Arkansas State Looking For New Head Coach For Second Consecutive Season

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

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Arkansas State is searching for a head football coach for the second year in a row as Gus Malzahn accepted the position at Auburn University. This also marks the second season in a row that the Red Wolves will visit the Bowl without their head coach.

Sources did not know if ASU would name an interim coach for the bowl game or if Malzahn wants or intends to coach the team in the bowl game.

Tim Hudson, chancellor of ASU and Terry Mohajir, director of athletics, issued statements yesterday concerning the football program.

“Coach Gus Malzahn informed us this afternoon that he would be accepting the head coaching position at Auburn University,” ASU Chancellor Dr. Tim Hudson said. “We appreciate his contributions to our conference championship season and wish him well.”

Hudson, Mohajir as well as ASU System President Dr. Charles L. Welch will begin an immediate search for Malzahn’s successor.

“The back-to-back championships in the Sun Belt Conference make this a very attractive position, and we’re confident we’ll have a lot of interest,” Mohajir said. “This administration, this community and the entire Arkansas State family have demonstrated our commitment to have a nationally prominent intercollegiate athletics program and will continue to do so.”

Mohajir said that he would be meeting with Malzahn to discuss the transition and “keeping the interests of our student-athletes foremost in mind.” Mohajir’s plan is for Malzahn and his staff to coach the Red Wolves in their bowl game on January 6 against Kent State in Mobile, AL.

“We remain firmly committed to our facilities upgrade plans,” Welch said. “We owe this to our student-athletes and fans, and we remain excited about the opportunities ahead for the Red Wolves.”

However, after Malzahn meets with Auburn officials to finalize his contract and timeline those plans by Mahajir may not pan out.

But Arkansas State may not be the only team in the Bowl with a new coach or searching for a new coach. It is being reported that Kent State’s head coach Darrell Hazell has accepted the head coaching position at Purdue University according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-10-16

October 17, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 
Coach Jones

Head coach Joey Jones working with the field goal unit during South Alabama’s Scrimmage on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Head Coach Joey Jones and host Lee Shirvanian was joined by defensive backs coach Duwan Walker at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for the Joey Jones Radio Show this week.

To start off the show Lee asked “What was your feeling like when you left the field in Jonesboro?” “I felt good deep down, but hurting just because we lost and because you never want to lose,” Jones answered. But he felt they made lots of progress on offense with making first downs, moved the ball and converting on third down. All the things they have been talking about over the last few weeks.

He commended the defense on playing well as well as special teams with a blocked punt, good kickoff returns and good kickoff coverage.

Coach Jones said that when he saw that they were down by six points in the fourth quarter he thought they could pull out the win, but ended up losing by seven points. He was very proud that they took a good football team down to the wire. Deep down he feels really good about how they did, but as a competitor he never wants to lose.

Bo Bishop from Baumhower’s Restaurant asked about taking something positive away from a loss. Coach Jones said that if you look at Arkansas State, they won the Sun Belt Conference Championship last year, they have a quarterback who was the player of the year last year as well as returning several seniors. The South Alabama players walked out onto the field and were ready to play, they didn’t let that phase them and that makes Coach Jones really proud of them.

Lee pointed out the the Jags ran over 80 plays in the game while Arkansas State was limited to around 60. He further mentioned that the Jags led in just about every stat except the points on the scoreboard. Coach Jones pointed out that the big thing was that the offense went out and controlled the ball, something they haven’t really done until this game.

Lee said that Ross Metheny did a great job for the Jags. Coach Jones said that he has great leadership skills and the players really listen to him. He goes out there with lots of confidence. Another thing he did was he did a great job of extending the play. If the throw downfield wasn’t there then he checked down and found an open running back or ran with it and go positive yardage. He didn’t force it downfield which helped them get first downs.

Lee pointed out the penalties. Coach Jones acknowledged them and said that they jumped offsides a number of times while trying to blitz or get to the line. Lee mentioned how Rick Cleveland mentioned during the game that the quarterback was using an odd cadence to draw them offsides. But Jones said that that was not a reason and that the defensive linemen need to watch the ball instead of listening to the quarterbacks cadence.

But Coach Jones said that if they cut down penalties they will have a chance to win.

When asked how Coach Walker thought the secondary played, he answered by saying he thought they played well. They could have done better, but their number one thing is to prevent big plays and they did a good job at limiting them.

Orthopedic Group Injury Report: Ucambre Williams will probably be out with a knee injury which didn’t look good. Shaun Artz hurt his back, waiting to hear more about that. Everyone else fared well.

Lee mentioned that both of them are offensive linemen and that they may not have good depth at there. Coach Jones said they have decent depth but you worry about having others step up and be ready as well.

Jones said that Chris May moved into Williams’ position and played most of the game since Ucambre was hurt on the second play of the game. Drew Dearman could come back into the lineup to fill in for Shaun Artz. When Lee asked about backups, Coach Jones said that they actually pulled a couple players from the scout team to get ready and play some with the other guys.

