South Alabama rebounds from turnover fueled, double-overtime loss at Georgia state to force a school record seven turnovers in a 28-3 win over Henderson State. Demetre Baker and Jordan Means combined to account for 22 of the 28 points for the Jags while donning their all blue uniforms for the first time.
Last years game was much closer with the Jags icing the game with a late field goal to win 37-31. But the rematch was never in doubt really. Both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions, but Enrique William’s interception on the Reddies second drive got the offense in gear. They started at the HSU 25 and have first and goal on the two yard line, but three consecutive rushes, two by Houston and one by Baker could not get the ball into the end zone thus they would settle for the field goal.
On the Reddie third possession, Clifton Crews would force a fumble on their first play which would be recovered by Gabe Loper setting up Demetre Baker to rush for 16 and 7 yards respectfully for a touchdown to go up 10-0 in the span of about three minutes.
Then on the fourth Reddie possession, they would line up in the punt formation but would fake it and run but would be stopped short of the one yard they needed for the first down. This gave the Jags the ball at the Reddie 29 yard line. Baker would take it into the end zone again for his second touchdown of the game. What looked like a bad snap would be handled by Taylor Noon and pitched to Jordan Means to run with, but he would be caught failing to convert. This left the Jags leading 16-0 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.
After a HSU punt on another three-and-out, the Jags would start at their own 27 yard line. Jereme Jones would almost get caught for a loss, but would break a 65 yard run down to the Reddie 8 yard line before being tackled out of bounds. Jones would be injured on the play and taken to the sideline and eventually to the locker room.
The Jags would again fail to punch it in with 1st and goal from the Reddie 4 yard line on three consecutive runs by Baker. The Jags would settle for a field goal by Means what was shorter than an extra point to go up 19-0 with 12:52 left in the 2nd quarter.
Henderson State would finally move into Jaguar territory and get as far as the 43 yard line before the drive fizzled out and forcing a punt which was downed at the Jaguar 14 yard line.
The Jags Paul Bennett would catch a good pass from CJ Bennett but would fumble it to the Reddies at the Jaguar 42 yard line. But on 3rd and 6 on the Reddies possession, the Jags would force a fumble and Romelle Jones would recover it at the Jaguar 44 yard line.
The Jags would then march 56 yards in nine plays with CJ Bennett running it in from 9 yards out to cap off the drive. Means’ PAT would be blocked leaving the Jags lead 25-0 with 4:15 left in the 2nd quarter.
Henderson State would start at their own 32 yard line after a short kickoff was fair caught at their 32 yard line. The Reddies would then begin driving into Jaguar territory getting down to the 37 yard line. But the defense would hold on 4th and 11 at the Jaguar 42 to get the ball back.
The Jags would then use their hurry-up offense to try to put points on the board before halftime. Bennett would find Lamontis Gardner for 3 yards on first down. The Jags would call a time out with 41 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. Bennett would find Bryant Lavender for 8 yards and a first down at the HSU 47 with the Jags calling their 2nd time out of the half.
Bennett would find Corey Waldon for 13 yards down to the Reddie 34. Bennett would rush the offense up to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock. Bennett would tuck the ball and run for 6 yards before stepping out of bounds at the Reddie 28 yard line. After an incomplete pass on 3rd down, Means would line up for a 45 yard field goal into the wind with 9 seconds left until halftime. His kick would just barely make it over the crossbar giving the Jags a 28-0 halftime lead.
Henderson State would add a field goal with 33 seconds left in the 3rd quarter to break the shutout, however that would be the only score in the second half.
The first part of the second half was really sloppy for the Jags. After playing a penalty free first half, they would lose some composure in the second half.
It did give Coach Jones and the team to go deeper into their depth chart for a second time this season. At one point, there was only one starting player in the lineup on offense. JJ Keels saw plenty of time at running back and Greg Hollinger got more time than he had all season as well.
Romelle Jones continues to play like a beast on the defensive line. The secondary is playing thin without Damond Smith and BJ Scott. Jereme Jones suffered a bit of a hyper extension to his shoulder but is okay. We probably will not know if he is able to go on Thursday until Tuesday’s radio show.
Drew Dearman has been seeing more playing time on the offensive line and the coaches seem to be quite comfortable with his play. He did a great job on Saturday.
Coach Jones had the following to say at his post game press conference. “Those takeaways were big and we had a short field on offense a good bit tonight, and that’s always a good thing. I thought we really played a good game defensively for the entire game. We didn’t give up any big plays, and if we don’t do that then we are going to be very hard to score on. They did that tonight and I was proud of them.”
“We were prepared, the coaches had them prepared and we had a good week of practice,” he continued. “We match up with teams that are in the spread formation pretty well. I think our athletes fit the spread defensively, and we had a good pass rush tonight. That’s one thing we haven’t had in a while. We put pressure on the quarterback, and we were hitting them and trying to knock the ball loose.”
The Jags defense held the Reddies to 155 yards passing and a mere 55 yards rushing for only 210 total yards. While the Jags offense racked up 252 yards rushing and another 123 yards through the air for 375 for the game. The Jags also held a 37:06 to 22:54 time of possession advantage as well.
