Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 08-27-2013
Head coach Joey Jones and host Lee Shirvanian were joined by first year defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer. For the sixth year the show is aired from Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile.
Lee started by turning over an open-ended question to Coach Jones to fill in the blank however he saw fit. Coach began with “We are a much improved football team,” which man fans will be excited to hear and eager to see on Thursday night. Coach said that, after last season looking ahead to this year, he thinks the team is better than he thought they would be after last season. Though, he mentioned that he probably should not say that, but coach Jones wanted to give an honest opinion of the team.
Jones pointed out that they have lots of guys who have “come through for them” and they have a senior class that has a lot of experience and maturity.
Lee turned to scheduling after Bo Bishop from Baumhower’s came on to promote their specials and mentioned Georgia and how the Jags will not be facing the Bulldogs next season. Coach Jones said scheduling is really driven by TV in the SEC and he did not understand the problem, but something necessitated moving the Jags game versus Georgia and the way it shook out was Troy now plays them and South Alabama will travel to Columbia, South Carolina to play the South Carolina Gamecocks instead. Either way, both of those teams are a top-10 teams.
The first caller mentioned the many drives to raise money for the school and facilities. He asked if there were any drives for money to improve facilities on campus and if not will there be. But the underlying question that has been asked over and over again, but was not voiced in the call is about fundraising for an On-Campus Stadium. Coach Jones said he did not know the answer to that, but he answered the unspoken question about the stadium by saying that one day South Alabama will have an on-campus stadium, but that he did not know when that would happen.
The caller followed up with by saying that he hopes the University will put something in place so the community can rally behind the plan and help move forward the plans to build an on-campus stadium.
Lee then turned the focus to players and coaches that have come to South Alabama from the University of Alabama, beginning with defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer. Coach Jones said that Sherrer have been instrumental in getting some of the players from Alabama to South Alabama over the last few years. He mentioned that some of the defensive plans and scheming has been helped by coach Sherrer while he was at Alabama as well. He is very organized and a planner. The players like him and he knows how to get the players motivated.
After a break, Lee picked up with Coach Sherrer asking him what he brought with him from Coach Saban, Coach Smart and Alabama when he came to South Alabama. He said he brought a lot with him that he learned at Alabama. He indicated that a lot of things that South Alabama does defensively is the same as what they do at Alabama such as philosophy, scheme and organization. Coach Sherrer said he got to be in on a lot of their defensive meetings and he thought that Saban brought an NFL thought process and plan to Alabama.
Coach Sherrer said that Saban and Smart were both great at covering everything in the game plan from top to bottom. They are able to split it out throughout the week and letting the players know what they need to be doing and working on each day of the week in order to prepare for the game on Saturday. That was some of the big things Coach Sherrer learned from his time in Tuscaloosa.
Lee turned to Coach Jones asking him about hiring a new defensive coordinator and if they get “free reign” when they come in after being hired. Coach Jones said he is in on the overall operations and strategy of the team. He said he is going to control the length of practices, contact or non-contact days but that as for the defensive scheme, he is not down in the details but indicated that is why he hired a defensive coordinator in the first place. Coach Jones did indicate that he is more of an offensive guy anyway, so he may have more input on the offensive side anyway.
However, Coach Jones did say that he is overseeing the special teams somewhat since Perry left after last season.
Lee observed about the depth chart (which will be covered in a separate article) that he saw four down linemen on defense and two linebackers listed. So he asked if the Jags would be in a more 4-2-5 defense this year rather than their 3-4 look they used more often under defensive coordinator Bill Clark.
Coach Sherrer said yes, but they would match the personnel to the offensive unit. They have the ability to be a 3-4, 4-3 or 4-2-5 and a dime package depending on the personnel in the game that they are facing. He then said that, since most of their opponents are going to be in a one-back formation, that they felt the 4-2-5 would best fit what they will see most often.