Coach Jones was pretty quick to answer Lee’s question about the status of Demetre Baker for this weeks game. Jones said he thought he would be alright, but that “the ball is in his court” and that was all he wanted to say on that subject.

Lee further mentioned that it was due to a violation of team rules. Lee further pressed if he might suit up again for the Jags and Coach Jones went back to his previous statement saying “it’s up to him”. He did acknowledge that Baker was not on the depth chart as of now for the Florida Atlantic game.

Lee then turned the focus to Coach Walker and the secondary. What did they do to rectify the problems they had in the secondary from last season. They hit the Junior College’s well looking for players. Tyrell Pearson is short, but is a mature, good player. Same with Darrius Morrow, he plays very well and came from the junior college ranks.

Walker also mentioned B.J. Scott as someone that has sparked the secondary. He said that it was unfortunate he wasn’t able to go through spring workouts, but he is now hitting his prime during the season.

What are the ingredients for good defensive back. Walker said that is always changing. This week the Jags will be playing receivers who are 6’4″ or so and size will play a part. But they are looking for players who are electric, can make plays and play smart. Speed and size are something they have to go after.

Lee mentioned that South Alabama is playing teams with receivers that are 6’3″ or 6’4″ and asked how do the shorter defensive backs compensate for that? Coach Jones said that they have to have great technique. Ideally you want guys who are tall and fast, normally smaller guys can be faster. But they try to get guys who are 5’10 up to 6′ tall with speed who can cover. Defensive backs can make it up by coming up between the receivers hands and knocking the ball away if they play with good technique and play smart. Just because they are small does not mean that they will have the deep ball thrown over them.

Lee asked Coach Walker how they grade defensive backs. Coach Walker said that mental errors and technique are big keys in grading the defensive backs.

Lee asked that if the coaches can tell immediately if a defensive back missed an assignment or if they have to wait to see video to determine who it was. Coach Walker immediately said that they know who it is and who has coverage responsibility to whom and where.

Lee mentioned that high school coaches always mention that homecoming is such a big distraction at that level. He then asked Coach Jones if homecoming is a distraction on the college level. Coach Jones indicated that it’s not a big distraction on the college level. In high school they have so many events going on in the whole school. College is not as intense as high school.

Lee then turns the focus to Florida Atlantic and mentioned their record is the same as the Jags at 1-5. But he cautioned that they have played some good teams in Alabama and Georgia. Lee then asked if Coach Jones thought this may be a very winnable game for South Alabama. Coach Jones was quick to say that they cannot overlook anyone, but that they feel good about their chances. They just have to go out and work hard to make the plays to win the game.

A caller asked that if the Jags might give the next game ball after Florida Atlantic to coach Kurt Crain’s family. Coach Jones said they have not thought about, but they just put up a plaque in the football fieldhouse dedicated to his memory and they have a “KC” sticker on the helmets as well.

Lee asked what kind of problems FAU may present to the Jaguar secondary. Coach Walker said that they are very athletic and, from the film, they look alot like South Alabama’s receivers. Coach Walker also mentioned that they ran the ball and threw the ball well against Georgia.

Lee asked if this was another team that runs a spread offense. Coach Jones said yes, but that they are not quite like they have seen in the last two games with Troy and Arkansas State.

Coach Jones likened the stature of the FAU quarterback to NC State’s Mike Glennon, he is about 6’6″ tall and are similar type quarterback who can deliver the ball well. He knows he has tall receivers so he can hang the ball high and let his receivers go up to get it.

Lee mentioned the Jags ranking in the BCS. He said that the Jags are 111 in the list while FAU is 110, but that both are above teams like UNLV, Colorado, Colorado State and Akron among others. Coach Jones said that the football in the Sun Belt Conference is really good and that the Jags are getting better, but that they are not there yet.

Coach Jones answered a question posed by Lee asking about why couldn’t it be South Alabama traveling to play Alabama next season instead of Georgia State. Coach Jones said he doesn’t know, he’s not the one who makes that decision at Alabama. He did indicated that they have talked to them about it, but that was all.

After a break, Lee told coach Jones that when Coach Jones started at South Alabama, one of his assistants said that he would have no problem going head-to-head recruiting against Alabama and Auburn. Lee then asked if they have gone head-to-head against them for any recruits. Coach Jones said that they have but that they cannot mention any names of recruits.

Email question asked what it would take for the school to call this season a success and how are they defining success for the program today? Coach Jones said that he normally sets goals for wins in a season, but this year is different in that they do not have as many players as most of the teams they are facing this season. But they are approaching it on a week-to-week basis to see if they are improving. They don’t really know how to measure this season, but at the end of the season they will know where they stand in the conference.

Lee then turned to coach Walker for his input on the question. He said that it’s progress. They have to work hard every week to get better and earn respect from their opponents.

Monday Press Conference

October 16, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Quarterbacks Trey Fetner and transfer Ross Metheny participating in position drills.

