Monday Press Conference

November 20, 2012 · By · Filed Under Football 

Head coach Joey Jones speaks with sideline reporter Pat Greenwood heading into halftime against Middle Tennessee on Saturday, November 17, 2012.

South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones held his weekly press conference. Coach Jones was joined by wide receiver Bryant Lavender and linebacker Bryson James to reflect on the Jaguars game against Middle Tennessee and to preview their trip to Louisiana-Lafayette this weekend.

Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones opened the press conference with his opening statement. “It’s been a long journey from playing our first Sun Belt game with Troy to this point. One thing I think is that we have become a better football team throughout the season, we’ve probably improved more throughout this time than any time we ever have as evidenced by our team playing with a team like Middle Tennessee, who is probably going to play for the [Sun Belt] championship. It’s 17-12 in the fourth quarter and we had chances to make plays and win the ball game, and we don’t do that.”

“But we are right there,” Jones continued. “I think that we have found out that we can play with Sun Belt teams now. Do we have to get better and learn how to win games? No doubt about it. But in our first year I’m real pleased with the progress, though I am certainly not happy with the results at this point. We are at a point where we want to be, though we wish we had won a few more games.”

Jones then spoke about what concerns him the most about Louisiana-Lafayette. “Offensively they have really become much better, they are running their quarterback a lot more. Earlier in the year they were careful to run him because they lost their other quarterback, but now they have [Terrance] Broadway in there and he is doing a great job running the football. He is scary when he pulls it down. And they are throwing it well all the time, they were already good at that, so it has given diversity in that they can run it or throw it. They have big offensive linemen who run the zone very well, they have a complete offense that you have to defend all over the field.”

“They are playing with a lot of confidence,” he continued. They are good on defense. They are flying to the ball. They lost a couple of games a few weeks ago to North Texas and Arkansas State, but have bounced back with big wins including over Western Kentucky. They are playing really well right now with a chance to get into a big bowl game, that’s what’s on their agenda at this point.”

“For us, it’s another Sun Belt game and another chance for us to get a Sun Belt win, that’s what our kids are looking forward to.”

Jones then spoke about how facing similar quarterbacks this seas will help to prepare them for Louisiana-Lafayette. “It’s helped that we have played against a lot of spread teams in this league who have great quarterbacks, but I think Broadway is probably the best runner that we will face. He can pull it down, he is just like a running back with the ball in his hands, he can break tackles and has good speed, so he can run for 50 or 60 yards easily. We have to be smart about what we do and be in good position on defense.”

He was then asked about how he feels about the Jaguars defense. “We do a great job every preparing, I really want to compliment our staff and what they do scheme-wise to get ready for games. Our players are buying into it, playing hard-nosed football and getting after it. If we don’t give up the big plays in games that we continue to talk about we would be doing great defensively. But I am real pleased with how we are playing defensively overall, we have given the ball back to the offense several times on three-and-outs, they’ve done a great job.”

“We are preparing for this team like anyone else, but experience against some of the teams in this league has helped us.”

Coach Jones then spoke about the Jaguars game against Middle Tennessee again. “After the second quarter of the game [Saturday] we are down three running backs for this year. We lost Brandon Ross early in the year, then we lost Demetre [Baker] and Kendall [Houston], so we are basically with our fourth-string running back in the ball game. You lose that depth at running back and it certainly is a factor. I think that hurt the running game a little bit in the second half. The backs we have left are smaller backs that are really good outside runners, but are probably not guys you want to pound inside. Losing that in the second half hurt us offensively.”

“In the first half I thought we had a really good half,” Jones continued. We had 220 yards but only had six points to show for it, but we moved the ball fairly well. Our running back situation became pretty thin in the second half.”

“They [Baker and Houston] are day-to-day, we will find out more toward the end of the week.”

Wide receiver Bryant Lavender began by talking about what he has learned while competing in the Sun Belt Conference. “We had a lot of high hopes going into the season. It hasn’t gone the way that we planned it. At this level you have to make plays. You need big-chunk plays from an offensive standpoint, and just have to keep grinding. You have to have faith in the defense that if we [offense] go three-and-out that they will get the ball back for us or sometimes get a defensive score.”

Lavender then spoke about how competitive the team has been in conference play this season. “We expected to be in the games and win some of them that we play. We are very confident in our abilities. That’s why we were brought here, to play ball and get an education. Being uneasy about being able to play with these guys [conference competition] was not a question. It was whether or not we could make the play or make the tackle when we needed it. Unfortunately, we have not done that in most of the games like we should have. But we have learned that you have to make the play in the close games.”

He then spoke about the importance of finishing strong in the last two games of the season. “It would be great for the program and our university to close out [the season] with another conference win and a win at Hawaii, just to send us [into the offseason] on a good note. Last season, we did not finish out on a good note losing to Cal-Poly. It would set another stone for our program to get another Sun Belt victory. It would be great for us and would give us a jump-start on what we need to do for the upcoming year. It would catapult us into the next season, and have us ready to work even harder. When you get that last taste of victory, you got to have more. We haven’t had the taste of victory in a long time.”

Lavender then spoke about how the experience of playing in the Sun Belt Conference this season will be beneficial to next season. “We have to understand as a team that nobody will give us a win, or no one is going to give us a chance to make a play. We have to go out there and take it. We have to have that dog mentality. But we understand there are going to be times where there will be bad plays. You have to have a short-term memory. You can’t remember what you did last play, because it will take you two plays to get ready for the next play if you do that. You just have to keep pushing, and we have to keep pushing each other and have confidence in one another that we are going to get it done.”

Linebaker Bryson James spoke about what he has learned in competing in the Sun Belt Conference this season. “We [defense] have found that not allowing the big play means everything. That’s one thing that [defensive coordinator] coach [Bill] Clark always tells us that it’s the one play, missed tackles and little things like that, that hurts us. I have learned that it’s about preparation and watching film.”

James also spoke about how competitive the team has been this season in conference play. “I think we have brought it to every team we have played this year. We played as hard as we can. We haven’t started out as fast as we have wanted to in every game. As a whole, I feel like we haven’t actually played a full game. We’re all brothers and we all play as one, but as a unit we haven’t put together a full game.”

He then also addressed the importance of finishing strong in the last two games of the season. “For me, we’re going back to the home state of Louisiana. All of my family is going to be there, so I just want to put on a show and hopefully my teammates will do the same and we can come out with a win.”

Finally James spoke about how the experience of playing in the Sun Belt Conference can be beneficial to next season. “I talk to a lot of the players, and I tell them that there are a lot of the little things that play a part in the game –  skipping a class, a rep or workout – those little things count. It’s always the little things that people look over, and they tend to get into a habit. We’re going to be leaders next year, and those are the things we have to stop.”

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