Which half is the real Jaguars?

September 29, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Gibbon looks out of the tunnel

Myles Gibbon takes in Carter-Finley Stadium before the team takes the field for warm-ups.

Some fans have asked the question “which team was the real South Alabama? The first half against Kent State or the second half.” The short answer is, they both are.

The first half demonstrated that even coming off of a loss and facing what looks like it should be a win, you still have to prepare no matter what. You have to put the loss behind you, learn from your mistakes and prepare for the next game.

The Jags came out flat in the first half, that was obvious to those watching or listening to the game. They were pretty evenly matched when Kent State was in their smaller offensive set. But when they went big and brought in their tight end, they were knocking the Jags off the ball.

Offensively, the Kent State defense was pushing the offensive line around and filling gaps at will. Plus their big defensive lineman caused some havoc as well. The Jags couldn’t run the ball and they had problems throwing the ball as well. They could only muster 44 yards of total offense in the first half.

The Jags were flat but they kind of held their own for a while. But once the points came, they seemed stunned and Kent State seemed to be on a roll. Before they could shake their head, they were down 16-0 and more was to come.

They were looking for a big play to get them going but it just wouldn’t come.

At halftime, coach Jones told them this is a fresh start. That this is a new game and they have to play that way.

The Jags defense made adjustments to stifle the Kent State offense and showed that it would work on their first drive of the second half. However another mistake on offense gave Kent State the ball deep in South Alabama territory, which they would capitalize on to make the score 33-0.

But the Jags got the ball back and that much needed big play came. A 37-yard kick return by Demetre Baker followed by a 37 yard pass play to put the Jags in the red zone for the first time in the game. They would put a touchdown on the board sparking their comeback.

While the second half Jags is the team we know, the first half Jags are the same players but a different side that we haven’t seen before. No one is perfect, that is why practice, preparation and execution is so paramount.

As Coach Perry said on the radio show on Tuesday, they have to learn to manufacture good things and manufacture momentum out of nothing, not from big plays. Big plays easily  provide those things, good teams find a way to manufacture those things from nothing.

Lots of good things can be pointed out in the last two games against FBS teams. But lots of bad things can be as well. They have to learn from both in order to be better players and a better team. They will need that through the rest of the season and for momentum leading into next season when they face FBS teams week-in and week-out.

The stats from Kent State’s first few games do not accurately show how good they really are as a team. They are not of the top-tier like Alabama, but they are far from the bottom as the stats may indicate.

Today is the first of three consecutive days off for the Jaguar players. Hopefully they can take this time to rest, heal, get ahead in their classes and review game field. Because on Sunday they begin preparation for their trip to San Antonio.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-09-27

September 28, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Running backs and special teams coach Tommy Perry joined Lee Shirvanian and Coach Joey Jones at Baumhowers Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for the radio show. They covered the Kent State game and what they are going to do during this off week.

Lee jumps straight to the question that many people want to know after the last two game. Is this program ready week-to-week FBS competition? Coach Jones answered that he thinks the program is ready for that level of competition. Talking realistically, he said that when people looked at this years schedule and saw NC State and Kent State, they just hoping that those games would not get embarrassing.

But Coach Jones pointed out that the team played NC State close, even though the final score did not reflect that but if they had made three or four plays then the game would have been much closer. Then he said that the team came out and played “pitiful” in the first half against Kent State. He said that he takes the blame for not being as focused as they normally are for games. He said they played hard, but made some very critical mistakes and didn’t play smart. But they played good in the second half by gaining 330 yards of offense and holding Kent to around 80 yards but they had a chance to score the tying points late in the game.

But he said that they are a growing team, but that they are ready for the FBS level. They are only about 2 1/2 years into this program but they are certainly ready to play at that level.

Stepping back and taking an overall look, they played NC State very well and they played Kent State pretty well. They were in the games and could have made some plays to change the outcome of those games; could have beat Kent State and probably should have beat Kent State. While they may not be ready for Alabama or Auburn, they are surely ready for the lower level FBS teams.

Lee asked if Coach Jones could explain the difference from the first half and the second half. Coach Jones reiterated that he did not think that the team’s focus was there before the game. The looks in their eyes was not something that he had seen before, but that it wasn’t bad like they were completely unfocused but they didn’t have the concentration that they normally have. The second point he made was that this was the first time someone jumped on them. It was the first time that they made mistakes and before they knew it they were down 16-0. They had never been down like that before, they had been down 7-0 and came back against a lesser opponent, but they had not been down that much before so quickly it seemed.

Basically, the team was stunned a bit until someone made a big play in the third quarter to wake them up, loosen them up and get them going again.

Lee then turned his focus towards Coach Perry. He stated that normally the Jags have much better numbers from the running backs than what we had at Kent State. He asked him to talk a bit about that. Coach Perry credited Kent State’s front seven for being very good. He said they were very aggressive, did some movement that confused and slowed the Jags down up front.

Coach Perry went further on what Coach Jones had previously said about the team being stunned and said that the team needs to learn that they don’t need a big play to get going. That they need to keep working, ignore the scoreboard and manufacture good things out of nothing to be competitive. The Jags have talented, competitive players in the backfield but they made some critical errors in the game with lining up and who they picked up.

Perry continued talking about how tough and how physical those running backs were during the game. This is a good learning opportunity for them to look at how their work had a direct impact on the outcome of the game.

Coach Jones then jumped in and said that Kent State was the #1 rush defense in the nation the previous season for a good reason. He also said that they were, by far, the best defense that South Alabama has played thus far. The Jags had a problem running the football for a reason. Kent State has some good linebackers that are well coached. In the second half they were able to find a few things they could do and hit on all cylinders.

Lee then asked a question that many Jaguar fans had been wondering about during and after the game. Was Kendall Houston hurt? Coach Jones said that, before the game, his lower back was tight and the coaches could tell in warmups that he wasn’t the same.

Coach Perry jumped in to say that Kendall is a football player and that he took some hits the previous week at NC State that he was amazed that he was able to stay up.