South Alabama head coach Joey Jones held his weekly Monday press conference with quarterback Ross Metheny and defensive lineman Randon Carnathan. They reflected on the loss at Arkansas State and previewed this weekend’s homecoming game against Florida Atlantic.

Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones began with his opening statement. “I was real pleased with the performance the other night. I thought we played hard as usual. Offensively we got a good bit better. We were more consistent, converted on third down, only had one turnover and punched the ball in the end zone. We did some really good things.”

“Defensively we played well except for the penalties, which is something we need to take care of. I was real pleased overall. We are making progress and moving forward, this is not a team that is getting down because we’ve lost a few games. They [the players] understand where we are and have taken that challenge every week, and I think that is why we are getting better. And the staff has done a good job of motivating on both sides of the ball and with special teams.”

“Special teams play the other night was really good again. [Michel] Chapuseaux was player of the week in the Sun Belt [Conference], he had three field goals and a good game, we had good kickoff return yardage and blocked a punt. We did a lot of good things on special teams as well.”

Jones then fielded a question about whether his team is frustrated as losses mount. “Let’s face it, we’ve won a lot of ball games around here the last three years, so I think earlier in the year were frustrated. When we had those tough games against N.C. State and Mississippi State it got to us a little bit. Now they realize where we really are, that we are team that is climbing.”

“This is a great lesson for them, life isn’t always going to be perfect. They are coming to work and really taking that attitude. I’m not saying that to make our team feel better, I’m saying that because I believe it. They have learned if we don’t work then we are not going to have a chance to win.”

“Last week before the game, I had people not involved with our program telling me before the game that this was going to be a tough one, acting like we were going to get our tails beat. But our kids didn’t believe that, they went out there and worked and played a good game. In the fourth quarter we put ourselves in a position to win, so I’m encouraged and I think they are too.”

Coach Jones then answered a question about what they can take away from Saturday’s game at Arkansas State. “Let’s face it, offensively we have been struggling and we played better that day so that certainly encourages our team. Not that the offense is there yet or we are not going to work anymore. But we moved the ball and did some good things offensively, and when have that it encourages the rest of the team that this thing can get rolling if we get going. We have played pretty well in the other two phases of the game, we just need to get going offensively.”

“I kept waiting for us to break out and have a good game, which we did the other night. Of course, we have to do that week to week, but we did some good things that we can hang our hat on.”

Jones fielded a question about whether the offense’s performance was due to using one quarterback instead of the two-quarterback system they used in the first five games of the season. “Any time you have one quarterback, he gets more reps in practice. It was just time. Ross [Metheny] came in and did a real good job with his leadership skills, I thought he handled things well by not forcing the ball. We had that one turnover, but a lot of times when things weren’t open downfield he dropped it off to a running back or he pulled it down and ran for a first down. Those kind of decisions sustain drives, which is what he brought to the table this week.”

Jones then spoke about Florida Atlantic, who visits this weekend. “FAU is a very physical football team, I’ve watched them on film where they have faced Alabama and Georgia and they banged with those teams. Defensively, their front seven are very physical guys. They have great athletes and a fifth-year senior quarterback, we understand going into this game that this is another good football team we are facing.”

“Both of our records are alike, but they have been fighting against some very tough teams as well. They are used to winning too, they won the Sun Belt a few years back, and so they understand how to do it.”

Next up was quarterback Ross Metheny. He first spoke about the Arkansas State game. “Offensively, it was probably our best game so far this year. We executed better in both the run and pass game, and I think our guys are encouraged by it. Obviously, we didn’t win which is the number-one goal, but we played better and more as a unit. It’s a good block to build off of moving forward.”

Metheny then fielded a question about his comfort level with the offense against Arkansas State. “It was big for us as a unit to go down on that first drive and get a touchdown. We hadn’t really done that since week one. It was a big confidence-builder for our guys to go down on the first drive and score. After [each team’s first possession] we figured out that it was going to be the type of game that was a shootout. We were prepared for that, and I think we executed better.”

He then spoke about Florida Atlantic. “They like to play a lot of man coverage. That’s just their identity. They’re real solid on all three phases of the defense. They have some really good athletes in the secondary, their linebackers run well and their defensive ends are explosive off the edge in the pass rush. We’ll game plan and will be ready. Our guys are excited for the challenge and looking forward to it.”

Finally defensive lineman Randon Carnathan spoke the Arkansas State game. “Defensively we played good, but not good enough honestly. We had a couple of costly penalties – a lot of mental things that we have to take care of. As a unit, I feel like we’re playing well. We just have to keep building, and work hard each week as the season progresses.”

He then spoke about the Florida Atlantic game coming up this weekend. “Defensively, we just have to keep playing hard. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We play hard. There’s no quit on either side of the ball. We just have to put it all together and get a ‘W’. It’s as simple as that.”

The Jags homecoming game against Florida Atlantic is set to kick off at 2:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Jaguars Offense Found It’s Way

October 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Tommy Perry talks with running back Terrance Timmons during preseason camp.

