Monday Press Conference – Cajun Invasion Edition

October 28, 2014 · By · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference 
Head coach Joey Jones observes the Jaguars scrimmage on Saturday, August 15 2014 at St. Paul's Episcopal School.

Head coach Joey Jones observes the Jaguars scrimmage on Saturday, August 15 2014 at St. Paul’s Episcopal School.

South Alabama football head coach Joey Jones met with the media on Monday along with defensive back E.J. May and running back Xavier Johnson to reflect on the Jaguars 27-13 win over Troy and to preview their upcoming trip to face Louisiana-Lafayette. Below are highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones’ opening statement: “That was a big win on Friday night for us, I thought our guys played really well. Obviously there are some things we could have done better, but overall our players fought and got after it. We’re looking forward to this week, Louisiana-Lafayette was the unanimous choice to be No. 1 in the league — rightfully so — because they have really good players and a great coaching staff. [ULL head coach] Mark [Hudspeth] has done a tremendous job with that program.”

Jones spoke about the offensive effort by the Jaguars against Troy. “I thought the offensive line played great, they had a look in their eyes that they wanted to play some physical football; that was real good to see. Our running backs played lights out, Kendall had the best game of his career and Xavier came in as a freshman and ran the ball really well. That was a plus on that side of the ball to have those guys play like that.”

He then turned his attention to ULL by talking about the Cajun offense. “Elijah McGuire, in my opinion, is the best player in this league. Then you look at all the other talent they have around him, it’s not like you can just focus on him. Terrance Broadway is a great player, a three-year starter who understands their offense and has played in a lot of big game, and they have big linemen; they probably average 320 [pounds] up front. Our defense is looking forward to the challenge.”

Jones on ULL’s defense. “They are very good and very big on the defensive front, they are probably the biggest defensive front we will face. I haven’t looked at South Carolina yet, but I know the size of these guys is bigger than anybody in the Sun Belt. They’re well-coached and run to the football, they play with a lot of passion as you would imagine. They are a very good defense.

“When you have a team with a good offense that’s all people want to talk about, but their defense plays very well.”

Speaking about the challenge this game will present, Jones had this to say. “This is why you play football. As we were going through our conference schedule a couple of weeks ago I told them the next game is the most important one, I know it’s cliché but it’s the truth. I believe if Louisiana-Lafayette doesn’t have the best environment in the Sun Belt then it is top two, they have great crowd support. Last time we went over there it didn’t go very well, so we’d like to go over there and play better this time.”

Jones was asked what he attributes his team’s success on the road this season to. “That was a point of emphasis for me, I stressed it to the players during the offseason, I’m not taking credit for it, I’m just saying it started there. We took two trips during the summer to different high schools to get ready for a game, so to speak, and I think that helped us. And there is a mental toughness aspect to it, our strength staff did a great job with those guys in the offseason; no matter what happens, our guys are going to come out ready to compete.”

Jones talked about his team being one game away from bowl eligibility. “It enters your mind, but the truth is we have to focus on what we have to do to win this ballgame or any ballgame. That’s one of our goals and something we certainly want to get done, but what we are focusing on is practice every day so we can achieve those goals.”

Defensive back E.J. May talked about the team’s confidence. “The difference I see is that we’re playing more as a team, everyone is playing for something. We’re just more of a family, and that has helped build some of our confidence coming into this week’s game.”

“I have so much confidence in our front seven; I feel like we have one of the best defensive fronts in the country. That’s what it’s going to come down to, but the defensive backs are going to have to hold it down in the back too.”

May continued by talking about the team’s success on the road. “That was kind of our weak point last year, but we made a commitment as a team to win on the road. We just have to prepare like we have every other week. We’re playing great football right now.”

He then talked about ULL. “We just have to prepare for them like we do every other opponent. They have a one-two punch at running back, and the quarterback is very good too. But we just have to watch film and do the same thing we’ve been doing to prepare.”

On being just one win away from eligibility, he said “It’s just a boost to know that we’re that close, right there on the edge. We just need to keep working hard. It’s going to play out.”

Redshirt freshman running back Xavier Johnson, who wore #8 in honor of Jay Jones who suffered a season ending knee injury against Georgia State, began by talking about the win over Troy. “We blocked well Friday night. Coach (Jones) told us at halftime to just keep grinding, and we came out in the second half and executed offensively.”

Johnson addressed the team’s confidence by saying, “We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now. We are playing with a chip on our shoulder, and each week we’re playing for (injured running back) Jay Jones. We just need to come out with good intensity and a good attitude this week at practice.”

Johnson talked about the offensive units improvement throughout the season up to now. “We’ve made a big improvement from game one. We weren’t playing selfish in game one, but we weren’t playing like brothers. We realized as the season progressed that if we play together then we can have more success.”

South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette are scheduled to kickoff at 4pm on Saturday from Cajun field. Pregame and play-by-play can be heard locally on Lite Mix 99.9FM or iHeartRadio. The game will be televised on ESPN3.com.

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