Demetre Baker had his first 100+ yard rushing game with 113 yards on 20 carries. Jereme Jones ran once for 65 yards, Myles Gibbon ran 7 times for 27 yards. JJ Keels ran 12 times for 27 yards. While Kendall Houston only carried the ball three times on the opening drive for four yards and that was his game.
CJ Bennett went 11-of-18 for 101 yards with one interception for the game. Myles Gibbon went 4-of-8 for 22 yards and no interceptions. Corey Walden and Bryant Lavender both caught three passes each. Waldon had 35 yards and Lavender had 26 yards.
The Jags have a quick turn-around as they host Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night with kickoff scheduled for 6:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Jags will be dressed out in their white uniform, so the athletic department is asking the fans to wear white to the game.
The Jags host Henderson State, their first of three home games to round out the third season. It was announced on Tuesday, that the Jaguars final regular season game this year will be televised by UTV44 in the local market while being available nationally on ESPN3.com. Kickoff is still scheduled for 4pm against Cal Poly.
So far the Reddies are 4-3 on the season with wins over Harding (35-21), West Georgia (50-30), Southeastern Oklahoma (30-14) and East Central Oklahoma (42-21 in overtime). They come into Mobile on a three game winning streak.
The Reddies average 30.7 points per game while giving up 27.9 points per game on average. They have 132 first downs on the season, 69 of them came through the air while 46 have come on the ground. The remaining 17 have come through penalties. Their opponents have gained 148 first downs with 75 through the air and 58 on the ground. The remaining 15 have been given up by penalty.
The Reddies have gained 2,428 yards of total offense with an average of 346.9 yards per game. 1,449 yards have come through the passing game as their quarterbacks have gone 152-of-252 on the season with 11 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions. That breaks down to 5.8 yards per passing attempt and 9.5 yards per completion. They have gained 979 yards rushing on the season for an average of 139.9 yards per game and an average of 4.4 yards per rush with 15 touchdowns.
Defensively the Reddies have given up 2,690 of total yards which is 384.3 yards per game on average. They have 1,680 yards through the air as opposing quarterbacks have gone 162-of-263 with 12 touchdown passes but only 4 interceptions for an average of 240 yards per game. They have also given up 1,010 yards rushing for an average of 144.3 yards per game and 3.7 per rush.
The Reddie offense has fumbled the ball 20 times while losing 11 of them to the opposing team. While the defense has forced and recovered the same number (20 fumbles and 11 recoveries). The Reddies have been flagged for 64 penalties for 577 total yards or an average of 82.4 yards per game. Their opponents have been flagged for 56 penalties for 516 yards for an average of 73.7 yards per game.
HSU has a solid special teams unit with an average of 22.6 yards per kick return and 12.7 yards per punt return. While defensively they give up an average of 20.3 yards per kick return and only 3.8 yards per punt return.
HSU has a very bad 3rd down conversion rate of only 29% on the season by only converting 27 of 93 attempts but are converting 62% of their 4th down conversions (8-of-13). Opponents are converting 44% of their 3rd down attempts going 52-of-118 and also converting 47% of their 4th down conversions (7-of-15).
The Reddies score 76% of the time in the red zone with 65% of their trips being touchdowns. Their opponents score 70% of the time in the red zone with 56% of them being toucdowns.
Henderson State have a few players to watch out for. Jarvis Smith is their main running back with 603 yards on the season with 85 carries. The next closes rusher has 39 attempts for 236 yards.
The Reddies also have two quarterbacks who has seen a fair amount of playing time. Nathan Nall has played in six games going 80-of-137 for 790 yards, three interceptions and 6 touchdowns. Kevin Rodgers has seen action in 4 games while going 72-of-115 with 6 interceptions and 5 touchdowns. Though it sounds like Nall is injured and Rodgers will be taking is place against the Jags.
HSU has a pretty good stable of receivers. The top two are Nick Johnson with 26 catches for 213 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Robert Jordan has 24 catches for 263 yards but no touchdowns. They have five other receivers with between 10 and 15 catches and over 100 yards receiving on the season.
The Jags will kickoff against the Reddies at 4pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. South Alabama will be wearing their all blue uniforms for the first time so the athletic department has asked fans to wear blue to the game.
Coach Joey Jones and Lee Shirvanian were joined by tight ends coach Bryant Vincent at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile Alabama.
They began by recapping some of the Georgia State game. Lee mentioned B.J. Scott’s big return to open the game. But the Jags were stopped inside the five yard line and couldn’t put it in the end zone. Answering Lee’s question concerning the impact that caused when they couldn’t score, Coach Jones said that it did have a affect on the game. Blocking was problematic on that series and the Jaguars have been pretty good in the red zone this season, but that stand gave the Panthers confidence that they could stop the Jags.
Lee asked if there is an advantage in scoring first in a game. Coach Jones answered by saying that he does not believe that it’s that much of an advantage. As a team you have to be able to withstand that. It’s nice to score first, but he thinks opening the second half with a score is bigger than opening a game with a score, especially if it’s a close game.
In the Fuego’s ‘Who’s Hot’ segment, Coach Jones called out Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms for their outstanding work both blocking and catching. Defensively he name Romelle Jones as one that is playing well.