South Alabama found it’s offense against Arkansas State without Demetre Baker, who was suspended before the team left for Jonesboro. The offense threw for 241 yards and rushed for 132 yards while gaining 24 first downs.

The Jags used six different runners, including both Ross Metheny and Trey Fetner. Terrance Timmons played a larger role as he carried the ball 13 times for 43 yards. Kendall Houston rushed 18 times for 36 yards. T.J. Glover and Desmond Jones also got carries in the game.

Baker is the Jaguars leading rusher and it is unclear as to when he may return to the team. Head coach Joey Jones told the Press-Register that Baker has been suspended “indefinitely” for a violation of team rules.

The Jaguars improved somewhat on their third down conversions. They converted only one against NC State and Mississippi State combined, but converted 9-of-20 and also converted 4-of-6 of their fourth down conversion attempts.

Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Karl Benson was in Jonesboro, Arkansas for the Arkansas State and South Alabama game on Saturday. Benson was interviewed both before the game and at halftime and said that he believed that the Jaguars would fare very welll in the conference in the future.

“I talked with Joey and he obviously wishes there could be more wins on the tally sheet but he’s happy with the way the guys have been playing,” Benson said. “They’ve been competitive and South Alabama will be an important piece to the future of the Sun Belt.”

“He has to be patient, the league has to be patient, the fans have to be patient, but the foundation they are building is based on a plan, and a good plan,” Benson further commented. “I think everybody expects that South Alabama will be a strong contributor to the Sun Belt in the very near future.”

Arkansas State marked the end of what many considered the toughest portion of the Jaguars 13 game schedule this season. However the remaining schedule is nothing to take lightly. Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette are both doing well in the conference. Monroe defeated Arkansas in overtime and lost to Auburn in overtime earlier in the season. Both Louisiana teams will be on the road.

But first, the Jaguars will host Florida Atlantic. FAU’s record this season is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Sun Belt. FAU was 1-11 last season with a long win over UAB in their next to last game of the season.

Jags Fall To Arkansas State 36-29

October 13, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

South Alabama’s offense finally found a way to move the ball but cannot overcome a turnover and penalties in a 36-29 loss in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Arkansas State. The Jags would fall to 1-5 (0-2 SBC) for the season while Arkansas State would improve to 4-3 (2-1 SBC) for the season.

The Jaguar offense came to play against the Red Wolves on Saturday at Liberty Bank Stadium. The Jags took the opening possession on a 9 play 75 yard drive to open the scoring in the game. Then the defense would help them out by recovering a fumble on the Red Wolves first offensive play.

The Jags would move 16 yards in 7 plays before settling for a Michel Chapuseaux field goal to extend their lead to 10-0 with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

Chapuseaux would miss a field goal attempt, then convert another attempt as the Jags trail 14-13 at halftime. The Jags would not give up in the second half as they would score a touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game to cut the Arkansas State lead to 36-29. The Jags would not be able to recover the on-sides kick and fall on the road.

The Jags led in several statistical categories for the game. They led in first downs 24-23, rushing yards 132 – 113, passing yards 241 – 203, total offense 373 – 316, offensive plays 88 – 59 and time-of-possession 35:39 – 24:21.

Terrance Timmons was the leading rusher for the Jags with 43 yards on 13 carries, it would have been 56 yards except for a 13 yard loss late in the game. Kendall Houston added 36 yards on 18 carries, Metheny had 22 yards on 9 carries and Trey Fetner added 17 key yards on 3 carries.

With the new single-quarterback system, Ross Metheny went 24-of-38 for 241 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a sack. T.J. Glover led the Jaguar receivers with 47 yards on 3 receptions, Corey Besteda led in receptions with 5 for 45 yards, Greg Hollinger added 30 yards on 5 catches, Jereme Jones had 44 yards on 3 catches as well. Bryant Lavender added 31 yards on three receptions, Timmons also had 3 catches for 29 yards.

The Jaguar defense held David Oku to 84 yards on 22 attempts. Ryan Aplin was 17-of-22 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and two sacks. McKissic caught seven of his passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Another key receiver, Josh Jarboe was held in check as well with only 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

“You can see that this team is growing,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “I saw some great things out there tonight. We’re playing the Sun Belt champion from last year, they have a very good football team. We took them down to the wire and got to within six points in the fourth quarter, we were right where we wanted to be.”

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids,” Jones continued. Despite what’s going on with a young team, they keep fighting and we’re getting better on the field. Offensively, we took care of the football and had 24 first downs, those were big positives. There were a lot of improvements, the kids fought and were having fun. It still hurts, but it was a darn good game.”

However the penalties were a bit too much to overcome. The Jags gave Arkansas State three attempts to convert a two-point conversion to go up 14 points in the fourth quarter. On the third attempt they converted.

But this was the spark that the offense needed. They got a solid, consistent performance at quarterback since the rotation is a thing of the past.