Lee followed that up with a question about the running game being a staple of the Jaguar offense. He asked when do the coaches on the sidelines start to try to find something different? Coach Jones said that they worked on schemes all week in order to find a way to run the football. He admitted that they may have overdid that leading up to the game. When you go against a rush defense that good, no matter what kind of scheme you come up with, it’s going to be difficult to run the football. You just try to run, as a team, for about 120 to 130 yards and hope you can throw for over 200 yards.

A fan called in and spoke very positively of the coaches and the players. He said that many teams that go down by that much at halftime will come out and hang their heads but this team did not do that. They came out and played with heart and all of their might to try to get back into the game. He said that the fans were very proud of them and that the future is bright for the team.

Coach Jones said that they are not satisfied with losing and are not satisfied with making mistakes. They are going to keep working on those things. Yes they have accomplished some good things, but they want to get better and win.

Travis Toth joined after the first break to promote the Jags upcoming games. Particularly the homecoming game against Tennessee-Martin which will kickoff at 2:30pm and will be televised on UTV44 and ESPN3. Thursday October 13th will be a pep rally at the Bell Tower at 7pm. Starting at 6pm on Friday, they will have their homecoming parade which will be followed by moonlight madness. Moonlight Madness is South’s version of Midnight Madness where the Jags basketball teams can start practice, which will start at 7pm.

Travis also mentioned that they are getting calls for away game tickets. He said that they had to return the remainder of their allotment for the UT-San Antonio game but they still have tickets available for the game versus Georgia State in the Georgia Dome. They will be available up to October 7th before they have to return the remainder.

Lee then turned to Coach Perry again talking about kick returners and how Jereme Jones has done well, particularly in the punt returns. Coach Perry agreed that he has grown up quite a bit and is fitting in nicely. Lee also mentioned a couple of occasions where, if he had called for a fair catch, it would have been down between the 15 and 20 yard lines. But he returned the kick for up to around the 30 yard line. While it’s not the longest run, both coaches agreed that that is a huge difference in field position. Coach Perry ended the conversation by saying that it’s a hard position to coach because you want them to be aggressive but they have to be smart about it.

Coach Jones reporting during The Orthopedic Group injury report that they had a few small things. Corey Waldon has a sprained knee and they think he will be back soon and no later than by Monday. Corey Besteda underwent a minor surgery to remove a small “loose body” from his knee. It was reported that Besteda’s procedure went very well and should be back by the middle part of next week.

The Jags had actually scheduled to play UC-Davis this week, however they bought out their trip to Mobile. Coach Jones said he would have loved to face UC-Davis again, but the off week was needed and well timed after all.

The next question was about recruiting and priorities of their staff recruiting. Coach Jones said they are graduating several players off of the offensive line, so they will be looking to bring in guys up there. They also want to continue to develop depth in the secondary.

Another caller talked about how well the Jags did against a very good defense. Coach Jones agreed and said he was pleased because there was a defensive linemen that they blocked well that made Alabama look silly at times.

Lee read an email asking about what the quarterbacks coach is doing to improve C.J. Bennett and the other Jaguar quarterbacks performance. Coach Jones said that the biggest thing for them is to have their quarterbacks get their progression down and stick with it. They don’t want them to continually anticipate things. Coach Jones said that is the biggest thing for C.J. and that it’s not anything technical throwing the ball.

Lee asked to look back at the first half of the Kent State game and tell us if he got his progressions right. Lee also mentioned that we have to keep it in prospective because C.J. has only started seven games and he is only a redshirt freshman.

Coach Jones reiterated what he and Coach Gregory have said several times; C.J. is a great quarterback. The problem, he thinks, is that C.J. has learned the offense so well that he knows the coverages and where to go with the ball but that he thinks he can make every throw. It’s that he is too aggressive. But he does have an uncanny ability to go to the right guy. But in certain situations it’s the best thing to throw the ball away.

Coach Jones continued by saying that C.J. is a good quarterback and he is going to be a great quarterback. He has already made several big plays for the team and he will make more. Basically, they want a good game manager but they don’t want the quarterback to be scared.

Lee mentioned to Coach Jones a quote that was published from him that said, “losses will make us better.” Lee asked wouldn’t it be better if wins make us better? Coach Jones clarified that it’s not the losses that make you better but the reaction to the losses that make you better. Complacency in human nature is a tough thing to fight. All they have had is good things, they had a 19 game winning streak and all kinds of good things happening to the program. How they react to these two losses will determine what type of team they are and will make them better.

Coach Jones said that the players will have three days off at the end of this week while coaches are on the road recruiting. They will come back in on Sunday and begin their game week preparation for their trip to San Antonio.

Lee asked if they saw that the team was more banged up coming off of back to back FBS games than they did playing teams like West Alabama. Coach Jones, at first, indicated no but upon reconsideration he said yes but only a little bit. Because the FBS teams are bigger, they probably did have more bangs and bruises, but they fared very well through those two game.

Next season it’s going to be very tough he said, with back to back games against Mississippi State and NC State as well as games against Troy and Middle Tennessee.

At the end of the show, Lee asked coach Perry how his wife was doing. It was last year that they announced that she was diagnosed with cancer. But she has recovered well and is a big inspiration for Coach Perry and many others as well.

Monday press conference

September 27, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Jones pregame interview vs West Alabama

Coach Jones opening statement from his Monday press conference spoke volumes about how blunt and how humble coach Jones is. He was very forward about what he was worried about and what he saw from the sidelines and in the locker room in Kent Ohio on Saturday.

“First of all, I don’t think we were really ready to play like we normally are, and that’s my fault. We have got to make sure that our players are 100 percent ready to go, we’ve always had that in the past. It wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t a deal where they were not ready to play, it just wasn’t that focus that we normally have where we are 100 percent locked in. Again, I’ll take the blame for that. We didn’t play well early in the game and put ourselves in a hole, we made several mistakes as we all know. Critical mistakes, we can’t have that and win. It’s pretty simple to say.”

“What I was proud of was that we came in at halftime and said we had to correct some things, we’ve got some issues, but we have to go out and run these base plays. Let’s just do what we do, and once something good happens we’ll be fine. We needed a good play, something to get our momentum going, and it did – from that point forward we played extremely good.”

