The South Alabama Jaguars lost their Sun Belt conference opener to Troy 31-10 in a penalty-filled, wet mess. Coming into this game, the Jags knew where they had been and knew where they wanted to be, but after this game they know where they are, at least for the time being.
The Jaguars had four turnovers in the game and could only muster 59 yards passing in the game. Troy’s Corey Robinson threw for 223 yards and ran for a touchdown in the win. But the game had 25 penalties, 15 on the Jaguars for 142 yards.
South Alabama forced five Troy turnovers, a number of them in very key situations where Troy was driving for scores. But the Jaguar offense only managed 51 yards of total offense and two first downs in the second half after they were able to gain 201 yards in the first half.
“Troy played a great game. They were probably a little better than us, and we made a few mistakes. You’re not going to play it close when you do that,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones explained. “We had some first-half chances and I really thought after halftime that if we came out and scored it would be a different ballgame, but we didn’t do that. We’re a young program. We’re trying to get this thing going and sometimes this is part of it. We kind of know where we are now. Troy is a dominant team in the league, they’ve been there, done that.”
“Their defense made adjustments in the second half, and really shut us down,” Jones said. “I thought we moved the ball pretty good in the first half, but we didn’t in the second half and that was due to them making adjustments and playing well.”
“Offensively, they’re real explosive. They can move the ball at the drop of a hat,” Jones said. “I thought we played pretty good defensively at times, but they are very good offensively.”
Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said after the game, “We made the same basic game-plan calls in the second half that we made in the first. We probably ran them a little bit better. After you play a team for a half, you sort of scout them as you go as coach Dye used to say. You get better playing the things that they are doing. I think that was part of it. I thought we had a good plan against (South Alabama). They did some things a little different in some of the things they had done, but nothing majorly different. We sort of got in tune with them in the second half and played pretty hard and played better. Made some tackles and got a couple of tackles for loss, interceptions and turnovers.”
The game started well with B.J. Scott intercepting Corey Robinson on the Trojan’s first play from scrimmage, but the Jags were unable to convert the early turnover into points as they went three-and-out and forced to punt at the Troy 47 yard line.
After a rush for 11 yards and a first down, the Troy offense would be forced to punt, but T.J. Glover would fumble the punt at his own 29 yard line and it would be recovered by the Trojans.
The first and ten play would go for 24 yards to the Jaguar five yard line, but the Jaguar defense punt the clamps on again and forced Troy to settle for a 21 yard field goal.
Again the Jags would go three and out and the Scott Garber punt would be downed at the Troy 43 yard line. Corey Robinson would complete back-to-back passes for 16 and 38 yards to set up at the Jaguar one yard line. They would punch it in on the next play to take a 10-0 lead on the Jags with 8:05 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, T.J. Glover would return the kickoff from the one yard line 21 yards but a holding penalty would put the Jags at their own 12 yard line. Demetre Baker would rush for 7 and 9 yards and a Jaguar first down. But Ross Metheny would run on the quarterback keeper and fumble the ball away to Troy at the Jaguar 30 yard line.
Troy would get flagged for a hold on their first down play and get backed up to the 38 yard line with a first and 18. A screen pass to Shawn Southward would be go for a loss of five as Jake Johnson and Romelle Jones combined for the stop. On second and 23, Southward would take the handoff 31 yards before Darrius Morrow would force a fumble that Terrel Brigham would recover at the Jaguar 6 yard line.
The Jags would finally get a good drive put together starting at the Jaguar 6 yard line. Baker would rush for 2 yards then lose a yard on the second run. Then C.J. Bennett, who rotated in for Ross Metheny, would scramble for 10 yards and a first down at the 17 yard line. Baker would rush again for 3 more yards then the Jags would take a time out with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
On 2nd and 7, Glover would come in as a running back and rush for nine yards and a first down. Bennett’s pass attempt to Wes Saxton would fall incomplete, then Glover would rush for 6 more yards to set up a 3rd and 4 at the Jaguar 35 yard line. Demetre Baker would come in for Glover and run for 10 yards and another Jaguar first down. After an incomplete pass to Cameron Broadnax, Bennett would opt to keep the ball and find a seam for a 50 yard run down to the Troy five yard line. Another run around the right side for Bennett would net two yards.
Trey Fetner would come into the game and run left for the three yard touchdown to get the Jags on the board 10-7 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.