For the Orthopedic Group’s injury report, Coach Jones mentioned B.J. Scott injured his knee by hitting it on the turf late in the game last Saturday. They are doing MRI’s and watching it. Right now it doesn’t look promising for him to play against Henderson State. Scott added some charge to the kickoff game with about 180 return yards for the game. Lee mentioned that the asked if they might get him involved in the offense.
Lee then turned to Coach Vincent and mentioned that the Jags routinely use multiple tight ends and that if you are a tight end, South Alabama is a place for you. As for throwing more to the tight ends, Coach Vincent says that they are taking what the defense gives them. Bennett and Helms both can block really well but they can also catch really well too.
Lee mentioned that you rarely say that there is a good penalty, but at the end of the fourth quarter, that was a good penalty. Bennett rushed and threw and interception, but due to a dead ball foul because they were missing a guy on the field. Lee mentioned that the thought the game was over because the flag was on the Jags. But since it was a dead ball foul and the clock had been stopped on the previous lay, they got another shot and made it count.
Coach Jones, when asked about his thoughts on overtime, said that they played an overtime game in San Antonio and felt good about it. Neither team scored in the first overtime, but going into the second, Coach Jones felt good about it. They felt good but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone.
Coach Vincent was asked about how he and Coach Jones got to know one another before he was hired for the staff. Coach Vincent said that they coached against each other in Birmingham when he was at Spain Park and Jones was at Mountain Brook. Hopefully their success in the college ranks will open the door for all of the good high school coaches to move up into college. Vincent is asked how he got to coach tight ends when he didn’t even have any tight ends at Spanish Fort last year. Coach Vincent said that when Coach Rodrique left, that was the position that was open.
Lee asked an email question about the final play of the game when Bennett’s pass was intercepted to end the game in the second overtime. He asked if that was a designed play and why not just run it on 2nd down from the two. Coach Jones said he expected that question and indicated that it was a called play to throw out of play-action if someone was open or throw it away. But protection was an issue and two guys came in unblocked, they hit his arm and the ball fluttered and was intercepted unfortunately. They had open players, one guy was covering two receivers.
Another email asked if we will see Myles in the game due to C.J.’s interceptions. Coach Jones said that, looking at Bennett’s stats, he doesn’t look good. But he only threw one interception actually, the others were tipped passes or his arm being hit. But he did say that Myles has been working hard in practice and will see some playing time this week but not because Bennett is playing bad.
Lee mentioned that most of the time Myles has been in the game it was for a run and asked if they had a wildcat play with one of their fast receivers like Jereme Jones or someone else. Coach Jones said that they probably should have one of those plays, but that they don’t have anything in their package yet. It’s something they would like to try though. He said that either Jones or Ameriol Finley would be ones that could do that.
Continuing talking about Finley, Lee asked about his transition from quarterback to defensive back and how it was going. Coach Vincent said that he hasn’t played on defense in two years, but he is doing well transitioning. He has plenty to learn but is progressing well. He is making contributions right now in special teams.
Coach Vincent continued talking about tight ends and throwing to them more lately. He said that Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms are primarily blockers, but that Coach Gregory is doing a good job of using what they do and getting those guys out in the flat to throw to. Helms is doing very well catching the ball and gaining yards.
Lee then asked about what the coaches do during halftime, how they meet with the players. Coach Jones answered that they split the offense to one side and defense to the other side in the locker room. Coaches meet and decide what they are going to do, then they meet with the whole offense and defense as a unit before breaking down into individual groups.
Coach Jones later said that he is worried that the team may be tending to play to the level of their opponents. They are playing their hearts out, but that they may be playing emotionally to the level of the team they are playing. That’s something they have to be aware of. As a coach, they have to know when to get the players up for a game and when they need calming down too.
A caller asked for Coach Jones to talk about recruiting, particularly in the Mobile and Baldwin County area. Coach Jones said that they have good relationships with coaches in the area. They start in Mobile and work their way out looking for players. It’s great for South Alabama to have so many good players right here in the Mobile area.
Lee asked about the two big touchdown passes from Hill to Wilson for Georgia State. Coach Jones said that those two big plays were huge. If either of those two plays or two tipped passes for interceptions go our way, he feels that USA would have won the game. They just have to stay away from the turnovers and stop the big plays.
One caller asked Coach Jones if he would have gone for a two point conversion or would have just kicked the extra point if they had scored a touchdown in the second overtime. Coach Jones answered by saying he would go for the extra point. He said he was confident that they would win the game. Usually teams that don’t think they can outright win may go for two to end it early if they have the chance.
Coach Jones acknowledged that the offense has been sputtering this season. He said that losing T.J. Glover and Courtney Smith will do that, they lost some big play makers. T.J. could catch a short pass and then outrun players for a big gain and Courtney made many big catches. Going five yards at a time is tough to do consistently, but if you can make some big plays it really helps and that is what they are lacking right now.
Greg Hollinger is getting more involved in the offense, he is behind due to preseason injuries. He is getting more involved each game.
Back to recruiting, Coach Vincent said that it helps recruiting by previously being a high school coach. Coach Jones agreed and added that being a head coach in the high school ranks, you know how you want to be treated, so as a recruiter they have built relationships with coach and not just strolled in and asked who their best players were.
