South Alabama Defeats Tulane 41-39 In The Superdome

September 9, 2013 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
South Alabama celebrates their 41-39 win over Tulane on Saturday, September 7, 2013 in the Superdome.

South Alabama celebrates their 41-39 win over Tulane on Saturday, September 7, 2013 in the Superdome.

Hard work pays off.

After the season opening loss to Southern Utah, the Jags refocused and went through a week of hard nosed workouts to prepare for their trip to New Orleans. They were determined to prove they are a better team than what the fans saw on Thursday night against the Thunderbirds.

They did just that.

“That was a great win for a lot of reasons,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “We struggled last week at the end of the game. We played well for three-and-a-half quarters but then lost it. In this game we played well, but then they came back and we bowed up and won it. That’s a sweet way to win a ballgame. Tulane is a much improved team.”

“But my hat’s off to my staff,” Jones continued. “We worked 16 hours a day since last Thursday night because we care about these players. And these players care about this team. They came and worked, we had a great practice week. They did everything we asked them, never dropped their heads and they came out and won the ballgame today. That’s what it’s all about. That is a good life lesson for them there.”

The Jaguars got started early when Jay Jones picked up 29 yards on the first play from scrimmage. After an incomplete pass, Metheny would gain 11 yards on a quarterback draw. Metheny would cut up the middle again and race in for a 35 yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead in only 47 seconds of play.

Tulane responded with passes from Nick Montana to Rob Kelley for 15 yards, Ryan Grant for eight but Terrell Brigham would force a fumble that would be recovered by Montell Garner at the Tulane 46 yard line. The second possession would not yield points for the Jaguar though, as Cris Dinham could only manage eight yards on 3rd and 11 and would lose two yards on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs.

After a three and out by the Jaguar defense, Ross Metheny and the Jaguar offense would begin at their own 40 after a 16 yard punt by Tulane. Metheny started the drive with a five yard run, but a personal foul on Sam Scofield would add 15 yards to put the Jags in Tulane territory at the 40 yard line. Metheny would then connect with Wes Saxton for 26 yards before connecting with Shavarez Smith for the 14 yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead with 10:18 left in the opening quarter. The drive spanned three plays covering 60 yards in 56 seconds.

The Green Wave would respond on their next possession. Montana would hit Grant for a 41 yard gain with Orleans Darkwa capping it off with a run over right tackle for two yards for the touchdown to cut the Jaguar lead in half at 14-7 with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

South Alabama would get it back on their next possession. Dinham opened the series with a four yard rush to the Jaguar 29 before Metheny went back to his tight end Wes Saxton for 24 yards down the sideline to the Tulane 47 yard line. After a short gain by Dinham again, Metheny would run on back to back plays for seven and five yards. A couple plays later, facing 3rd and 3 at the Tulane 30 yard line, Metheny would connect with Davin Hawkins for his first career touchdown reception as the Jags lead extends to 21-7.

The Jaguar defense would force a punt on Tulane’s next possession. Metheny would open the Jaguars drive on the USA 20 yard line and would quickly throw a strike to Danny Woodson for 41 yards to the Tulane 39 yard line. Metheny’s pass intended for Bryant Lavender would fall incomplete, however a pass interference call would would move the ball down to the Tulane 24 yard line. Kendall Houston would end the quarter with a four yard rush up the middle to the Tulane 20. Metheny would find Saxton open on 3rd and 6 to get the first down at the Tulane 12 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Metheny would run for 12 yards on a quarterback draw for the touchdown and a three score lead at 28-7 with 13:52 left in the second quarter.

The Green Wave would piece together an 11 play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown to cut the Jaguar lead to 28-14 with 10:23 left in the game.

On the kickoff, T.J. Glover took the ball out of the end zone and only got out to the 12 yard line, but an illegal block would move it back to the Jaguar 6 yard line. USA managed one first down before being forced to punt from their 17 yard line. However, a bad snap would get past Scott Garber, but a heads-up play by him prevented a touchdown and only gave Tulane two points on a safety to make the score 28-16.

The Jags defense would force a three-and-out on the next Tulane possession, but on the second down play, Randon Carnathan would be injured and did not return to the game. More on his injury below.

T.J. Glover would return the punt 27 yards from the Jaguar 14 to the 41 to start their possession. On the first play, with Brandon Bridge in at quarterback, the Jags would be flagged for a false start to back them up to five yards. Jay Jones would get it back and then some with a 13 yard rush up the middle just short of midfield. Two plays later on 2nd and 9, the offense would be flagged for another false start to make it 2nd and 14 and coach Jones would call a time out to settle his offense down. The Jags would be forced to punt two plays later. Garber’s 46 yard punt would go into the endzone for a touchback with 3:06 left until halftime.

Tulane would open their possession with another deep pass from Montana to Grant for 45 yards to get to the Jaguar 35 yard line. The Jaguar defense would hold the Green Wave to a 47 yard field goal as Tulane cut Jaguar lead to 28-19 with 1:31 left until halftime.

Starting from their own 25 after the touchback on the kickoff, Jay Jones would rush for five yards on back-to-back plays as it looked like Coach Jones and Coach Matthews were content to run out the clock on the half. But then Metheny would find Jereme Jones for an 18 yard gain to the Tulane 47 yard line. The offense would run to the line to spike the ball as the Jags only had one time out with 14 seconds left till halftime. Metheny would then go back to Saxton again for 10 more yards to the Tulane 37 with :07 seconds left and they would call their final time out. Metheny would connect with Saxton one more time for eight yards and he would get out of bounds at the Tulane 29 yard line. Aleem Sunanon would make the 46 yard field goal attempt to lead the Jaguars into the lockerroom with a 31-19 lead at halftime.

Tulane would begin the second half with Dante Butler returning the kickoff from the endzone to the 19 yard line before Rush Hendrix would take him down. A false start would back them up to their own 14 yard line. On 3rd and 14, Romelle Jones would sack Montana for a six yard loss at the Tulane 9 yard line.

The Jags would have Glover’s 12 yard punt return brought back as E.J. May was flagged for an illegal block to start a bad possession for the Jaguars. Two plays later on 3rd and 5 at the Tulane 48 yard line, Metheny’s pass would bounce off of Bryant Lavender’s chest and would be intercepted by Nico Marley and returned 30 yards to the Jaguar 30 yard line, but a personal foul would move the ball to the 15 yard line. Tulane would score a touchdown three plays later when Darkwa would take it in from one yard out to cut the Jaguar lead to 31-26 with 11:42 left in the 3rd quarter.