Troy would answer the Jags touchdown with one of their own. An 8 play, 70 yard drive spanning 4 minutes on the clock would put the Trojans up 17-7 with 11:46 left in the second quarter.
On the kickoff, Glover would get a 22 yard return out to the Jaguar 24 yard line, but a personal fould on Terrel Brigham would place the ball at their own 12 yard line. The Jags would go three and out and after a four yard return, would be set up near midfield at the Troy 48 yard line.
After a holding penalty on Troy, they faced a 2nd and 13 at the Jaguar 39 and Gabe Loper would intercept the Robinson pass at the 28 yard line and return it 19 yards out to the Jaguar 47 yare line. with 8:17 left in the half.
Baker would open the series with a 15 yard rush down to the Troy 48 yard line. Bennett would then run the ball for another 9 yards. On back to back rushes by Baker, he would rush for 4 and 1 yards, but on the second rush Troy’s Zach Miller would be flagged for a personal foul to place the ball at the Troy 12 yard line with a first down. After a Kendall Houston rush for three yards, Bennett would throw an incomplete pass intended for Lavender. Then on third and 7 at the Troy 9 yard line, Bennett’s pass intended for Jereme Jones in the end zone would be picked off and returned 10 yards.
The Jags defense would force a three and out and get the ball at their own 49 yard line with 4:18 left in the game. Metheny would return to the game and hand off to Demetre Baker on the first two plays for 6 and 3 yards. Then the Metheny pass intended for Greg Hollinger would fall incompleted forcing Garber to punt again.
Starting on their own 20 yard line, Robinson’s pass to Chip Reeves would go for 19 yards then the Jaguar sidelines would be penalized 5 yards for a delay of game as well as Tyrell Pearson being flagged for a personal foul for another 15 yards, putting the ball at the Jaguar 41 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Robinson would find Reeves again for another 39 yards to the Jaguar 2 yard line. Robinson would run the ball in on the next play to put the Trojans up 24-7 with 2:13 left in the half.
The Jags would put together another good drive on the ensuing possession. A short kickoff would be fielded by Randon Carnathan and returned 12 yards to the 35 yard line. Baker would rush for one yard on the first down play. Then Metheny would find Corey Besteda for a 19 yard gain to the Troy 45 yard line. Then Metheny would run for five yard and get out of bounds to stop the clock. Baker would run for another three yards followed by Metheny gaining a yard then the Jags would call a time out with 38 seconds left in the half to set up their 4th and 1 play.
After coming out with Fetner at quarterback and Metheny at receiver, Troy would burn a timeout to adjust. Then the Jags would come out with Metheny back at quarterback to which Larry Blakeney would be forced to burn another time out to adjust to. Then, with Troy out of time outs Fetner would return to the game and run for the needed yard and a first down at the Troy 35.
Metheny would throw a pass to Baker in the flat, but he would cut it back inside for no gain and forced the coaching staff to call a time out to stop the clock with 20 seconds left. Metheny would hit Jereme Jones for 11 yards and a first down at the Troy 24 yard line. The field goal unit would run on the first and the 41 yard attempt would be blocked but recovered by Demetre Baker at the Troy 31 yard line with 4 seconds left in the half. The Jags would be penalized for delay of game. With one second left in the half, the Jags would get one last shot and Chapuseaux would connect on the 53 yard field goal for a halftime score of 24-10 in favor of Troy.
The Jags would go three and out on their first series of the second half. Troy would drive down to the Jaguar 7 yard line befroe facing a 3rd and 6 at the 7 yard line, Alex Page would sack Robinson for a 13 yard loss and forcing Troy to attempt a field goal. The attempt would be blocked and recovered by Gabe Loper.
The next Jaguar possession, they would go three and out. Garber’s punt would be fair caught at the 26, but an illegal block would back them up to the 16 yard line. Troy would drive down to the Jaguar 7 yard line facing first and goal, Justin Albert would get caught for a loss then Jesse Kelley would force a fumble that would be recovered by Enrique Williams at the Jaguar 16 yard line and avoiding a Trojan score.
Yet again, the Jaguar offense would go three and out and forced to punt. Back to back competions for Troy would go for 17 and 19 yards down to the Jaguar 27 yard line to end the third quarter. Two plays later, Robinson would be picked off in the end zone by Charles Watson for a touchback.
Baker would rush for a yard, Bennett’s first pass would fall incomplete intended for Hollinger, then on third and 9, Bennett would hit Jereme Jones for 19 yards to the Jaguar 40 yard line. Bennett would keep the ball for an 8 yard gain then Baker is caught for a two yard loss to set up third down and 4. Tremain Smith would be flagged for a false start then the 3rd and 9 pass would fall incomplete forcing the Jags to punt again.
