Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-10-18

October 19, 2011 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

The Jaguar Defense lines up against UT-Martin.

Along with Lee Shirvanian and Coach Joey Jones are joined by secondary coach Duwan Walker at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard in Mobile Alabama.

Coach Jones, talking about Coach Walker, mentioned that Coach Walker has had to deal with quite a bit of turnover in the secondary in the two and a half years he has been at South Alabama. But has done a great job with it and is well liked and respected on the team.

Coach Walker mentioned that the defense did a good job keeping to their game plan. They kept the offense off balance early, did not allow many “home run balls” execept for one big play early. They also mentioned that Gabe Loper is coming along at an good rate in place of Damond Smith. Coach Walker said they had a really good problem in that they were trying to get him on the field, but it’s unfortunate that the Smith situation happened to get him on the field though. This is the classic case for the backup where you always have to be ready to play.

In the Fuego who’s hot segment coach Jones mentioned Gabe Loper defensively for stepped up in a situation where they weren’t sure how he would react, but thought he would play well, and he exceeded their expectation and had a great game. Offensively Paul Bennett and Kevin Helms were mentioned. Coach Jones said that their blocking has been outstanding lately. They are very physical like the rest of the team, but these two are on an extra level.

The Orthopedic Group injury update segment only had one  questionable player. Melvin Meggs has a rolled ankle and will be evaluated the rest of the week to see how he is leading up to game time.

They mentioned that Jereme Jones is a fearless punt returner and it’s not from the coaches, he has the choice to fair catch they said. Coach Jones said that the rule of thumb on a punt is to put your heels on the 10 yard line and if you have to backpedal, let it go. Also, if there is any doubt let it go.

FIU and Arkansas State play tonight on tv. May not be much interest right now, but Coach Jones said that he watches whenever he has a chance to see how the Jags match up with future opponents.

A caller asked about Ameriol Finley and how he is coming along. They said he is a true freshmen with a great attitude and that he is a great athlete. He can play multiple positions and has played cornerback in a game recently for the Jags. Right now he is getting work at multiple positions and is a bit of a utility player for them right now.

BJ Scott brings alot to the table for the Jags. Mentally, he brings a sense of urgency to the team. He teaches kids how to prepare and how to watch film. The are little things that make such a big difference at this level.

Coach Jones said he has noticed that Scott has become a vocal leader on the team recently which has made a difference. Lee asked if they have considered using him on offense like he was used at Vigor. Coach Jones said he has thought about it often but jokingly he said the defensive coaches frown when he brings that up.

Turning towards Georgia State, they said that they are averaging around 16,000 for their home games, but the Georgia Dome seats somewhere over 70,000. The team isn’t doing so well are are currently 1-5 so far. Lee asked what Coach Jones sees in game film that is going on with their team. Coach Jones said that looking at the tape you can’t really tell what’s going on, they have some really good players and some really good coaches. Sometimes there are internal problems that can cause strife, but Coach Jones does not know if this is what is going on or not. He said that they are like a wounded dog, you never know when they are going to jump up and bite you, so you have to be prepared and not dismiss them because of their 1-5 record.

Lee asked if we recruit against Georgia State. Coach Jones said that we do, we recruit against them and we recruit pretty much the entire state of Georgia. Lots of recruits or potential recruits will be at the game to see who wins. It will be a measuring stick game for sure since both programs are pretty close in age. The state of Georgia has plenty of good players.

After a story by Coach Jones about the worst weather game he has ever played or coached in, Lee asked about conserving timeouts and his strategy with them. Coach Jones said that ideally you want to save them towards the end of a half, but he said that you just don’t want to “lose anything on a drive” which I believe he was indicating momentum. If it’s 3rd and 1 and you have an issue, you don’t want to make it 3rd and 6 if you have too many people or something, so in that case you may want to use a time out to keep the drive going and get that first down.

Asking about communication problems that the Jags had against UT-San Antonio in a dome, Lee asked how they can overcome that. Coach Jones answered that you overcome it by staying calm and poised. You can’t hear the snap count, so you have to go on ball movement and that the calm and composure is especially needed on the offense and offensive line to look at the ball and not to move until the ball is snapped.

Other than that, potential problems for players playing in a dome is the ceiling and lights. If you are not used to it, you can lose sight of the ball. What they did for the walk through before the UTSA game was to take some time and kick some punts so the returners can see what it’s like and get comfortable with it. They also had the quarterbacks throw some high, deep passes so the receivers and defensive backs could get comfortable looking for the ball as well. Coach Jones said that J.J. Keels had an instance where he lost the ball on a wheel route against UTSA.

Lee mentioned that they have three quarterbacks that they play. Coach Walker said that one of their quarterbacks, Little, gave us problems last year because he’s throws the ball very well but has a sternum problem. They have another one that runs the ball very well and can pose problems running. The third quarterback is a bit of a mixture of the other two so he can throw pretty well and also tuck it and run.

