Monday Press Conference

October 23, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.

The University of South Alabama held their Monday press conference. Head coach Joey Jones was joined by defensive lineman and Sun Belt Special teams player of the week Pat Moore and wide receiver Gabe Loper to recap Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic and to look ahead to this weekend’s match-up with Louisiana-Monroe.

Below are highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones began with his opening statement. “We’re very excited about our win [over FAU] this past weekend. I can’t tell you enough about our young men and staff for what they’ve done to put this thing together. We not only played well this past weekend, but I also thought we played well the weekend before at Arkansas State. We’re getting better, and we came through in the fourth quarter [last weekend] like we needed to. It was a great win for us and something we’ve been striving for, so my hat’s off to our team.”

Jones then answered a question concerning what he learned about his team after Saturday’s come-from-behind win over FAU. “I told them [the team] after the game that when we were down 14 [points], I didn’t see quit in anybody on the sideline. Once we got the ball and drove down and scored to get within seven, I knew we had a shot. The defense came out and forced a three-and-out, and then we got the ball back and drove 85 yards for a touchdown. What makes me feel good is that these guys have been working their tails off all this time, and to have some rewards on the field for their hard work meant a lot to me for them, and they deserved it. I told them that I don’t know if anybody deserves anything, but I felt like they deserved that win.”

He then addressed a question concerning switching Gabe Loper from defensive back to offense. “Gabe [Loper] was a receiver pretty much most of the years he has played football. He played safety a couple of seasons in junior college, but is probably naturally a receiver. We have a lot of people playing press coverage against us, and we felt like we needed to get another guy over there [on offense] that could make plays against press coverage and he did that [last weekend]. You have to have some big plays when they [opposing defense] are doing that, and he really pulled through for us.”

Jones then previewed Louisiana-Monroe. “If I had to rate a team number one in the league, and I know they are just based on the [conference] standings, they are the best team I have seen in the league overall. They’re great offensively, they present so many problems. What they do is so different. They run a lot of empty, five wide receiver stuff and the quarterback [Kolton Browning] is just uncanny in his ability to make plays. He just has an unbelievable knack for making plays, and he’s a big reason for why they are so successful offensively. And they do a great job scheme-wise too.”

“Defensively, they take a lot of chances and play zero coverage and man coverage. You have to be ready for blitzes. They [ULM] are hard to prepare for both offensively and defensively, because you don’t see that type of scheme pretty much anywhere else in the league. That’s what is so difficult, and you put on top of that that they are playing so confident right now. You can tell they are playing with a lot of confidence.”

He then talked about ULM quarterback Kolton Browning. “He’s what I call football-savvy. He understands the game and has an innate ability to make plays on the field. His pocket-presence is unbelievable. It seems like if someone is coming behind him, he knows they’re coming without seeing them and he will step up and make a play or run the ball. There’s so many times where defensive linemen get there, and they can’t tackle him. He must be really strong to break tackles. And with all that, he’s aware of the pocket and what’s going on downfield. That’s a very rare thing to have. When he scrambles he has his eyes downfield, and he can make plays on the move. He’s the toughest one [quarterback] that I think we’re going to go against, from the standpoint of what all he can do because he can do so many things. He just makes plays all over the field, and makes great decisions.”

He then spoke about the ULM defense itself. “Our offensive line and [running] backs are going to have to do a great job of picking up the blitz. We have to be able to throw and catch it. We’re pretty balanced. We like to run the football and we’re going to have to run it some against them but we’re also going to have to complete passes to have a chance to move the ball.”

Coach Jones then answered a question about moving forward after the program’s first FBS and SBC win. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play against the best in the league, and that excites our players. We’re going to go out there ready to go. They [ULM] have a great football team, and they’ll let us know where we are as far as competing against the top in the league.”

Defensive lineman Pat Moore first spoke about the importance of getting the win over FAU on Saturday. “It was a big win for us. We’ve been looking forward to getting a win and turning it around. Hopefully we can win again and make it contagious and keep it going. We’re trying to keep pushing and get more wins for our team.”

He then spoke about his two blocked field goals against FAU. “It wasn’t something that was designed, I was just feeling the moment. I had to do something. I had to make a play. I just happened to be in the right position. I got my hands up and I made sure I could block it.”

Moore then spoke about the mood on the sideline during the FAU game. “We’re not going to quit in any game we play. We’ll always finish all the way through. We were down but we were trying to get our team up. We said ‘We’re going to finish this. We want to make history for our team.’ We had to rally up and turn it around.”

Wide receiver Gabe Loper also spoke about the importance of getting the win over FAU. “It was a huge win for our team. To take on a team like Florida Atlantic, a very aggressive team in our conference, and win in double overtime was a morale builder. We have to take that confidence with us when we play Louisiana-Monroe. They’re a powerhouse in the Sun Belt, they’re right up there with Arkansas State, who won the conference last year. To get the FAU win before we go on the road this week is going to be huge for us. This could be a pivotal point in our season.”

He then spoke about making the switch from defense to offense. “This was something that I pushed for. I’ve been longing for it for a long time and I never thought it would really happen. It was something that I wanted and something that I had the ability to do, I played receiver in high school. I’ve always wanted to work myself back toward that position. I would joke with the coaches, saying, ‘Throw me over there, I can make plays for you.’ But for them to have faith in me to learn the system and to throw me in a game as big as FAU, it was a big role for me and I had big shoes to fill.”

He filled those shoes well and gave extra spark to the Jaguar offense.

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