Finally they look ahead to Henderson State. Lee indicated that their quarterback is out or will be questionable for the game. Coach Jones said they have to prepare for both, but they are very similar so unlike GSU they will not have to prepare for quarterbacks with totally different styles.
Jaguar head football coach Joey Jones with players Paul Bennett and Alex Page met with the media on Monday. They looked back on the Jaguars loss to Georgia State and previewed their upcoming game against Henderson State on Saturday.
Coach Jones opened the press conference with his opening statements. The always humble Coach Jones first congratulated Georgia State on their hard fought win and also mentioned that the Jaguars have been a marked team by their opponents. The then began to reflect on the game in the Georgia Dome.
“What I’d like to do is congratulate Georgia State on a big win for their program. It seems like now, and I don’t know why, that we are the circled team on a lot people’s schedules. We’ve had a lot of success over the last two years, and every coach I’ve talked to after the game says that they have circled our name. I guess we’re the new upstart program that has done fairly well.”
“I felt like we played hard, when you look at the film we played extremely hard. I thought we were focused, but when you look at the game there were four times we got inside the 10-yard line and didn’t score and two times we gave up big plays on defense. If you take those plays out the game is different, but unfortunately you have to count those six plays. It wasn’t a matter that our kids weren’t ready to play, there’s no doubt in my mind that they were. We just had a few critical errors that can cost you games.”
Coach Jones also commented on how the special teams play has improved over the course of the first seven games of the season. “I think our special teams have improved, they have become a real plus for our program. Early in the year I thought we were deficient there, especially the first ball game, and have gradually got better as the season has gone on. We were only a couple of things away from making every goal we have.”
“Henderson State is a team averaging 30 points a game, they are very good offensively and sound defensively. They run the spread and throw it all over the field. It seems like I’ve got up in front of the players and talked ad nauseam over the last three years about that teams that can beat you. When you look at a team like Henderson State, there is no doubt that they can, they are good enough, are well-coached and do a good job. They are really efficient offensively, so we have to be ready to play.”
“What we have done is focus on us and what we need to do regardless of the competition. One of the things we talked to the team about yesterday is that we should never focus on a team and try to play at their level. We need to play at our best level at all times, whether it’s N.C. State or anybody else. We need to play at the highest level possible, that’s the challenge for our team.”
Coach Jones then elaborated on what Henderson State does well as a team. “They really throw the ball very well. They throw a lot of quick passes where you can hardly get to the quarterback. He takes the snap and gets rid of it in about a second-and-a-half, it’s a lot of short passes and timing patterns. They are very efficient in what they do offensively.”
“Defensively what they are is a very sound football team. They don’t do a lot, whereas a lot of teams we have played this year have been multiple in their fronts and used slants, blitzes and different things. This team is more fundamental and just going to play good, well-coached football.”
“We played them last year and they have a lot of people back. I think they have 16 returning starters from last year’s team, and they gave us a game at the end last year, came back and made a run. Knowing their personnel, we feel better and more prepared playing them.”
Answering a question about the difference in offensive production from last year to this year, Coach Jones said. “I think it’s a combination that we are playing better teams this year, that’s always a factor, and the turnovers. The other night C.J. gets credited with four interceptions, but only one of them was him. Two were dropped balls that we tipped up and gave to the defense and the other one somebody hit his arm when he threw it and the ball went straight up in the air. Really we had one bad play the whole game.”
“I don’t know how we could have prevented them other than catching the ball, but turnovers have plagued this team for sure. Especially in some of the bigger games. Coaches can sit up here and talk about it all the time, but when you have five turnovers you’re just not going to win.”
“But in a lot of ways I think we are better. Last year we had T.J. Glover, who could make a big play for us when we needed one, and I think that area has hurt us as well.”
When asked about possible personnel changes this week coach Jones said, “We’re looking at some things and some different moves, but of course I’m going to keep that to myself at this point.”
He then answered a question about the Jags preparation for Henderson State’s offense with a new quarterback. “They are real similar. If you look at them they do the same things. I don’t think they look much different at all except that they have a new body at quarterback. He’s good, and a big kid – 6-2, 6-3 and over 200 pounds — and has a good arm. They don’t look much different when you look at them last year and this year. They might have averaged a few more points per game last year, maybe a touchdown more per game, but they are still very effective.”
When asked if the Jags will be able to dictate this weekend’s game on offense Coach Jones answered. “We’d like to hope so, that’s our goal every game. That’s who we are as an offensive team. We’re going to start with the run first, we feel like we’ll have some chances there, but we also have to be able to throw it. One thing we need to do a little bit more is throw the ball on run downs to help so that the other defense can’t load up on us. We’ve talked about that as a staff, we’ve got to mix that up a little bit to help us as well.”
Paul Bennett was next up speaking with the media. He was asked about areas of improvement. His answer was short and to the point. “We’re just going to keep practicing and doing what we’ve been doing. We just have to make it work this time.”
