South Alabama’s Monday Press Conference

September 18, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Jaguar head coach Joey Jones spoke to the media on Monday along with tight end Wes Saxton and defensive lineman Alex Page. Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones’ opening statement: “We realize we are going up against a top-25 football team in Mississippi State, they have done a great job getting that program back on the map, so to speak. They have a great coaching staff and great players, and we are looking forward to playing a team like them.”

“Last week the game ended up 31-7, and I thought that we gave up a couple of big plays early in the game but the defense tightened up a good bit after that. Offensively, we just didn’t get the ball in the end zone even though we were working on some things there. They were very, very good defensively, their defensive front was about as good as we are going to face [this year], which had a lot to do with that.”

Coach Jones then spoke about what concerned him the most about the Bulldogs. “They are very big. You look across their front line on offense and defense and they have guys who are 6-foot-6 and 340, 330, 325 pounds. They have done a great job recruiting some very big linemen, which is the first thing you see. The second thing you see is that they are playing with a lot of confidence right now. They beat Auburn 28-10 a couple of weeks ago, they are playing at a high level and deservedly so. They are doing a good job early in the year.”

He then spoke about any lessons that the Jags learned at NC State that could help them this week. “There were a lot of things on film that were so correctable, which is still on us. Some of it had to do with how good they were, there is no doubt about that, but there were a lot of things we didn’t do ourselves that we can correct. That was probably the biggest thing.”

“The second thing was that our kids didn’t quit,” he continued. “I don’t say that trying to make anything sound better, we went out in the second half and could have easily folded since it was 28-0, but the defense came out and played really tough. The offense kept working and drove down and scored. We had a couple chances to kick field goals but went for it, we probably should have kicked looking back on it. The bottom line is we played much better in the second half. To me, that shows the character of a team. when you’re down, how are you going to react? I think the kids really fought hard and kept fighting, that’s one thing I like about this team.”

Jones then spoke about how the team held up at the line of scrimmage against NC State.  “Their defensive front is very good. There were some times we held up and sometimes we didn’t. We fought hard, sometimes we just got run over by some of those guys in pass rush situations. I thought our defensive front held up a good bit and got to the quarterback some, and they stopped the run fairly well. I think we matched up pretty well other than some pass-protection situations.”

Coach Jones then spoke about his greatest offensive convern from last week. “The biggest thing is that we were 0-for-11 on third down, obviously that’s not very good. We’ve got to be able to correct that, if you make four of those then you continue drives. Against a team like N.C. State you have to convert and at least get field goals to try and put some points on the board, and we didn’t do that.”

“We went through each of those one-by-one, and there were separate things that happened. One was on the quarterback, one was on the receiver, one was on a lineman not blocking a guy. They all know what we have to do, and when you put it all together we can make first downs.”

He then spoke about how Mississippi State’s line compares to NC State’s line. “They are every bit as good or better, they are a good bit bigger on the defensive front. When you recruit SEC linemen, they are going to get those guys who can play in the middle. They are very well coached on defense and show a lot of movement in the secondary spinning coverages. At the snap of the ball you see one thing, and after the snap they are moving to something else.”

Jones then spoke about getting the Jags to believe they can win this week’s game. “You always prepare to win. If you’re an odds maker you might not pick us to win, but there is somebody who gets beat every week who isn’t supposed to. That’s the way I look at it. We will go out and prepare. We were watching film of last week’s game, and had we done some of the things we were supposed to do, the game would have been much closer. It all comes down to us, not how good our opponent is. If we do the right things and put ourselves in a position to win, we will have a chance, and if we don’t we won’t.

“We are going to get knocked around some, they have some big linemen. But we’ll keep fighting back and trying to make plays and do what we are supposed to do, that is what we have to focus on.”

Then coach Jones answered a question asking if he can take an upset like the ULM over Auburn game and bring it up to his team. “We don’t bring it up a lot, they know about it and we have talked about it a couple of times. The bottom line is that we have to believe in what we are doing and go out execute it. If we do that and keep the game close in the third and fourth quarter, then you have a shot like Troy did [last week]. It was 23-7, but they kept it close and suddenly the score was 23-14 and then 23-21 and all of it sudden it was a game. We have to do that in a game like this. Let’s face it, they are a good football team. We are going to have to make those plays and keep it close to have a chance to win.”

Finally, Coach Jones was asked if his familiarity with Bulldog offensive coordinator Les Koenning will help the Jaguar defense prepare for them. Koenning was the Jaguars first offensive coordinator but left the program before the Jags first spring practices as he was hired by Dan Mullen when he was assembling his staff after being hired at the Bulldogs head football coach. “I don’t think so, because a lot of what he is doing now with coach Mullen, they have tweaked some things more toward the Florida philosophy. I wouldn’t think there would be anything we could take from that. They are doing things differently than when he was here.”

Wes Saxton spoke about things the Jags need to correct from the NC State game. “We kept the defense on the field a lot, which made them tired. The offense couldn’t move the ball, so we have to make sure this game that we keep moving the ball and put it in the end zone.”

He then spoke about gaining consistency on offense. “We need to focus on discipline this week, and not commit as many penalties. Penalties are hurting us in games. If we cut down on them, we’ll put the ball in the end zone.”

Saxton then spoke about the team’s morale while trailing at NC State. “We kept fighting. No matter what happens, we keep fighting. We don’t drop our heads when things go bad, because there are going to be bad times. We just keep our heads up no matter what situation comes up.”

He also spoke about the Saturday’s game at Mississippi State. “We’re looking to go in and fight hard and try to get better. We didn’t succeed last week, but we’re going in strong with a great game plan and we’ll be ready to play.”

Defensive lineman Alex Page spoke about the defense’s performance at NC State. “We played well in the second half, but realize that we made some mistakes in the first half and gave up some big plays. Minimizing the big plays and getting off the field on third down is what we need to focus on. I believe if we do that then we’ll have more success against Mississippi State. We need to continue the good play by our defensive line. Getting pressure on the quarterback is always going to be key in a big game like this.”

Page spoke about how beneficial playing at NC State was this past weekend. “It was a big stage and our guys came out there ready. I don’t think it was a matter of the big stage affecting our performance as far as us not making the right plays when we needed them. But it prepares you being in front of crowds like that. I believe it will be even more hostile this week, so we have to be even more prepared this week and minimize the mistakes and not let the crowd become a factor like it can.”

Page also spoke about the defense’s progress so far this season. “I think we had a letdown in the first week based on our standards, but we came back the next week and performed. This past week, we were right there but just had a few mistakes. We all think we have a chance, and we need to have a good week of practice and try to be ready for the game Saturday and just try to improve from last week.”

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