On the punt, Troy would be flagged for holding to put the ball back at the Troy 14 yard line. Deon Anthony’s pass would be thrown up in the sky and completed to Chris Williams for a 44 yard gain. Again the Jaguar bench would be flagged for a 5 yard delay of game penalty as well. Troy would get a touchdown a few plays later for the final score of the game to make it 31-10.
The Jags would get the ball two more times. Metheny would be intercepted on his first pass attempt on a deep throw at the Troy 17. On their second, The Jags managed one first down before being forced to punt with 34 seconds left in the game.
“It’s our first Sun Belt Conference game, and I have to keep things in perspective as do our kids,” Coach Jones observed. “We’re all competitors and want to win. For us to play and beat a team like Troy in our first conference game would be a miracle. But as a coach, I look at it and think there were things we could have done to have been in the ballgame. We’re going to get there, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re going to get there. We’re just going through a growing time right now.”
Sometimes those growing pains hurt the worst when you had a chance in the game. But some penalties were so bizarre, that it was unbelievable.
For instance in the waning moments of the first half the Jags elect to kick a field goal with 14 seconds remaining on first down. The Chapuseaux kick was blocked and recovered by the Jags so the Troy field goal unit went to the sidelines to celebrate what they thought was a block and turnover. The South Alabama coaches found the nearest officials and told them that the ball should still be possessed by the Jags since an attempt was made and the ball was blocked and therefore never went past the line of scrimmage.
Meanwhile, the Jaguar kicking unit stayed on the field and the Troy coaches, special teams unit and offense were all grouped together near the sidelines conferring with the officials. Once the referee made the call, the Jaguar special teams unit was standing at the line of scrimmage waiting to snap the ball as the official stood over the ball. Once the whistle was blown, the Jags snapped the ball but it was immediately whistled dead. The penalty? Delay of game on the offense.
After marking off a five yard penalty, Michel Chapuseaux drilled a 53 yard field goal, the longest in his career and set a new Jaguar record for longest field goal.
That was such as the game went. Numerous obvious fouls occurred in front of officials that were perputrated by Troy that were never called. Junior defensive back Zach Miller, after a long incompletion by the Jags, was walking back to the line of scrimmage and as Corey Besteda jogged past him, shoved him in the back. It wasn’t a “genty nudge” or anything like that. It was a full on shove that was meant to try to make him lose balance. But it was not called, nor did the referee in the area caution him about the incident.
I think that sequence to end the first half really let the air out of the team in many ways. But they did not give up. They fought very hard in the second half and turned away a couple of scores, the offense could not get going with the hole they faced.
The Jags first Sun Belt game is here at last!
The team will be wearing their traditional RED jerseys for the game. So fans are encouraged to “Bleed it RED” for their Jaguars!
Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. There will be plenty of tickets left for anyone who wants to join the crowd out there. Reserved sideline tickets can be purchased for $15 while they last. General admission endzone seats can be purchased for $10. Students get in free with their Student ID. All gates will open at 12:30pm.
If you cannot make it out for the game, it will be televised on CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast). You can follow @USAThunderjags on twitter for updates from the stadium. If you don’t already, “Like” us on Facebook!
Due to the limited number of parking spaces at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, only parking passes are allowed to park at the stadium. Parking passes are only available to Season Ticket holders and passes are not available for single game ticket holders. There are private parking options near the stadium, but they ARE NOT managed by USA or the stadium.
USA has parternered with the City of Mobile to provide transportation with “The Wave” from Bel Air Mall to the stadium. The Wave” Transit will run continuous shuttle service to Ladd-Peebles Stadium from Bel Air Mall on each Jaguar Football GameDay. The cost will be $2.50 per person round trip leaving from the Bel Air Mall Parking Lot South of Target and JC Penney. The Wave Buses will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 29th and will run continuous loop service until 90 minutes after the conclusion of the South Alabama Football game.
Fans are encouraged to ride before 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in order to arrive before the 2:30 p.m. kick-off. The Wave will drop off fans at the same location they were picked up from Bel Air Mall.
