South Alabama returned to the practice field on Tuesday to continue preparation for Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee State.
“We had a pretty good day today,” head coach Joey Jones said. “I think we had a good one from the standpoint that they were paying attention and they had a good inside drill today, running the football on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. I thought we had a goods crisp period where they got after it and on Tuesday’s you’ve got to have a good physical practice because you’ve got to carry it over to the game.”
Similar to last week, the Jags practiced in shells and will most likely do it again on Wednesday as well. As they are in the midst of a long stretch of games with three more to go the staff does not want to over extend the players while still working on keeping them sharp and implementing the game plan for their next opponent.
Coach Jones also said in his weekly radio show that Demetre Baker was doubtful for the Jags game this weekend. This will likely put Kendall Houston as the starter against the Blue Raiders on Saturday. Baker missed the second half against North Texas with an ankle sprain suffered in the second quarter.
Houston has 185 yards on 71 carries this season and has made appearances in all 10 games. Baker is the teams leading rusher with 595 yards on the season.
Clifton Crews, who suffered a concussion in the second quarter against North Texas, is probable for this weekends game. He will still have to pass a battery of tests to make sure there are no lingering affects from the concussion before that decision is finalized.
Prior to this Saturday’s game, the University will honor 15 seniors in a pre-game ceremony. Trey Clark, B.J. Scott and Jake Johnson have started all 10 games this season. Cori Barnett and Brandon Ross have not seen the playing field this season due to injuries.
Ryne Baxter, Jonathan Cameron, Michel Chapuseaux, Andy Dalgleish, Kennedy Helms, Ellis Hill, Gabe Loper, Chris Rivers, Tremain Smith and Anthony Taylor will all join the previously mentioned players to be honored as the 2012 senior class.
“I want to thank our seniors for all they have done and committed to this football program, for what they have meant not only to this university but to our team,” said Coach Jones. “They are great leaders and great young men, they care about this team and have done all the right things to build this program from the ground up. Some of the guys have been here the whole time, some have transferred in, but the bottom line is that they have all contributed in great ways. They will be forever missed because they have done a good job here, they have created an atmosphere of hard work and character. We will be indebted to them forever.”
“I think this is a special day, it really is, because you almost treat it a little differently since it is your last day to play at home,” he continued. “Not that you are going to go out and play any harder, because those guys are going to play hard anyway, but you look at it with a little different perspective because you realize this is your last one. There are not many things in life that you know are going to end, maybe retirement.”
The parking lot at Ladd-Peebles Stadium will open at 8am for tailgating and gates to the stadium will open at 12:30pm. The Jaguar Prowl will take place around 12:10pm in the South parking lot. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm.
South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones was joined by Senior defensive lineman Andy Dalgleish and offensive lineman Melvin Meggs for their Monday press conference. Below is some highlights from each participant.
Head coach Joey Jones opening statement on their game against Troy. “Looking back at the game, it was 24-10 at halftime and I told the kids that if we could come out and drive down the field and score that I really felt like we had a chance to win the ballgame. I had a great feeling about it. But needless to say, we didn’t drive down and score in the second half like I wanted us to. It’s two-sided. You’re frustrated because you always want to win, you prepare to win and work your tail off 16 hours a day to get your kids ready to play. But the positive side of it is when you look at how far away we are from being there, and I think we’re close. We’re not at all where we want to be yet, but you’re talking about playing a team that is as good as anybody in the conference. We’re going to get there. Everyone knew it was going to be a tough year playing these teams, but we have to keep positive and keep our kids encouraged in what we’re doing and believing in what we do. There is going to be a good time coming. It’s going to come so we have to keep our eyes set on that.”
Coach Jones then spoke about the offense. “We played well in the first half. We ran the football better, but didn’t play well the second half. We have to find ways to get better. We’re trying to find our identity on offense, and we haven’t really found that. We have to put the running and passing game together and be consistent. Our defense is playing hard. They have things they have to get better at, but they are keeping us in games. We just have to get it going offensively.”
He then spoke about having an off week this weekend. “We need it. Our guys are beat up. We’ve been through four-and-a-half weeks of camp and five weeks of games, you’re talking about nine weeks without a break. It’s coming at a good time.”