The offense came out and scored quickly and consistently moved the ball well throughout the game. The players should be encouraged at their progress this week.

The Jags will host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, October 20th for homecoming. FAU is also 1-5 (0-3 SBC) on the season. Kickoff time for the game should be announced early this week.

More New Firsts In Jaguar Program History Against ASU

October 12, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

The Jaguars will have yet another new first in the program’s history on Saturday. When the Red Wolves and the Jaguars kick off at 6pm on Saturday in Jonesboro, it will be South Alabama’s first conference game on the road.

But the Jaguars will be looking for another first too. They will be trying to pick up their first Sun Belt Conference victory while trying to avoid another first, the first time the program has lost four-consecutive games. The three game losing streak is already a first for the program.

Arkansas State (3-3, 1-1 SBC) will be a tough test for the Jags (1-4, 0-1 SBC) who is 0-2 on the road so far this season. The Red Wolves run a quick-paced, no-huddle spread offense that first year head coach Gus Malzahn has lots of input into.

“Obviously, they’re very difficult to prepare for on both sides of the ball,” head coach Joey Jones said. “Offensively, they do a thousand different things and do a great job with their scheme and make you defend everything on the field. Thank goodness we’ve had a few extra days to prepare for that. Defensively, they’re a very sound football team. They’re very athletic with a lot of juniors and seniors on both sides of the football. They’re a very good football team.”

“I think that if you look at them they’ve got a great leader in their quarterback (Ryan Aplin),” Jones continued. “He was the player of the year in the conference last year and deservedly so. He runs the team. You can tell he’s a great leader. They have several seniors but he’s the guy where it all starts.”

“They’re very good defensively. They did a very good job against FIU the other night and they’ve got good people on defense. John Thompson is the defensive coordinator and he does a great job. We faced him when he was at Georgia State and he’s been at a lot of places, a very experienced coordinator. He understands how to run a defense so you can tell they’re very well-coached. They are very good on defense. They don’t get the publicity that they do on offense, but the bottom line is they’re very good.”

ASU’s quarterback Ryan Aplin has thrown for 1,388 yards and eight touchdowns so far on the season with only two interceptions. Their offense is ranked 3rd in total offense, first in rushing offense, 4th in scoring offense and 8th in passing offense. But they are tops in the conference in passing efficiency.

The Jaguar defense has played extremely well this season, but the same cannot be said for the offense. They hope sidelining the two-quarterback system they employed in the first five games of the season will give them the spark they need to get going. Last week Coach Jones announced that Ross Metheny would be the starter for the game and would take the majority of the snaps in practice leading up to the game.

Third down conversions and red zone play have been two sore subjects for the offensive unit. They are only converting 28 percent of their third-down attempts (20-of-72) and have only scored on 10-of-15 trips into the red zone, six of those 10 being touchdowns.

“We have not put a complete game together,” Jones said. “We’ve had too many three-and-outs, and that’s not really any one person’s fault. We have a young offense. We started the season with two freshmen and five sophomores on the offensive unit. We have to get better, but it isn’t easy to get better when you’re playing the teams we are playing.”

“We’re a better team than we were last year, but we’re playing much better competition right now and it just isn’t showing. We have to be able to stick the ball into the end zone. Defense and special teams are playing good enough to win, so if we can get that part going on offense then we’re going to get this thing rolling. But we have to get out there and get it done.”

The players are working hard and have showed signs of improvement, but that needs to translate into play on the field on gameday. They have to play smart football, protect the ball and start moving the ball more consistently and converting third downs.

It’s not “If” they can do it, but when they start doing it, that they will have chances to win games. Experience does not come lightly and this is still a very young team in terms of Division I play.

Know Your Stadiums: Liberty Bank Stadium

October 12, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Liberty Bank Stadium from the air.

The Arkansas State University Red Wolves host their home football games at Liberty Bank Stadium, formerly known as ASU Stadium and Indian Stadium) located on the campus of Arkansas State University. Up to 2007 the stadium was named after the old nickname of the school, the Indians. The capacity is 30,964.

Originally, the stadium could hold 16,343 fans when it originally opened in 1974 when they began playing football. The stadium cost $2.5 million to build, $1.4 of that was raised by alumni and friends of the University. The first game in the stadium was on September 28, 1974 against Louisiana Tech which ASU lost 21-7. The stadium was dedicated on November 2, 1974 when they hosted Northeast Louisiana University, which ASU won 17-14.

In 1980 it was upgraded to hold 18,709. When ASU made the move to Division I in 1991, it was expanded to 30,708 in order to meet the capacity requirements. An upper deck was added to the grandstands and it included a four level press area that included the press box, two donor levels: Happy Hunting Grounds and Chiefs Council. It also included a photo deck with an area for filming, visiting team AD suite, and coaches boothes for both teams.

In 2001 a video scoreboard was built in the South end zone.

