The Sun Belt hopes to have six bowl-eligible teams this season. So far they have two in Louisiana-Monroe (6-2, 4-0 SBC) and Western Kentucky (6-2, 3-1 SBC) so far that are bowl eligible over this past weekend. Neither team has been to an FBS bowl game.
Last season the Sun Belt had a conference record four schools bowl eligible and they hope to improve on that number.
Arkansas State is 5-3 and one win away from being bowl-eligible. They will be favored to win over North Texas this week. They then have a home game on Thursday night against the top team in the conference in Louisiana-Monroe, then a trip to Troy and the regular season finale against MTSU at home.
Middle Tennessee is also 5-3 after recovering from an opening season loss to McNeese State. Their other losses were against the top Sun Belt team ULM and Mississippi State. They have a big game against Western Kentucky this Thursday night before they come to Mobile to play the Jags, followed by Troy at home and a trip to Arkansas State for the season finale.
Louisiana-Lafayette are 4-3 and have lost two in a row. They have been bitten by the injury bug lately. They have a trip to ranked Florida this week before returning home to face WKU, then South Alabama at home before traveling to FAU to end the season.
Troy is 4-4 and are coming off of a loss against FAU in Florida. They may have played themselves out of a bowl game with that loss but can still get bowl eligible. They travel to Tennessee this weekend then return home to play Navy and Arkansas State before closing the season at Middle Tennessee. None of those are gimmie’s so if they can finish 2-2 they can be bowl eligible.
North Texas is 3-5 but still have to play some of the top teams in the Sun Belt. But their win over Wagner cannot be used towards bowl eligibility which means they have to win out or hope that they can squeeze in because a lack of bowl eligible teams to fill the bowl slots. They have to play at Navy, at WKU then host South Alabama.
FAU is 2-6 and would have to win out for eligibility and FIU has been eliminated from eligibilty.
South Alabama would need to at least four wins and hope that there are not enough teams to fill bowl obligations to have a shot at going to a bowl.
The South Alabama Jaguars had a good day of practice on Tuesday. They also had an unexpected request after practice.
The practice went around two hours, then after practice was complete head coach Joey Jones asked for volunteers from the offense, defense and special teams to showcase their dance moves in front of the team. It was meant to lighten the mood, and it worked.
“We had a good day today,” Jones said. “They were focused this morning and they realize how good FIU is. They understand that they’ve got some great players. They were picked to win the conference at the beginning of the season. They came to work today. Compared to last Tuesday it was a lot better.”
Defensive lineman Randon Carnathan will at least miss this weekends game with a knee injury. The 6’1″, 295 pound junior injured it against Louisiana-Monroe and the extent of the injury is not currently known. At the very least he has a sprained knee but MRI results are expected back soon.
Carnathan has 17 tackles with 1.5 for loss along with five quarterback hurries as a leader of the defensive front for the Jaguars.
Coach Jones has been reminding everyone that records aren’t everything and FIU exemplifies that. While they are 1-8, 0-5 in the Sun Belt Conference, their record does not reflect their talent and play.
FIU was 8-5 last season and played in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in 2011. They came into this season as the favorite to win the conference championship. But they struggled after losing their quarterback early in the season to injury. Since he came back their games have been very close as they try to get some much needed wins to end the season.
South Alabama has played well in October themselves and Coach Jones attributes it to two things. The first is the maturity of the offense now that they have several games under their belt after changing to the spread offense. Secondly he attributes it to settling on a single quarterback in Ross Metheny who has shown great leadership and game management ability.
South Alabama and Florida International will kick off at 2:30pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The stadium parking lot will open at 8am for tailgating, the Jaguar Prowl is set for shortly after noon through the south parking lot and the stadium gates will open at 12:30pm.
The Sun Belt Soccer Championships begin today on the campus of South Alabama at The Cage. This is the fifth time USA has hosted the tournament and the first time since 2007.
Four matches will be played today with #1 North Texas vs #8 FAU opening up play at 10am, then #4 WKU vs #5 Arkansas State at 1pm, #3 FIU vs #6 Troy at 4pm. The fourth and final match of the opening day will be the #7 seed South Alabama Jagaurs looking to knock off the #2 seed Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider.
In their previous match against MTSU earlier this season the Jags came out with a 2-1 loss.
Monday was head coach Joey Jones’ 50th birthday, but instead of a big birthday blow-out his mind was elsewhere. With Florida International due to visit Mobile on Saturday, he was busy studying film, overseeing practice and helping plan for the game.