Coach Jones then spoke about how they are dealing with three consecutive losses. “I didn’t sleep Saturday night. I’m hard on myself and I expect to win. You hurt for about a day or two, but then you get back to work and realize you have a chance to get better. You can take adversity any way you want, you can pout about it or you can learn from it and get better. If we take the approach of learning from it, then we have a chance to get better. We’re going to keep fighting.”
Jones then spoke about their first five weeks of the season. “We have good competition. This is the highest level of college football, Division I football, and we’re just stepping into it. We’ve learned about how many athletes there are on these teams. They are well-rounded teams. So we have learned that we have to bring a team to the field that doesn’t have any weaknesses, and that’s what we are striving to get. Will that take some time? Probably, but the bottom line is that’s where we want to be. It really makes you put everything on the board and see what we really need to work on.”
Senior defensive lineman Andy Dalgleish spoke about the game against Troy and being off this weekend. “Obviously it was a heart-breaking loss and the start of a new rivalry. (Defensive coordinator) Coach (Bill) Clark told us that anytime you put as much emotion and effort into a game like we did against Troy, it’s going to hurt. What we have to do now during this open week is get a lot of guys healthy again, I know we are hurting on the defensive line, in particular. We also have to get that (loss) out of our mind and really focus on Arkansas State, which is another Sun Belt game. We have to try and put it in the past, it’s going to be tough to do, but put it in the past and try to look to the future. We can’t play that game again so we just focus on the next one.”
Andy then spoke about what they have learned from the game against Troy. “Obviously coming off these past three losses, it’s been tough. Playing against the teams we’ve been playing against – Troy, Mississippi State and N.C. State — we definitely know the level of competition we have ahead of us and know where we should step our level up to in order to compete with these teams. We just have to do a better job of playing more disciplined, fundamentally-sound football. We gave up the ball a lot and gave up too many big plays on defense. We have to be way more disciplined on that. I think we’ll be alright. We just have to put that in the past and focus on these upcoming games.”
Melvin Meggs also spoke about the game against Troy and being off this weekend. “It’s been a rough couple of weeks so far, but we’ve been doing a lot of things well. We just have to go to the film room and make corrections, eliminate the mistakes we’ve been making and keep playing hard.”
Meggs also spoke about what they have learned from their game against Troy and the other previous opponents. “We have to play more disciplined football. It all starts with us. The level of competition we’ve been playing the last couple of weeks compared to the last couple of seasons has increased. So we just have to step up and rise to the occasion.”
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.
You may already know the cliche “defense wins championships.” Over the last three college football seasons you can see that a stifling defense does win championships. While South Alabama is far from that level, they do have a very experienced defense.
The team was unclassified by the NCAA in their first two years of competition so the players who joined the team were allowed to participate in games during their redshirt season. This allows them to play in all five of their seasons of eligibility.
The defense is the more experienced side of the ball. Four seniors, six juniors and a sophomore on the first team defense. The senior starters are Anthony Taylor at Jack linebacker, Jake Johnson at Mike linebacker, B.J. Scott at safety and Andy Dalgleish at nose tackle.
Junior defensive starters include Montavious Williams at tackle, Alex Page at end, Clifton Crews at Sam linebacker, Enrique William at Will linebacker, Darrius Marrow at cornerback and Tyrell Pearson at cornerback. Alonzo Long is the only sophomore starting on the defense at strong safety. Long and Pearson are both JuCo transfers.
There are five sophomore starters on the offense with five of them entering into their third season of play. They are joined by one senior, two juniors and one redshirt freshman. Trey Clark at Center is the only Senior slated in as a starter with Tremain Smith listed as a possible starter at right tackle. Junior starters are Bryant Lavender with Greg Hollinger and Corey Waldon both listed as optional starters. Sophomore starters are Drew Dearman at left guard, Shaun Artz at right guard, C.J. Bennett at quarterback and Demetre Baker at running back with Wes Saxton at tight end, Ucambre Williams at left tackle, Melvin Meggs, Jereme Jones at receiver are all optional starters.
So when the Jags hit the field on *Thursday, they will be an experienced team ready for competition. While they are not eligible for the Sun Belt Conference championship hopefully the experience on the defense, and on offense for that matter, will translate into a very competitive season.
The size and experience is what worries UTSA defensive coordinator Neal Neathery. He mentioned that Baker and Kendall Houston took turns exploiting holes opened up by the offensive line in the Jaguars 30-27 win in the Alamodome. “Both of the (backs) they played were physical, strong, in between the tackles runners. I thought it was a game where we didn’t feel great about ourselves when it was over when it comes to who was the tougher team,” Neathery said.