Another question was about the team’s state of mind after the Georgia State loss. “We hate to lose. We’ve been brought up here hating to lose. Everyone’s expectations are still high. We’re not going to conform to what everyone else wants us to, we have our own high expectations. We’re just going to keep practicing how we’ve been practicing, and just work out the kinks.”
Defensive end Alex Page was next and answered the same questions. On areas of improvement, “We have a rotation defensively, and it seems to have been effective so far. We’re just going to continue to practice and improve.”
On the team’s state of mind after the GSU loss. “It’s in the back of your mind, having suffered the loss. But as a player, you have to put it past you and keep practicing and preparing for the next game no matter how tough the loss was. That’s what we’re going to do this week.”
Some fans have been vocal online talking about personnel change, primarily at the quarterback position. Which I’m quite sure the personnel question was indirectly meant to address.
The quarterback position is the position that receives the most scruitnity when fans are a bit disgruntled. C.J. Bennett has thrown 13 interceptions to 6 touchdowns this season.
Should Myles Gibbon be given a chance? I don’t have access to all of the game film, but if what Coach Jones says is correct, then you cannot fault Bennett completely for all of those interceptions. They have played against very good opponents and the receivers have had chances to pull down some passes but couldn’t. But at what point to do try someone else to see if that sparks the team or even sparks the other player to work harder and make better decisions?
South Alabama fought hard in the second half to force overtime, but fell in double overtime when C.J. Bennett’s pass was intercepted at the 1 yard line. This win snaps a five game losing streak for the Panthers. This is the third loss of the season, the first in the programs history to a FCS team.
Kendall Houston led the Jags rushing game with 83 yards on 17 carries. Demetre Baker added 74 yards on 20 carries with two fumbles and losing one. C.J. Bennett was 14-of-29 passing with two touchdowns but four interceptions for the game.
Corey Waldon caught three passes for 35 yards and a touchdown, Kevin Helms also caught three passes for 30 yards and Jereme Jones caught three passes for 27 yards. Paul Bennett caught two passes for 22 yards and a touchdown.
Georgia State’s Donald Russell rushed for 136 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. Quarterback Kelton Hill ran 14 times gaining 45 yards.
Hill also went 12-of-15 passing for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the yards went to Albert Wilson who caught 5 passes for 175 yards and their two touchdowns.
South Alabama had 24 first downs to GSU’s 17. Georgia State out gained the Jags 429 to 323 in total yardage. The Panthers rushed for 220 yards to the Jags 178 yards. The Panthers passed for 237 yards to the Jags 211 yards.
Coach Jones had the following to say in his post-game talk. “My congratulations to their team. I thought they came out and played hard. They were hungry for another win, and they played with a lot of effort. It came down to the end and one or two plays, and they won it — they made a play at the end and we didn’t.”
“But I am so proud of our guys for fighting back,” Coach Jones continued. “That was an unbelievable drive at the end of regulation to even get a chance to go into overtime. That’s admirable — great heart. We have a lot of fight and heart, but any time you look over a game like this there are some mistakes that happen. But my hat’s off to them, they played a real good game and they deserved to win.”
The final drive was made of grit and determination. Starting at the Jaguar 46 yard line after B.J. Scott sparked the offense with a 45 yard kickoff return. C.J. Bennett completed back to back passes to Kevin Helms for 3 and 6 yards, but the second would be negated by a hold. Facing 2nd and 17, Bennett would rush for 9 yards. Bennett would then go back to the air with a key completion to Jereme Jones for 16 yards on 3rd and 8 for the first down.
Bennett would run for a yard on first down before taking at time out with 2:11 left in the game. Bennett would throw back to back incompletions to bring up 4th down and 9 at the Georgia State 35 yard line. Bennett would find Corey Besteda for 14 yards and a first down at the Georgia State 21 yard line.
Another false start on the Jags would back it up five yards to the GSU 26 yard line. Bennett would run for a yard on first down to bring up 2nd and 14. A completed pass to Corey Waldon for 13 yards, coming up one yard short of the first down at the GSU 12 yard line. Bennett would find Jereme Jones for four yards to the GSU 8 yard line and a much needed first down to stop the clock momentarily.
Georgia State would call a time out with 30 seconds remaining. An incomplete pass to Waldon would stop the clock again. A complete pass to Lamontis Gardner for four yards to the 4 yard line would force Bennett to run to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock with 8 seconds left. Facing 4th and goal from the 4, the Jags offense would get mixed up with Lamontis Gardner running on late and drawing a false start penalty. However if the play had stood, it would have been an interception and the end of the game.
After the five yard mark off, facing 4th and goal from the 9 yard line, C.J. Bennett would find Corey Waldon in the end zone for the touchdown. Jordan Means would add the PAT to tie the game at 20 with 4 seconds left in the game.
Starting off on offense first, the Jags weren’t able to move the ball and Jordan Means would miss the 44 yard field goal.
Georgia State would move the ball to the Jaguar 7 yard line. Coach CUrry would send in the kicker but Clifton Crews would block the kick to force a second overtime.
With the ball first, Georgia State would run the ball with Donald Russel three times and chunks of 9, 8 and 8 to put the ball into the end zone.