The “Jaguar Prowl”, the tradition of cheering on the players and coaches as they make their walk into the stadium, will begin 2 hours and 20 minutes prior to kickoff on each football gameday. The walk will feature the Jaguar Coaches, Players, Marching Band, Cheerleaders and SouthPaw and will begin at the Southeast Corner of Ladd directly in front of the Alumni Tent and the JagWear Merchandise Tent Sale. The Players will walk from the East side to the West side along the South side of Ladd-Peebles Stadium and continue through Gate 3W and into their locker room. We ask all fans to line the street by 12:10 p.m. in anticipation of the South Alabama “Jaguar Prowl.”
Trax Tires will feature the kids zone “Jaguar Jungle” where kids can play with remote controlled monster trucks, toss footballs, and other interactive activities for all ages. The National Guard’s STEM trailer (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics” interactive 3D simulators will be at the stadium as well. The Kids zone is free and will be open four hours prior to kickoff at the SouthEast corner of Ladd-Peebles stadium near “Jag City”.
A new website for Jaguar Fans who would like art depicting great moments in South Alabama history.
A senior at the University launched his own business yesterday named Jaguar Arts. It is an officially licensed memorabilia e-commerce site that will be a source of limited edition art prints.
They currently offer a limited edition art prints but will soon offer more athletic merchandising.
Their goal is to become the go-to brand when it comes to the University of South Alabama lifestyle and to support the growing traditions of the University and thereby continue building a sense of community.
Head coach Joey Jones and Lee Shirvanian was joined by former offensive line coach and current tight ends coach John Turner at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard on Tuesday.
Lloyd Meyers first mentioned that the students are very excited. In the first two hours of student parking pass availability, all 250 were gone. There will be lots to do for kids and the first 10,000 through the gates into the stadium will get red rally towels.
Additionally, the Jags will be wearing their traditional home red uniforms. They are encouraging fans to wear Red to support the team.
Also a point of concern that Lee asked about was concessions. The University spoke with the concessions group and they will have extra water and drinks on hand for the larger crowd. There will be trucks standing by with extra drinks just in case.
Lee said he tried to find Coach Jones on the bus after the game, but could not find him. He reiterated that he does not want to congratulate him after a loss, but to him how competitive the team was and how well they played despite losing. Coach Jones said it was very gratifying to walk across the field and have the Mississippi State coaches compliment them on their heart and their effort in the game despite being out-manned in the game. But Coach Jones said he was hurting just as he would be after any other game and like his players.
Lee asked some questions about the two Jaguar quarterbacks, Ross Metheny and C.J. Bennett. Lee said that Bennett had the better game statistically, but asked that, after watching the video, who did well, who did better and who would start on Saturday against Troy. Coach Jones said, in a joking tone, that he would not answer Lee’s question about who is going to start and if they were going to rotate quarterbacks still. Jones did say that that probably both quarterbacks did certain things better than the other, but they are both getting their “bad things” out and improving. Bennett made some great throws, but they both threw some bad interceptions. Metheny towards the end of the first half that was returned to set up a field goal at the end of the half. Bennett threw an interception inside the 10 yard line, but it was a good throw where the guy just went over Jereme Jones and took it away from him.
After the first break, Lee mentioned how the Jags would love to set to attendance record for a Sun Belt game this week. Coach Jones agreed, but he just wants it to be “an electric atmosphere.” He mentioned that the Jags are playing real football now, they are starting their Sun Belt Conference schedule. Coach Jones then mentioned that when someone thinks about the Sun Belt they think about the success Troy has had over the years. They have won the Sun Belt Championship five out of the last six years. The Troy players know how to play against big time football programs, they have played at Tennessee, Mississippi State and many other places over the last several years. Really, they have set the standard for a school like South Alabama who has just started. He finished saying that it would be great to have 33,000 to 35,000 in Mobile for a game.
Coach Jones and Lee then introduced the guest assistant coach for the show, Coach John Turner. Coach Turner, like his brother Brian Turner, has been with the program since the beginning. He began coaching the offensive line, but this season he has made the move to tight ends.
Lee first asked Coach Turner a question about the two big tight ends, Greg Hollinger and Wes Saxton, if there were any plans to get them both on the field. Coach Turner answered by saying they do have some packages where both of them may be on the field at the same time.
Coach Turner then was asked a question by Lee about the offensive line and how he thought they did against the larger Mississippi State team. Turner said that Coach Robert Matthews does a great job tih the linemen, and that he thought they did very well against the Bulldogs. They weren’t intimidated and should be proud of what they did in Starkville.