In 2002 luxury suites were added to increase the capacity to today’s number of 30,964. The players and coaches also moved into a new complex with office space, dressing rooms, meeting rooms and player lounges. Some areas become suites used during football games, academic study areas, conference rooms, alumni function areas, booster meetings and recruiting areas.

Prior to the 2006 season the University replaced the Bermuda grass field with Pro Green synthetic grass.

The largest crowd at the stadium was when ASU hosted the 25th ranked University of Memphis in 2004. The crowd numbered 30,427 and was designated a sellout. However ASU lost the game 47-35.

The best average attendance for a season is 17,488 in the 2003 season.

View of the Grandstands and Press box at Liberty Bank Stadium from the north end zone.

View of the ASU Football Complex and Video scoreboard in the south end zone of Liberty Bank Stadium.

Jags Look To End Three Game Skid Against Defending SBC Champ

October 10, 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’s off week came at a much needed time. As the Jags look to break their three-game skid they had a chance to heal up some nagging injuries and rest up for their eight game run to end the season.

Next up on the Jags (1-4, 0-1 SBC) schedule is a trip to defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas State (3-3, 1-1 SBC) who is coming off a Thursday night victory over Sun Belt preseason favorite FIU.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time. We were beat up,” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said. “Being nine-and-a-half weeks into it, counting fall camp, it came at a great time for our players and coaches after an emotional three games of playing N.C. State, Mississippi State and Troy.”

“Arkansas State is a very good football team,” Jones continued. “I watched them play last Thursday at FIU, they went down there on the road and beat a very good team. Their losses have come to the likes of Oregon and Nebraska, so they are a very good football team. They’re very good on offense, and have a lot of juniors and seniors starting in their offensive and defensive lineups. They are a veteran team, and we expect them to be a great football team when we walk into the stadium.”

Arkansas State was trailing FIU 10-7 with about four-and-a-half minutes to go in the first half and would go on and score 27 of the next 30 points to take control of the game. Running back David Oku ran for three touchdowns while quarterback Ryan Aplin accounted for another. The ASU Red Wolves gained 421 yards of total offense and averaged seven yards per snap.

Aplin was the preseason offensive player of the year for the Sun Belt Conference. On the season he has completed 119-of-194 passing attempts for 1,388 yards and eight touchdowns. He has also rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns while ranking third in the confernece in both passing and total offense.

Oku is fourth in the conference with almost 77 yards per game rushing.

Wide receiver J.D. McKissic leads the Red Wolves with 39 receptions for 452 yards while fellow receiver Josh Jarboe has caught 28 passes for 287 yards. Both have two touchdowns on the season.

The Arkansas State offense is very balanced as they lead the league with an average of 232.2 yards rushing per game. They also average 238.7 yards per game passing and stand third in the conference in total offense. They score an average of 30.5 points per game.

Defensively Nathan Herrold leads the way with 52 tackles, including four for a loss. Tim Starson leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. Their defense allows an average of 158.2 yards per game passing but are last against the run by giving up an average of 218.7 yards per game.

The Jaguar offense is coming off a season best 193 yards rushing in their Sun Belt Conference debut against Troy. Demetre Baker rushed for 62 yards on 16 carries. While the Jags have five receivers who have caught at least 10 passes each. Bryant Lavender leads the way with 13 catches for 122 yards while Jereme Jones leads the team with 160 yards on 12 receptions. Corey Besteda has 10 catches for 144 yards and Greg Hollinger also has 10 catches for 135 yards.

Junior transfer Ross Metheny, who was named the starter last week by Coach Jones and his staff, has completed 34-of-59 passes this season for 354 yards and one touchdown.

“We just felt like it was a move we needed to make for the offense,” Jones said. “We’re trying to find that identity in where we are, so I think that will help us with him getting more reps in practice. We think it’s going to help us [to name a starter]. We tried to let it pan out over the last five games, but I think it will help us just from the standpoint that they [offense] know that he [Metheny] is going to be the guy right now.”

“We have not put a complete game together,” Jones continued. “We have a young offense. We started the season with two freshmen and five sophomores on the offensive unit. We have to get better, but it isn’t easy to get better when you’re playing the teams we are playing. We’re a better team than we were last year, but we’re playing much better competition right now and it just isn’t showing.”

“We have to be able to stick the ball into the end zone. Defense and special teams are playing good enough to win, so if we can get that part going on offense then we’re going to get this thing rolling. But we have to get out there and get it done.”

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson is leading the Sun Belt by averaging over 10 tackles per game. Enrique Williams, along with Johnson, leads the defense unit from their linebaker positions.

The Jaguar defense is second in the Sun Belt by only allowing an average of 350.2 yares per game and is fourth in the conference by allowing an average of 25.6 points per game.

“I would hate to have known that we would have to have gotten ready in one week for what they’re doing,” Jones observed. “[Head coach] Gus [Malzahn] does a great job of changing things up and scouting himself. You can tell that he scouts himself well with their personnel groupings. They give you fits all over the field, both horizontally and vertically.  They really make you play the whole field on defense, that’s probably the most difficult thing.”

