Monday Press Conference
Below are highlights from Monday’s press conference covering the Jags game against Troy and a little preview of their upcoming game against Kent State on October 19.
Head coach Joey Jones kicked it off with his opening statement. “It was a gut-wrenching loss. Any time you are up six points with 40 seconds left in the game, you feel pretty good about it. We let it slip away, but we’re a lot better football team this year versus last year, it’s not even close. We’ve made a lot of strides to get where we are, but you still don’t like losing a game like that. The good thing going forward is that we can learn from it. We have to continue on our quest for our goals. If we continue that, then we are going to achieve them. Just because you have a setback and lose a close ballgame late in the game doesn’t mean you fold your tent. That’s where we are, and I think our kids understand that.”
Jones then spoke about playing close games this season. “Before the season I talked about how we were going to have to win a lot of close ballgames to have a good year. I didn’t know it would be that way through the first five games, but it’s a good thing. We’re right there in the mix with a chance to win it. I think it is good for us. It’s going to make us more mature. If nothing else, it is going to create that confidence in us that we can handle it the next time around.”
He then addressed how the team must move forward and put the loss behind them. “It’s vital. It (Kent State game) obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the conference championship, but we want to go to a bowl game. That’s one of our goals. It’s important for us because we really want to get there. It’s achievable for us if we do what we have to do, so I’m going to keep our eyes set on that goal.”
Jones then spoke about the Jags upcoming game against Kent State while reflecting on their previous matchup against them. “We played against Roosevelt Nix two years ago. He’s probably one of the quickest defensive linemen I have ever seen. He really creates a lot of havoc. They know how to win as well. They had a great season last year. But they have built their team on playing really good defense over the last couple of years, and that’s what they have continued to do.”
Jaguar quarterback Brandon Bridge spoke about what he and the team learned from the loss to Troy. “What I learned personally and I think what the team learned as well is that no game is officially over (until it’s over). We have to keep playing until the clock says triple-zero. We have to keep fighting and keep on battling and work these next two weeks on getting better.”
“Kent State is a big opponent. It’s out of conference but it’s still a big game for us. We have to get back in the winning column. We’ll make a lot of strides this week, look at the film and get better. Next week we’ll come out with guns blazing and finish 60 minutes of football. That’s what we haven’t been doing in our losses, we haven’t been playing 60 minutes. We need to have a complete game in three aspects: offense, defense and special teams.”
He spoke again about what was learned from Saturday’s game with particular emphasis on playing better in the first half and most importantly the second quarter where the Jags have really struggled this season. “It’s Homecoming week and you never want to lose on Homecoming. That’s a cardinal sin to lose on Homecoming, but we just have to take on the second quarter. We always outscore our opponents in the second half, but we have to have a complete 60 minutes and make each quarter like it’s the second half. We need that mentality from start to finish. We have to come out with guns blazing. The defense has to come out and hit them in the mouth, the offense has to have that foot on the gas and special teams do what special teams do: get good field position for us and put up points on field goals. Controlling the game from start to finish, that’s what we’re going to have to do for these next two weeks.”
Bridge spoke about Kent State and what he already knows about their defense. “I was told by (quarterbacks) Coach (Bryant) Vincent today that they have a great defensive lineman and a great corner, one of the best that we’ll go up against. We have to watch film on those guys and see who we want to go after on the offensive side. I feel like they’re a big, strong football team. I think we’re a bit faster than they are and maybe we can use our speed to get to the outside.”
He also spoke about suffering so many close losses this season and if they confidence has suffered from it. “I don’t think our confidence has been downgraded at all. Coach (Jones) always says you can’t get too low and you can’t get too high because, just like we saw against Troy, we got too high and we thought the game was over with 40 seconds left. We’re going to keep going until we see triple-zeros. I don’t think the guys have really gotten down at all. We’re still 1-1 in the Sun Belt right now and we still have a shot to win the conference. We still have our minds set on two rings, which is a conference championship and a bowl championship. We’re not out of the race so we’re going to use those two losses and let that fire burn under us, go after our next opponent and take it out on them and build from there.”
Linebacker Maleki Harris, the defensive representative in the press conference, spoke about the emotions in the game against Troy. “It seems like we come out and at the beginning of the game, get the first drive out of the way and play good for the rest of the first quarter, then the second quarter comes and I don’t know if we get complacent or we just relax or whatever, we take our foot off the pedal and the other team is still going. That’s where we have to mature as a team and keep pushing. We can’t take our foot off the pedal until we get to halftime. Then when we come back out, we have to keep our foot on the pedal.”
South Alabama hosts Kent State for homecoming on Saturday, October 19 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2pm.