Lee then asked Coach Jones a question about the Jags rushing game against the Bulldogs. He mentioned how they did not rush that well in the first half but did better in the second half and asked if it were adjustments or what caused them to do better in the second half. Coach Jones answered by saying that some of it was adjustments, but their gameplan was to try to get them tired early by throwing perimeter screens and passes to the edge by making them rush. They wanted to try to tire them out before they started running at them because of their size and speed.
Coach Jones then mentioned how the offensive line did a good job in protection because the Bulldogs were so big. It was hard for the linemen to knock them off the ball, but they only gave up one sack in the game which is a testament to how well the line played against an SEC defense.
Lee then asked about where Mississippi State fits into the order of the SEC. Coach Jones said that they would be in the second level of the SEC, they are not on the same level as Alabama or LSU, but that they could beat LSU.
Coach Turner then jumped in and started talking about a conversation after the game he had with his friend who happens to be the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. He said he was told that their team is made to compete with LSU and Alabama. They recruit size and structure their defense to be able to handle the running game of those two schools. He mentioned that, if you are a spread team, you have a chance just like Troy did the week before the Jags played the Bulldogs.
The Orthopaedic Group Injury report started by mentioning how the defense started so well and forced a three and out on the Bulldogs first drive, but then they lost Anthony Taylor with a broken leg and will miss the remainder of his senior season. Coach Jones mentioned that he was very sad for him because he was a good football player but he was becoming a great football player, but now his college career is over.
Others that Coach Jones was asked about was Ceasare Johnson. Coach Jones said he would not be able to play this year due to a blood clot issue. Doctors will not allow him to play. Quadarius Ford is still healing up from knee surgery, it’s still bothering him some but he is still working out and hope to be back soon. Anthony Harris had a shoulder injury and had surgery to correct it and will be redshirted this season. Even though he was a transfer, he was what coach Jones referred to as a 3-for-2 so he had three years of eligibility left to play two years of football. Lee mentioned Montavious Williams was limping but Coach Jones assured him that he was okay and would be ready to go this weekend.
Later in the show Lee mentioned that he did not see Corey Besteda in the game against Mississippi State. Coach Jones said that he did not play because of an ankle injury but that he is good and will be ready to play on Saturday.
Lee then mentioned that Montavious considered Troy but decided to play for the Jags. Then asked about recruiting and if the Jags recruited against other Sun Belt teams and if games like this weekend are big factors in recruiting. Coach Jones said that they recruit against Troy, Southern Miss, Memphis and sometimes Central Florida. He also mentioned that playing well always helps recruiting, especially a game like this that is going to be televised. So you certainly want to play well under those conditions.
Lee talked about having Troy head coach Larry Blakeney on the WNSP morning show and how they ran around 100 plays on offense against against Lousiana-Lafayette. Lee then mentioned the Jaguar offense as being a “quick” tempo offense. But that the Jags are not that quick on offense. Troy tends to aim to get between 90 and 100 plays in a game, so when the ball is ready they are usually snapping the ball.
Coach Jones indicated that the Jaguar defense should be ready for that type of tempo because, in the summer, they practiced against the offense as they were really going up tempo. The defense has adapted and worked on communication and signals so they can get ready for the next play.
Lee then asked Coach Turner if there offense was like ours at least when the line up. Coach Turner said that some of their formations and pass concepts are similar to what the Jags use. They will not be a mirror of each other, but there will be plenty of similarities between the two offenses.
It was mentioned that South recruited the record breaking Troy running back very hard, but he ended up going to Troy instead.
Coach Jones was asked to break down the Jaguar defense versus the Troy offense. Jones said that Troy can throw the ball and run the ball well. So if you condense to stop one or the other then they have a chance to hurt you with the opposite. So the defense has to play smart and do well against a balanced team.
Coach Jones was then asked to break down the Troy defense. He mentioned that Troy has been known for a while to play tough defense and they are well coached. He did mention that they don’t seem to be blitzing as much as they have in the past, but seem to have backed off some this season and seem to be playing better because of that.
Lee asked Coach Turner about the players that Troy recruits because they have the most players in the NFL of any of the Sun Belt teams. Coach Turner said that the players that they had had that goes to the NFL are players that the coaching staff have done a great job in their evaluations. They players they get they do a great job evaluating them and then, when they get them on campus, they do a great job developing them. Coach Turner said that they are doing the same thing at South Alabama. They really work hard to evaluate players and then work really hard to develop those players that come to South Alabama. Coach Jones further mentioned that having championship rings on their fingers really helps in recruiting good talent as well.