On the ensuing possession for the Jaguars, facing 3rd and 8 from the Jaguar 27, Metheny would find Jereme Jones across the middle for 11 yards and a first down. But two plays later Metheny, running the read option, would fumble the exchange with Dinham that would be recovered by Marley at the Jaguar 39 yard line. The Jags would force an incompletion by Montana on 4th and 2 at the Jaguar 31 to give the offense the ball back on downs with 8:47 left in the 3rd quarter.

Metheny would start the possession with a 12 yard run before connecting with Saxton on back-to-back passes for 12 and 4 yards. But on 3rd and 5 at the Tulane 40, Metheny would be flushed from the pocket and try to float a pass to Saxton on the right sideline, but a leaping defender would pick it off and return it 25 yards to the Jaguar 40 before offensive lineman Drew Dearman forced him out of bounds saving a touchdown.

Montana would connect with Grant again for a 40 yard touchdown pass on their first play. Grant would be flagged for excessive celebration and the Jags would be flagged for roughing the passer. The defensive penalty was enforced on the kickoff while the celebration penalty was enforced on the PAT. Tulane would get their first and only lead of the game at 33-31 with 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Jags would drive 17 yards before being forced to punt which was fair caught at the Tulane 20 yard line. On 3rd and 8 from their own 22, Montana was sacked for a 10 yard loss by Alex Page. The special teams unit stepped up to help the offense as Qudarius Ford blocked the Tulane punt and Terrance Timmons would recover it in the endzone for a Jaguar touchdown to give the Jags the lead once again at 38-33 with 1:13 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Tulane and the Jaguars next possession would be three-and-out’s. Tulane’s next possession would be a disaster. A nine yard rush by Kelley would come back on a holding call to make it 1st and 20 at the Tulane 45. A bad snap would cause them to lose six more yards for a 2nd and 26 at their own 39 yard line. Montana’s screen pass to Butler would be sniffed out by Romelle Jones for a four yard loss to make it 3rd and 30 at their own 35. Clifton Crews would then sack Montana for another six yard loss to make it 4th and 36 from the Tulane 29.

The Tulane punt would be fielded at the Jaguar 25 by Glover and returned one yard, but Montell Garner would be flagged for a personal foul to move it back to the Jaguar 13 yard line with 10:43 left in the game.

The Jags would go three and out again and Scott Garber’s 45 yard punt would be returned only three yards to put the ball at the Green Wave 45 yard line. Montana would try another deep pass but Roman Buchanan would pick him off at the Jaguar 16 yard line and  it would be upheld after a review.

The Jags would take over at their own 16 yard line with 9:46 left in the game and a 38-33 lead. Metheny would open up with a 15 yard completion from Metheny to Davin Hawkins but he would fumble it out of bounds at the Jaguar 31 yard line. Then Metheny would load up again and connect with Shavarez Smith for a big 43 yard gain to the Tulane 26 yard line. After a rush by Dinham for no gain and an incomplete pass, the Jags faced 3rd and 10. Metheny would hand it off to Dinham who took it over left end and would go out of bounds after a 14 yard gain to the Tulane 12 yard line and another South Alabama first down. Jay Jones would run off left end for eight more yards to the Tulane 4 yard line. Houston would lose two on a rush, then on 3rd down Metheny’s pass to Jereme Jones would fall incomplete. Coach Jones would opt to take points and kick a 23 yard field goal to put the Jags up 41-33 with 6:07 left in the game.

Brandon McKee’s kickoff would be fielded at the one yard line and David Hawkins would bring down the Green Wave returner at the 18 yard line. Montana would find Matt Marfisi for 18 yards to the Tulane 36. After a deep pass intended for Grant fell incomplete, he came right back to Grant for nine yards on the sideline. Darkwa would get the first down on 3rd and 1 by getting two yards. Montana, after an incomplete pass, would find Xavier Rush for 10 yards and another first down. A run by Montana would go for 11 yards to get into Jaguar territory at the 43 yard line. A screen pass to Kelley would gain six yards, then a slant pass to Sydie London would gain three more yards to the Jaguar 23. Two plays later Montana would complete a pass to Rush for 10 more yards to the Jaguar 12 yard line. After a draw play only gained two yards to the Jaguar 10 yard line, Tulane would take a time out with 1:31 left in the game. After lining up, the Jags would take a time out to adjust their defense. On 2nd and 8 at the Jaguar 10 yard line, Montana’s pass appeared to be intercepted by Roman Buchanan, but after a review it was called an incomplete pass. On the next play Montana would hit Grant for a 10 yard touchdown to draw them within a two point conversion with 1:19 left in the game.

On the two point play, Montana was pressured out of the pocket to the right sideline when the Jaguars brought a blitz, he would put up a throw but it would be intercepted by Maleki Harris leaving the Jaguars up 41-39. The Jags would use their final time out to set up for the onsides kick. The kick would go nine yards and would be recovered by Bryant Lavender at the Tulane 44 yard line. The Jags could finally end the game with the victory formation.

South Alabama put up great offensive numbers. They gained 328 yard in the first half, which almost equaled the the 335 yards they gained in the whole game against Southern Utah in the previous game.

The Jags ended the game with 465 total yards of offense, 297 yards through the air and 168 on the ground. USA gained 25 first downs to Tulane’s 20. Tulane ended with a slight edge time of possession with 30:03 to USA’s 29:57.

Ross Metheny ended the game as the leading rusher with 75 yards on 11 attempts and two touchdowns. Jay Jones gained 64 yards on 11 carries, Dinham added 28 yards on 10 carries and Houston had 17 yards on 7 carries.

Tulane’s Orleans Darkwa rushed 10 times for 32 yards and two touchdowns.

Ross Metheny went 19-of-30 for 290 yards and two touchdowns while taking two sacks and two interceptions. Bridge was 1-of-2 for seven yards.

Nick Montana went 29-of-47 for 327 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.

Wes Saxton led the Jaguars with 92 yards on 7 catches. Jereme Jones added four catches for 50 yards, Danny Woodson also had 50 yards on three catches. Shavarez Smith gained 57 yards on two catches with a touchdown. Davin Hawkins caught two passes for 45 yards and his first career touchdown as a Jaguar. Two other Jags had catches as well.

