Jags Return To Practice Field
South Alabama returned to the practice field on Sunday night for the first time since the Jags season opening loss to Southern Utah. Prior to the light workout in shorts and helmets, they had a team meeting that lasted almost two hours.
The two days prior, the coaching staff poured over the game film breaking down the game and grading performances. Head coach Joey Jones told AL.com, “Looking at the film, I feel like we did some really good things. But the thing we didn’t do was obvious – we didn’t finish the game. We were up eight points with eight minutes left and we lose the ball game. We learned a hard lesson from that.”
“Defensively, we’ve got to stop them, and offensively we’ve got to make first downs late to win the ball game. That’s bottom line. But, the positive side, even though we had a couple of special teams breakdowns, special teams was great. Kickoff coverage was probably the best we’ve ever had – it averaged on the 15 yard line. Kickoff return, we averaged 31 yards per return. Punt team was a 42.1 (yard) average and tackling with a less than 1 yard return.”
“We did some good things. When you have a loss you tend to look at things and it seems like everything is gloom and doom. In some ways it is. But we did some positive things. The thing I challenged the guys with today was we’re going to fight and we’re going to get better. We’re a better team. If we had finished out the game the other night we’d feel a lot better, but we just didn’t finish. So we’ve got to learn to win ball games. We’re at a point with our team, we’ve just got to get that taste of it again. We had a chance and we let it slip away.”
South Alabama started the game by moving the ball quickly with two first downs in their first three offensive plays of the game, however their drive stalled and forced them to punt. Southern Utah was able to capitalize on their drives and went up 10-0 on their first two drives of the game. The Jags would cut the lead to 10-7 prior to halftime.
SU would add a field goal in the second half before the Jags took the lead 14-13 then extended their lead to 21-13 early in the fourth quarter.
Unlike last season, the Jags took care of the ball with only one turnover, however that turnover proved to be costly as Southern Utah turned that turnover into six points but failed on the two-point conversion in an attempt to tie the game.
Besides not finishing the game, the Jags allowed too many big plays. Yet, the Jags could have won the game late with a couple first downs or two field goals in the first half.
It was evident that the Jaguar offense has improved from last season. Shavarez Smith and Danny Woodson gives Metheny and Bridge more options to throw to. Jay Jones showed his speed with a 57 yard run. Brandon Bridge also showed his ability with his 40 yard touchdown run in the first half.
The defense began the game fairly shakey, but in-game adjustments held SU to only three points through the second and third quarters. The Jaguars defensive line had problems getting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run as SU running backs picked up some big gains. The secondary did not come up with any turnovers, but did break up five passes. However when the game was on the line, they gave up a huge first down on 2nd and 12 and a 13-yard first down on a 3rd and 5.
The Jags will look to correct these areas this week before they travel to New Orleans to face an improved Tulane team on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm.
Coach Jones did say that defensive back Tyrell Pearson and tight end Ben Giles will return from suspension for violations of team rules. Cornerback Akeem Appleton will serve one more game suspension after sitting out the Thursday night game as well.