Jags Continue Preparation For Tulane
South Alabama continues to prepare for this weekends matchup against Tulane, who is coming off of a 34-7 win over Jackson State even though they were outgained yardage-wise 356-308.
The Green Wave defense forced six turnovers, two of them fumbles inside the five yard line as they were driving for a score. Head coach Joey Jones said that their defense is the most improved squad from last season. “They have a bunch of guys flying around. They are not very big at linebacker or in the secondary, but they are huge up front and have some really big guys inside. They are playing a lot better on defense.”
The Jags will have to continue to protect the ball in order to have a chance to win. Last season the Jags had 33 turnovers in 13 games. However, in their first game of the season, they only turned the ball over once with a Brandon Bridge interception in the fourth quarter.
Also improved for the Jaguars is the rushing game. Jay Jones led the stable of running backs that collected a total of 187 yards. Jones rushed nine times for 92 yards to average 5.5 yards per carry. Brandon Bridge added 56 yards on the ground, 40 of them coming on a touchdown scramble in the second quarter.
Overall, the Jags averaged 5.4 yards per play while outgaining against Southern Utah.
The Jaguar defense allowed 317 yards, only 134 on the ground with an average of 3.3 yards per rush. Enrique Williams surpassed Jake Johnson to take over as the all-time leading tackler with his 12 stops against SU. He also forced a fumble on a sack. Charles Watson collected eight tackles and Maleki Harris collected seven tackles, with 2.5 for loss.
Tulane’s offense included a passing attack that had several big plays to average more than 20 yards per completion. Quarterback Nick Montana, the son of former NFL great Joe Montana, went 6-of-14 for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Grant let the receivers with 3 catches for 82 yards. Orleans Darkwa rushed for 50 yards while Ron Kelley rushed for 41 yards.
The Green Wave kicker, Cairo Santos, connected on all of his kicks in the game with two field goals and four extra points. Their punter averaged 42 yards per punt as well.
“They do a good job with their run and pass ratio,” Jones explained. “They are not a team where you just stop the run or stop the pass, they are pretty good at both.”
However, after all of these positives for the Jaguars, coach Jones was quick to point out that all of that means nothing if they don’t put the points on the scoreboard. “The bottom line is we want to win a ballgame, that’s the overall goal,” he said. “The biggest thing on offense right now is converting points. We dropped a touchdown pass, we dropped another 60-yard pass that could have put the game away. We have to make plays in those situations, if we make one of those the game is over.”
The Jags Tuesday practice was very businesslike. The coaches and players were completely focused on preparing for Tulane this weekend. Coach Jones said that practicing hard is what it’s going to take for them to learn to win. He also believes that his team has put the loss behind them and that they have to in order to have a successful season.
Wes Saxton did not dress out for Tuesday’s practice nor did he take part in drills. Jones indicated to AL.com that it was only precautionary and that he will be ready for Saturday’s game.
South Alabama and Tulane kickoff at 2:30pm on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bus tickets may still be available through USA National Alumni Association ($35 for bus ride or $70 for bus ride and game ticket) and through Little Flower Catholic Church ($65 including ticket). For information about seat availablity, visit this link for the USA Alumni Association and call the Little Flower Church Office for availability.