Coach Jones pointed to the Dallas Cowboy defensive end DeMarcus Ware from Troy. He said that in high school he was 6’4″ and weighted 190-pounds. No one would have thought of him as a defensive end, but Troy thought he would be a great defensive end after putting on more weight, and sure enough he is now in the NFL and a six-time pro-bowler.
Lee flipped back to asking about the Jaguar offense and it’s tempo. He asked if the Jags were going to do something similar to Troy and try to get around 90 or more snaps in the game. Coach Jones said that they are definitely going to go with more of their offense, but would not try to go for that many plays. He said that the Jags goal is between 70 and 80 plays in a game. Lee mentioned that snapping the ball that much usually means you are possessing the ball more than your opponent, which is typically a good thing.
Coach Jones said that something he and Coach Turner spoke about on the way to the radio show was that they do not want to do in the game is to have lots of three-and-outs. He said that three-and-outs puts your defense in a bind and fatgues them. They need to sustain some drives and put the ball in the end zone.
Lee asked about what the defensive line does without Anthony Taylor. Jones said that the rest of the players just have to play. They were rotating in and out anyway, but the other guys have to step up. No one else steps into the rotation, but they have some players that can play on the inside and on the outside. They will cross train them more.
Coach Jones indicated that Pat Moore will get more playing time. Lee said that he is a junior college transfer that has not been talked about much. But he is very well noted for his pass rushing ability. Coach Jones thinks he is going to be a tremendous player and that he grew up a lot against Mississippi State with some big hits. Even gave him the big hit of the game, even on offensive linemen who were trying to block him.
A caller mentioned that people talk about quickly trying to get the defense off the field for fatigue factors. But doesn’t the offense get fatigued as well? Coach Jones said that they do, but when you have the ball on offense, you are keeping it away from the other team and not giving them a chance to score while giving yourself a chance to score.
Lee asked for Coach Jones to mention things to note for the game this weekend. Jones answered by saying that Troy has 14 senior starters returning so they are a senior dominated team and that he thought those starters were spread evenly between both sides of the ball. The offense is explosive with fast guys at receiver. They have a quarterback that can throw the ball well. The defense plays well and with a good level of confidence. Jones mentioned he was hoping they would have an average special teams, but that they are good with a single guy who punts and kicks.
Their offense puts lots of points on the board and puts pressure on you to also score lots of points, which the Jags have had trouble doing since the first game of the season.
Lee mentioned that some out-of-town people have asked him if they would be able to view South Alabama’s facilities because they have heard so much about them. Coach Jones was very hesitant, but said that they would have someone there that would be able to show people around. Lee further mentioned it as a recruiting tool, which Coach Jones agreed with. Jones further said that, without that facility, they would be further behind as a new program than what they are now. It really makes a difference in everything they do.
South Alabama has a tough challenge in their first Sun Belt game when they host Troy on Saturday. The Jags (1-3, 0-0 SBC) has dropped their last two games against formidable opponents NC State and Mississippi State is looking to rebound against in-state rival Troy (2-2, 1-1 SBC) while trying to win their first conference game.
There are a couple keys points that are expected to play a big role in how the game goes for the Jags.
The Jaguar defense versus the Troy offense. Troy’s Corey Robinson is the Sun Belt’s leading passer with an average of 321.5 passing yards per game which totals more than the Jaguar offense averages in total yards per game with 312. Additionally, Troy has three of the conference’s top 10 receivers in receptions with Chip Reeves also currently second place in the conference with an average of 90.2 yards receiving per game.
The Jaguar secondary has given up some big plays this season. They gave up touchdown passes of 58 yards (on a center screen), 23 and 34 yards to UTSA. NC State’s Mike Glennon had touchdown passes of 33 and 44-yards.
But the Jags secondary does have four interceptions on the season. Tyrell Pearson has two and Terrel Brigham and Bryson James have one each. Free Safety B.J. Scott is the team’s third leading tackler with 20, two quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a tackle for loss.
The secondary numbers does not stop there. Brigham is fourth on the team in tackles, Pearson ranks fifth on the team in tackles and Darrius Morrow is eighth.
The Jags rank near the top in rushing defense.
The next key is the Jaguar offense against the Troy defense. Can the Jags move the ball consistently, get first downs and score from in the red zone?
Troy’s defense is allowing an average of 25.8 points per game, fifth in the conference, and rank seventh in the conference in total defense allowing an average of 431.8 yards per game.