The Jags and Red Wolves kick off in Jonesboro at 6pm and the game can be heard on 105.5 WNSP.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-10-09

October 10, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones and host Lee Shirvanian are joined by Bo Bishop of Baumhower’s, Lloyd Meyers from South Alabama Marketing and linebackers coach Brendt Bedsole.

Coach Jones began the show by saying they have had two of the best practices of the year. It was good that they had Thursday, Friday, Saturday and really Sunday off. He said it was like a really good spring practice because it was very spirited and even had a couple fights they had to break up.

Lee asked if that was normal to have a very physical day. Coach Jones answered by saying they have to have a good physical day each week and theirs is usually Tuesday. They then back off in shells on Thursday so they are not beat up for the game.

Bo Bishop of Baumhower’s Restaurant announced that next tuesday they will have a breast cancer awareness day at Baumhowers. They will be giving a portion of their proceeds to breast cancer awareness. Their featured item was pot roast, they also said that kids eat free all day on Wednesday, trivia on Thursday then games all weekend.

Lee goes back to Coach Jones to ask about Ross Metheny and the advantage he will give the team going into the game as the starting quarterback without any rotation. Coach Jones said that the advantage is that Metheny will get more reps in practice which should make him better in the games. Jones said that Metheny has had a good week so far and really cares about it by watching lots of film and trying to understand everything he needs to do.

Then Lee asked about his leadership ability. Coach Jones said that Metheny shows good leadership and players are responding in the huddle. He corrects players without jumping on them and the players seem to be listening to him.

Lee commented how there are rotations at so many positions but that quarterback is not a position is rotated because of the importance at that position. He then asked how C.J. Bennett is taking it since he was the starter all last season and back into the season previous to that. Coach Jones indicated that C.J. is taking it well and working hard. Jones also said that players are working hard every week competing for their position and C.J. knows he can get back into it like any other position and he needs to be ready to go in at any point.

The Orthopedic Group Injury Report: Coach Jones said taht all of the defensive linemen were out there today. However Randon Carnathan had a gold non-contact jersey on but is in the 90% healthy range. Montavious Williams ankle still hurts from the high ankle sprain he suffered at Mississippi State a little but he will play on Saturday. Actually every one will play. Also mentioned that B.J. Scott is good to go.

Lee asked about South Alabama procedure about concussions. Coach Jones said that concussions are very detailed process. They put the players through a battery of tests. No only do they test them while relaxed, they also test them after exhertion. If they get a headache after exercise they will not allow them to play. They are very careful about that injury because the health of the players is more important than football.

Arkansas State is in the top two or three in the conference. Their quarterback was player of the year in the conference. They have lots of Juniors and Seniorts.

New coach Brendt Bedsole has experience in radio and with the team. He has transitioned from the role of Director of Operations to an on-field coach now. He hopes his players say that he is a teacher.

Lee asked if he saw the report of Auburn coach Gene Chizik apologizing to the fans for them leaving the game early. Lee then asked if he had ever seen that before. Jones said that sometimes when you are in a situation like that and get frustrated, you say things you shouldn’t have said. But Jones said that he has learned that sometimes you hold your tongue and you may reconsider what you were or did say. As a coach you don’t want to let anyone down.

Gus Malzahn, the former offensive coordinator at Auburn, is now the head coach at Arkansas State. Coach Jones said that the biggest thing they do is that they do a great job of self-scouting. They do something for a couple weeks then the next week they change a certain scheme so just when you think you have them down, they change stuff.

Also coach Jones said that they do a great job of spreading the ball. By that he means that they are good at using the whole field. Bedsole then said that they use every yard of the field, width and length, with their offense. Its the same offense in many ways as the offense they used to win the NC again Oregon, beating Alabama after coming from being down 27-0 at halftime. They do run lots of base plays, but with lots of “window dressing” on them.

Coach Jones said that, when you run an offense like that, you have to have a quarterback that can do it. You can’t have a quarterback who can’t run or one that makes the wrong decision on running or passing. Their quarterback Ryan Aplin does a great job, he is big, great arm and can run. He could be an NFL quarterback.

Lee then asked coach Bedsole what the keys were for this week. The key is to be very disciplined. He said 1: Lining up 2: being disciplined, which he said was reading your keys whatever they are and 3: believe what you see.

Lee said that when he asked an Ole Miss assistant that was previously an assistant under Hugh Freeze at Arkansas State, what South Alabama is walking into in Jonesboro he was caught off-guard with the answer. The assistant did not mention players he mentioned the travel to get there is the worst.

Coach Jones said that travel is something that they keep in mind each week for the players. They don’t want any lost time. But Jones continued by saying that you can’t help it when you have to fly into memphis then a have a 90 minute bus drive to Jonesboro. Jones indicated that it will basically be 6 hours of travel for them. They will leave Mobile, fly to Memphis, bus to Jonesboro, go to the stadium for a walk-through it will be around 6 hours.

