break from the heat due to early morning cloud cover over the practice facility.
The team began with their normal special teams period of about ten minutes. They then moved onto individual and group drills which lasted around 30 minutes.
The offense and defense came together to work on the inside and outside running game before moving onto skeleton passing drills. About halfway through practice the Jags had a short break.
After the break the Jags went into team drills. The offense and defense began by facing scout teams before coming together to face each other. This full team drill again focused on third down situations. The defense came on strong in this period with three sacks and an Anton Graphenreed interception. The drill ended with the defense forcing three consecutive incomplete passes.
Practice ended with special teams focusing on punt returns.
“It was a good first day in full pads, though we’ve been hitting anyway before this morning. It was lively,” said head coach Joey Jones. “Practice went well even though we had a few guys on the ground. One thing I talked to the team about, if we can practice 100 percent hitting all the time with nobody getting hurt that’s what we want to do. We just have to learn how to practice, though we are 90 percent there; we’re getting close. If we can do that we’ll be a better football team. They are giving great effort, and it is always better to pull them back than push them forward. I think they have a great attitude toward practice. They care about it and are competitive. It’s those traits that are going to win us some ballgames.”
Three freshmen caught Coach Jones’ eye in todays practice. He singled out Desmond LaVelle and Maleki Harris, both linebackers, for their performance. Coach Jones also mentioned Devin Robinson, a running back, for his performance as well.
Coach Jones continued talking about their strategy this week with the start of a few two-a-days as well as six consecutive days of practice. “We’re going to have to get after it again tomorrow, but we have to be smart about it and pull back sometime this week because we are going six days in a row,” Jones said. “We’ll meet as coaches every day and evaluate where we are so we know when to push and when to back off. We’ve got some veterans who have been around and don’t need as many reps, so my goal is to get other guys in there and let the young players work. We won’t look quite as good, but I don’t care because we are trying to get those other individuals ready. The goal is to develop some depth this week and be smart about what we are doing.”
Tuesday will be the first of three two-a-day practices that are scheduled for the team. The first practice will be in full pads at the normal 6:15am time then afternoon drills will begin at 4:30pm in shirts and helmets while focusing primarily on specials teams.
On Saturday, the Jaguars held fourth consecutive day of practice of preseason camp. Again they hit the practice field in shells for a two hour long practice before an off day on Sunday. They will then return to the field in full pads on Monday.
Practice began with special teams work on the punt game with punt returns and punt blocks. The offensive linemen worked on double teams during this period. After this first period, the team went into position drills with offensive linemen working on pass blocking fundamentals as well as screen drills. Receivers began with blocking drills then teamed with the quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends to work on passing routes.
The next period had the team working on both inside and outside running game with the play-action pass. They then broke and the skill players went into skeleton passing drills while the offensive and defensive lines worked against each other on pass protection.
After a break from the heat, the Jags offense worked on the team offense against the first team defense and the scout team defense. This was followed up with third-down conversion scenerios for the offense. Closing practice was specials teams work on kickoff coverage and the field goal team. Currently it appears that Jordan Means enters camp and the first team kicker followed by Chapuseaux and McGlon.
Coach Jones commented after practice saying, “I thought today was the best practice we have had, because we practiced hard and we stayed off the ground for the most part. If we can go full speed and just lock up on the ball carrier and not fall to the ground, then we have a chance to get better but also not get anyone hurt. I liked the fact that we practiced well today. And our kids are full of passion every day. It has been gratifying to watch, because they understand what it takes to win and they are starting to do that. And they are starting to understand that everything matters. We’re not perfect yet, but we’re getting close to having a complete practice every day.”
“We have some young guys who have come along, and part of that is having older guys who can actually direct those guys,” he continued. “They know what they’re doing now, and they can help those young guys along. I’m real pleased with the way it’s going so far.”
In his post-practice talk with the players on the practice field, Coach Jones talked with the team about former South Alabama player Anthony Mostella. “When you think of a South Alabama football player, Anthony Mostella is the kind of person that our players need to model themselves after as a person and a player, Coach Jones said. “And I want to honor his family by giving the jersey each year to a player deserving of that. We think Paul Bennett has those character traits. He is the kind of person who leads his football team; he is a hard worker and you can count on him. He has all those intangibles you need to be a winning football player here at South Alabama.”
In a tradition that started last season after Mostella’s untimely death, Jaguar players choose a senior to wear the No. 5 jersey to honor his memory. Senior tight end Paul Bennett was chosen by his teammates to wear the former running back’s jersey this season, he will be the first offensive player to wear the No. 5 since Mostella. Last season Senior linebacker Justin Dunn was chosen by his teammates to wear the number.
“It’s an honor to wear number five,” said Paul Bennett. “Mo was one of my closest friends. We came to South Alabama at the same time. He always came to practice with a smile on his face. He loved to work hard; he had a great work ethic. The best thing about him was that he was a humble guy. He just came to work every day and did his job. Honestly, it’s just a huge honor to represent him and his family and everything he has done for this program. I’m very blessed to be wearing number five this year.”
The Jaguars will resume preseason practice on Monday in full pads at 6:15am at the South Alabama Practice Facility on campus.
Myles Gibbon scrambling during practice in 2010.
Friday mornings practice saw the team dress out in shells for the first time this preseason. It also saw an elevation in intensity, however the coaches made sure the kids stopped short of full contact.
As has become accustomed for the Jags, they started practice with specials teams work with the kicking game. This was followed by individual and group workouts. They did some double team work on offensive linemen, tight ends and receivers for the quarterbacks.
The offense then came together and worked against the defense with the inside and outside running game and also running the play-action pass.
After the team took a break from the heat, the offense and defense worked against each other with particular emphasis on packages and scenarios for about 30 minutes. Later in the team drill, the offense worked on picking up the blitz.
Rounding out the practice was the quarterbacks working on ball security and special teams working on punt coverage. Special teams is where many young players will be focusing in order to make trips on the road. Once they secure a position on special teams, then they can work into the playing rotation.
Coach Jones noticed the increased intensity and the early improvement the Jags have shown. “When you put the pads on for the first day, it’s always that way,” head coach Joey Jones said. “We have a bunch of competitive young men. They love the game and love to be physical. My job a lot of the time is pulling them back, which is good. You don’t want to have to push them forward; you want to pull them back. That’s the kind of kids we have. If we can learn to practice every day and practice with that great effort, we can be a really good football team. I like our attitude.”
Coach Jones continued talking about the team by saying, “I’ve noticed that defensively we’re getting off of blocks and running to the football very well. Offensively, we’re picking up blitzes better. The last couple of years, it seemed like every time we ran blitz period we were just getting killed on offense. Our offensive line is doing a much better job of picking that up so far. But we’re improved on both sides of the ball right now.”
Coach Jones singled out a few new additions to the program when he spoke after practice. “B.J. [Scott] looked really good out there. He has a knack for getting to the football. He has a great feel for the game. And I thought Demetre Baker looked good running the ball today. He looked a little better to me today than he did in the spring. He’s a powerful back and his vision is getting better.”
Al.com’s Tommy Hicks had a write-up about Demetre Baker, the Georgia transfer, who is moving back to running back after converting to linebacker for the Bulldogs. You can read his article here.
Preseason camp will continue Saturday morning with another 6:15am practice.