Blue Squad Comes Out On Top In Red & Blue Spring Game
South Alabama unveiled their new offense to much fanfare on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. With sunny skies and a slight breeze, the Jags took the field to wrap up their fourth spring practice and their first preparing for a full FBS schedule.
Both squads began the game by trading interceptions. But the Blue squad would earn the first points of the game after a six play, 61-yard drive was capped off by a three-yard touchdown by Demetre Baker. Baker got the drive in gear with a nine-yard run then Bennett would complete three consecutive passes to Jereme Jones, Tyrome Bivins and Baker to move the ball down to the 10 yard line. Baker would then run for seven yards followed by the three-yard touchdown run.
The Red squad would answer with a 31 yard Michel Chapuseaux field goal late in the first quarter. The drive spanned 11-plays with Trey Fetner going 4-for-4 for 44 yards and walk-on freshman Terrance Timmons added 42 all-purpose yards with an 18-yard gain to begin the drive and a 22-yard catch to keep the drive alive on third-and-13.
The Red squad would see it’s only lead of the game after Julien Valentin scored with about three minutes left in the first half. After seemingly being stopped after a short gain, Valentin popped out and the defense thought he was down, however none of the referees blew the whistle and ended up scoring on a 45 yard run. “It was a freaky play,” Valentin explained after the game. “I don’t know where it came from but I had to just keep fighting and keep going. The next thing you know I’m in the open field and the ref is running with me, so I just ran as hard as I could to the end zone.”
Chapuseaux would tie the game for the Blue Squad after connecting on a 28 yard attempt with 41 seconds left in the half. Bennett would go 5-of-6 on the drive to move the team 64 yards in eight plays. He would connect with J.J. Keels twice with the second completion going for 35 yards before the drive stalled out at the 11 yard line.
After a short break and an opportunity for coaches to talk with players on the sidelines, the game continued.
The only score of the second half was by the Blue Squad’s Tyrannace Brazil to cap off a 12-play 80 yard drive spanning 4:58 on the clock. The Blue squad would take over the ball with 45 seconds left in the third quarter with Brandon Bridge at quarterback. Bridge would connect with Jereme Jones on the first play for a 16 yard gain. Later a 20-yard pass to Brazil would move the ball across mid-field for another first down. Bridge would find Wes Saxton for a 10-yard completion on fourth-and-1 at the 35 yard line. Bryant Lavender would make a nine-yard catch at the 14-yard line, but would be injured on the play as the back of his head would be struck by a players knee as he went down. The referees would flag it as a late hit personal foul to move the ball to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Brazil would score to give the Blue squad a 17-10 lead.
The Red squad had the tying score in it’s sights on the next possession. Myles Gibbon would find Anthony Ingram open for a 67-yard gain after a blown coverage by McGaskin, but Ingram’s failure to secure the ball all the way into the endzone would let McGaskin make up for it by punching it out at the one yard line and having it go out of the back of the end zone for a touchback and possession going to the Blue squad.
The Blue squad would go three-and-out on their possession. After moving the ball for a simulated punt, Trey Fetner would be sacked by Byron Sneed for a loss of six yards. Then Charles Watson would stop Austin Powell short of the first down on a fourth-and-12 at the Red Squad’s 43 yard line to seal the game.
Keels, Bivins and Lavender all ended the game with three catches each to lead the team. Keels would rack up the most yards of the three with 52. Jones and Baker would each add two catches for the game as well. Bennett would go 11-of-14 for 128 yards and Brandon Bridge went 4-of-7 for 55 yards. The Blue squad would gain 192 of it’s 217 total yards through the air.
Valentin rushed 10 times for 88 yards and added two catches for 10 more yards. Anthony Ingram had four catches for 98 yards. Valentin and Ingram shared the game-high honors for all-purpose yards. Terrance Timmons added 50 yards and 24 yards more on two catches.
Fetner went 7-of-14 for 69 yards and Myles Gibbon went 3-of-5 for a team best 84 yards. The Red Squad gained 163 yards passing and 131 on the ground for 294 yards of total offense.
Qudarius Ford, Darrius Morrow and Andrew Philon all shared team-high honors for the Red squad with five tackles each. Justin Walker added four tackles and Cordivido Grive, Desmond LaVelle and Pat Moore all adding three tackles each. Moore would have a game-high of 1.5 tackles for loss.
Jake Johnson lead the team with six tackles and added an interception on the Red Squad’s first snap of the game. Dylan Hutto added five tackles with Davin Hawkins and Dionte McDuffy both added four tackles each. Logan Bennett, Jonathan Cameron, Robert Terrell, Charles Watson and McGaskin all added three tackles each. Logan Bennett would spend lots of time on the sidelines before leaving before the end of the game due to a possible concussion.
“We talked and bickered back and forth all week,” said C.J. Bennett. “It’s kind of fun going against each other and putting the pads on for real. In practice, they [the coaches] always want to stop you. It was a friendly game, I thought everyone played well, and the Blue team came out on top. I think the offense is coming along great, as you saw here we are capable of some long drives and getting that ball moving. If we take care of the ball, I think we have big things ahead of us.”
“I thought we did well, we’ve come a long way since the first practice of the spring,” said Jake Johnson after the game. “But we still have leaps and bounds to get better. I was impressed with a lot of the guys, we were mixed and matched but we all showed great ability out there.”
Coach Jones spoke after the game. “We kept both teams handcuffed, the defense could run a couple of fronts, the offense could only run so many plays,” Jones said. “We achieved what we wanted to, I don’t think anyone was hurt badly. Our evaluations through the first 14 practices were really what it was all about, we know where we are.”
When asked about the possible tying touchdown for the Red Squad late in the game, coach Jones answered, “It looked like he got stripped. That’s a lesson on both sides of the ball. On offense, securing the ball all the way across the goal line is paramount, and defensively to never give up. That was a great play to never give up.”
Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark was pleased with the defense in the game. “We didn’t blitz and we were in man coverage all day. We didn’t want to show anything.” With just over five months until the first game, they didn’t want to give anything away to upcoming opponents.
With spring practice over, we now have to wait for fall camp to begin and football season to arrive. South Alabama will open the 2012 season, their first playing a full FBS schedule and playing a full Sun Belt schedule, when they host Texas-San Antonio on Thursday night on August 30th.