Tulane’s highly touted receiver lived up to his billing with 187 yards on 14 catches and two touchdowns. Xavier Rush was the next closest with 34 yards on three catches.

Defensively, Qudarius Ford led the Jags with 8 total tackles, two pass breakups and a punt block. Romelle Jones and Terrell Brigham both added seven stops with Jones collecting two tackles for loss and one sack. Clifton Crews and Alex Page both had a sack as well. Roman Buchanan had the only interception for the Jaguar defense.

Tulane’s Sam Scofield led all tacklers with 15 total, 13 solo and two for loss. Robertson added 11 tackles, two for loss and a sack for the Green Wave.

South Alabama scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives.

Tulane rebounded early in the second half by turning three Jaguar turnovers into 14 points to take the lead on the Jags.

Qudarius Ford said after the game, “We practiced that punt block all week. We knew they weren’t going to be ready for it. When the coaches called it, I knew it was going to work. We just executed. We saw how the wings always flared out, and it left the underneath gap wide open. I knew when I got through that it was money.”

It was the first time since Tennessee-Martin on October 15, 2011 that the Jaguar offense has put together multiple scoring drives that were under a minute.

The 21-7 first quarter marked the most point production by the Jaguars in the first quarter of a game since they scored 20 against Lamar on September 10, 2011. They gained 245 yards and 11 first downs in the opening quarter.

The 465 yards of total offense is the most against an FBS school in the University’s short history. Metheny’s four scores is another school-record.

“We were just taking what they gave us and kept rolling,” Ross Metheny stated after the game. “We made the plays tonight, and that’s what our offense is set up to do. We put ourselves in position to make the plays, we just have to make them. We struggled with that a little last year and last week as well. But we finally made the plays and did what we were supposed to do tonight.”

“We got up big early,” Metheny continued. “The offense played great the first half, probably the best offensive half we have had. Then we came out and had three turnovers fairly quickly in the second half, but the defense was playing really good in the second half. We had to have a big play, and we blocked the punt. The punt return staff did a great job of coming up with that punt block. It was something we saw on film, and it worked just right. You have to make those plays in order to win big games and we did it.”

“It’s the biggest win we’ve ever had,” Jones stated. “We have a lot of games coming that we can win. Winning is a habit. We want our guys to win, and they have done that. I’m so proud of the way they fought back, and fought against the fact we lost last week late in the game and came out here and won a tough game on the road.”

“Tulane is a much-improved team, and they have a good football program,” he continued. “They’re going to do well in Conference USA. For us to come on the road and win one like that is big for the South Alabama football program. Curtis Johnson (Tulane head coach), his staff and the players acted first class the entire game. My hat’s off to them. They are the kind of team you want to play against, because they play the game the right way.”

Coach Jones spoke about true freshman Roman Buchanan by saying, “Coming in and playing like that in Division I football as a true freshman is big. We know he’s a great player, and he’s going to be a great one in the future for sure.”

Coach Jones also spoke about stopping the two-point conversion at the end of the game. He said, “That was big. Most teams want to sprint out to the right, and I went up to coach Sherrer and asked him if we were going to bring edge pressure and he said, ‘We’re going to bring everybody.’ We brought an all-out blitz and pressured the quarterback, and he couldn’t really get his feet set to throw the ball. It was a great call by coach Sherrer.”

When asked if he would like to see a series between the two schools, Jones replied, “I would love for it to be. Two hours away; we’d love to have a rivalry with them in the future.”

However the two teams are not scheduled to play again until October 10, 2020 when Tulane travels to Mobile.

Randon Carnathan’s injury turned out to be some sort of Achilles heel injury and was in a protective boot on the sidelines when he returned to the sideline. The extent of his injury is unknown

JuCo tranfer Jerome McClain came out of the game with a concussion. He will have to clear medical tests before he will be allowed to return to practice or games.

Losing two defensive linemen will hurt their depth at that position.

Jereme Jones consecutive games with a catch streak is up to 29 now.

South Alabama will open Sun Belt play on Saturday when they play Western Kentucky for the first time. The game will feature Bobby Petrino’s up-tempo offense that they used to defeat Kentucky on the road to open the season. South Alabama and Western Kentucky is set to kick off at 6:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Come out and support your Jaguars in this key Sun Belt game. Go Jags!

Four Jags Earn Conference Honors

December 5, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Game Captains for South Alabama Romelle Jones, B.J. Scott, Greg Hollinger and Alex Page meet the Troy captains at mid-field for the coin toss in the two teams first meeting and the Jaguars first Sun Belt Conference game.

Four Jaguars have been honored with All-Sun Belt Conference honors on Wednesday.

First-team selection Jake Johnson was the top tackler in the conference. Alex Page was voted to the second-team All-Sun Belt team. While B.J. Scott and Enrique Williams were chosen for honorable mention recognition.

Voting was conducted by the 10 head coaches in the conference and selected members of the media. This was the first time in the programs four year history that they were able to be selected for All-Conference honors.

Jake Johnson is a 6’1″, 240-pound senior linebacker from Fredericksburg, VA. He is the only player in the conference that averages double-digits in tackles after totally 131 total stops in 13 games this season. He ranks third in the conference with 15 tackles for loss with at least one in every game this season. He also has three sacks and six quarterback hurries. He led the team in stops seven times this season and had double-digit tackles in a game five times this season.

Alex Page, a 6’1″ 245-pound junior defensive lineman from Prattville, AL, ranked fifth in the conference with six sacks and eighth with 11.5 tackles for loss. He recorded a career-best 64 tackles which ranked fifth on the team and the most among the Jags defensive linemen. He also became the first player at his position in Jag history to record double-digit tackles with 10 against FAU.

B.J. Scott is a 5’11” 205-pound senior safety from Prichard, AL. He transferred to South Alabama from the University of Alabama with two years of eligibility. Scott ended the season with 84 tackles, six of them for a loss. He also had two interceptions, three passes broken up and two forced fubmles with a fumble recovery. He had four games with double-digit tackles including a career-best 12 in the season finale against Hawaii. He finished tied for 15th in the conference this season with an average of 6.5 tackles per game.

Enrique Williams is a 6′, 235-pound junior linebacker from Mobile, AL. He finished the season with 105 tackles, which was good enough for seventh in the conference, with six of them for losses. He finished four games with double-digit tackles and led the team in tackles on five occasions. He had a career best 12 tackles against then #23 ranked Mississippi State and again at Arkansas State in the Jags first ever conference road game.