The final question was from a caller about the number of players that they will have next year. Coach Jones said they will have 85 scholarship players and will have a total of 130 players on the team.

USA Sports Marketing’s Lloyd came on to talk about the next home game on October 29th, which is just before halloween. This will be the third year of “trunk or treat” for the kids. He urged the fan to decorate for this and bring candy for the kids. They are doing a first, second and third again this year for the best decorated tailgating spot. But the biggest announcement is that the Jags are going to wear their all blue uniforms for the first time versus Henderson State for a “blue out.”

Coach Jones commended the fans for the environment for the homecoming game. They had the second largest crowd at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for a game in the programs history. Coach Jones also mentioned that the Jaguar Prowl was great.

Fan Day scrimmage 2011

August 14, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Ameriol Finley

Ameriol Finley getting some extra time in after practice.

The Jaguars started their second week of preseason camp by donning full pads for the first time in this preseason camp. They actually got a bit of a break from the heat due to early morning cloud cover over the practice facility.

The team began with their normal special teams period of about ten minutes. They then moved onto individual and group drills which lasted around 30 minutes.

The offense and defense came together to work on the inside and outside running game before moving onto skeleton passing drills. About halfway through practice the Jags had a short break.

After the break the Jags went into team drills. The offense and defense began by facing scout teams before coming together to face each other. This full team drill again focused on third down situations. The defense came on strong in this period with three sacks and an Anton Graphenreed interception. The drill ended with the defense forcing three consecutive incomplete passes.

Practice ended with special teams focusing on punt returns.

“It was a good first day in full pads, though we’ve been hitting anyway before this morning.  It was lively,” said head coach Joey Jones. “Practice went well even though we had a few guys on the ground. One thing I talked to the team about, if we can practice 100 percent hitting all the time with nobody getting hurt that’s what we want to do. We just have to learn how to practice, though we are 90 percent there; we’re getting close. If we can do that we’ll be a better football team. They are giving great effort, and it is always better to pull them back than push them forward. I think they have a great attitude toward practice. They care about it and are competitive. It’s those traits that are going to win us some ballgames.”

Three freshmen caught Coach Jones’ eye in todays practice. He singled out Desmond LaVelle and Maleki Harris, both linebackers, for their performance. Coach Jones also mentioned Devin Robinson, a running back, for his performance as well.

Coach Jones continued talking about their strategy this week with the start of a few two-a-days as well as six consecutive days of practice. “We’re going to have to get after it again tomorrow, but we have to be smart about it and pull back sometime this week because we are going six days in a row,” Jones said. “We’ll meet as coaches every day and evaluate where we are so we know when to push and when to back off. We’ve got some veterans who have been around and don’t need as many reps, so my goal is to get other guys in there and let the young players work. We won’t look quite as good, but I don’t care because we are trying to get those other individuals ready. The goal is to develop some depth this week and be smart about what we are doing.”

Tuesday will be the first of three two-a-day practices that are scheduled for the team. The first practice will be in full pads at the normal 6:15am time then afternoon drills will begin at 4:30pm in shirts and helmets while focusing primarily on specials teams.

Jags wrap up second week of spring practice

March 5, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones observing his team as they warm up in Dothan for the Wiregrass Classic last season.

South Alabama completed it’s second week of spring practice and will now have four days off while students are on spring break.

On Monday, the first day of the second week of practice, started at 7:00AM and went for about two hours. The practice was split into two overall periods which focused on individual and team practice. Coach Jones said he is more interested in the individual portion in the spring, rather than the team portion. “I like to see how much better each guy is getting, and to evaluate talent. I think we have some individuals who are, and we’re challenging the ones who aren’t so that by the end of the spring every player will get better, that’s the whole goal.”

The Jags focused on first downs and third down plays in the red-zone on the first day of the week. Jereme Jones made a nice diving catch in the back corner of the end zone to score a touchdown. Also, Kendall Houston caught a screen pass for a score from CJ Bennett. Coach Jones remarked that he thought the final segment was pretty even, but that he would have to watch the game film to determine for certain.

On Tuesday, the Jags hit the field at 7:45AM for another two-hour workout. Coach Gregory, the offensive coordinator, echoed Coach Jones’ words about spring practice being about individual from Monday when he stated, “We’re not anywhere close to where we want to be as an offensive football team, but that’s really not our goal in the spring.  Our goal has been to focus on individuals.”

Coach Gregory then continued along this line of talk when he used a couple Jaguar players as an example, such as returning receiver Corey Besteda and the new player Greg Hollinger. “For instance, are Corey Besteda and Greg Hollinger going to become big-time receivers, or are they just going to look like big-time receivers? Is Tremain Smith going to become a big-time offensive tackle or look like one? I’m using those guys as examples, but how good is each individual player going to be? That’s what it is really all about.”