“My concern is from kickoff until that play happened, did we have enough leadership to stop the bleeding so to speak without having to have a play on the field happen? Something needs to happen with the leadership on the sideline, which is one thing we looked at.”

“On the flip side, I was real proud of the fact they came back and really fought. A lot of teams could have folded at that point, but they came back and made a game of it – we had the ball on the 20-something yard line with a chance to tie it at the end of the game. The last time I remember being in a game like that was when we played Penn State, we were down 34-7 and came back and almost won the game; it was a real similar situation.”

“They proved they could play, but obviously you have to play both halves and 60 minutes – all those coaching clichés you’ve got to have – to win big games. In some ways I’m glad this happened; you never want to lose a ballgame, but sometimes you learn a lot of lessons when you’re held to the fire. I think our team was held to the fire the last two weeks. Did we play some good football? Yeah, we played some good football. Did we learn some lessons about ourselves? Yes, we probably learned some lessons about ourselves as well. Sometimes you don’t really analyze yourself until something bad happens. You tend to overlook little things. That’s some of the things we’ve looked at this week.”

“I had a long meeting with our staff, we talked about what we thought we could do to improve from A to Z, we’ve got some things we know we can do to improve our football team. I talked to some of the seniors, had a meeting with them, and it was the same thing. I got some feedback from them, and they had a couple of little ideas that were good. It was a good dialogue.”

“I think you dig deep when things like this happen, I think our kids will respond.”

I go back to an old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s a dangerous thought process and can easily seep in when things are going right. But that opens yourself up when you play teams as good as NC State and Kent State. Those teams are good enough that they can capitalize on tendencies that you normally get away with.

Like Coach Jones said, you learn a lot of lessons when pressured and when you end up on the losing end. Does this mean you like to lose? No. But you learn from those mistakes and tendencies to make yourself better.

Coach Jones continued speaking about how the first four games affest the rest of the season. “I know a lot of people looked at our schedule and predicted 8-2 because of the two D-I [Football Bowl Subdivision] teams that we were going to play. That doesn’t really matter to me, but looking back over the last four games I think that we played both teams tough. We’ve got some things to work on, but I think that it has renewed us a little bit.”

“I think we’re going to grow up much more than had we beat a weaker team 45-0. How it affects us the rest of the year I don’t know, but the bottom line is I know that there is definitely a fire in their eyes right now that I hadn’t seen this year. Some times when you’re hungry you tend to want to eat more, and when you’re not hungry you’re fat. You don’t really care about things as much, you don’t really analyze things. I think it has us hungry again.”

When asked about how the team is going to approach the remaining games on the schedule Coach Jones answered with the following statement. “They realize we’ve played some pretty good football. We’ve made some critical mistakes in those games, but if we don’t come out ready to play like we did against Kent, not taking any credit away from them, they came out ready to play, we didn’t. We will get beat. I think our kids realize that.”

“And we always need to focus on what we do and not what the other team does. I think we focused on the other team the last couple of weeks rather than just on us and what we need to do, sometimes that comes from an experience team that understands that. I think our kids will understand that better now that we have had some negative experiences with that, and take that into the last six games in a positive way.”

When asked about how big this week off is to the team he answered, “It couldn’t have come at a better time. I don’t care who you are when you go on the road twice and fly while they are home to play; things may have been different had we played N.C. State or Kent State at home. It makes a difference, that’s why people want to have games at their place. We’ve just got to respond.”

Jags drop second straight game on the road

September 25, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Turner working with the offensive line between series.

The Jaguars football team put itself in an almost impossible position at Kent State on Saturday. The Golden Flashes held a 26-0 advantage at halftime and lead 33-0 early in the 3rd quarter before the Jaguars mounted a comeback.

South Alabama’s comeback was valiant and furious but fell 23 yards short of a potential game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion, 33-25 in the first of three meetings between these two schools. The Jaguars fall to 2-2 on the season after losing for the second week in a row to an FBS team. The Golden Flashes improve to 1-3 with their first victory of the season.

The Jags were behind 7-0 in the first quarter, but allowed 19 points in the second quarter to fall behind 26-0 at halftime to end the worst half of football in the programs short history to date. Defensively, South Alabama was being pushed off the ball giving the Kent State quarterback time in the pocket, opening gaps for running backs and throwing lanes for the receivers. Offensively, the Kent State defensive was causing fits for the offensive line, closing gaps when the running back got there and had tight coverage on the receivers.

The first quarter appeared to be a defensive standoff. South Alabama totalled five yards on nine plays. Four rushes netted 2 yards and 2-of-5 passing netted 3 yards. Kent State rushed 16 times for 53 yards and was 2-of-4 passing for 21 yards. The Jags only possessed the ball for 4:21 in that first quarter.

The second quarter was more of the same. The Jags rushed five times for 14 yards and was 3-of-11 passing for 25 yards and two interceptions while only possessing the ball for 5:38 in the quarter.

The halftime stats was demonstrative of how the first half went. Kent State scored 26 points with 13 first downs. Rushed 31 times for 142 yards while going 6-of-11 passing for 56 yards and no interceptions. They were 7-of-11 on third down conversions while only being were flagged twice for 20 yards. They held the ball for 20:01.

South Alabama on the other hand, has only two first downs. They rushed nine times for 16 yards and was 5-of-16 passing for 28 yards and two interceptions. The Jags punted five times for an average of 43.2 yards per punt. They were penalized three times for 36 yards and also went 1-of-7 on third down conversions.

After forcing the Kent State offense to punt on a three and out to start the second half, Kendall Houston would be caught behind the line and fumble the ball. The Golden Flashes would pick it up and return it 27 yards to the Jaguar 11 yard line. Two plays later they would make it 33-0 with 11:36 left in the 3rd quarter.

This is when the Jaguars finally came to life. Demetre Baker would spark the team with a 37 yard kick return to put the Jags at their own 40 yard line. Bennett would find Corey Besteda for 37 yards to the Kent 23 yard line. Bennett would then run the draw for another 18 yards to the Kent 5 yard line. Kendall Houston would gain three on the first down play. Bennett would try to find Kevin Helms in the end zone but it fell incomplete, then facing 3rd and goal at the 2 yard line, Coach Jones calls a time out with 9:48 left in the quarter. Out of the time out, Bennett would give the ball to Baker who would take it in for the first Jags points of the game. Jordan Means would add the PAT to make it 33-7.