“Just as a unit last year they were probably the toughest, most physical offensive line we played,” Neathery said. “They were really good, and their running backs had a lot to do with that.”
* Currently the Jaguars are set to kickoff on Thursday, August 30th against Texas-San Antonio but Tropical Storm Isaac could postpone the game.
Coach John Turner working with the offensive line in the second half of the Jaguars game against the Georgia State Panthers.
South Alabama fended off a second half rally by Georgia State to hold on to a 39-34 victory at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. It was evident that two weeks of travel had taken their toll on the Jaguars. Coach Jones mentioned that it was Wednesday before the Jags recovered from their trip to California. But South Alabama’s play in the second quarter was enough for the Jags to stay ahead late in the game with field goals.
On the opening drive, the Panthers moved the ball methodically with three first downs in the opening four plays of the game to go from their 40 yard line to the Jaguar 19. They would top off their 10 play 60 yard drive with a 2 yard touchdown pass from Drew Little to Sidney Haynes on 4th down.
The Jags would answer as CJ Bennett would lead the offense on a 9 play 72 yard drive themselves. Kendall Houston would score from nine yards out, however Jordan Means would miss the point after attempt leaving the Jags behind 7-6.
After Georgia State got a first down on a clutch 3rd down completion, they would stumble due to a holding penalty and the Jaguar defense would force them to punt.
With 1:50 left in the first quarter, the Jags took over with great field position on their on 45 yard line. Then on second down, Bennett would find a ton of open green grass and would scamper for 26 yards down to the Panther 25 yard line before tripping up. However the Jags would not be able to move the ball any further. Lawson McGlon would miss the 42 yard attempt to leave the score 7-6 in favor of the Panthers.
The Jags defense would force another punt by the Panthers, however TJ Glover would fumble the punt giving the Panthers an easy chance to score at the Jaguar 14 yard line. Little would hit Jordan Giles to inside the Jaguar one yard line and would score two plays later on a quarterback sneak. With the PAT, the Panthers would go up 14-6 with 11:33 left in the second quarter.
South Alabama would answer right back with a 21 yard completion from Bennett to Courtney Smith on 2nd down to move out to the Jaguar 47 yard line. The first of three straight runs by Kendall Houston would move the ball across mid-field. With 2nd and 8 from the Panther 40, Bennett would find Bryant Lavender for a 40 yard touchdown strike. McGlon’s extra point would once again put the Jags within one at 14-13 with over nine minutes left in the second quarter.
After a 15 yard kickoff return to the Georgia State 30 yard line, Tim Harvey would pick off a deflected pass at the Panther 39 yard line. The Jags would open the possession with a completion from Bennett to Ralph Turner for 24 yards down to the Panther 15 yard line. Three plays later Bennett would connect with tight end Kevin Helms for a nine yard touchdown pass to take the lead. McGlon’s extra point would put the Jags up 20-14 with 6:57 left in the second quarter.
The Jaguar defense would hold the Panther offense to a three and out. South Alabama would not have an opportunity to return the punt as it was kicked out of bounds at the 20 yard line.
South Alabama would put together an impressive drive on the ensuing possession. After an incomplete pass and a five yard false start penalty, the Jaguars were facing 2nd and 15 from their own 15 yard line. Then a rush by TJ Glover would go 14 yards to the Jaguar 29 yard line. Then Kendall Houston would add six more yards for the first down and then some extra. Bennett would run for 13 yards down the left side before stepping out of bounds at the South Alabama 48 yard line. A completed pass from Bennett to Lavender would go for 18 yards to the Panther 34 yard line. Bennett would run for seven more yards followed by a Houston rush for 17 more yards to set up the Jags with a 1st and goal from near the 10 yard line. Back to back rushes would gain four yards from Glover and three more from Houston to give the Jags a 3rd and goal from the 3 yard line.
After a Jaguar time out, Bennett would throw to Jereme Jones on the left side of the endzone where he would make an amazing one-handed catch for the touchdown. McGlon kick would put the Jags up 27-14 with 41 seconds left until halftime.
