Coach Jones Very Pleased With Wednesday’s Practice

November 1, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Offensive lineman running position drills in preseason camp.

The South Alabama Jaguars hit the practice field again on Wednesday where they took part in position drills, offense versus defense drills along with work on special teams play. Head coach Joey Jones was quite happy with what he saw in practice.

“(This was) much better,” he said. “I thought we came to win today. Life’s about choices and they made a choice to come and have a good practice today. I think the second choice these young men have made is they are going to finish this season in a strong way, and we can control that. We can control what we do and that’s all we can do.”

“I thought that they came out and you see so much more leadership coming out right now,” Jones continued. “I thought offensively I was watching them and you see guys smiling and confident and believing in what they’re doing. You go to the defensive side of the field and you see the same thing. I’m watching a team grow and it was evident today.”

He even indicated that it may have been one of the teams best practices in recent weeks and that they made a big positive step forward. They will need that when Florida International comes to Mobile this weekend because their record is not indicative of how good they are. They may be 1-8 on the season, but they have a number of NFL prospects on their team.

Defensive end Pat Moore rejoined the team on Wednesday. Last week is mother passed away unexpectedly and her funeral was on Saturday, so he was not in Monroe with the team. He ranks second on the team with 4.5 sacks with 18 total tackles, eight of them being solo. Additionally he has 8.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup, two quarterback hurries and two blocked field goals.

During this weeks routine activities coach Jones talked about freshmen on the team and how only one true freshman has seen action for the Jags. Cameron Broadnax, a wide receiver, is the only true freshman who has seen playing time on the field, but the rest of the freshman class has seen action, just on the scout team.

Previously, freshmen who entered the program were immediately put on the depth chart. It was done as much for their talent level as it was the necessity to have them in the depth chart. But the key to building a program is allowing most of the incoming freshmen the ability to get acclimated, not only to the accelerated speed of the game, but also to college life in general. They need time to get used to the speed of life at University and to memorize the expanded playbook used in college football.

“Number one, it shows our program is finally growing a little bit to where we have older guys that have been fighting for positions and holding on to those positions,” Jones said. “In years past, we’ve had freshmen come in and play automatically. Pretty much all of them. But now a guy has to earn his way.”

“Now, if a freshman comes in here and earns his way on the field he’s going to play,” Jones continued. “We’re going to play the best players, there’s no doubt about that and we always will. But it’s good that we’ve finally got some depth on the team and we can allow guys to mature and grow and get over there on the scout team where the get a ton of reps. It’s amazing how much growth they have through that year. I think all the guys who have gone through it realize how good that year is for them.”

The most noticeable area for this is the offensive line. They are such a key piece every season, which is modified when you are a young program like South Alabama is. But they have been able to avoid using their freshmen offensive linemen in order to develop depth at those positions.

Daniel Aust, Joseph Scelfo, Clay Machen and Steven Foster have been able to take advantage of their redshirt year to lots of reps with the scout team. They will in essence have a years worth of study time in the offense and studying defenses before they ever hit the field on gameday for the first time.

“The bottom line is you’re going against the best. If you’re an offensive player you’re going against the best defensive players and if you’re a defensive player you’re going against the best offensive players every day,” Jones said. “You line up against a starter on a Division I football team every day and that makes you better just going up against good competition. Secondly, you get a ton of reps. As a scout team player you’re in there every play. We’re really not rotating many guys, so you get a lot of time on the field. You get better simply by reps.”

“It’s fun to talk to the coaches on each side of the ball about the guys on the scout teams that are getting better,” Jones continued. “Brandon Bridge is one of them. He’s really improved at quarterback. We’ve had guys on the offensive line who are learning a lot and who are playing good and the coaches have said they are really going to help us next year. The same thing on defense. There are some defensive guys who have really made a lot of progress.”

Brandon Bridge, a transfer from Alcorn State, isn’t a freshman, but is using the year to learn the system since he is required to sit out as a transfer student. He and Grant Powell both get to use their redshirt seasons to study and learn.

They are learning the process of the system. While it may be difficult to work every day without seeing the playing field on gameday, but it is best for them in the future.

“I know they don’t realize it right now,” Jones said. “It’s probably the worst time in their life, at least to them, but they’re really getting better. If they can be mature enough and really understand that, that this is a great opportunity for them to get better and to use it as a tool for that, yes, this is a big help. I’m not saying 100 percent of them are using it that way, but the guys that do take advantage of that will get better.”

“If you look at next year, I would think there will be about eight to 10 guys (who are being redshirted) who are going to be real contributors and are going to make our team better. So when you start stock-piling them like that, and this is the first year we’ve been able to do it, it will start showing up in years two, three and four.”

The future is bright for this program.


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