Lee then asked coach Jones and coach Sherrer to each take one side of the ball and talk about the depth chart as they head into the first game of the season. Coach Jones began with the offense and highlighted some changes. Two additions at receiver is Shavarez Smith and Alabama transfer Danny Woodson. He also pointed out running back with Jay Jones and Cris Dinham as incoming contributors at that position.
At quarterback, Jones said that they will be playing both Ross Metheny (starter) and Brandon Bridge. Offensive line has improved and they now have depth with a second string that can come in an play when needed. He highlighted Ucambre Williams and Chris May.
Coach Sherrer took the defense and mentioned the senior Romelle Jones and Jesse Kelley first on the defensive line but said that they have a rotation there to bring in other guys to keep them fresh. At linebacker he mentioned Enrique Williams, Clifton Crews and Maleki Harris as good players. At defensive ends he mentioned Pat Moore and Alex Page. They mentioned Bryson James as a player who has and probably will continue to play at a couple different positions as a hybrid player in this defense.
In the secondary coach Sherrer mentioned the addition of Montell Garner, Qudarius Ford, E.J. May, Charles Watson and Terrell Brigham as all good players, but Sherrer reiterated that their strength will be their front six.
Coach Jones mentioned that they have a lot of experienced players on the team with a confidence that will help the team all season long. Lee mentioned that there are probably seven fifth-year seniors on the team that may see playing time this season.
Lee then mentioned that Tyrell Pearson was selected to the first-team All-Sun Belt team earlier this year, but he is not on the depth chart. Coach Jones said that he will not be with the team for the first game because of a suspension due to breaking team policy, but Coach Jones did say that he will be back the following week and should be ready to go for the team at that point.
Lee asked a question that was emailed in about which freshmen may see playing time this season. Coach Jones said, on offense, that they have had some freshmen in Kaleb Blanchard and Xavier Johnson came in and have be impressive, but the problem is that they have so much depth at running back already, that they are 50-50 as to the possibility of playing this year right now. He also said that, no doubt, those guys will be playing in the future. Defensively Devon Earle has been impressive as a nickle back or “Star”-position that they referred to. At safety they have Roman Buchanan that will play a good bit because he is on special teams. That is all of the freshmen who have a chance at seeing playing time this season Jones said.
Lee asked about the difference between the Metheny-Bennett situation from last season to Metheny-Bridge this season. Coach Jones said this season is completely different from last season. Both players have earned playing time and will see playing time.
Turning to special teams, Coach Jones said that Aleem Sunanon has solidified himself as the field goal kicker and has done really well. They keep trying to put pressure on him each practice. The kickoff situation is not settled as McKee has been kicking well but so has Aleem. Punting, Jones said, has been up and down. McKee can boom the ball, but they are looking for consistency and Garber will be the starter.
As a question from Lee, Coach Jones began talking about the new targeting rule in college football and how it’s going to change the game. Jones expects that teams will have players thrown out of games because of this rule and that the players may be made out to be a bad guy, but it’s not their fault really. Coach Jones has been trying to educate the players about the new rule and hopefully they will not have it happen to them.
Jones did reiterate that they are looking to protect defenseless players such as a receiver going over the middle, not a running back going up the middle and dropping his head and getting a helmet-to-helmet hit. However, if the penalty is called and a player is ejected, it can be reviewed and if overturned he will be able to return to the game, however the 15-yard penalty will still be enforced.
Another point brought up, particularly the SEC meetings, is the no-huddle offense. Coach Jones said that, no doubt in his mind, the no-huddle has an affect on the defense. Lee then asked about what was brought up by some SEC coaches about the no-huddle offense could lead to more injuries which coach Sherrer said has merit but they will be seeing them all season so hopefully they will be sufficiently conditioned for them.
Coach Sherrer said that their rotations will be affected by the no-huddle. If the offense substitutes then the referee is supposed to stand over the ball for 10 seconds to allow the defense to substitute as well. But it really is all enforced by the referees.