After a 17 yard kick return, Kent State would start at their own 18 yard line against a rested and rejuvinated defense after halftime. After a two yard rush and an incomplete pass, Kent State quarterback Spencer Keith would find his receiver for an 18 yard pass but Jake Johnson would force a fumble that would be recovered by Ken Barefield at the Kent State 42 yard line.

Bennett would throw an incomplete pass to begin the series but would run a quarterback keeper for 11 yards and a first down at the Kent State 31 yard line. Baker would lose a yard on first down, but Bennett would find Kevin Helms this time for 21 yards to the Kent State 11 yard line. Back to back rushes by Baker would gain 3 yards and no gain. Kent State would call a time out with 5:28 left facing a third down and 7 and their 8 yard line. Bennett’s pass to Bryant Lavender would fall incompleted and the Jags would settle for a 25 yard field goal by Jordan Means to inch closer, 33-10.

Kent State’s next drive started at their 28 yard line and would manage one first down and span five plays and 17 yards taking 1:54 off the clock. A short is fielded by Jereme Jones at the Jaguar 22 yard line and returned 7 yards to the 29.

Bennett would loft up a big pass to Bryant Lavender spanning 61 yards to the Kent State 10 yard line. Lavender would fumble and the Jags would recover it at the 10. Houston would rush for five yards to the 5 yard line, but would give four of it back on the next play. On 3rd and goal Bennett’s pass to Waldon would go incomplete. A bold but necessary move to put points on the board led to Coach JOnes’ decision to go for it on fourth down. Bennett would find his clutch receiver Jereme Jones in the end zone for the touchdown with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Means would add the PAT to shrink the lead to 33-17.

A 28 yard kick return would put Kent State at their own 37 yard line to start their next possession. A short pass for two yards and a one yard rush
would end the quarter.

Starting the fourth quarter, Kent State faced a third down and 7. Keith’s pass would fall incomplete forcing the Golden Flashes to punt again. Jereme Jones would field the punt at the 13 yard line and return it 15 yards to put the Jags in business at their 28 yard line.

Again the Jaguar offense came out with momentum. Bennett would find Lavender for 7 yards, then Baker would rush for five more yards to the Jaguar 40 yard line and a first down. Then Bennett would find his go to receiver Bryant Lavender for 19 yards to get into Kent territory at their 41 yard line. Bennett would run for six yards, Baker would rush for 13 and a first down at the Kent 22. Houston would rush for six yards and Bennett would run for seven more and another Jaguar first down. Houston would rush for four more yards to the Kent 5 yard line. But two consecutive incomplete passes would force another fourth down decision for Coach Jones. Bennett’s pass to his clutch receiver would fall incomplete and turn the ball over on downs to Kent State.

Kent would go three and out after only gaining 8 yards during the possession. Jereme Jones would field the punt at the Jaguar 45 and return it eight yards to the Kent State 47 yard line.

Another big pass play from Bennett to Waldon would cover 42 yards to the Kent 5 yard line. A substitution infraction would move the ball to the three yard line. Houston would rush for one yard then Baker would punch it in on second down. Playing catch-up with the points, the Jags went for the two-point conversion and Bennett would find Kevin Helms in the left side of the end zone to pull within one score of the Golden Flashes at 33-25.

Kent State would return the kickoff to the 22 yard line and start their drive with 5:59 left in the game. The defense and coaches knew that they were going to give the ball to their big running back Trayion Durham, which they did. On first down the ran for 3 yards however Damond Smith would be flagged for a personal foul giving the Golden Flashes 15 extra yards out to their 40 yard line and a first down. Durham would rush for one yard on first down then on the next play he would rush for nine, but Kent State would be flagged for a personal foul themselves, thus backing them up to their 26 yard line facing second down.

Durham would rush again for two yards on second down. Rob Hollomon would rush for eight more yards on third and 22 and the Jags would call a time out with 3:22 left before the Kent State punt. Jereme Jones would receive the punt at the Jaguar 19 yard line and return it 10 yards.

On first down, Bennett’s pass would fall incomplete intended for Waldon. The second down pass intended for Lavender would also fall incomplete. Bennett’s third down pass would be intercepted at the Jaguar 47 yard line and returned one yard. However, the Jags didn’t give up.

On first down Durham rushed for three yards and the clock was running since the South Alabama was out of time outs. Durham rushed for two yards on second down. Then Anthony Meray would be stopped for no gain at the Jaguar 43 yard line. Kent State would let the play clock expire before punting.

After a touchback, the Jags started at their own 20 yard line with 29 seconds and 80 yards between them an possibly tying the game. Bennett’s pass intended for Lamontis Gardner fell incomplete on first down. Then his pass intended for Greg Hollinger would also fall incomplete. On third down Bennett would find Jereme Jones open for 23 yards and a first down out to the Jaguar 43 yard line. The offense would rush to the line and spike the ball stopping the clock with 4 seconds showing. Bennett would run around and eventually toss up a ball that would be caught by Corey Besteda but he would be caught trying to get to the left sidelines at the Kent State 23 yard line ending the game.

The final stats was much better than the halftime stats. Jags would have 14 first downs to Kent’s 16. The Jags would gain 93 yards on 27 rushing attempts for a 3.4 yard per rush average. Kent State would rush 49 times for 187 yards for a 3.8 yard per rush average.

Jags quarterbacks would go 14-of-38 for 281 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Kent State would go 10-of-19 for 94 yards and a touchdown. The Jags would outgain the Golden Flashes 374 yards to 281. Kent would win the time of possession 34:59 to the Jags 25:01.

C.J. Bennett would be the leading rusher with five rushes for 40 yards. Demetre Baker would have 10 touches for 28 yards, Kendall Houston had 11 touches for 23 yards and Myles Gibbon ran once for two yards in the first half.