Their passing defense is in the middle of the pack, ranking fifth, with an average of 244 yards per game. While the Troy rush defense ranks eighth with 187.8 yards per game.
South Alabama has been rotating between two quarterbacks in their first four games. Coach Jones has declined to comment about who may be the starter or if the Jags will continue to rotate quarterbacks against Troy. But the Jaguars spread offense has shown, at times, that they can move the ball in large chunks in rapid succession. Now that they are facing a defense with a history of giving up lots of yards and more than 20 points per game, the Jags have a chance to put up some good numbers.
The Jags offensive line played very well against Mississippi State, a team with a huge defensive line. They had problems against NC State but seem to have corrected them. Their blocking scheme seems to have started clicking and couldn’t have come at a better time. If they can handle any new wrinkles introduced this week by Troy’s scheme, they should be okay.
The final key is turnovers. This has been a major factor for the Jags and the Trojans as well. South Alabama ranks dead last in the conference with -7 in turnovers, losing seven fumbles and five interceptions while gaining one fumble and four interceptions. Troy is only very slightly better with a ninth place ranking in the conference with a -6 in turnovers by losing six fumbles and four interceptions and gaining three fumbles and one interception.
Those Jaguar turnovers are magnified because the opponents have converted those turnovers into points. All four turnovers against UTSA were turned into points in their 33-31 loss to the Roadrunners.
We don’t have to repeat the saying, but it’s true more times than not: Whoever wins the turnover margin will be in a good position to win the game. But when you have two teams who are turnover prone, it may be a “slippery” subject.
Yahoo! Sports Radio and CBS Sports host Tim Brando interviewed Jaguar head coach Joey Jones on his radio show yesterday leading up to the Jags game this weekend against Troy. It was a very good interview and you can view it right here thanks to CBSSports.com posting the clip on Youtube.
You may notice the beautiful South Alabama helmet behind Mr. Brando. A great marketing tool for South Alabama.
Also, at the end Coach Jones mentions how people in and around the area of Mobile have been supporting the program. The Sun Belt’s record attendance for a single game is only in the 32,000 range and Ladd-Peebles Stadium has the largest capacity of any stadium in the conference. The Jags have a really good shot at breaking that attendance record in their first Sun Belt game. So come out and be a part of history as well as viewing history in the making! The Jaguars first game in the Sun Belt Conference and the Jaguars first game against Troy!
Troy players spoke with the Montgomery Advertiser and had some interesting things to say about the Jaguars. Previously Troy’s head coach Larry Blakeney had some choice words to say about the Jaguars before the season started, in particular how the Jags were unclassified in their first two seasons and only played teams that they could beat for the first two seasons (you can read the article here).
Troy Linebacker De’Von Terry said, “We can’t let the new guys just come and take over the Sun Belt. They have to earn their respect. They have to beat somebody, earn some championships. They can’t just come muscle us around.”
Quarterback Corey Robins said, “The first game is going to set the tone for the rivalry. We have to go down there and show them that we’re still here. Troy hasn’t fallen off. We have to play a good football game because they’re a good football team.”
Linebacker Kanorris Davis said, “It’s going to be as big as people want it to be. Everybody wants to win. This is our first time playing each other. It’s a new era. They’re welcoming the Sun Belt. We’re going to welcome them to the Sun Belt.”
Troy is also having to play ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ so to speak. Troy began making plans for a new football building after getting an up-close look at the Jaguars’ facilities for the 2010 GMAC Bowl.
Additionally, the Jags and the Trojans are recruiting the same players in the same areas. “We’re running into them all the time,” said Troy recruiting coordinator Randy Butler, whose primary territory includes Mobile. “The kids that we’re offering down there, they’re offering.”
Some Troy supporters may deny that a rivalry does not exist between South Alabama and Troy. But there has always been a rivalry between the two schools. It formed when South Alabama announced plans to start a football program and both schools began recruiting the same areas and the same players. It happened before the first whistle between the two school and before either school appeared on the others schedule.
All the denying is useless, embrace it but keep it positive. We have enough poisoned trees and name calling already in this state.
De’Von Terry is right, the Jags will have to earn their respect. The Jaguars have earned quite a bit of respect in their four years of existence, but they haven’t gotten that first FBS victory yet. Lets hope that it comes this weekend at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Head coach Joey Jones and his staff continued to install and fine tune their game plan for the Jaguars game against Troy University. This will be the Jaguars first game against a Sun Belt opponent and it just so happens to be a school just up the road from Mobile.