In the Jags half of the overtime, Demetre Baker would rush three consecutive times for 8, 1 and 2 yards. Then Bennett would run for four yards. Then Baker would run two more times for 7 and 1 yards each. On second and goal at the 2 yard line, Bennett would float the ball off of a play-action pass that would be intercepted at the one yard line to end the game.
Jags return home to host Henderson State on Saturday, October 29th with kickoff scheduled for 4pm.
As we wake up in Atlanta, it’s 39 degrees outside with a projected high of 68 degrees. But that will not matter as the Jags and Panthers will be playing the Georgia Dome where it will be a nice 72 degrees.
The team should be through breakfast by now and will be starting their gameday meetings at any time. They will go over their assignments and what their opponents do. They will be exposed to everything the coaches and assistants have found in their game film; formations, personnel and tendencies.
If you are in Atlanta, tailgating at the CNN Center beginning at 11:30.
Ben Moore, Co-Founder and Editor of PantherTalk.com, reached out to me for a question and answer piece for their “Know your Opponent” series. We asked each other a few questions about each respective program leading up to tomorrows game in the Georgia Dome.
Ben: What are Jag fans expecting as they enter the Georgia Dome on Saturday?
Thunderjags: I think the fans expect a good football atmosphere and an exciting game. I think most fans come into this game expecting a win because the Jags won last season, albeit in a high scoring shootout. The fans have developed high expectations for the program and they expect them to beat teams that are in the same classification (or lower if you look back to previous opponents), which they have done 21 out of 23 times so far.
But there are many that understand that this is a homecoming game for the Panthers and a renewal of an old basketball rivalry between two schools who just added football. While GSU has had a rough season so far, what better way to turn the rest of the season around than a win on Saturday.
Ben: South Alabama has seemed to find their identity as a run first football team as CJ Bennett has struggled to throw the ball this year. Do you expect to see USA establish the run Saturday?
TG: The Jags rely on establishing the running game. Kendall Houston is a punishing runner that just isn’t easy to bring down and Baker has great break away speed while being very physical as well. I expect them to establish the run, but to what degree will determine how the game goes. If Houston and Baker get their average of about 5 yards per rush, then that’s a huge advantage and takes pressure off of Bennett and the receivers.
Ben: How many South Alabama fans do you expect to make the trip to Atlanta Saturday?
TG: I hope a lot. When South Alabama traveled to Beaumont, TX for their first true road game they had probably around 500 there. Then probably a similar number, 500 or so, at UC-Davis the week after. This year in Raleigh, NC there were probably 750-900 fans there. With Atlanta being much closer than any of the previous road games, I would hope to see at least 1,200 or more. Obviously the administration and coaches would be absolutely thrilled to see 2,000 or more fans make the trip.
Thunderjags: How is GSU trying to set itself apart from the other schools in the state such as UGA and Ga Tech?
Ben: We’ve had trouble setting ourselves apart and our fan base still maintains loyalties to Tech and UGA. We’ve seen a noticeable decline in attendance when both Tech and UGA are at home. Our athletic administration has moved game times, given students more access to the entire Georgia Dome and allowed them all sit in the lower level (overflow was in the club level). It will be a consistent challenge winning the affinity battle until we graduate classes who entered and exited school with football. Atlanta is a very front running town and not winning home games has hurt us as well. Right now Tech is ranked #22 and UGA has won 5 straight. Entering the Dome at 1-5 is tough for any Panther fan to stomach right now.
Thunderjags: Has playing three quarterbacks with differing strengths limited the progression of the offense so far this season?
Ben: I think the QB rotation (which started when 2010 starter Drew Little was suspended, then Kelton Hill had his legal issues that were resolved during Fall practice) has played a huge part but we’ve had terrible luck this season with injuries. We’ve had our starting offensive line healthy for one game this season and we ran for 244 yards on 45 carries vs. SC State. One of our top offensive threats WR/KR Albert Wilson pulled his hamstring vs. Jacksonville State and is just now getting back to full speed. Our fan base has their opinions on who should be starting but until Drew Little recovers from his sternum injury, the job should be Kelton Hill’s to lose. He is very good on designed runs but has yet to show any consistency throwing the ball with accuracy. Both he and Schlechter struggled mightily vs. SC State going a combined 6/19 on the day. I expect shorter routes and a steady dose of the running game to limit Hill’s passing attempts on Saturday.
I’m sure South Alabama fans can relate with Georgia State’s struggle with Georgia Tech and Georgia fans. USA has to compete with Alabama and Auburn television time. However our advantage is that we are not nearly as close to AU and UA as GSU us to Tech and UGA.
I lived in north Alabama when UAB began their football program and I saw how difficult their struggle was against both of those teams. Alabama and Auburn had such a long history in Birmingham with the Iron Bowl. Plus Alabama played many home games at Legion Field before moving all of their home games to Bryant Denny. In addition, it’s a relatively short drive from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa.
The Jags struggled trying to figure out game times before the first season until they decided that they cannot schedule around Alabama and Auburn every week. They picked 4pm at their kickoff time on Saturdays barring television coverage and it has worked well for the Jags. When Alabama and Auburn play early, some fans will watch it in the lot while tailgating. Others may stay home but attendance has persisted to be good. If either or both kick off late, they still come out but many leave at or around halftime to make the drive back home or to a nearby bar to watch the game. But they are still supporting the program.