Bennett got the most passing stats going 14-of-36 for 281 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Gibbon threw once and it was incomplete. Bryant Lavender caught five passes for 97 yards, Jereme Jones had three for 31 yards and a touchdown. Besteda has two for 71 yards, Kevin Helms had two for 32 yards and Waldon and Gardner had one catch each for 42 and 8 yards respectively.

The Jaguar defense held Durham to 72 yards on 27 carries and Anthony Meray to 64 yards on 13 carries.

Defensively Jake Johnson totalled 17 tackles, 6 solo and a forced fumble. Ken Barefield totalled 10 tackles, 4 solo and a fumble recovery. No Jag recorded a sack. Kent State only got one sack.

The average field position was interesting. In the first quarter, the Jags average field position was the Jaguar 15 to Kent State’s Jaguar 46 yard line. It improved in the second quarter where the Jags averaged their own 32 while Kent averaged their own 41 yard line. The third quarter, the Jags averaged the Jaguar 42 yard line to Kent State’s own 38 yard line. Then the fourth quarter the Jags averaged their own 32 and Kent’s worst of the game, their own 26 yard line.

Coach Jones commented after the game. “The first half was just a comedy of errors.  We fell behind 26-0 at halftime, but we talked to them and they came out ready to play,” he said.  “I didn’t think we were ready to play early, and I take the blame on that. But the field position was horrible in the first half, and turnovers and all of the things we talk about that we can’t do we had happen. In the second half, we came back and played our football and started moving the ball, scoring and the defense started stopping them. We played a good second half, but came up just a little bit short. I’m real proud of the way they came back. Most teams beat themselves and I keep preaching that, we just have to make sure we avoid doing that.”

Talking about the second half adjustments he and his staff made, Coach Jones said, “We changed a few things in the running game, and made some checks and started running toward the boundary. That helped us, and we started pitching and catching it pretty good. But we just got some momentum; we never got any momentum in the first half.”

South Alabama gets a much needed week off before hitting the road again for their road game against the University of Texas San-Antonio on October 8th. This game is currently scheduled to be aired on the Longhorn Network.

Kent State preview

September 22, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Jaguar secondary

The Jaguar secondary going through pregame warmups at NC State.

The South Alabama Jaguars are rebounding from a loss for the first time in the programs short history. While the Jaguars did lots of good things in the game against NC State, they will have to continue to improve in order to be ready for their next opponent.

Coach Jones will be the first to say that the Jags played a great game, but did not make enough plays to win the game. They have flaws that they must correct. While Kent state has faced some very tough challenges in their first games of the season, they are still a good football team.

Coach Jones said that he and his team know that the Golden Flashes are a good offensive team and are also known for their defense. “They were top five in the country last year against the running game,” he said. “They have one of the best players I have seen in Roosevelt Nix on the defensive line – he was a preseason All-American. He is undersized, but can really play. Alabama didn’t block him, so we have to be ready for those guys because they are really good.”

In their first three games, Kent State has rushed for 181 yards total, -9 against Alabama. They have thrown for 294 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Their defense has allowed 515 yards and eight touchdowns rushing and 461 yards passing with two passing touchdowns but have five interceptions to their credit.

Through their first three games, Kent State has only scored 19 points while giving up 105 points. But they have only allowed just over 325 yards per game and the defensive front forced five turnovers against Alabama in their opening game of the season.

In Monday’s press conference, Corey Waldon said, We are hungry — we want it. We feel like we let ourselves down. We had a meeting as a team after the game, and we felt like that it was on us to win that game and we let it get out of reach. It’s on us to go into practice this week hungry and get better.”

Kent State’s numbers are skewed because they have played some difficult opponents in Alabama and Kansas State under first year head coach Darrell Hazell. Coach Hazell spent the previous seven seasons at Ohio State University under Jim Tressel where he coached wide receivers. He has coached a number of All-Big Ten players with six of them currently playing in the NFL. He has also coached at Rutgers, West Virginia and Army among others.

While on paper this looks like the Jaguars should be able to win the game. If they played like they did against NC State, they will definitely have a chance if they capitalize on turnovers and protect the ball themselves. While it seems that the Jags are putting the loss behind them and preparing for their next trip, will they be able to do that when they hit the field in Ohio? I think they will be able to.

The Jags and the Golden Flashes kickoff at 2:30pm in Kent, Ohio on Saturday. The game will be shown for free on kentstatesports.com.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-09-20

September 21, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 
Coach Jones Observing warm-ups.

Head Coach Joey Jones oversees the Jaguars pre-game warm-ups at N.C. State.

Coach Joey Jones and Lee Shirvanian were joined by defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Coach Brian Turner at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile.

They immediately started reflecting on the NC State game with an overview of how the team played. Coach Jones said that he thought the team played an very, very good game. He pointed to some basic tenets that coaches look to in order to get their team into a position to win the game. Things such as stopping the run, be able to run the ball yourself and possess the ball more than your opponent, all of which the Jags did in the game. However another area that you need to do well in is turnovers. While the Jags did recover a few turnovers, they also turned the ball over a few times themselves.

But he pointed out Kendall Houston’s performance on the ground as he rushed 18 times for 117 yards against the NC State defense. His was a large majority of the teams 139 yards rushing (minus sack yardage). Defensively the Jags were worried about stopping the NC State run because they were so big, however they were able to stop their running game. They knew their quarterback was good and he had a great night going 17-of-20 for 297 yards, but the two deep post routes were what really hurt the team.

Overall, Coach Jones said that the Jags were very physically tough and played extremely well. They got after them on every play and were not intimidated nor did they back down. He said that lots of great things happened, but that it was one of those games that you have three or four plays in the game you have to make but the Jags didn’t make them. Coach Jones said he has been on both sides of the field in these types of games and they just didn’t get those plays to go their way.

Lee said he had picked out three plays that were key. First was the on-sides kick fumble. Second was the open receiver around the 30 yard line but the ball wasn’t thrown well to him which would have easily been a touchdown. The third play was when Jake Johnson forced the fumbled at the 5 yard line when the Wolfpack was driving which Graphenreed recovered but fumbled back to them. Lee said you could also point to the play deep in the Wolfpack territory when Bennett lobbed a pass to an open Kevin Helms but was picked off at the 5 yard line.

