Jags Workout In Shells On Tuesday

September 12, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Wide Receiver Bryant Lavender waits on the ball during Jaguars preseason camp.

South Alabama practiced in shells on Tuesday as they continued to prepare for the Jags road trip to NC State on Saturday. This will be the Jags second trip to Raleigh where they lost last season 35-13. It was the Jags first-ever game against a FBS team and will be their first FBS opponent this season.

Head coach Joey Jones was pleased with what he saw at practice and what they accomplished. “I thought it was really, really good today,” he said. “The kids are preparing the way they are supposed to. There was a little more pep in their step. We had a good physical day and the tempo was really good, I thought. The kids almost went 100 percent without knocking each other to the ground and that’s the perfect type tempo we need.”

NC State returns several starters from last season and coach Jones said that his team must stay focused and work on the details if they exepct to play well on Saturday. “N.C. State is fast and on offense and defense they can do really well and execute very well offensively,” Jones commented. “We’ve got to be sharp this week. I challenged our scout team. They’ve got to do a great job of giving us a look this week because N.C. State, they do things really well, so if the scout team gives us a good luck, we’ve got a good shot on Saturday.”

A year ago NC State quarterback Mike Glennon went 17-of-20 for 274 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars defense. The secondary will be tested again this season and they understand that they must be prepared for what the Wolfpack will throw their way. But the defensive front will need to put pressure on Glennon as well.

“First of all, I think we’re better in the secondary this year,” he said. “Our kids are really understanding the concepts back there now and we’ve got some better cover people there, so we feel good about that. As always, you’ve got to be able to play physical up front and that’s what we have challenged our kids to do. I think they understand that and that’s one thing we’re working on this week.”

The Jags played a tough game and kept it close until mistakes allowed NC State to pull away late. “We went up there and played a really good football game,” Jones said. “I thought we went out there and went toe-to-toe with them. Our kids are very competitive and want to be in these type of situations. You want to get into an atmosphere like you see in Raleigh. I’ll never forget walking out onto the field last year and how exciting it was to be in that atmosphere. Our kids are looking forward to it.”

Through two games this season, the Jags defense stacks up pretty well in the Sun Belt. They are tied for first place in red zone defense, kickoff returns, opponents’ third-down conversion rate and fourth-down conversions. They are either solely in second place or tied for second in total defense, sacks, passing defense efficiency and interceptions. But don’t get too excited about those stats just yet. It’s only two games into the season and the offense is not ranking that well.

In the 10 team Sun Belt Conference, the Jags are 9th in scoring offense, 10th in total offense, 10th in rushing offense, 9th in passing offense. But if you contrast that with the defense in similar categories and you see the disparity between the two. The Jags scoring defense is 3rd in the league, 2nd in total defense, 3rd in rushing defense and 3rd in passing defense.

Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews mentioned before the Jaguars game against Nicholls State, that they need to improve their third down efficiency. Heading into their game against NC State the offense has converted 12-of-32 third downs. That’s a mere 38%, which includes a 7-of-19 mark against Nicholls State last Saturday.

However, the defense is holding their opponents to a 4-of-24 third down success rate, which is a mere 17%. Both opponents were 2-of-12 in their games.

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