Georgia State would start at their own 45 yard line after Chapuseaux’s kick would dribble out of bounds on what looked like an onsides kick or a surprise squib kick. A 13 yard completion would put the ball at the Jaguar 42 yard line. On the second play, Tim Harvey would pick off his second pass from Drew Little and would return it 47 yards to the Georgia State 18 yard line with 14 seconds left.
Coach Gregory, coming downstairs in preparation for halftime, had to hurry to the sidelines to call a pass play towards the endzone to try for a touchdown without any timeouts left. Courtney Smith just could not hold onto the ball in the endzone so the Jags decided to kick a 35 yard field goal. Lawson McGlon would make it to extend the Jags lead to 30-14 with 3 seconds left until halftime.
The 3rd quarter would be pretty quiet as both teams combined for three 3 and outs in the first four possessions. But the Jags would get in gear after a Panther punt would only go 27 yards out of bounds at their own 49 yard line. Houston would carry twice to open the possession for 8 and 5 yards respectively and a first down at the Panther 36 yard line. A 7 yard completion from Bennett to Lavender would put the ball at the 29 yard line. A rush for no gain by Glover would be followed by a 22 yard completion from Bennett to Lavender at the Panther 7 yard line with a first and goal.
Houston would then run for four yards down to the three yard line before getting dropped for a loss of three back to the six yard line. Bennett would then be hurried and would step up in the pocket and find Ralph Turner for an apparent touchdown, except an ineligible receiver down field would wipe it off the board. After an incomplete pass, the Jags faced 4th and goal at the 11 yard line. Lawson McGlon would make the 28 yard field goal to extend the Jags lead to 33-14 with 3:52 left in the 3rd quarter.
Chapuseaux’s kickoff would be fielded at the 9 yard line and Albert Lewis would return it 50 yards to the Jaguar 41 before being forced out of bounds. A two yard rush would open the drive for the Panthers before calling a timeout. on 2nd and 8, Andy Dalgleish would sack Drew Little for eight yards back to the USA 47 yard line. The next play would make up for it and much more as Little would connect with Danny Williams for a 47 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 33-21 with 2:11 left in the 3rd quarter.
TJ Glover would return the Panther kickoff 46 yards down to the Georgia State 38 yard line to start the next possession. Houston would power for 13 yards to the Panther 25 yard line and a first down. On 2nd and 10, Houston would rush for nine yards just shy of the first down at the Panther 8 yard line and running out the time in the 3rd quarter.
To open up the 4th quarter, Houston would run for six yards to the Georgia State 2 yard line. An pass intended for Lemontis Gardner would go incomplete in the end zone. CJ Bennett’s quarterback sneak would be fumbled and recovered by the Jags at the 1 yard line to bring up 4th down. With some shouts from the crowd, Coach Jones decided to kick the field goal to extend the Jaguar lead to 36-21 with 13:25 left in the game.
Georgia State would open their drive with a 39 yard completion from Little to Sidney Haynes to get down to the Jaguar 25 yard line. A four yard completion to Danny Williams would set up for a 20 yard completion to Travis Evans for first and goal at the Jaguar 1 yard line. The quarterback sneak would net them a touchdown, but Romelle Jones would stand big in the middle and block the extra point attempt leaving the Jags ahead by nine points at 36-27 with 11:24 left in the game.
A short kickoff would be fielded by Kevin Helms and returned 14 yards to the Jaguar 44 yard line. Three consecutive runs by Houston would go for 7, 7 and 10 yards respectively to net the Jags two first downs. TJ Glover would follow up with a 17 yard rush down to the Panther 15 yard line. Then the Georgia State defense would snuff out any further Houston Rushes, holding him to one yard on two plays. A 3rd and 9 pass attempt would fall incomplete off of Kendall Houston’s fingertips to bring up 4th down. McGlon would make a 31 yard attempt to put the Jags up 39-27 with 7:34 left to play.
A 26 yard kickoff return would put the Panthers at their own 44 yard line to start their next possession. The Jaguar defense would hold strong to begin the possession, but a 10 yard completion would add 15 more yards when Anton Graphenreed would be flagged for a facemask placing the ball at the Jaguar 20 yard line. An eight yard pass would put the Panthers at the Jaguar 11, but a delay of game penalty on 4th and 1 would put them back at the 16 yard line. An 11 yard completion on 4th down would give the Panthers a first down on the 5 yard line. On the next play Kelton Hill would run up the middle for the touchdown, cutting the Jaguar lead down to five points, 39-34 with 3:57 left in the game.