The defense, led by these four individuals, allowed an average of 383.7 yards per game to finish the season ranked second in the conference in total defense and ranked 3rd in the conference against the pass. The Jags also led the conference in red zone defense and was second in opponent third-down conversion percentage as well.

 

Jags Fall To North Texas 24-14 On Saturday

November 12, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.


Jags gave up two long touchdown runs over 50+ yards as they lost to North Texas 24-14 on Saturday.

After holding the Jags on a fourth and one at the 49 yard line, Jereme Brown broke the second play of the second quarter, the first play of the possession for UNT, for a 51 yard touchdown run to tie the game with the Jags 7-7.

South Alabama would mount another scoring a little past midway through the second quarter that began with a 17 yard completion from Ross Metheny to Wes Saxton. After an incompletion, Metheny would complete passes to Bryant Lavender and Greg Hollinger for 6 and 14 yards respectively. A facemask penalty would move the ball to the North Texas 13 yard line where Metheny would find Jereme Jones for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead with under three minutes to go in the half.

The next possession by North Texas would begin with an illegal formation penalty against the Jags on the kickoff and wouldn’t get any better after that.

After an incomplete pass, UNT’s Derek Thompson would complete back to back passes for 15 and 18 yards to quickly move down to the Jaguar 33 yard line. Another incomplete pass and a rush for one yard forced the Mean Green to call a time out with 1:33 left in the half to consider their options for a 3rd and 9.

Coming out of the time out, Thompson would connect with his receiver for an 18 yard gain and a first down. After two more incomplete passes and UNT wuold face another long third down play. This time they would only get four yards but one of the Jaguar defenders would pick up the ball, thinking it may have been fumbled, and took off with it. That would draw a delay of game penalty on the Jags to give the Mean Green a fourth and 1 at the Jaguar 5 yard line. Then a substitution infraction would give UNT a first down at the 2 yard line. After a rush for no gain and an incomplete pass, Thompson would find an open receiver for the touchdown to tie the game at 14 with 17 seconds until halftime

South Alabama would begin the second half with a promising drive that would stall at the North Texas 11 yard line with a fourth and 1. Michel Chapuseaux would attempt a 28 yard line but it would miss wide right.

After taking over at the Jaguar 20 yard line, UNT would be flagged for a false start. But this would not matter as Brandin Byrd would take the first down handoff 85 yards for a touchdown to take a 21-14 lead with 9:32 left in the third quarter.

On the next Jaguar possession, Terrance Timmons would fumble the ball away at the Jaguar 46 yard line. North Texas would capitalize by driving down for a field goal to cap off the scoring 24-14.

A couple of possession later, the Jags had a golden opportunity to cut into the Mean Green lead when Tyrell Pearson would pick off a pass at the North Texas 40 yard line and return it down the left sideline. He would return it 38 yards to the two yard line and try to dive/reach for a touchdown, but the officials would rule it a fumble that would go into the end zone and out of bounds giving the ball back to North Texas at the 20 yard line.

The fourth quarter would become a punt fest. The Jags would go for it near midfield when they faced a fourth and 23 at the Jaguar 47, but Metheny’s pass completion to Gabe Loper would come up 2 yards short of the first down.

The Jags record falls to 2-8 (1-5 SBC) while North Texas’ record improves to 4-6 (3-3 SBC).

South Alabama held edges in some statistical categories. Jags edged the Mean Green in total yards (366-303), net passing yards (233-106), first downs (24-12) and time-of-possession (33:08 – 26:52). North Texas would lead the Jags in rushing yards 197-133.

Kendall Houston led the Jaguar running game with 42 yards on 11 carries, and his first touchdown since Georgia State over a year ago, as he filled in for Baker who did not see the field in the second half. Baker would end the game with 39 yards on six carries, Glover would add 36 yards on eight carries and Metheny would gain 17 yards on eight carries.

Metheny would go 23-of-45 for 233 yards and a touchdown. Lavender would haul in six passes for 36 yards, Jereme Jones would add five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Saxton had three catches for 38 yards, Corey Besteda had two catches for 31 yards, Loper added 26 yards on two catches. Greg Hollinger and Corey Waldon would both add a catch for 14 yards each.

Alex Page and Bryson James would both end the game tied for the most tackles with seven. Jake Johnson would add six tackles and a tackle-for-loss. The Jags were unable to get to the quarterback for a sack in this game.

“We played a good first half. We played hard and smart. They dominated us in the third quarter,” Jaguar head coach said after the game. “We had a good drive [to open the second half], and we missed a chip-shot field goal that would have put us up 17-14. We were playing great defense but we missed the field goal, then they scored on a long run and kind of dominated us from that point on. We didn’t much on offense after that.”

“We’re just a few guys behind right now,” Jones continued. “Everything we do has to be perfect, but I told them in the locker room that we have to stick together. This is as tough of a thing as any of us have been through, nobody likes to lose. We have to stick together and back up and support each other. This [transition to FBS] is a tough thing to go through. My hat’s off to North Texas. They came out and made great adjustments at halftime, and played a better game in the second half.”

“The good teams learn from the losses, watch film, make corrections and move forward. That’s what we have to do,” quarterback Ross Metheny said. “We have to put it behind us. It’s tough. There comes a point where being so close is not enough. We’re so close in so many games, and hopefully we’ll put it all together. We have three more chances to win football games, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

“I told the guys in the locker room that I will never quit on them,” stated Jones. “We knew this year was going to be like this, so we have to stick together. Those guys really care about each other, and that’s all I can worry about right now. I can’t worry about what anybody else says. We just have to keep working and building these men up. They’re going through a tough thing right now. They have been asked to step up in a very good Division I league and try to win, we’re just coming up a little bit short in a lot of games.”

South Alabama returns home to Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday for their final home game of the season against Middle Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm on Saturday.

Two Jaguars Name To CoSIDA Academic All-District On Thursday

November 9, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The University of South Alabama continues to have new firsts in the program. This time the University has multiple individuals that have been named to the first-team Capital One Academic All-District 4 by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

Senior Trey Clark and junior Alex Page were honored on Thursday when they released the list.

This is the second consecutive year that Clark has been named to the team. They advance to the Capital One Academic All-America Team ballot. The first, second and third-team All-America honorees are expected to be announced on Thursday, December 6.