But it wasn’t completely forgotten as reminders were there throughout the day. During practice, at the weekly press conference and even at the 1st & 10 club.
“We just had an hour and 10 minute practice (Monday afternoon), reviewing the special teams and installing the special teams gameplan for this week,” Jones said. “Then we had about a 40-minute segment with the offense and defense, what we wanted to install. It was really a light practice, more of a mental practice today.”
Special teams play was not at it’s normal level against ULM as Coach Jones also pointed out. “That shows you you’ve got to bring you’re a game every week,” Jones said. “I don’t know that we were satisfied with where we were, we just had a bad game on special teams. It shows you, I think that was a major factor in that game with field position and the blocked punt, they really whipped us on kickoff team and they stopped us deep in our territory except for once.”
“That makes a big difference on defense when they are starting their drives on the 30 or 35 as opposed to the 18 or 20.”
Senior linebacker Jake Johnson leads the Sun Belt Conference in tackles per game with 9.6. He has 77 total tackles in the teams eight games including 40 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one sack and a fumble recovery.
Enrique Williams is close behind Johnson in third place with an average of 9.4 per game. He has 75 total tackles in eight games with 31 solo, 5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
The Jags and FIU kickoff at 2:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. FIU is set to leave the conference after this season to join Conference-USA along with North Texas.
South Alabama held their weekly press conference on Monday. Head coach Joey Jones was joined by wide receiver Jereme Jones and placekicker Michel Chapuseaux. They recapped their game at Louisiana-Monroe and their upcoming game against Florida International.
Below are some highlights from the press conference.
Coach Jones’ opening statement. “On a positive note about the game the other night, it’s late in the third quarter, almost the fourth quarter, the score is 21-21 and I was thinking how we were playing with the top team in the league. I had a good feeling about it, then we faltered a little bit in the fourth quarter. Some of that is due to depth right now. We had to play a lot of guys out there with no reps. I noticed that they were rotating a lot of guys, they just had more depth than us and that affected us a little in the fourth quarter.”
“That’s the positive side of it,” Jones continued. “Like the young men said earlier, we don’t want to lose. We keep fighting, but deep down inside I know our kids are really improving, especially on offense, the defense has been pretty consistent all along. On special teams we didn’t play great the other night, and that really hurt us with field position. The kickoff coverage wasn’t great, and we had a punt blocked that affected us right before the half. We have some areas we have to improve on, and special teams is definitely one of them.”
“FIU’s team and their record don’t match up,” Jones observed. “They are 1-8, but I know that they have a great staff down there and they have great players. Their quarterback was hurt for a few games and they lost all those games when he was out, when he came back they barely lost to Troy, barely lost to Middle Tennessee and barely lost to Western Kentucky. They are a very good football team, there is no doubt about it. When I look at them on film, I don’t see a 1-8 team at all.”
Coach Jones then spoke about the strides that the offense have made in recent weeks. “I think that it’s two things. Number one, it’s just the maturity of the offense. It’s a new system for us, the players are starting to learn the system better. Second, I think that settling on a quarterback has really helped, Ross has come in and done a great job with leadership and with managing the game. We’ve had one turnover in the last three games on offense, that’s something we talked about after we played Troy and had four turnovers. I don’t want to say that we have fixed it, but we have definitely gotten better with taking care of the football, and that’s a big reason why we are having more success.”
“And I think that the guys are just growing together,” Jones continued. “On the offensive line there are a couple of guys who have really improved, they are starting to grow up. Chris May played a great game this past week, he’s a freshman and is starting to learn, so we have some young guys on offense who are starting to pull it together.”
Jones then answered a question about third down conversions. “We were 3-of-13, and we dropped five passes. If we catch those five passes we’re 8-of-13 and everybody is smiling. It’s not an execution thing from the standpoint of what we are doing schematically, we just had a bad night the other night catching the football. There’s no other way around it. We usually don’t drop many passes, but the other night guys had balls right in their hands and dropped it. We just have to catch the ball and we will be fine.”
A question was asked about the discrepancy between FIU’s record and being picked to win the Sun Belt Conference Championship. “Their record and what we see on film are just two totally different things. I can’t believe that you look at them and they are 1-8 because they are a lot better football team than that. They have had some injuries, they have had some bad breaks and they lost their quarterback. We know they are a very good football team.”
“Troy was down 16 points in the fourth quarter and came back and beat them,” Jones observed. “Middle Tennessee won at the end of the game, and they ended up losing to Western [Kentucky] 14-6. It was 7-6 in the fourth quarter against a team that is probably as good as anybody in the league. That record is very, very deceiving.”