Coach Jones pointed out another one where the Jags scored but the play was called back on a procedure penalty which he also pointed out was not there on film. Coach Jones was quick to follow that up by saying things like that happen and that the bottom line is you have to make plays. He ended that by saying that the core of the game, he thought the team played very well and put themselves in a position to win the game.

They had themselves in a position to win the game if they made some or all of those key plays against a team that beat Florida State the previous year. And this was only the 20th game in the schools history. Coach Jones said he does not like losing but he still considers the game a success for the program. None of them enjoy losing so he talked to the team that they can continue to look back at this game and play the what-if game or they can turn around and concentrate on making themselves better this week. They can correct those things that they did wrong and get ready to play the next game and then they can say that they beat someone.

He’s proud of where the team is but they have to do better.

The first caller said that South Alabama’s “ones” seemed to matched up well with the NC State “ones”, but he asked Coach Jones how different the Jags “two’s” were from the NC State “two’s”. Coach Jones said that there were probably some difference there, but he said he didn’t notice it much. He continued by saying that the Jags are fairly deep at some positions like defensive line, linebackers, receivers and running backs. But they lost Ken Barefield which hurt their secondary depth some. But Coach Jones did not think that personnel was as much of a factor in the game as missed opportunities were in the game.

Lee then turned to Coach Brian Turner and asked him how he felt the Jaguar defensive line did against NC State. He started off saying that it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems either. He thought that they played well up front and did not get pushed off of the ball as much as they feared they would earlier in the week due to their size. The defensive line did a great job holding their gaps and doing their job.

Lee asked if the Jags had a good pass rush on Glennon even though he completed 17-of-20 passes. Coach Turner said that their gameplan was to blitz them alot but play coverage, however when you do that you tend to only rush three or four guys and when the opponent has five or six guys protecting the quarterback, your rushers are getting double-teamed often. They didn’t get alot of pressure on Glennon, but they did get to him. Romelle Jones came away with two of the Jags four sacks on Glennon. He also said that they should have gotten to him more often.

Lee then introduced the Fuego “Who’s hot” segment. Offensively, Coach Jones said that Kendall Houston was the hot guy for them this week but he also pointed out the offensive line for their work blocking against NC State. Defensively he pointed out Romelle Jones for having probably his best game of his career, he is quick and is also learning the game very well. Also Coach Jones pointed out B.J. Scott and Charles Harris for playing a very good game defensively at the safety positions.

Lee then introduced the Orthopedic Group’s Injury Update. Coach Jones said that the Jags came out of this with some bruises. Ken Barefield got hurt and missed the end of the game but will be able to play against Kent State this weekend. Rush Kendricks has an injured ankle and will not be able to play this weekend. He said that it looks like everyone else will be back, he mentioned Jake Johnson has a small injury with his quad but will be okay.

Lee asked how Johnson played in the game. Coach Jones said he played very well, like the whole defense did. He said for the “who’s Hot” segment it’s hard not to just list out all of the defensive players because of how well they played.

Lee asked Coach Turner about one of the concerns going into the game about intimidation as they went in to play against an ACC team. He asked if he caught any of the intimidation factor early on from the team. Coach Turner said that he did not see any intimidation in their eyes before the game, they were focused and ready to play the game.

They next caller to the show expressed how proud of the program the fans are for how hard they played and how composed they were. Lee asked a few email questions to both coaches. The first asked if NC State showed anything that was unexpected and if they thought the Jag players were in better shape than them. Coach Jones said that they did not show anything that was unexpected and he also said that he thought both teams were conditioned pretty well. Coach Jones didn’t notice anyone out of shape on either team. Coach Turner agreed to both statements by Coach Jones. Nothing surprising and he didn’t notice anyone out of shape either.

Lee then asked about Coach Crain and how he is doing. Coach Jones said that he is doing better, he’s been in the hospital since Friday. They finally found out that he had a staph infection and have him on antibiotics to help that. He has actually been dealing with that for the last month or so Coach Jones said.

The next email quested asked how coach Jones thought about how well Jag Nation traveled to NC State for the game. He said it was incredible. He said that after the Jags would get a big play he would sneak a look up at the Jaguar section going crazy. He said it was probably between 700 and 800 people strong in that section. After the game, the players went over to the Jag section and held up their helmets and thanked the fans for coming to the game to support them.

The next email question asked Coach Jones what the thought about the officiating and if there were any bad calls in the game by the ACC officials. Coach Jones said that there are rules where Coaches will get fined for speaking badly of officiating. Lee then chimed in saying that sometimes a no answer speaks more loudly than an actual answer which Coach Jones agreed with. He also told Lee that things happen and you have to deal with it and move on.

Lee followed up by asking if Coach Jones called the officials over anytime during the game. Coach Jones laughed and said “calling them over” is a good way to put it. Coach Jones then said that he will send in game film and call someone at the conference office to help educate the referees because, as Coach Jones said, everyone makes mistakes (except coaches with a laugh). So they send that film in so help the refs educate themselves and continue to get better.

The next email question asked if there were mismatches or communication problems in the secondary allowing for some big pass plays by NC State. On one big pass play for a touchdown, corner back Damond Smith fell down and the other one was some miscommunication in the secondary. He praised how well the secondary played the whole game, especially against #6 T.J. Graham who was really quick.

Lee followed that up by asking if there was an effort to keep the punts and kickoffs away from Graham. To which Coach Jones said yes, because NC State actually leads the nation in kickoff returns. So they tried to kick some sky kicks. The first kickoff return they got out to around the 42 yard line which was their only long kickoff return of the game.

Lee then asked who was covering T. J. Graham. Coach Turner answered that it depended on where he lined up as to who was covering him. They didn’t assign a specific person to cover him.

Another email question asked about conference realignment and if South Alabama could benefit from it. Coach Jones said that as a fan he doesn’t like it so much but for the school it could be good. While they like the Sun Belt, it could be an opportunity for something good to happen. He said it’s going to happen sometime in the future, you can see it and there will be some big shake-ups on the horizon in the next couple years.

