Jaguars New Spread Offense Performed Well In First game

September 4, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 


The Jaguar offense looks to the sideline for play adjustments against UTSA.

The debut of South Alabama’s new spread offense played well enough to win, however turnovers negated that win. It produced 31 points and 308 yards.

The first drive went exactly as offensive coordinator Robert Matthews expected. The offense moved the ball quickly, CJ Bennett released the ball quickly, the plays were signaled in smoothly and the players made plays. The drive went 75 yards in eight plays. It was like clockwork.

Unfortunately on the Jaguars second drive, an interception in the end zone ended the drive. It was actually a 14 point swing as UTSA drove 80 yards for a touchdown.

In all, the offense committed three turnovers. The interception in the end zone, a fumble on a mishandled snamp under center and another fumble when Bennett and running back Demetre Baker collided.

“We had a lot of positives,” said Matthews. “Obviously, there were a couple of plays we wish we had back. It’s like we told the guys after the game on Saturday; it was all about us and our mishaps, and if we just fix a couple of things, there’s a totally different outcome. And we’ll just leave it at that. Our No. 1 goal is ball security. It’s something we talk about every day and something we practice every day, and we had a couple of things that you could watch a football game 100 times and never see. But you saw it twice on Saturday. It is what it is. We’re going to come back this week and keep improving.”

Coach Matthews was particularly critical of the Jaguars third down conversions. The Jags were 5-of-13 on third downs against the Roadrunners. That was something he pointed to as a definite area where improvement was needed. “The thing I was disappointed about is we were 38 percent on third downs,” he said. “One third down was a bad quarterback-center exchange for a half-yard quarterback sneak. And then the other we converted, but we got called for a holding penalty. You change those, now you’re 7-of-13, you’re around 55 percent, and you feel good about your third-down conversions. But the fact is we didn’t and those things did happen, so we’ve got to work on our third-down conversion ratio and get it back up over 50 percent, which would make us one of the top teams in the country. That’s our goal, and we didn’t get that done on Saturday.”

Both Bennett and transfer Ross Metheny played in the game, however Metheny played sparingly. Coach Matthews indicated that we may continue to see both quarterbacks in the game. “I think you’ll see both of them continue to play,” he explained. “There was some good and some bad. The first game is always tough, and it’s probably toughest on the quarterback position because you’re seeing things in game speed again. You try to replicate it in practice and we did the best we could, but until you get those game reps under your belt it’s hard to be sharp. You wish you had four preseason games like the NFL does, but unfortunately we don’t. You’ve got an intrasquad scrimmage and then you’re in Game one. I think we’ll continue to improve at that position and we’ll press forward and you’ll see both guys out there.”

The offensive line, who had three new starters this season, played well after learning the new blocking scheme that Matthews installed over the offseason. In addition to offensive coordinator, Matthews is also coaching the offensive line. “Overall, I thought they were pretty solid,” he said. “We moved the ball pretty well and had good time to throw the ball. But that was just Game one. We’ve got to come back this week and prove ourselves again. We’re just a blue-collar group and that’s kind of what we talked about (Sunday). We’ve got to prove ourselves every week up front.”

Jereme Jones and Corey Besteda both had three receptions and combined for 91 yards. Six other players caught at least two passes. Demetre Baker ran 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown while Kendall Houston rushed 11 times for 43 yards and a touchdown himself as the Jags rushed for 126 yards against UTSA.

The offense showed spurts of brilliance. It took several possessions for the Jags to get back in rhythm after the interception in the end zone. But when Bennett got a couple quick passes off for some positive yards on a drive, the offense would exude their confidence and ability to march down the field.

They will regroup and improve this week. The improvements between the first and second game of the season is probably the most dramatic improvement you will see during the season. And they will need it with the schedule coming after Nicholls State.


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