Starting at their own 26 yard line, faced a similar situation as the week earlier. They only needed two first downs to finish out a close game. Houston would run on the first two plays, going for 4 and 2 yards to bring up a 3rd and 4 at the Jaguars 32 yard line. Georgia State would call a timeout with 2:58 left to preserve time and prepare a defense. Bennett would find Courtney Smith for 5 yards and the first down. Houston would then run for 2 yards out to the USA 39 yard line. Another timeout by Georgia State would exhaust their allotment for the second half with 2:15 left in the game.
Houston would drive forward for six yards to bring up a 3rd and 2 from the Jaguar 45 yard line. Coach Jones would let the time run all the way down before calling a timeout with 1:28 left. Houston would find a hole and go for nine more yards and the crucial first down. With no timeouts left for Georgia State the Jags would kneel the ball twice and end the game.
South Alabama would go for 474 total yards, 293 on the ground and another 181 through the air. While Georgia State would gain the most through the air with 234 yard passing and only 46 yards rushing for 280 total yards.
South Alabama was 8 of 14 on third down conversions while Georgia State was 3 of 10. USA did not go for it on 4th down while the Panthers was 2 for 2 on 4th down conversions.
Kendall Houston would carry the ball 31 times for 175 yards and a touchdown. CJ Bennett would run 10 times for 80 yards and TJ Glover would add 35 yards on five carries.
CJ Bennett would play the entire game, going 12-of-24 for 181 yards for three touchdowns and no interceptions. Bryant Lavender would lead the receivers with four catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. Courtney Smith would add four more catches and 52 yards. Three other Jaguars caught passes.
Georgia State’s leading running back was Kelton Hill with three rushes for 25 yards and a touchdown. Travis Evans added 6 carries for 14 yards.
Drew Little would go 20-of-34 for 214 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Danny Williams would catch 5 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. Sidney Haynes would catch 4 for 50 yards and the other touchdown. Six other receivers caught passes for the Panthers as well.
Lawson McGlon went 4-of-5 kicking field goals. Making kicks of 35, 28, 18 and 31 yards and missing one from 42 yards. Jordan Means would miss one PAT attempt and McGlon would make his three attempts.
Coach Jones remarked after the game, “We got ahead at halftime by playing really well offensively in the first half, and the defense made adjustments and played well after the first drive. We’ve been ahead a lot at halftime and the other team would fold, but this team didn’t fold. They came back out and got rolling on offense, and just played much better in the second half. My hat’s off to the Georgia State team for coming back and making a really good game out of it.”
Georgia State head coach Bill Curry remarked on the South Alabama program after the game. “I’m very much an admirer of coach Jones and the South Alabama program. I have been since the beginning,” explained Curry. “The way they do things, their emphasis on academics, integrity, the way they win, the way they dominated the turnover margin in their games and the way they had dominated the fourth quarter coming into our game. We hope to become a more consistent team and do a better job, so we can match up with them the next time we play, and we will get that done.”
South Alabama will host Henderson State for homecoming on Saturday, November 6 with kickoff scheduled for 4pm.
Quarterback Myles Gibbon looking for his receiver at Saturday’s scrimmage. He has been listed at the top of the teams first released depth chart on Monday. Photo by Doug Roberts
The Jaguars hit the practice field despite the effects of Claudette on Monday. Heavy rains only delayed the Jaguars practice by about ten minutes as they took the field after a day off for their first post scrimmage practice. They hit the field for just over two hours at around 3:30pm, which is their new practice time now that classes have started on campus.
Their practice schedule was similar to the previous two weeks of camp. Special teams, position drills, skeleton drills and so forth. In the final hour they had their 11-on-11 drills and workouts against the scout teams. In the situation play, the coaching staff had them work on two-minute drills and red zone plays.
While the routine stayed pretty much the same, today did mark another first that will have many peoples attention in the coming days. Coach Jones finally released the team’s first depth chart based on the previous two weeks performance and the scrimmage on Saturday. There is a list of 27 starters on offense and defense due to different formations with six of them true freshmen that did not take part in the spring practice. A total of 22 players from the signing class are on the depth chart and should see action in the coming fall schedule.