Loyd Meyers joined the show to talk about the homecoming game against Tennessee-Martin on October 15th. On Thursday night October 13th there will be a pep rally at the Bell Tower followed by a volleyball game vs Troy. Friday night there will be a homecoming parade and luck worked out for a moonlight madness where the Jags basketball team can begin practicing for their upcoming season. The soccer team will be playing at The Cage as well.

Lee brought up that they have not talked about C.J. Bennett’s play against NC State yet during the show. Coach Jones said that if you look at the whole game, he played a very good game and made some unbelievable throws. It was great to see that out of a redshirt freshman to go into that type of environment and play that well. He is doing a great job understanding secondary coverages and going to the right place with the ball. He also mentioned that he got the team out of third down many times. Coach Jones did mention that he did have a high throw across the middle that was intercepted. He also mentioned about the throw the Kevin Helms where he floated it behind the safety but he didn’t see the backside corner. Coach Jones also mentioned that they did not show him that coverage in practice so there were some things they could have done to prepare him for that situation a little better.

Lee then turned to ask Coach Turner about their defensive line rotation during a game. Coach Turner said that they rotate defensive linemen every three plays no matter what. They want two fresh guys every play pretty much, so they are rotating their interior linemen, their inside linebackers and outside linebackers.

Lee asked about the play of Romelle Jones and if he has been playing better lately. Coach Turner said that the last two games he has been really playing well. He has been the defensive lineman of the week the last two weeks for his play against Lamar and against NC State. Lee asked to clarify if it is the same rotation all the time. Coach Turner answered that it is the same rotation all the time, they are not rotating based on match-ups but every three plays they are getting fresh guys on the field.

Lee then asked about recruiting and stated that he knows that they cannot comment about specific recruits, but asked if they are getting top notch athletes now. Coach Turner said they are definitely getting very good talent. He also said that they currently have 11 verbal commitments on their recruiting board right now. He also said that they are recruiting against schools from the Big East, Conference USA and the Sun Belt. They may be losing some, but they are also winning some battles against those schools. He praised the coaches for their hard work recruiting and staying on the best players for the South Alabama program.

Lee asked that, aside from the verbals, what positions are being recruited this year. Coach Jones said that he says this every year, but it’s true, they are recruiting offensive linemen. They are probably going to lose four seniors on the offensive line so they have quite a bit to fill. Two tight ends with Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms being seniors will need replacing. Offensively they are pretty good, they will always look out to pick up a player here or there for a backup role if they are a really good player.

Coach Jones said defensively they need a defensive end, that they kind of refer to as their outside linebacker who is very athletic to rush the quarterback. Also they need to continue to shore up the secondary. They have some good players back there, but they don’t have depth.

Lee asked about C.J. Bennett being a redshirt freshman and if that would be detrimental to trying to bring in other quarterbacks to the program the next four years. Coach Jones said that they do not want a player who does not think they cannot come in and beat out C.J.

Lee then asked about popular spots for South Alabama to recruit. Coach Turner said that when the program started, they were not recruiting the entire state of Georgia. They are now. He indicated that obviously Alabama is their home state, but they are also recruiting Florida all the way down to Miami, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Coach Turner also mentioned that Myles Gibbon is from Canada so they are willing to go anywhere to get good players to find players that fit into the program and fills their needs.

Lee then transitioned to previewing the Kent State game. Lee said that this is a little different than the schools other 2-for-1 series. We travel to Kent State, then they travel here before we visit them again. Coach Jones said that they are a very good defensive team but they have struggled on offense but they have played Alabama so it’s hard to tell how good they really are because how strong the Alabama defense is this season.

Lee flashed back to the NC State game again by asking about Scott Garber and the special teams play. Coach Jones said that the special teams play was very good. He thought the kicking game was much improved against NC State. He said Jordan went 2-of-3 hitting a 46 yard attempt and missing a 44 yarder. He also thought that Scott’s punted was very good too. They changed and went to a rugby punt style.

Following up on that, Lee asked who and why they decided to go with the rugby style punt. Coach Jones said it’s hard to return a rugby style punt because it’s a low punt but it takes time for the punter to move out and kick it that it gives the coverage team time to get down and cover the returner. So you can get 40 and 50 yard punts pretty easy without a return because of that.

Lee asked about Garber being run into during one of his punts, he said that he thought that it was an automatic 15 yard penalty and a first down. Coach Jones said that it’s a judgement call, that they have bumping the kicker and hitting the kicker with two different penalties and that it’s a judgement call. He indicated that Coach Perry read the rules once they returned back to Mobile and that is how it is written, it’s a judgement call.

Lee said that they talked last week about trick plays. Wake Forest burned NC State with a couple of them and he asked if the Jags ran any. Coach Jones said that they tried a reverse but the defense caught it for a loss. The play-action pass on 3rd and one to Kevin Helms he thought was a good call at the time. Then there was a play at the five yard line where the tight end was wide open at the corner of the end zone but Bennett didn’t see him and went down for a sack. They weren’t trick plays he said, but they were different plays to call at those times and they didn’t execute them very well.

Coach Turner previewed what the defense sees in Kent State coming up this weekend. He said that they started the season throwing the ball much more, but now they have settled in running with a 260 lb running back. He said that it was going to be a good match-up between the two teams.They have a very good defensive lineman who game Alabama some problems blocking and Alabama has some very good offensive linemen. They round out the program saying that the team definitely has a different attitude going up to Kent State and that it should be a very good and competitive game.

Additionally it was announced during the WNSP morning show and reiterated again during the radio show that South Alabama picked up another verbal commitment from Georgia. Lamar Counties Fredrick Walker is a six foot two inch, 320 pound nose tackle. He wasn’t interested in any big programs so he turned down Central Florida and South Florida. He chose South Alabama over Georgia Southern to make the 12th verbal for the Jags 2012 recruiting class.

South Alabama and Kent State kick off on Saturday October 24th at 2:30pm. The game will not be televised, however Kent State will be broadcasting the game online at KentStateSports.com for free for the first time.