Clark, from Prattville, Alabama, is the only individual in school history to start each of the program’s 36 games. So far this fall he has been on the field for every snap the offense has taken. In addition to being named to the All-District team a year ago, he was also a member of the FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Star Team.

Alex Page, also a Prattville natice, rankes second in the Sun Belt in sacks and is in the top 10 with tackles for loss.

In order to be eligible for academic all-district honors, individuals must have a sophomore stadium both academically and athletically, be a starter or important reserve and maintain a minimum of a 3.30 cumulative GPA.

Jags Practice In Shells On Tuesday

November 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Enrique Williams combines with another Jaguar to tackle a FIU runner.

South Alabama deviated from their usual schedule on Tuesday morning by practicing in shells rather than full pads. Coach Joey Jones mentioned conserving energy in a long season as a reason for doing that. Though the intensity and work was the same as if the team had actually wore full pads.

“We just felt like we’re at least 13 or 14 weeks into practice, and this just gives them a little (break),” Jones said. “We didn’t practice any different, we just took the pads off. A lot of teams go to that late in the year to just give them a little mental break.”

One area of concentration was to make sure to get reps for backup players in every phase of the game. Jones noted that it was very important for those players who don’t get to see as many reps in practice as the starters to be ready in a moment’s notice.

“I thought we had pretty good focus,” he said of the practice. “We’ve got to make sure that our back-up guys, guys that are on our second string, are ready to go too. I think that sometimes you lose focus as a back-up but you’re one injury away from playing. We’ve got to get with those guys and make sure that they’re ready to go. Other than that, I think we had a good practice.”

Linebacker Jake Johnson did not practice on Tuesday as his right arm is in a sling. Though the injury is not serious and is expected to be back at practice on Wednesday. Johnson continues to be the leading tackler in the conference with 92 as he collected 15 total against FIU, 12 of them solo. He average 10.2 tackles per game.

Randon Carnathan’s season is over as Coach Jones said during his radio show that he had a torn ACL.

Linebacker Enrique Williams ranks 4th in the conference with 82 tackles and averagind 9 tackles per game. Alex Page is ranked #2 in the conference with five sacks. Pat Moore is tied for 4th in the same category with four in eight games.

Moore also ranks #7 in the conference in tackles for loss while Page ranks 8th in the same category.

Jags Fall To FIU After Valiant Rally In Second Half

November 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Bryant Lavender hauls in the pass from Ross Metheny at the goal line against FIU, but would be called down inside the one yard line.

South Alabama put up a valiant fight in the second half but just could not erase the first half deficit to fall at home against Florida International 28-20.

Coming into the game the FIU Golden Panthers were chosen to win the Sun Belt Championship in the preseason, but where 1-8 and were 0-5 in the Sun Belt. Head coach Joey Jones told everyone all week that FIU was a better team than what their record said. They definitely were a big team and played well in the first half.

The South Alabama defense held FIU to 31 yards in the second half, a mere 18 yards rushing and 13 yards passing to help the team fight it’s way back into the game.

The Jags scored first but FIU would score 28 consecutive points in the first half to go into halftime with a 28-7 lead. But the Jags would not allow them to score again for the remainder of the game.

“Obviously we dug too big a hole in the game and got behind 28-7 at the half,” coach Jones said. “We made a good comeback but we didn’t score down there in the red zone in the second half. That was the tale-tale sign of the game right there. We dug too big a hole early.”

“They’re very athletic on the defensive front and they just get after you,” Jones said of FIU. “They held Western Kentucky to 14 points and we knew they were good on defense.”

South Alabama’s first score came on their first possession. They drove 53 yards in nine plays after Pat Moore recovered a fumble. T.J. Glover scored on a 15 yard run around the left side, which was his first rushing touchdown since November of the 2010 season, to take a 7-0 lead with 7:36 left in the first quarter.

FIU would answer the Jaguar score with a 76 yard drive on eight plays and capped off by a 26 yard touchdown pass from Jake Medlock to Willis Wright. They would score again with a 27 yard pass before the first quarter ended to take a 14-7 lead.

In the second quarter FIU would score their third touchdown of the game on a 19 yard run by quarterback Medlock with 7:45 left in the second quarter to make the score 21-7 FIU.

Later Kendrick Rhodes would score with on a 2 yard rush to pull ahead 28-7 with 1:07 left in the second quarter.

The Jags would down the second half kickoff for a touchback to start on the 25 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ross Metheny would find an open Corey Besteda over the middle and he would take it in for a 75 yard touchdown to cut the FIU lead down to two scores, 28-14. That touchdown reception was the longest pass play in school history.

The Jaguar defense would hold FIU to a three and out on their first possession of the second half. Glover would return the punt down to the FIU 19 yard line, but they would not be able to put the ball into the end zone. Michel Chapuseaux would connect on the 39 yard field goal attempt to further cut into the FIU lead, 28-17.

FIU would drive from their own 32 yard line down to the Jaguar 42 before the drive would stall out and force a punt. Glover would call for the fair catch at the Jaguar 9 yard line. On third and seven from their own 30 yard line, Demetre Baker would rush for four yards but would fumble the ball and it would be recovered by FIU at the Jaguar 33 yard line.

Again the Jaguar defense would force a three and out. The FIU punt would fly into the end zone for a touchback.

On first down from their own 20 yard line, Metheny would run for 13 yards out to the 33 yard line. After Terrance Timmons rushed for a five yard gain, Metheny would hit Wes Saxton for a 24 yard gain to the FIU 38 yard line. Metheny would come back and hit Corey Besteda for an 11 yard gain to the FIU 27 yard line. Then the Jags would be forced to call a time out.

After the time out, Metheny would complete another pass to Saxton for five more yards to the FIU 22 yard line. Metheny would run for two yards to set up a third and 3 at the FIU 20 yard line, when FIU would call a time out with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Bryant Lavender for 13 yards to the FIU 7 yard line and the end of the fourth quarter. After the break, Trey Fetner would come in to run the wildcat for a three yard gain to the FIU 4 yard line. The Jags would be forced to call a time out as the play clock was running down.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Lavender again to inside the one yard line. Fetner would come in again to take a snap from under center, but Demetre Baker, who had lined up at tight end, moved early to draw a false start penalty. Instead of third and less than one, it becomes a third and goal from the five yard line. Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete intended for Lavender again. Chapuseaux’s kick would split the uprights to make the game a one score game at 28-20 with 13:05 left in the game.

