Jaguars Participate In First Scrimmage Of Spring

February 29, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

 

Corey Besteda Touchdown

Corey Besteda looking the ball in during a scrimmage during Spring Practice.

On Saturday, South Alabama began with the day practicing fundamentals and rotating between coaches that worked with each group with those fundamentals. Later the offensive and defensive units would work against each other during two 10-minute segments.

Early in the practice they worked on puntings, later they worked on punt coverage and to end the practice they worked on field goals.

However the interesting part was in the second half of the practice when the offensive and defensive units came together for what Coach Jones called a “mini-scrimmage”.

The starting offensive line played well overall, but had their ups and downs. Trey Clark continued to do well at center, however he had problems with snaps. As the Jaguars participate in the Sun Belt, they now must also use the Official Sun Belt football, which differs from what the Jaguars have been using. In previous seasons, the Jags used a ball from Nike however the Offical SBC football is quite slick in comparison. This lead to quite a number of bad snaps.

Tremain Smith did fairly well at left tackle, however he did allow a few guys to get through much easier than expected. Drew Dearman played solid at left guard and I don’t remember actually seeing him get beat on the line. Meggs the right guard and Artz the right tackle had some problems on occasion. I think Artz got beat a few times which allowed defenders to get to the quarterback pretty quickly.

Bryant Lavender seems to be the go-to receiver for C.J. Bennett. They hooked up for a big touchdown pass of around 60 yards or so, as well as a
few other completions during the scrimmage.

Corey Besteda made a few catches as well and took one in for a touchdown. The ball was snapped from around the 20 and he ran an out route around the 5 yard line, he caught it turned towards the end zone and broke the first tackle and dove into the end zone while another defensive back made a hit on him.

Anthony Ingram caught a few passes on the right side of the formation and showed some acceleration and quickness.

Greg Hollinger’s move to tight end will probably be a good one. He is big enough to make some blocks but has the speed and hands to be able to really exploit mismatches against linebackers or smaller safeties.

An noted above, C.J. Bennett made some good passes with Lavender. But he started the scrimmage slow but improved as the day went on. His playing time with the receivers definitely shows in his timing with them between the whistles.

Myles Gibbon was the quarterback who started well. After Bennett’s first series went no where, Gibbon helped to move the ball down the field. While what I saw of Fetner’s series were a bit uninspiring it was made up by Brandon Bridges scrambling. He has long legs that can cover lots of ground in a short time, but his throwing motion seemed to be weak.

Line the offensive, the defense had times when it did well but also times when it didn’t play well. They would have the offense in 3rd and longs and would give up a play to allow a first down. Romelle Jones, who came on midway through the year and played in beast mode, continued to play well. Charles Watson was covering Lavender and allowed a number of catches but did step up from time to time with a good play.

The coaches had headsets on and were practicing some of what they will need to do on gameday. Coach Matthews went up in the scissor lift just before the scrimmage began to call plays while a contingent of coaches and assistants on the sideline signaled in the play. On offense, tempo was key as we have been hearing through all of the previous practices. Lots of shouts encouraging them to go up to the line and get ready for the next play. The tempo of the offense combined with the quarterback’s hard count drew the defense into the neutral zone a few times. But it also accounted for several penalties on the offense. A receiver moved too
early once and a running back next to Bennett in the shotgun moved early as well. But the line movement seemed to be isolated to the right side of the line.

Overall the “mini-scrimmage” was good. Coach Jones was pleased with the effort, except once when he was quite furious with a player for being a bit lazy on a play. He understands that these players heads are spinning still as many are transitioning from a power offense to the spread and from Coach Gregory to Coach Matthews. But that has been the norm for this staff over the previous three seasons, they throw a lot at them, they make their head spin, then they work with them and help them understand what they are doing and where they need to be.

In the post-practice huddle, Coach Jones re-emphasized that their time on the practice field is limited and that they need to work hard. Leadership was a key, he said he saw more leadership this year but told the players if they see a guy doing something wrong, help them to understand and correct the problem.

One that stands out is B.J. Scott. While he will not work out this spring, he has been helping the coaching staff work with the secondary. During drills he has been coaching the guys along helping to reset the drill for the next player. During offense-vs-defense drills, he has been observing, making suggestions and commments, and further encouragements to his fellow players.

 

After two days off after the scrimmage, the Jags hit the practice field again on Tuesday for their sixth out of 15 practices this spring. With a multiple 3-4 system that has been in place for the program’s first three seasons, this spring the staff is working on developing depth that will be needed as they play a full FBS schedule.

Coach Clark explained, “For us right now, it’s identifying players. We’ve got a lot of guys back, but we’re looking to be two-deep. We’re looking for two guys at every position who could be considered starters. If you can get further than that, great. We’re also looking for a sense of urgency, a sense of competition. Obviously, spring is for fundamentals and all the coach speak that you hear about getting better at all the little things, that’s what we’re doing.”

The secondary has been something of a concern over the last two seasons. In 2011, half of the starting secondary were unavailable by the end of the season. However, this was addressed very heavily in the offseason. Darrius Morrow and Charles Watson came in as transfers while Terrell Brigham and Jonatham Cameron are back with the Jaguars. Qudarius Ford, Eddy Cabrera, Gabe Loper, Charles Harris and Alonzo Long are all back with the team too.

“We’re really excited about our secondary, the group has a lot of ability,” Coach Clark continued. “We’re asking them to do a lot of things. We probably were a little more basic last year because we had so many changes, losing guys from the spring to the summer for different reasons, so we scaled it back just a hair. We’re throwing the kitchen sink at them right now. Along with the tempo our offense brings, it’s tough on them, but they’ve responded really well.”

Coach Clark says that the depth chart can change every day, so the players need to bring their competition every day. If Coach Clark’s strategy works, then the Jags will have depth at those positions entering the fall.

South Alabama will have Wednesday off before returning to the practice field on Thursday morning. They will then have their first official scrimmage of the spring on Saturday at 2:45pm at the Jaguar Practice Complex on the South Alabama Campus.

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