“Still Undefeated” is a state of mind

September 19, 2011 · By · Filed Under Commentary, Football · Comment 
Gibbon looks out of the tunnel

Myles Gibbon takes in Carter-Finley Stadium before the team takes the field for warm-ups.

With South Alabama’s first loss in the record books, is it time to bury the “Still Undefeated” tee-shirts?

I don’t think so and I’ll tell you why. “Still Undefeated” goes beyond the win-loss record. It began as a bit of a joke before the first Letter-Of-Intent was signed and before the first scholarship was given. It was finally printed on some shirts by the school and given away at some special events and eventually sold by the bookstore.

Then the Jags opened with their huge win over Hargrave and they didn’t stop throughout the first season. The bookstore then printed some nicer shirts and sold them throughout the off season between the first and second season.

More and more fans wore them to games during the second season. Again, the Jags continued winning, week in and week out, at home at Ladd-Peebles stadium or on the road in Dothan, Texas and California.

Again the bookstore printed more “Still Undefeated” tee-shirts with the games and scores from the first two season and a big 17-0 as well.

But now, after the first loss, what happens to South Alabama’s catch phrase for the first two seasons?

I would say that “Still Undefeated” has gone beyond a statement about wins and loses and has become a mentality. Against the odds, the Jags traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina in some less than stellar conditions and gave the Wolfpack much more than they bargained for. NC State came into the game looked for a cupcake so the coaching staff could play their reserves. However Glennon was still in the game with about four minutes left in the game.

The Jags weren’t defeated as much as they killed their own chances to win. Interceptions, penalties and a couple big plays on blown coverages or mismatches cost the game. Several chances to stop the Wolfpack on third and long or fourth down plays also hurt.

Even though the final score was 35-13, South Alabama never let up and never gave up. They were never defeated. They played as though, given enough time, they would find a way to win the game.

That attitude comes from the coaches, it comes from the players and it comes from the fans. The coaches recruited good players with the right attitude that have worked hard to bring this program from being non-existent to being a legitimate FBS caliber time in only it’s third season. The fans have supported the team in every step of the process.

Until I see a team that thoroughly defeats the Jags, I will continue to wear my shirt. NC State did not do that; though they played well. I hope those players wearing the South Alabama red, white and blue take this to heart. You lost a game, but you weren’t defeated. If you play at your best you will never be defeated. You may be behind the other team when the final horn sounds but given enough time you would win the game because that is who you are. You are Jaguars. You bleed it red every game. Every opponent has walked away with some South in their mouth.

Now get in there and look over that game film, make adjustments and go up to Kent State and show another team who South Alabama is and what kind of game they bring to the field.

Go Jags!

Jags streak end with loss at NC State

September 17, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 
CJJ with NC State Coach in pre-game warm-ups

Coach Joey Jones speaks with an NC State coach during team warm-ups.

South Alabama may have lost the game if you looked at the scoreboard, but if you watched the game and look at the stats, you will see it wasn’t a total defeat. In only it’s third year of football, the Jags proved that they have come a very long way in a very short time.

Facing their first FBS (Division I-A) team, the Jags performed well. It’s easy to say that NC State now knows who South Alabama is.

The game by the numbers. NC State outgained the Jags through the air 297 – 182 yards. However the Jags outgained the Wolfpack 104 – 95 on the ground. State held the overall yardage gained 392 to 286 yards.

The Jags gained 18 first downs to State’s 19. The Jags averaged 3.2 yards per rush on their 33 attempts while State rushed 37 times and averaged 2.6 yards per rush. The Jags ran 65 offensive plays to 59 for the Wolfpack.

The Jags punted four times for an average of 41.8 yards per punt. The Jags also held the time-of-possession advantage 32:45 to State’s 27:15. South went 7-of-15 on third down conversions while State was 5-of-9.

Unfortunately the Jags were flagged nine times for 50 yards while State was only flagged once for 15 yards.

Kendall Houston rushed 18 times for 117 yards with a long of 24 and averaged 6.5 yards per touch. Demetre Baker added 18 yards on eight carries with the Jags first touchdown against a FBS opponent. CJ Bennett went 17-of-32 for 182 yards and two interceptions.

Corey Waldon lead the Jaguars receivers with 5 catches for 57 yards. Jereme Jones added five catches for 35 yards. Bryant Lavender caught three passes for 39 yards. Besteda, Houston and Gardner all had receptions as well.

Jordan Means made field goals of 46 and 36 yards but missed an attempt from 44 yards.

The Jags defense played very well most of the time. Jake Johnson paced the team with eight total tackles, five solo and a sack. Charles Harris also added eight total tackles, three solo. Romelle Jones sacked Glennon twice for 17 yards. Alex Page also added a sack for the Jags total of four sacks.

With a cleaner game penalty wise and some better coverage on a few big plays, the Jags would have made this a much closer game that it ended up being. Even with those miscues, the Wolfpack did not have an easy game like they first thought.

The Jags have some things to work on this week in preparation for their trip to Kent State. But they have many things that fans and coaches can be proud of. Being outsized and out manned, the Jaguars played with heart, and when they played smart and disciplined, they outplayed the Wolfpack.

Greetings from Raleigh

September 16, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 

I have checked into my hotel room with a view of Carter-Finley Stadium. I had an enjoyable drive through some beautiful countryside on my way over here.

The Athletic Department is holding an Alumni event and Pep Rally at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel beginning at 6:30 Eastern.

Local destinations to watch the Jags vs Wolfpack on Saturday

September 15, 2011 · By · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

South Alabama Logo on TVThose South Alabama fans who can’t make the trip to Raleigh this weekend, you are in luck. A few local eateries will be carrying the game on TV.

In Mobile: Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters of Mobile, Hooters of Tillman’s Corner, BoJangles and Jags Grill will be showing the game. A manager at Baumhower’s could not be reached to determine if they will be showing the game. Jags Grill will have food and drink specials for the game as well.

For those of you across the bay, it’s a little more sketchy right now. Baumhowers, Beef O’Brady’s and Hooters in Daphne are all unsure if they will be showing the game.

If you know of a location showing the game, please let us know and we will add them to the list.

Go Jags!

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