Yet again the Jags defense would hold strong and force a three and out. After a 36 yard punt the Jags would start at their own 25 yard line.

After being sacked for five yard, Metheny would run for 20 yards out to the Jaguar 40 yard line. On first down at the FIU 47 yard line, Metheny would hit Saxton again for 25 yards down to the FIU 22 yard line. Terrance Timmons would then run three consecutive times for 2, 8 and 4 yards respectively to put the ball at the FIU 8 yard line. Houston would then run for two yards to set up a third down and four at the FIU 6 yard line. Metheny’s pass intended for Saxton in the end zone would be tipped and fly incomplete for a fourth down. Chapuseaux’s kick would bounce off of the left upright, no good with 5:17 left in the game.

The Jags would force yet another three and out to get the ball back with 4:15 left in the game. After driving from their 33 yard line down to the FIU 43 yard line, Metheny would throw three consecutive incomplete passes to face a fourth down and 10. Demetre Baker would take the pitch and gain seven yards to turn the ball over on downs with 3:00 left in the game.

Once more the Jags would force a three and out and get the punt at the Jaguar 31 yard line with 35 seconds left in the game.

Metheny would be flushed out of the pocket and goes down after gaining one yard. They would get up to the line and spike the ball. On third and nine, Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete then the fourth down pass would fly high and be intercepted at the Jaguar 32 yard line. FIU would kneel on the ball once to run the final seconds off the clock.

Overall the Jags led in all offensive categories. The Jags rushed for 188 yards to FIU’s 181, threw for 270 yards to FIU’s 153 for a total yardage of 458 for the Jags to 334 for the Golden Panthers. The Jags had 22 first downs in the game to FIU’s 20 and the Jags held a 30:07 to 29:53 time of possession advantage.

The Jags committed four penalties for 33 yards while FIU committed five penalties for 49 yards in the game.

Unfortunately leading all of those statistical categories does not mean much when you don’t convert that into points on the scoreboard.

Demetre Baker beat out Ross Menthey for the leading rusher for the Jaguars. Baker rushed 15 times for 74 yards while Metheny rushed eight times for 56 yards. Glover also ran four times for 30 yards and Timmons rushed eight times for 27 yards. Fetner and Houston also got carries in the game.

Metheny went 19-of-37 for 270 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. He also took two sacks in the game.

Wes Saxton was Metheny’s favorite target in the game with six receptions for 92 yards. But Corey Besteda had the most receiving yards with 96 on three catches including the 75 yard touchdown catch to open the second half. Lavender caught four passes for 26 yards, Jereme Jones caught three for 34 yards. Waldon, Glover and Baker also caught passes in the game.

FIU’s Kendrick Rhodes rushed 27 times in the game for 149 yards to lead all rushers. Quarterback Jake Medlock was 9-of-19 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Jake Johnson lead all defenders with 15 total tackles, seven of them being solo including one sack and a quarterback hurry. Alex Page, Enrique Williams and B.J. Scott all were next on the team with six total tackles. Enrique Willaims had one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries as well.

Montavious Williams and Will Thompson both recorded sacks in the game.

While some fans were disappointed that the Jags let a win get away from them, it is still amazing to think that in the Jags first season as an FBS transitional team we are disappointed that we should have won a game against a fellow FBS and Sun Belt team.

The Jags will travel to Denton, Texas to take on North Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm according to the schedule on the UNT Football website.

Phil Steele’s Midseason All-Sun Belt Team Announced

October 18, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark working with Jake Johnson and the linebackers during individual drills during camp.

American sportswriter and analyst Phil Steele who produces an annual preseason magazine that carries his name published his 2012 Midseason All-Sun Belt Team.

There are a couple South Alabama names on the list. There are only two first team selections for the Jaguars which are defensive linemen Alex Page and senior linebacker Jake Johnson.

The lone second-team selection is T.J. Glover for special teams. While Tyrell Pearson is the lone third-team selection at defensive back. No Jaguars were selected for any of the three teams from the offense.

There are a number of selections that the Jaguars have already faced this season.

South Alabama’s Monday Press Conference

September 18, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jaguar head coach Joey Jones spoke to the media on Monday along with tight end Wes Saxton and defensive lineman Alex Page. Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones’ opening statement: “We realize we are going up against a top-25 football team in Mississippi State, they have done a great job getting that program back on the map, so to speak. They have a great coaching staff and great players, and we are looking forward to playing a team like them.”

“Last week the game ended up 31-7, and I thought that we gave up a couple of big plays early in the game but the defense tightened up a good bit after that. Offensively, we just didn’t get the ball in the end zone even though we were working on some things there. They were very, very good defensively, their defensive front was about as good as we are going to face [this year], which had a lot to do with that.”

Coach Jones then spoke about what concerned him the most about the Bulldogs. “They are very big. You look across their front line on offense and defense and they have guys who are 6-foot-6 and 340, 330, 325 pounds. They have done a great job recruiting some very big linemen, which is the first thing you see. The second thing you see is that they are playing with a lot of confidence right now. They beat Auburn 28-10 a couple of weeks ago, they are playing at a high level and deservedly so. They are doing a good job early in the year.”

He then spoke about any lessons that the Jags learned at NC State that could help them this week. “There were a lot of things on film that were so correctable, which is still on us. Some of it had to do with how good they were, there is no doubt about that, but there were a lot of things we didn’t do ourselves that we can correct. That was probably the biggest thing.”

“The second thing was that our kids didn’t quit,” he continued. “I don’t say that trying to make anything sound better, we went out in the second half and could have easily folded since it was 28-0, but the defense came out and played really tough. The offense kept working and drove down and scored. We had a couple chances to kick field goals but went for it, we probably should have kicked looking back on it. The bottom line is we played much better in the second half. To me, that shows the character of a team. when you’re down, how are you going to react? I think the kids really fought hard and kept fighting, that’s one thing I like about this team.”

Jones then spoke about how the team held up at the line of scrimmage against NC State.  “Their defensive front is very good. There were some times we held up and sometimes we didn’t. We fought hard, sometimes we just got run over by some of those guys in pass rush situations. I thought our defensive front held up a good bit and got to the quarterback some, and they stopped the run fairly well. I think we matched up pretty well other than some pass-protection situations.”