Talking about their defense, Lee asked if it presented anything different from what they have already seen this season. Coach Jones said that they don’t present anything totally different. Their defensive coordinator comes from Georgia State and likes to blitz and bring pressure off the edge. Their defensive linemen are very athletic and good about getting off blocks.

Lee asked about T.J. Glover and big plays. T.J. played running back his first year, and he is back to running back. Hopefully he can make some big plays from running back.

Coach Jones thinks that, offensively, the changes they have made will make them more competitive. They are close, they just have to get over that hump. He mentioned that at the beginning of this season they were starting two freshmen and five sophomores on offense, so they are very young.

Lee asked about the offensive line and how that they have moved Tremain smith to left guard. Lee asked if that was showing more cohesiveness. Coach Jones said it was and that they are a better offensive line this year than last year. He said that it may not look like it on the outside looking in, but they are better and they are continuing to get better.

Lloyd Meyers, the assistant marking director came on to make some announcements. He said that this is about 35,000 seats in Jonesboro and Jag fans going to the game should wear white.

He also announced that homecoming will be next week against FAU. Fun Fest carnival will be Thursday night and it will be free and open to the public. Friday is a big day with moulton tower mural dedication, wall of honor unveiling, homecoming parade and pep rally. Game time is not known yet due to possible tv interest like any game but coach Jones thinks it’s 2:30. It should be announced this week though.

A caller asked if Coach Jones has a different game plan for 3:00 left in the game. he answered by saying that they have two different game plans, four-minute offense where, if they are ahead, they slow it down and use the clock. If they are behind, they have what they call a two-minute offense where they speed it up and try to get out of bounds and stuff.

Lee asked if college football should they have the two-minute warning like in NFL? Coach Jones said he doesn’t know it wouldn’t matter that much really. There are positives and negatives for and against it.

Another caller asked Coach JOnes concerning the spread offense and mentioned Coach Saban talking about it recently. Coach Jones said that a team has to have a good quarterback who can distribute the ball and be able to run the ball. We [South Alabama] are not to that maturity point to be able to pressure the defenses as other teams who have been running the offense longer. When they can do that you still have to be able to run the ball but when you can pressure the other team it can wear the defense down.

Coach Jones spoke very highly of Jake Johnson, the answer to the trivia question for the day. He leads the Sun Belt in tackles per game. They said he weighs 240lbs and runs a 4.53 – 40 and are very fortunate to have him on the team. Been putting  him on the edge and rushing the quarterback with him in the last few games.

They then talked about coordinators and coaches on the sidelines versus in the press booth. The offensive coordinator Robert Matthews is in the booth calling plays. But so is coach Bedsole. Defensive coordinators tend to be on the sidelines because they are reactors. They have to quickly react to what the offense is doing on the field. While the offense is actors, they dictate what goes on on the field for the most part. The defensive coaches and coordinators tend to be on the sidelines so they coach the players and relay observations quickly to the players.

Another caller asked for an update on transfer James Elliot. Coach Jones said that he was cleared by the NCAA to play about a week ago and is doing well and getting more reps now. The caller also asked if Coach Jones was involved any in the play calling. Coach Jones said that he does have input in play calling. However he tries to let coach Matthews call the game but coach Jones does controls if they are going to go for it on fourth down of if there are any deep throws they may want to do.

Lee asked if Jaret Palmer is in the rotation at tight end since he noticed him playing quite a bit against Troy. Coach Jones said he is doing a great job and has worked himself into getting some playing time. Palmer previously played as a receiver.

Lee asked if Coach Jones was hands on with the defense as he is with the offense. Jones answered by saying no, he is more of an offensive guy. Jones continued by saying that most head coaches tend to lean to one side or the other.

Lee asked if Arkansas State has any break-out players that are dangerous that the Jags will have to keep tabs on. Coach Jones indicated that  Josh Jarboe is quick and has the ability to score anytime he has the ball. Their quarterback Aplin is the same way and he has the ball on every play on offense.

Coach Jones said that he called for a radio interview in Arkansas leading up to the game this week and they asked him about their schedule being in the Sun Belt for the first time and playing Hawaii. Coach Jones said that he answered that every week is something new with this team. This will be the Jags first sun belt road game so they will be learning.

Two SBC Teams Could Be The Next “BCS Buster”

August 9, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Holly Anderson wrote a great article about the new “busters”. She wrote about how Boise State has become a household name and that TCU and Utah have joined “power” conferences. She identified what she thinks will be the next generation of “busters.”

She mentioned two schools from the Sun Belt Conference. Arkansas State who won the Sun Belt last season with a 10 win season and Florida International who thrilled the nation with back-to-back upsets over Louisville and UCF to go 8-5 on the season. However, Florida International will be joining Conference-USA next season.

Go read her article on Hopefully the next time she writes about the next “buster” schools, South Alabama will be included. Former Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters thought so in 2010.

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