As South Alabama gets ready to travel to Atlanta for their rematch against Georgia State, it’s time to look at the Panthers have done this season.
The Panthers are 1-5 on the season. They started the season with a 41-7 win over Clark Atlanta before dropping the next five straight coming into their homecoming game versus the Jaguars. They lost to Old Dominion 40-17, Jacksonville State 37-21, Houston 56-0, Murray State 48-24 and South Carolina State 23-13.
Georgia State averages 19.3 points per game while allowing an average of 35.2 points per game. Their first down numbers are pretty evenly split between rushing (49) and passing (43).
On the season, the Panthers have gained a total of 1,886 yards offensively for an average of 314.3 yards per game. Most of their total yardage comes through the air which totals 1,101 yards and an average of 183.5 passing yards per game. They have 785 yards on the ground for an average of 130.8 yards per game average. They have actually gained 916 total yards rushing but 131 lost yards to give that total. That is an average of 3.7 yards per rush.
Panther quarterbacks are 83-of-183 on the season with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions. They average 6 yards per pass attempt and 13.3 yards per catch.
The Panthers have protected the ball very well with only three fumbles this season while only losing one to the opponent. They have forced 14 fumbles and have recovered five of them.
GSU is 27-of-90 in 3rd down conversions, which is only 30% while their opponents convert 49% of their 3rd down attempts. Also, the Panthers have converted converted 5-of-8 4th down attempts (62%) and their opponents have converted 4-of-7 4th down attempts (57%).
The GSU defense has recorded 12 sacks on the season while allowing nine sacks themselves.
In the red zone, GSU scores 83% of the time they drive down there (15-of-18) with 61% of them coming by way of a touchdown (11-of-18). Opponents have scored 81% of the time they get into the red zone (25-of-31) and 71% of the time they are touchdowns (22-of-31).
GSU is a perfect 14-of-14 in PAT attempts while opponents have missed two (25-of-27).
In the Panthers three home games, they have averaged 16,312 in attentance.
Scoring by the Panthers tend to be highest in the 2nd and 3rd quarters with 41 and 38 respectively. They have scored 30 points in the first quarter but only 7 points all season in the 4th quarter.
Travis Evans is the Panthers leading rusher with 68 carries for 330 yards. Donald Russel is next with 59 rushes for 282 yards and Kelton Hill with 27 rushes for 140 yards.
Passing Bo Schlechter is 42-of-86 passing with 3 interceptions for 550 yards and four touchdowns while playing in five games. Drew Little is 37-of-83 on the season with six interceptions and no touchdowns in four appearances. Kelton Hill is 3-of-12 with one touchdown and no interceptions in three appearances.
Receiving, Danny Williams has 20 receptions in all six games for 309 yards and one touchdown. Albert Wilson has 15 receptions in four games for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Other receivers with over 100 yards on the season is Jordan Giles with 119 on nine catches and E. Oguehi with 7 catches for 100 yards.
The Jaguars and the Panthers kickoff in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 2pm Central time on Saturday (3pm Eastern).
Coach Ronnie Arrow and his staff completed their first weekend of practice with eight new guards on the roster for the upcoming season. With that many players at that position being new, obviously they would be behind the rest of the team in learning Coach Arrows system.
Coach Arrow said it was exactly what he expected, lots of learning for the guards. “The post men know from years past what we’re doing,” Said Coach Arrow. “For the guards, it’s a whole new ballgame. We’ve only been going a couple of days but yesterday we had a good practice. They showed that they learned a lot from the first day–not everything, but that’s expected.”
However not all positions are new. Augustine Rubit returns after being named 2011 Sun Belt Conference freshman of the year to lead the post players. “Needless to say, Aug and Javier are doing well and Lundy has come back wanting to do really well this year,” Arrow said. “He’s lost a lot of weight and is moving so much better. He’s looking like the old Lundy that we recruited, going after rebounds and doing those types of things. Hersey has been a pleasant surprise, he’s showing more physicality and finishing power, which we were hoping to see. All of our post men are competing.” Arrow was talking about Javier Carter, Antoine Lundy and DeAndre Hersey.
The current game of basketball is very heavy in guard play. So the coaching staff is trying to build the team from the ground up and be ready for the season opening game on November 12.
“We’re trying not to overdose them right now,” Coach Arrow said. “We’re trying to break it down as much as possible. I’ve tried to go back to four years ago when we had a really good team and I was new, the coaching staff was new and the players didn’t know our system. When you have all new guards, that’s pretty much how it is. I’ve tried to go back and break it down like that. They don’t react the way you want because their brains are still learning and it’s keeping them from going all out, but yesterday (Sunday) I saw a lot of improvement from guys that were bewildered out there.”
The Jaguars first exhibition game is coming up on Wednesday, November 2 against Spring Hill with tip-off set for 7:05 pm.
Along with Lee Shirvanian and Coach Joey Jones are joined by secondary coach Duwan Walker at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile Alabama.
Coach Jones, talking about Coach Walker, mentioned that Coach Walker has had to deal with quite a bit of turnover in the secondary in the two and a half years he has been at South Alabama. But has done a great job with it and is well liked and respected on the team.