Wide receiver Jereme Jones spoke about the game against ULM. “We played OK in the first half [at ULM]. We didn’t do too much offensively in the second half. You’re never satisfied with a loss. We can always get better, but we made strides offensively. I think we’re still trying to get to where we want to be [offensively]. We’re still trying to bring offense and defense together, so that’s going to take some time.”
He then spoke about what they team has learned over the last few weeks. “Offensively, we learned that we never can be satisfied no matter how well we play. Sometimes we [offense] may have to carry the team the way the defense did the first few games before we found our groove. Now the offense is playing good, so we just have to come together and play as a team in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.”
He then answered a question about the progress they have made against conference competition. “We feel good, but you never can be satisfied. Our record is not where we would like it to be, but we’re still trying to find what we’re looking for to start winning. But you never can be satisfied.”
Jones was asked about how the offense has improved over the last few games. “The chemistry has improved. We’re not running a two-quarterback rotation anymore, so I think we’re [offense] starting to get a feel for [quarterback] Ross [Metheny] and are learning where he likes to throw the ball. We’re getting used to him being that leader on offense.”
Finally he answered a question about what the team needs to do in order to be successful against FIU. “We have to improve on converting third downs offensively. We didn’t do too well at that last game [Louisiana-Monroe]. We made a few plays, but we’re not making the ones we need to make to get a ‘W’. So we just have to convert better on third downs and not get in third-and-long situations. We need to focus on that at practice this week in order to put ourselves in a position to earn a win this week.”
Placekicker and the Jaguars first player to be chosed to the weekly “Player of the Week” list by the Sun Belt Conference for special teams play, Michel Chapuseaux answered questions at the press conference.
He first spoke about last weekend’s game in Monroe. “Special-teams wise, we have a lot to improve on. I have a lot to improve on with kickoffs. Field goals have been a big part [of scoring], and I’m just happy to have the [six consecutive field goals made] streak that I have to this point and hopefully I can continue. We just want to continue to improve and finish our season strong.”
He also answered a question about what the team has learned over the last few weeks. “We’ve seen that we can hang with these guys [Sun Belt opponents]. There’s not much difference between their play and ours. It just comes down to execution and discipline.”
He then spoke about the progress made against conference competition. “We’re not satisfied, but to see what we’ve come from from the beginning [of the program] and what we’re doing now is a little unrealistic in some parts. But it’s really good to see what is going on now and where this program plans on going next.”
He also answered a question about what the team needs to do in order to be successful against FIU. “We just need to keep on executing on special teams, on field goals, extra points and kickoffs. We have to tighten it up on kickoff coverage, and get them [opponents] pinned down further than what we have been so far. We just have to pick it up coverage-wise.”
Head coach Joey Jones is proud of the way the Jags played against Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend. He sees them continuing to get better despite the score on the scoreboard. But he will quickly tell you that, despite that, he will quickly tell you that he saw mistakes that probably cost them a chance at winning, not just keeping the game close.
As coach Jones said after the game, “We played pretty good football for three quarters and we played tough. ULM is a very good football team. I’m proud of the way we played for three quarters, but they took the game under control a little bit in the fourth quarter. Their quarterback (Kolton Browning) and receivers made some great plays.”
“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Jones continued. “There were some things we could have done better, but I’m proud of where we are and what we accomplished today. But we have to be honest with ourselves. The negative things that happened, if we fix them, we’re probably in the game even more. But the positive side of it is we’re pretty close to a team that is really good in the conference.”
“We just have to work on us,” he said in conclusion. “We’ll start fixing some things here and there, and we’re going to be there.”
ULM improved to 6-2 on the season, 4-0 in the Sun Belt, with only losses to Auburn in overtime and Baylor.
South Alabama’s record fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Sun Belt. But they will be hosting Florida International this weekend who enters with a record of 1-8 on the season, 0-5 in Sun Belt play after a 14-6 loss at home to Western Kentucky.
Dropped passes helped to stall the offense as they only went 3-of-13 on third down conversions against ULM. Also big plays continued to be problematic for big third or fourth down conversions or just long plays down the field.
Quarterback Ross Metheny has emerged as a good leader for the offense while his confidence continues to grow. He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jereme Jones. He was adept at avoiding sacks and moving around to find an open receiver or finding some room to scramble if needed.
Including his two touchdown catches, Jereme Jones caught seven passes with Bryant Lavender catching six passes and Gabe Loper with three.