Not surprisingly, the offense is the more experienced unit taking the field. Three of the four projected starting receivers have used at least one year of eligibility playing at other schools while four JuCo transfers are listed as potential starters on the offensive line. Both players at the tight end position have experience at the collegient level as well as Brandon Ross, who is also a potential starter in the backfield. While quarterback Myles Gibbon and receiver Corey Waldon are the only true freshmen listed as first in their respective positions.
The defense is a different story all together, with six of the nine linemen and five of nine secondary players are all true freshmen. The players with experience are Andy Dalgleish who took part in spring practice and John Mark Patrick who played at Troy last fall. While cornerbacks Anton Graphenreed (Lenoir-Rhyne University) and Jerron Mitchell (Birmingham-Southern), both sophmore transfers will likely be starters. Also Justin Dunn (Birmingham-Southern) and Charlie Higgenbotham (University of Alabama) are set to be starters at the inside linebacker slots.
Coach Jones spoke about the evaluation process after Mondays practice. He had this to say, “We were just looking for guys who wanted to compete. Saturday’s scrimmage provided game situations, so we were able to see how they reacted. We discounted the first few plays since a lot of the kids were nervous when we first got out there, but once they got into it we could see how they play in front of a crowd. Some guys practice well but play even better in game situations. Other guys practice better than they play in games. That’s something we’re trying to evaluate as well. It’s still a long process, there’s two weeks before we have a game week. There are guys who are listed second and third who could end up as ones, and there are listed starters who could end up third at their position. They know that, so until we get to game week we won’t make a final depth chart.”
He also spoke about the practice itself and unlike previous practices, he did not have the best things to say about his team. “I don’t think we had a great practice, I thought it was average. I told the guys they can control two things – their effort and their intensity. Balls were wet and we were dropping passes, but that’s to be understood since this was really the first time we practiced in weather like this. That doesn’t worry me. But, the mindset that we came out with today is what bothered me. We have to come out with a different attitude this week or we will just be average. We are going to play like we practice, and I think they understand that.”
Coach Jones went on to speak about the change in routine and how it affected the players. He said, “I think the change in routine affected a lot of the guys today, but as a coach I tell them there are no excuses for that. I expect them to come on the field and be ready. Sure we were in class today and it was raining, and we can’t control that. We can control how we come out and practice, so hopefully we will learn from this. We’re still in camp even though school has started. Some of the practices may be a little longer, but we are trying to get as much work done as we can.”
The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 3:30pm.
For the full South Alabama depth chart, click here.
Coach Jones looking over the field at the Jags first fall scrimmage.
Big plays was the name of the game at the University of South Alabama‘s first fall scrimmage. Both offense and defense put on a good show for the crowd who came out for the scrimmage.
The offense collectively had 393 yards and score six touchdowns on the day. The defense posted 15 sacks and 24 tackles for loss as well.
Myles Gibbon lead the first team offense and completed 8-of-11 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Sim went 5-of-7 for 78 yards. The Jags totalled 217 yards through the air for the game. Courtney Smith lead the Jags with three catches for 68 yard and two touchdowns. Corey Besteda also caught three passes. Corey Waldon had two receptions for 61 yards.
Santuan McGee had 74 yards on eight carries to lead the Jaguars rushing attack. Anthony Mostella had 11 carries for 55 yards. Ellis Hill had 10 carries for 34 yards and Eli Smith had 19 yards. Each of the listed rushers reached the endzone.
The defense was led by Justin Dunn who had 10 tackles. Clifton Crews had seven tackles with four of them for a loss and a team high three sacks. Alex Phifer also had seven tackles. Charlie Higgenbotham, Bryson James and Enrique Williams all had six tackles. Josh Chestang, Andy Dalgleish and Anton Graphenreed all had two sacks each. In the second half, Marquise Diamond came away with the only turnover on an interception near the goal line. The defense allowed less than three yards per carry.
The defense was strong at first, only allowing one first down in the offense’s first four possesions of the scrimmage. However, the offense adjusted and had four big running plays. Eli Smith started it with a 12 yard run, followed by Gibbon’s scramble for 11 yards, then Smith ran for seven yards and finally McGee broke free on the left sideline for a 30 yard touchdown.
Gibbon took a short break while Sim guided the offense for two series. When Gibbon came back onto the field he immediately made a big play. The safeties bit on a play-action fake and Gibbon took advantage with a strike to Courtney Smith for a 55 yard touchdown pass.