Much of practice on Wednesday was used to prepare for Saturday’s game and Coach Jones is pleased with the plan he and his staff have put together. But as with all plans, there is still some tweaking left to be done between now and Saturday. “We were kind of finalizing the gameplan,” Coach Jones said to the Press-Register on Wednesday. “What we’ve got to do as a staff is we’ve got to go narrow some things down to exactly what we want to do in the game. I think we’re getting there. I really like some of the things that we’re doing on both sides of the ball and special teams. The kids have fought hard. They’re a little tired this morning but the bottom line is they came out and worked and that’s what we want.”
So far this season most people have been focused on Troy’s offense, but Troy’s defense is pretty good too. We took a look at the statistical numbers for the Sun Belt Conference on Monday and Tuesday and pointed out where Troy ranked in those same categories.
Coach Jones understands that Troy is good on defense too. “The offense gets the glitz and the glamor because they’ve been doing extremely well with what they’ve done,” Coach Jones said to the Press-Register. “But Troy has always been known for defense. They know how to play defense, they play hard-nosed defense. They run to the football, they tackle and they play defense the way it’s supposed to be played. When I look at them on film I don’t see much difference but I think in the media people tend to look at the offense because they put up so many points and so many numbers. But they are very good on defense.”
But the Jaguar defense has played very well themselves. “We’ve played extremely well,” Jones said. “The staff has done a great job and the players have done a great job defensively. You win ballgames most of the time because you play good defense. We’ve got to continue to do that. Once we get it rolling offensively we’re going to be pretty good.”
A replay of the Jaguars game at Mississippi State will be aired on CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast) tonight from 9-11pm. This will be a time-compressed game and may be edited to fit the time allotted. It may also be edited to show more MSU highlights than Jaguar highlights, but for those who were unable to view the game on Saturday, this may be of interest anyway.
South Alabama practiced for about two hours on Tuesday as they continue to prepare for their first-ever Sun Belt Conference game. A game against a rival school that is nearby and has experienced success in football over the last several years.
Since this is such a historic game for the Jags and Coach Jones wants the players as focused for the game as possible without any of their preparation leaking out to opponents, Coach Jones has done something he has never done before. He has closed practices to fans and the media this week.
“With the social media nowadays, there’s too many people that talk, so we’re just going to close practice this week,” he said.
However he did comment about practice to the Press-Register. “It was good today,” Jones said. “Our kids realize that Troy’s a great football program. They know how to win, they’ve been in a lot of big games and they’re kind of the standard for what we’re trying to get to. So our kids have prepared well. They understand it’s going to be a big game, but the bottom line is we’ve got a lot of big games this year. We’ve just got to keep preparing. I’m just proud of the way they’re coming to work. They need to keep doing that and continue to work hard this week to get better. The game’s designation as the Jags’ first game against a Sun Belt team only serves to increase the attention the game will receive from fans and others.”
Troy will be the measuring stick that the Jaguars will be measured against and Coach Jones understands this. “Sure. This is the standard by which our football program is going to be measured in the future,” Jones said. “Obviously, Troy’s at the top of the league. That’s the measuring stick for our football program because they’ve been so dominant. We’ll find out this Saturday where we measure up.”
But unlike Mississippi State last week, the Jags will be measured on the scoreboard more than the statistical sheet. The Jaguar offense has struggled moving the ball and scoring this season. The Jags scored 31 points in their season opening game agaisnt Texas-San Antonio, but have scored a total of 26 points in the last three games. This has the Jaguars averaging just 14.25 points per game this season.
“We’ll see Saturday, but obviously the biggest goal offensively is we’ve got to score points,” he said. “We’ve moved the ball and we haven’t gotten it in the end zone and that’s something that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to score some points in order to be able to compete with Troy. They’re going to score some points. They’re just very good on offense. They’re one of the best offenses I’ve seen in the Sun Belt on film. They’re very good so we’ve got to score some points offensively.”
South Alabama and Troy kickoff at 2:30pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, the Jaguars first home game after a two week road swing against NC State and Mississippi State.
The Jags will attempt to break the single-game record attendance in the Sun Belt. Ladd-Peebles Stadium is the largest in the conference and the single-game record is around 32,000. But if you cannot make it out for the first-ever Sun Belt game, it will air on CSS (Comcast Sports Southeast) on Saturday.