And for the first time this season, a Jaguar running back rushed for over 100 yards in a game. Demetre Baker ran 14 times for 115 yards including a 61 yarder that set up the Jags first score. This was the first 100 yard rusher since Baker’s performance against Henderson State last season.
The Jags had two sacks in the game to break their tie with last season’s number of 15 for a total of 17 this season.
The Jags and FIU kick off at 2:30 pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The Sun Belt Conference released the seeding for the upcoming soccer championships that will be hosted by the University of South Alabama that begin this week. The championships will run from Wednesday through Sunday at The Cage.
Florida International, Middle Tennessee State and North Texas were each crowned 2012 Sun Belt Conference regular season champions on Friday after each team finished the year with 25 points. It is the first time in the conference’s history that they have crowned three schools as champions.
North Texas earned the top seed in the tournament by winning the three-team tiebreaker over MTSU and FIU. North Texas tied FIU and defeated MTSU giving the Mean Green four points. While MTSU defeated FIU and lost to North Texas for three points. FIU earned one point for tying with North Texas.
South Alabama is a seven seed and will face the #2 seed MTSU at 7pm on Wednesday. South Alabama, being the tournament’s host, was allowed to choose it’s quarterfinal match time.
Here are the seedings of the eight teams that will compete this week.
- North Texas (13-4-2, 8-1-1 SBC)
- Middle Tennessee State (13-4-1, 8-1-1 SBC)
- Florida International (11-5-2, 8-1-1 SBC)
- Western Kentucky (11-4-3, 6-1-3 SBC)
- Arkansas State (11-7-1, 5-4-1 SBC)
- Troy (9-9-2, 4-5-1 SBC)
- South Alabama (8-9-3, 3-5-2 SBC)
- Florida Atlantic (5-12, 3-7 SBC)
Wednesday, Oct. 31
Match 1: 10AM – #1 UNT vs #8 FAU
Match 2: 1PM – #4 WKU vs #5 Arkansas State
Match 3: 4PM – #3 FIU vs #6 Troy
Match 4: 7PM – #2 MTSU vs #7 South Alabama
Friday Nov. 2:
Match 5: 4PM – Match 5 Winner vs Match 2 Winner
Match 6: 7PM – Match 3 Winner vs Match 4 Winner
Sunday Nov 4:
Championship Match: 1PM Match 5 Winner vs Match 6 Winner
USA Today’s Paul Myerberg just published the article titled “NCAA football re-rank: Our list from 1-124” on the USA Today website with some interesting rankings. It was basically a given that the University of Alabama would top the list with other schools lining up behind them. Their top five in order is: Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Georgia.
But if you look towards the bottom of the list, you would probably expect see teams who are making their transition to FBS. But there are a few surprises down there.
South Alabama is ranked 110th in the list of all 124 FBS teams. They are ahead of Auburn University (111th) and in order from there Florida International, Colorado State, Akron, Tulane, Colorado, Memphis, Florida Atlantic, UAB, New Mexico State, Hawaii, Idaho, Southern Mississippi and UMass at 124. The Jags first opponent this season, Texas-San Antonio, is ranked 106.
Other Sun Belt schools are ranked: Louisiana-Monroe (43), Western Kentucky (52), Arkansas State (65), Middle Tennessee State (75), Louisiana-Lafayette (76), Troy (89), North Texas (95).
The Jags remaining games are against #112 FIU this weekend in Mobile, at #95 North Texas, vs #75 MTSU in Mobile, at #76 Louisiana-Lafayette before ending the season on the road against #121 Hawaii.
You can see the whole rundown on the USA Today website here.
Magee sufferred a meniscus tear in practice and underwent surgery on Friday. “The MRI showed a minor tear that needed to be cleaned up,” said Arrow. “If everything works out, he should be back within four to six weeks.”
Magee is a 6’9″ junior Forward from New Orleans by way of Neosho County Community College.
The two teams battled for second place in the Sun Belt’s Eastern Division. Melissa Waelter led the Jags with her eighth double-double of the season with 14 kills and 10 digs. Seniors Olivia Mohler and Lindsay Schwartz also were in double digits in the match offensively. Both also had solid defensive play with six and five block assists respectively. Jenna Hassell and Savannah Stewart both had 14 digs.
Troy had three players in double digits for the match.
The Jags (13-13, 6-5 SBC) will close out the home portion of its regular season when they welcome Middle Tennessee State on Friday at 7pm and then #19 Western Kentucky at noon on Sunday.