Coach Jones then spoke about his greatest offensive convern from last week. “The biggest thing is that we were 0-for-11 on third down, obviously that’s not very good. We’ve got to be able to correct that, if you make four of those then you continue drives. Against a team like N.C. State you have to convert and at least get field goals to try and put some points on the board, and we didn’t do that.”

“We went through each of those one-by-one, and there were separate things that happened. One was on the quarterback, one was on the receiver, one was on a lineman not blocking a guy. They all know what we have to do, and when you put it all together we can make first downs.”

He then spoke about how Mississippi State’s line compares to NC State’s line. “They are every bit as good or better, they are a good bit bigger on the defensive front. When you recruit SEC linemen, they are going to get those guys who can play in the middle. They are very well coached on defense and show a lot of movement in the secondary spinning coverages. At the snap of the ball you see one thing, and after the snap they are moving to something else.”

Jones then spoke about getting the Jags to believe they can win this week’s game. “You always prepare to win. If you’re an odds maker you might not pick us to win, but there is somebody who gets beat every week who isn’t supposed to. That’s the way I look at it. We will go out and prepare. We were watching film of last week’s game, and had we done some of the things we were supposed to do, the game would have been much closer. It all comes down to us, not how good our opponent is. If we do the right things and put ourselves in a position to win, we will have a chance, and if we don’t we won’t.

“We are going to get knocked around some, they have some big linemen. But we’ll keep fighting back and trying to make plays and do what we are supposed to do, that is what we have to focus on.”

Then coach Jones answered a question asking if he can take an upset like the ULM over Auburn game and bring it up to his team. “We don’t bring it up a lot, they know about it and we have talked about it a couple of times. The bottom line is that we have to believe in what we are doing and go out execute it. If we do that and keep the game close in the third and fourth quarter, then you have a shot like Troy did [last week]. It was 23-7, but they kept it close and suddenly the score was 23-14 and then 23-21 and all of it sudden it was a game. We have to do that in a game like this. Let’s face it, they are a good football team. We are going to have to make those plays and keep it close to have a chance to win.”

Finally, Coach Jones was asked if his familiarity with Bulldog offensive coordinator Les Koenning will help the Jaguar defense prepare for them. Koenning was the Jaguars first offensive coordinator but left the program before the Jags first spring practices as he was hired by Dan Mullen when he was assembling his staff after being hired at the Bulldogs head football coach. “I don’t think so, because a lot of what he is doing now with coach Mullen, they have tweaked some things more toward the Florida philosophy. I wouldn’t think there would be anything we could take from that. They are doing things differently than when he was here.”

Wes Saxton spoke about things the Jags need to correct from the NC State game. “We kept the defense on the field a lot, which made them tired. The offense couldn’t move the ball, so we have to make sure this game that we keep moving the ball and put it in the end zone.”

He then spoke about gaining consistency on offense. “We need to focus on discipline this week, and not commit as many penalties. Penalties are hurting us in games. If we cut down on them, we’ll put the ball in the end zone.”

Saxton then spoke about the team’s morale while trailing at NC State. “We kept fighting. No matter what happens, we keep fighting. We don’t drop our heads when things go bad, because there are going to be bad times. We just keep our heads up no matter what situation comes up.”

He also spoke about the Saturday’s game at Mississippi State. “We’re looking to go in and fight hard and try to get better. We didn’t succeed last week, but we’re going in strong with a great game plan and we’ll be ready to play.”

Defensive lineman Alex Page spoke about the defense’s performance at NC State. “We played well in the second half, but realize that we made some mistakes in the first half and gave up some big plays. Minimizing the big plays and getting off the field on third down is what we need to focus on. I believe if we do that then we’ll have more success against Mississippi State. We need to continue the good play by our defensive line. Getting pressure on the quarterback is always going to be key in a big game like this.”

Page spoke about how beneficial playing at NC State was this past weekend. “It was a big stage and our guys came out there ready. I don’t think it was a matter of the big stage affecting our performance as far as us not making the right plays when we needed them. But it prepares you being in front of crowds like that. I believe it will be even more hostile this week, so we have to be even more prepared this week and minimize the mistakes and not let the crowd become a factor like it can.”

Page also spoke about the defense’s progress so far this season. “I think we had a letdown in the first week based on our standards, but we came back the next week and performed. This past week, we were right there but just had a few mistakes. We all think we have a chance, and we need to have a good week of practice and try to be ready for the game Saturday and just try to improve from last week.”

Jags Fall 31-7 In Raleigh

September 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson zeroes in on a NC State runner for one of his 14 tackles in Raleigh, NC.

South Alabama fell in a tough road game at North Carolina State on Saturday night by a score of 31-7. The Jags (1-2) finally scored in the fourth quarter to prevent a shutout.

NC State’s Mike Glennon went 24-of-34 for 257 yards and three touchdowns (all in the first half) to lead the Wolfpack over the Jags. On the Wolfpack’s first possession, Glennon went 8-of-9 and accounted for all but five yards of the 80-yard drive. He capped off the first drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

Glennon’s second touchdown pass came with four minutes left in the first quarter and went for 44-yards. His third touchdown pass put the Wolfpack up 28-0 before halftime.

Demetre Baker led the Jags with 45 yards rushing on seven carries. Kendall Houston added 17 yards on four carries.

Ross Metheny went 14-of-20 for 189 yards with an interception and a touchdown. C.J. Bennett went 10-of-15 for 74 yards with an interception. Both quarterbacks were sacked three times each.

Jereme Jones extended his catch streak, and tied the all time record set by Courtney Smith, with his eight yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Demetre Baker led the receiver corps with five catches for 55 yards. Wes Saxton added four catches for 72 yards. Corey Besteda got the offense going on the touchdown drive with a 43 yard reception. Besteda caught three passes for 68 yards. T.J. Glover added three catches for 10 yards. Three other Jaguars had two catches each and another three had one catch each.

Jake Johnson led all players with a season high 14 total tackles. Alex Page had five tackles, with two sacks for 14 yards. Clifton Crews and Anthony Taylor both had sacks as well.

The wolfpack had 22 first downs to only 14 for the Jags. Overall, NC State outgained the Jags 384-314. The wolfpack out-gained the Jags on the ground 127 to 51, but the Jags would outgain their adversaries 263-257 through the air.

In the Jaguars first drive, Bennett picked up first downs with completions to Saxton and Besteda, but a poor pass was intercepted on a third-and-15 near midfield. Then on the ensuing Wolfpack drive, one of Page’s sacks put the Wolfpack with a third-and-15, but a personal foul gave them a first down. But the Jaguar offense could not recover from the setback.