Another interesting insight from Coach Gregory on Tuesday was when he spoke about scheming in the spring. “As far as scheming, we try to do enough to have a chance to move the ball but we don’t game plan. We’ll come back and do that in the fall. I never want to look at a situation in the spring thinking we have to win this drill, because I don’t want to do something now that we will not do next season.”

Another group of positions that is receiving lots of focus this spring is the offensive line. The offensive staff is working hard on individual fundamentals. Coach Gregory mentioned that he is looking at their ability to block, their footwork and their hand placement.

Offensive line coach John Turner said that they are working to improve everything they do. “We start with our split and stance, then we look at our first step, hat placement and our hands. We go back and try to break down every play to see if we are accomplishing those things. And we try to harp on effort. One thing that we know is that we are going to play hard — I don’t care if they are 190 pounds, we are going to play hard by God. So we go back and grade that every day to make sure that we are challenging ourselves to give a great effort.”

What helps the Jaguars on the line is that they will be returning all five players who started the 2010 season finale against Arkansas-Monticello. Center Trey Clark, guards Jon Griffin and Melvin Meggs and tackles Brian Krauskopf and Levi Slaydon. Additionally, Chris Brunson who started four games for the Jaguars last season before a season ending injury will also return. However, four of the five will exhaust their eligibility at the end of the 2011 season. Meggs is the only underclassman.

However that has allowed several of the Jaguars underclassmen from the second recruiting class to work in and become integral contributors to the unit. Coach Turner named Ucambre Williams, Drew Dearman, Shane Doty and Chris May as some of the integral members of the group.

Coach Turner’s commented on these younger players by saying, “I tell you what, we’re finding some players. We are looking at some younger guys who are getting better. Obviously, they still have a long way to go, we’re not there yet. But I am proud of them, they have improved every day. You can see them compete, you can see them fight. They are not backing down. They are working very hard to try and get their assignments and learn where they are supposed to be.”

Injuries have affected the offense this spring. Brunson and Shaun Artz have been unable to participate in drills. While Brandon Ross is continuing to recover from knee surgery. TJ Glover is being moved from running back to wide receiver.

Coach Gregory mentioned the injuries when he spoke. “T.J.’s absence has hurt us the most. We know Brandon can play, but we’re moving T.J. and there were some things we wanted to do with him at receiver that we wanted to look at in the spring but have junked. I think the big loss is Chris and Shaun. They are two big bodies, and we need to get bigger up front. Shaun is 290 and Chris is almost 300 pounds, we need them in there as starters or top back-ups who are going to play a lot.”

Thursday, the Jags hit the practice field behind the fieldhouse for the eighth time, marking the halfway point of spring practice. In addition to their individual drills, the team period focused on third and goal situations in the red zone. Then both first and second team offensive units had one chance to score during a two-minute drill.

CJ Bennett guiding the first team from their own 40 yard line into the red zone with three consecutive completions to Bryant Lavender, Kevin Helms and Jereme Jones. But the group had to settle for a 28 yard Jordan Means field goal.

The second team offense lead by Myles Gibbon crossed midfield on their second play when Gibbon found Taylor Noon for a gain of 24 yards. Three consecutive incomplete passes forced a 4th and 10. Gibbon found Greg Hollinger in the back corner of the end zone for a 36 yard touchdown on the last play of the team session.

Just like the offense, the defense has been working on the basics at each position. They begin each practice with tackling. As Coach Bill Clark, the defensive coordinator, says they are trying to be expert tacklers because that is what defense is all about. It’s about proper technique and angles.

Another facet that the Jaguars are working on is take-aways. In the course of winning all 17 of the schools games thus far, they have totaled 48 turnovers. They had 23 in the first season and 25 in the second season. Coach Clark wants to increase that number again in order to help give the team an even better chance to win.

Coach Clark comments, “We always say that a turnover is a gift that the offense gives us. We’re not looking for gifts, but we’ll take them. “We know that we have to physically take the ball away, and there’s a science to that — punching it out, stripping it, scooping and scoring.  There are a ton of techniques to it, and we want to create that mentality that we will get the ball back to our offense.”

Another technical aspect that is being worked on this spring is how the defenders pursue the opposition. Coach Clark explains by saying, “Our goal, when you look at our defense, is to have people say they’ve never seen anyone run that fast to the ball. But there’s a way to do that. There’s leverage, which shoulder to keep the ball on. That’s how you keep from having big plays against you. So that’s where we start, putting those three things — pursuit, tackling and takeaways — together. Then you go to individual fundamentals. And so far we’ve been pleased, it’s been a real good spring up to this point.”