The next two series would see the offense start to threaten but the defense would respond with a big play. The first series the offense had three plays of 12 yards or more to get down to the 15 yard line. But the defense would sack Gibbon which lead to a missed field goal by Jordan Means. The next series saw the offense get down to the 24 yard line before stopping Hill for a four yard loss and another missed field goal.
Gibbon returned to lead the offense after the half-time break. The offense started at midfield with McGee opening with a six yard run. Then Ralph Turner was stopped for a two yard loss on a completed pass. Then Gibbon scampered for 10 yards for the first down. Three consecutive run plays gave the offense another first down at the 24 yard line. However Gibbon was sacked on first down for a six yard loss putting the pressure on the offense with a second-and-16 on the 30 yard line. But Gibbon stepped up and found Corey Waldon for a 29 yard gain and a first-and-goal inside the one yard line. Eli Smith was stopped behind the line for a loss of five yards but would score on the following play.
Nick Owens had his best drive of the day two series later. He completed both of this two pass attempts and ran twice for 14 yards. Again, Eli Smith broke a six yard touchdown run, this time up the middle.
Brennan Sim lead a drive late in the day day. He hit Waldon for 32 yards to set up for a 13 yard scoring run by Ellis Hill. Then on the final drive of the day, Eli Smith had runs of nine and four yards to set up Nick Owens for a two-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Smith, his third of the day.
Key third down stops by the defense lead to four missed field goals on the day. They stopped Mostella short of a first down in the red zone on a pass reception. They forced two three-and-outs and ended another drive by stopping Eli Smith short of a first down on a fourth-and-three on the 13 yard line.
“I thought it was a good day, it was a typical first scrimmage. The guys were a little nervous out there with the crowd,” said Coach Jones. “But that’s the reason you do this, to get them exposed to game situations. We have two more weekends to do this.”
Coach Jones continued, “The effort was there, though we did get a little tired towards the end. The emotional level might not have been as high as it has been this month, but the bottom line is that a lot of the things we need to look at will be on film. The biggest thing the guys need to take from today is to learn from their experiences out there.”
“It went well today, we did a little better than I think we should have because it’s harder for the offense going against a defense that has seen our plays for a couple of weeks now,” said first team quarterback Myles Gibbon. “We had some ups and downs, but overall I thought we did pretty well.”
“You can always get into a rhythm, but all it takes is one bad play to get you out of it,” Gibbon explained. “Once we start moving, we want to stay consistent and keep pounding the ball – we don’t want our heads to get too big. If we get good protection up front a big play is going to happen. Our front five blocked well every time we made a big play today,” he continued. “Any time a quarterback can drop back and not feel pressured by the rush, he’s going to be able to throw the ball up and complete some long passes.”
“We ran the football a little better offensively, and had a couple of big throws as well,” Jones commented. “I was proud of the way that the quarterbacks controlled things on the field, and our running backs are really coming along. I think we can stick any of our running backs on the field and they will make plays.”
But Coach Jones reiterated, “Still, we had too many plays on first down where we lost eight or 10 yards – now you’re stuck with second-and-long, which the offense didn’t realize until they were put in a game situation. When it happens in practice and you lose eight yards it’s no big deal because you’re not driving to score a touchdown. In a scrimmage situation, they realize what a problem it is to overcome second-and-18.”
“Defensively I think our team speed is very good,” said Coach Jones. “We need to find a couple more guys who can play in the secondary and come through for us. The defense is playing real hard, their coaches have them playing at a fast pace. We’ve got to do a better job of preventing big plays – anytime you can keep the offense from breaking a big play you give yourself a chance to win the ball game.”
With a crowd of about 1,000 people turning out for this first scrimmage, it was quite refreshing to see the support from the area. The support really impressed some of the players as well. Myles Gibbon said, “It was interesting, this was bigger than anything I’ve seen back home. It’s nice to have that support and have a lot of people come out. They don’t know what to expect yet, so it’s nice that they were out here rooting for us.” He also said they were tired and a bit beat up from the last two weeks of camp. He also mentioned the pain in his legs when running the ball, but his strength of character, his leadership and the crowd helped him to keep going.
“What I told the kids is that we’ve been on the field for two weeks. We have two more weeks, and then we have a game week, so we’re really just halfway through camp,” said Coach Jones. “We’re not a finished product yet. If we get a little better every day, we’ll be fine in a couple of weeks.”