Coach Walker mentioned that the defense did a good job keeping to their game plan. They kept the offense off balance early, did not allow many “home run balls” execept for one big play early. They also mentioned that Gabe Loper is coming along at an good rate in place of Damond Smith. Coach Walker said they had a really good problem in that they were trying to get him on the field, but it’s unfortunate that the Smith situation happened to get him on the field though. This is the classic case for the backup where you always have to be ready to play.
In the Fuego who’s hot segment coach Jones mentioned Gabe Loper defensively for stepped up in a situation where they weren’t sure how he would react, but thought he would play well, and he exceeded their expectation and had a great game. Offensively Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms were mentioned. Coach Jones said that their blocking has been outstanding lately. They are very physical like the rest of the team, but these two are on an extra level.
The Orthopedic Group injury update segment only had one questionable player. Melvin Meggs has a rolled ankle and will be evaluated the rest of the week to see how he is leading up to game time.
They mentioned that Jereme Jones is a fearless punt returner and it’s not from the coaches, he has the choice to fair catch they said. Coach Jones said that the rule of thumb on a punt is to put your heels on the 10 yard line and if you have to backpedal, let it go. Also, if there is any doubt let it go.
FIU and Arkansas State play tonight on tv. May not be much interest right now, but Coach Jones said that he watches whenever he has a chance to see how the Jags match up with future opponents.
A caller asked about Ameriol Finley and how he is coming along. They said he is a true freshmen with a great attitude and that he is a great athlete. He can play multiple positions and has played cornerback in a game recently for the Jags. Right now he is getting work at multiple positions and is a bit of a utility player for them right now.
BJ Scott brings alot to the table for the Jags. Mentally, he brings a sense of urgency to the team. He teaches kids how to prepare and how to watch film. The are little things that make such a big difference at this level.
Coach Jones said he has noticed that Scott has become a vocal leader on the team recently which has made a difference. Lee asked if they have considered using him on offense like he was used at Vigor. Coach Jones said he has thought about it often but jokingly he said the defensive coaches frown when he brings that up.
Turning towards Georgia State, they said that they are averaging around 16,000 for their home games, but the Georgia Dome seats somewhere over 70,000. The team isn’t doing so well are are currently 1-5 so far. Lee asked what Coach Jones sees in game film that is going on with their team. Coach Jones said that looking at the tape you can’t really tell what’s going on, they have some really good players and some really good coaches. Sometimes there are internal problems that can cause strife, but Coach Jones does not know if this is what is going on or not. He said that they are like a wounded dog, you never know when they are going to jump up and bite you, so you have to be prepared and not dismiss them because of their 1-5 record.
Lee asked if we recruit against Georgia State. Coach Jones said that we do, we recruit against them and we recruit pretty much the entire state of Georgia. Lots of recruits or potential recruits will be at the game to see who wins. It will be a measuring stick game for sure since both programs are pretty close in age. The state of Georgia has plenty of good players.
After a story by Coach Jones about the worst weather game he has ever played or coached in, Lee asked about conserving timeouts and his strategy with them. Coach Jones said that ideally you want to save them towards the end of a half, but he said that you just don’t want to “lose anything on a drive” which I believe he was indicating momentum. If it’s 3rd and 1 and you have an issue, you don’t want to make it 3rd and 6 if you have too many people or something, so in that case you may want to use a time out to keep the drive going and get that first down.
Asking about communication problems that the Jags had against UT-San Antonio in a dome, Lee asked how they can overcome that. Coach Jones answered that you overcome it by staying calm and poised. You can’t hear the snap count, so you have to go on ball movement and that the calm and composure is especially needed on the offense and offensive line to look at the ball and not to move until the ball is snapped.
Other than that, potential problems for players playing in a dome is the ceiling and lights. If you are not used to it, you can lose sight of the ball. What they did for the walk through before the UTSA game was to take some time and kick some punts so the returners can see what it’s like and get comfortable with it. They also had the quarterbacks throw some high, deep passes so the receivers and defensive backs could get comfortable looking for the ball as well. Coach Jones said that J.J. Keels had an instance where he lost the ball on a wheel route against UTSA.
Lee mentioned that they have three quarterbacks that they play. Coach Walker said that one of their quarterbacks, Little, gave us problems last year because he’s throws the ball very well but has a sternum problem. They have another one that runs the ball very well and can pose problems running. The third quarterback is a bit of a mixture of the other two so he can throw pretty well and also tuck it and run.
The final question was from a caller about the number of players that they will have next year. Coach Jones said they will have 85 scholarship players and will have a total of 130 players on the team.
USA Sports Marketing’s Lloyd came on to talk about the next home game on October 29th, which is just before halloween. This will be the third year of “trunk or treat” for the kids. He urged the fan to decorate for this and bring candy for the kids. They are doing a first, second and third again this year for the best decorated tailgating spot. But the biggest announcement is that the Jags are going to wear their all blue uniforms for the first time versus Henderson State for a “blue out.”
Coach Jones commended the fans for the environment for the homecoming game. They had the second largest crowd at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for a game in the programs history. Coach Jones also mentioned that the Jaguar Prowl was great.