Coach Clark looked to shore up the secondary in the offseason. With transfers from four-year schools and junior colleges added to the roster, everything was looking pretty good. However only two players, Spanish Fort’s Ameriol Finley and Damond Smith have been able to participate in drills these first two weeks.

Coach Clark talked about the secondary. “The future is bright, but we’re a little frustrated. There are different reasons why guys aren’t here, and though we see them coming they’re not here yet. A lot of the guys who are out there now people have seen before, and they have improved. They have another year of experience and are another year older, so we’re excited about them. A lot of these guys have been with us and are going into their third season. That in and of itself is exciting. When we add these guys on the way, we feel like it’s going to be a good situation.”

While the Jags continue to run a 3-4 defense, Coach Clark and Coach Jones have created a hybrid position which combines the responsibilities of defensive end and outside linebacker. So far, the individuals who have made the move into this hybrid position have been Anthony Taylor, Logan Bennett, Clifton Crews and Alex Page.

Coach Clark elaborates on this new position. “For us, the position has fit real well. We think it fits our personnel probably a little bit better. “You can see from watching us that it is a little bit different, and I think it’s going to help us for what we’re seeing being done offensively.

He continues, “Defensively, it’s all about stopping what offenses are doing. You look at your schedule and identify who our opponents are, because we have to look ahead to those teams and what they do. We always say that we are reactors on defense, we counter the trends in offensive football. You can see from the national championship game the spread formations used and the speed of the game, and that’s what we have to get ready for.”

Then to wrap up the week, the Jaguars moved their Saturday scrimmage to Friday morning at 7:30AM due to weather concerns. The team took part in a full scrimmage when it ran through about 100 snaps.

The Jaguar defense held the offense to less than 300 total yards while giving up two touchdowns and three field goals. The scrimmage lasted almost two hours.

The offense started quick with Myles Gibbon moving the team 70 yards in 14 plays which was capped off by Ellis Hill scoring the touchdown on a 2-yard run. The third and four play back on the offense’s 37 yard line was one of the highlights on the drive. Gibbon connected with Greg Hollinger for 34 yards to move the chains. On another third down play later in the drive. When the offense needed 14 yards, Gibbon found Richard Ross for 15 for another first down.

Gibbon would finish the scrimmage 5-of-6 for 57 yards to lead the stable of quarterbacks.

CJ Bennett lead the offense on it’s ensuing drive. Bennett found Lamontis Gardner for 12 yards then Jereme Jones for nine more yards to move the offense across midfield. Kendall Houston reeled off a 16 yard run on third and one to move the chains and get into field goal range. However, an attempt at a 50 yard field goal would fly wide right. Bennett would complete five passes for 50 yards in the scrimmage.

The defense would strengthen and limited the offense to only two field goals on the next nine possessions. Both field goals came on drives led by Ray Cotton. But the defense also forced two turnovers during that stretch.

Bryson James both forced and recovered a fumble on the defense’s 27 yard line. Jonathan Cameron intercepted a pass at the goal line on the first play of a drive that started on the 30 yard line.

Another drive that started at the defense’s 30 yard line resulted in a touchdown. Demetre Baker ran on the first four plays of the possession for a total of 20 yards. Then Bennett found Ross for an eight yard completion. Then Baker ran again for a one yard gain. Then Kendall Houston capped it off with a one yard run.

James and Justin Harris both recorded four stops tieing for team best. Jake Johnson led a group of four players who made three tackles.

Richard Ross and Greg Hollinger were the lone players to record multiple receptions with Hollinger leading all with four catches for 55 yards. Julien Valentin led the ground game with eight carries for 41 yards. Baker and Santuan McGee each added 24 yards.

Coach Jones spoke after the scrimmage saying, “I think we have some guys who have gotten fundamentally better, especially the freshmen who joined us at the beginning of last season. They have really jumped. Each coach was taking their guys trying to get everyone involved in the scrimmage. I told them not to even worry about trying to group guys together. We ran about 100 plays including the kicking game, which was what we wanted to do. And I don’t think anybody got hurt, which is always a positive.”

Coach Jones continues with comments about both sides of the ball starting with defense. “Defensively we had a good day, they got after it; they played with a lot of effort and intensity.”

Then he commented about the offense by saying, “All three quarterbacks came out and played well today. They were calm in the huddle and did a good job running the team. We also got a little better blocking on the offensive line today. I know I keep saying this, but it’s not about who won the scrimmage. I don’t even care. It’s about who is getting better fundamentally. That’s what we keep looking at and the way we set practices up.”

In addition to the offensive versus defensive plays, the Jaguars also worked on special teams play throughout the scrimmage. One period was devoted to kickoff returns while another was devoted to kickoff coverage. All three kickers on the roster attempted a minimum of three field goals during and after the scrimmage.

The Jags will have four days off with the next practice scheduled for Wednesday at 7:45AM.