With classes starting on Monday, August 17th, the Jaguars will begin practicing at 3:30pm.
I think Coach Jones summed it up best when he addressed the estimated 8,000 fans who turned out for their final day of spring practice. “When you look back a year ago, we came here in February and started putting this program together. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen how all of our players, managers, trainers and staff have been involved. To come to a game like this, where I was expecting 1,500 people to be out there, to see 8,000 fans is a great testament to the city of Mobile and how they are going to support this program. I think that this town is ready for football, and they are excited about Sept. 5 coming soon.”
The first team offense dominated their second team opponents in the defense on Friday. Richard Ross and Matt Saucier both scored twice as the first team offense scored points on all five of its possessions. Similarly, the first team defense dominated its opponents in the second team offense by only allowing six total yards and no first downs.
The first team offense did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard. They drove 70 yards on four plays in 1:47 with Ross bouncing off two tackles to finish a 25 yard run for a touchdown. Turner sparked the possession with a 36 yard gain on a reverse to open the series.
With just over four minutes remaining in the opening quarter, Ross scored again on a one yard pludge into the endzone to cap off an eight play, 59 yard drive. On third down, Saucier found Lim Windham for a 14 yard strike to keep the series going. Later, Saucier set up the Ross score with a 12 yard scamper.
On the first units’ next drive Saucier accounted for most of the yards running the ball. He had a 14 yard run early in the series. Then one play after Saucier ran for 33 yards down the sideline, he hit Kevin Helms for an eight yard touchdown pass. The 2:13 drive spanned 60 yards on five plays.
The first team offense also put together a long drive that ended with a field goal. The drive lasted for more than eight minutes with Saucier keeping the drive alive with two big plays on third down. First was a scramble for a first down and the second was a key thrid down completion to Paul Bennett for another first down. Lawson McGlon capped off the drive with a 42 yard field goal.
Saucier would score the final points of the game with a one-yard quarterback sneak with 4:08 left in the ending quarter. In all on the final drive, Saucier ran four times. The drive covered 47 yards on eight plays including a 27 yard pass to Anthony Mostella.
The only first down the second team offense saw was on a pass interference call on its first play from scrimmage. Then two plays later they came the closest they would all game to gaining a first down when they faced a third-and-one at their own 44 yard line. Dunn hit Marquis Chapel and dropped him for a two yard loss forcing them to punt.
In total, USA gained 278 yards of offense on 43 plays with an average of 6.5 yards per snap. However, the first team offense accounted for 272 of those yards. Saucier was the leading rusher with 76 yards on 10 rushes including a touchdown. He was also 7-13 for 78 yards and a touchdown through the air.
Santuan McGee gained 41 yards on three attempts and Ross had 29 yards on three rushes while scoring twice. Ralph Turner gained 52 all-purpose yards, running for 35 and catching two passes for 17 yards. Turner was the only Jaguar player to have more than one reception.
Justin Dunn and Eric Dalgleish each had four stops, both accounted for two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, in leading the first team defense. With Dunn and Dalgleish leading them, the first team defense forced five three-and-outs with the last one seeing Richard Courtney score on a fumble return of 21 yards, which was forced by Dalgleish.
Following the scrimmage, Coach Jones announced the winners of the program’s first ever spring awards as voted on by the coaches. Trey Clark (offensive line), Andy Dalgleish (defensive line), Justin Dunn (linebacker), Tim Harvey (defensive backs), Kevin Helms (tight ends), Santuan McGee (running backs) and Courtney Smith (wide receiver) were presented with the Outstanding Performance Award at their position with Michel Chapuseaux, Eric Dangleish, Jordan Means, Anthony Mostella and Ralph Turner sharing the honor on special teams.
Paul Bennett (tight end), Josh Chestang (linebacker), Chris Cooke (linebacker), Lamontis Gardner (wide receiver), Anton Graphenreed (defensive back), Cory Pittman (offensive line), Richard Ross (running back), Matt Saucier (quarterback), Anthony Taylor (defensive line) and Lim Windham (wide receiver) were named the most improved players at their position.
The Jaguar Leadership Award was given to Bennett on offense and Harvey on defense. Dunn, Brian Krauskopf, Jerron Mitchell and Erling Riis earned the Jaguar Strength Award. Bennett and Clark were also given Outstanding Academic Awards.