“We knew when N.C. State held Connecticut to seven points last weekend that they were a very good defensive football team,” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “When you look at their film from last year and this year, they are two totally different teams. They showed that today. They were very good up front, and got to the quarterback several times. We could have done some things better, but they are very good defensive football team.”

“I thought we fought hard defensively, and the positive thing was that I thought we won the second half,” Coach Jones continued. “I challenged them at halftime to win the second half, and we came out and did that. We didn’t quit. Our kids fought hard. There are obviously some things we can work on, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that they were pretty good on defense.”

If the Jags can limit their mistakes, such as turnovers, negative yardage plays and penalties at key times, the Jags offense could move the ball and score like they did in the season opener against UTSA. But it seems that, once the offense commits a mistake, they have a hard time regaining their forward momentum.

Metheny really looked good at quarterback tonight after Bennett started struggling. He did a great job getting the ball out to his receivers quickly. The offensive line had their hands full with a big, quick defensive line for the Wolfpack. Drew Dearman had another great block on a screen pass play that allowed the receiver to gain some extra yards.

The Jags will continue their two game road-trip with a Saturday night match-up with Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. Kickoff is scheduled for 6pm.

Jags Ready To Embark On Toughest Season Yet

August 31, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

On the eve of South Alabama’s season opener against Texas-San Antonio it’s a good time to look at what this season means to the program. After three seasons, the first two undefeated, and a 23-4 record the Jaguars are about to embark on their most challenging quest yet.

Last season they stepped up and faced two FBS teams, the first in the programs history. This season, they will face their first full Division I schedule. The only non FBS school on the schedule is FCS Nicholls State. Additionally, with the Hawaii rule, the Jags will play 13 games in 14 weeks this season including a full eight game Sun Belt schedule.

This is what the Jaguars have been working towards for the last several years. When they take the field, they will be a transitional FBS member.

Coach Jones can finally guage where his team stands in the FBS pecking order. “I think the biggest challenge for us, especially early, will be the depth on our team,” he Jones. “We’ve been recruiting to Division I really just this year. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have any Division I football players, we do. But do we have the depth that everybody else has because they’ve been recruiting for a while and have 85 scholarships and D-1 players? I would think that will probably be the biggest issue, depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.”

What about this season’s schedule? “The most difficult thing is playing 13 games in 14 weeks for us and playing pretty much all Division I opponents,” Jones said. “Whereas in past years we’ve played seven, 10 and 10 (games per season), we had some off weeks and some time to get ready for games. You’re going to get your three or four days of practice and that’s going to be it, then you’re going to have to move on to your next game.”

Gone is offensive coordinator Greg Gregory and in is Robert Matthews brining the spread to South Alabama. Matthews, who learned the spread at Oklahoma State and Southern Miss, will bring a completely different attitude to the offensive side of the ball. The offense will run as quickly as possible with a no-huddle tempo that is designed to keep the defense off guard and guessing what is coming next. Plus it is designed to take advantage of the depth South Alabama has at the skill positions.

The offensive line is where the biggest unknown is located coming into this season. Gone are three starters from the previous two seasons. However back is senior Trey Clark and sophomore Melvin Meggs. In steps Drew Dearman, Chris May and Shaun Artz. Also a second string, Ucambre Williams and possibly Kentucky transfer James Elliott if he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA. But this is the biggest offensive line the Jaguars have had in it’s short history.

Behind the line, there is plenty of talent on the roster. C.J. Bennett returns as the starter with Virginia transfer Ross Metheny as his backup and redshirt freshman Trey Fetner as the third quarterback. The South Alabama backfield is also stocked with talent. Back are Demetre Baker, Kendall Houston and Ellis Hill from last season along with Brandon Ross returning from a knee injury and redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons among others ready to contribute. At wide receiver back are Jereme Jones, Bryant Lavender, T.J. Glover, Corey Besteda and Tyrome Bivins with true freshman Cameron Broadnax who showed plenty of skill in preseason camp. With two tight ends graduating, Greg Hollinger moved over from wide receiver joining JuCo transfer Wes Saxton to fill their positions.

The defense is arguably the strength of the team. Led by Jake Johnson, the linebackers are the heart of the defense, with Clifton Crews, Enrique Williams, Maleki Harris, Bryson James, Ben Giles and Cordivido Grice to help him out.

The defensive front will need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks than in past seasons. Returning ends Anthony Taylor, Romelle Jones, Alex Page and Will Thompson will be joined by JuCo transfer Pat Moore to help towards that goal. At nose and tackle positions they return Randon Carnathan and Andy Dalgleish, who lead the group last season, with help from Montavious Williams, Rodney Thomas and Shane Doty (who moved from offensive line).

In the secondary, Alabama transfer B.J. Scott has stepped up as a leader. The staff focused their recruiting efforts to find more help there too. Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both come in and are expected to start. Alonzo Long will suit up next to Scott at free safety. Gabe Loper should get playing time as he is the returning secondary player with the most interceptions last season.

Michel Chapuseaux takes over the placekicking duties with Scott Garber also returning to handle punts.

“We want to be competitive. We want to win every game that we play,” head coach Joey Jones said. “That’s our goal. Now, is that going to be tough to do? Sure. I understand that it will be. The bottom line is I don’t want to cut our kids short in what we’re doing. We’re going to prepare and we’re going to go out there and prepare to win. But we also know there’s a difficult schedule ahead of us and we’ve got to step up each week. I think that our kids probably will play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder this year. Bottom line, every week that we play we’ve got to prove something. Anybody that we beat will be a big deal. We’re representing a lot of people, not just our football program but the university.”

The schedule will be tough. After UTSA and Nicholls State, the Jags travel to N.C. State again and Mississippi State before returning home for their first-ever Sun Belt Conference game against Troy. Troy, whom most expect will quickly develop into one of the leagues best rivalries, will mark the first part of the season. After their one and only off week, the Jags then visit the SBC defending champion Arkansas State. Then the downhill stretch of FAU (home), ULM (away), FIU (home), North Texas (away), MTSU (home), ULL (away) and their “bowl game” of the season at Hawaii.

If you only count wins and losses as the measuring stick for a season, it could be a difficult season. But if you expand your criteria for this team that will be completing it’s two year FBS transition at the conclusion of this season, you may be surprised.

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