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Jags Begin Spring Practice Facing Lots Of Changes

February 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

As the Jaguars hit the practice field today for the beginning of spring football practice, the offense will begin to make a big change. Players and coaches believe that it will be a change for the better.

With the hiring of Robert Matthews as the new offensive coordinator, the offense will move from a more pro-style offense to a spread offense. Coach Jones believes this will give the team the best chance to put up lots of points. Also, they believe it will take pressure off of the offensive line as they don’t have to sustain their blocks and be pressured to hold protection on every play. The offensive line replaces three starting seniors from last season. While their replacements are larger, they are less experienced than the outgoing seniors.

Additionally Coach Jones believes the switch will also allow the staff to take advantage of the different running types of the running backs on the roster.

Adding to the pressure of learning the new offense, the Jags will be stepping up their schedule in the fall as they go into the season year of the two-year transition into the FBS level. As part of this, South Alabama will play an eight game Sun Belt schedule in addition to a non-conference schedule of all FBS schools consisting of road trips to Mississippi State, NC State, and Hawaii while hosting Texas-San Antonio and Nicholls State.

“It’s a good bit different because it’s a spread offense and we’re going to be in the gun, which is really what I have run most of my years in coaching,” Coach Jones said. “I decided three years ago to run the power [offense] and be a physical football team, but the spread is what I really feel comfortable with and I think we’ve got the people to do it.  Sometimes you need some change, I think it excites you.”

“We understand that we are going to have to get it done quickly, because of the schedule we’re playing,” Jones continued. “We’ve got to be as good as we can be, so there is a sense of urgency to getting this done and getting it done right. It’s probably the biggest thing this spring that we’ve got to concentrate on. People are wondering if we are going to win a game next year, I have no clue what will happen from a win-loss standpoint, but I do know that we will be competing at the highest level of college football in the country. We’ve gotten there pretty fast, but we have got to elevate our play and become much better at what we do.”

After the season finale loss to Cal Poly back in November, Coach Jones changed his approach some. The staff has introduced competition to their everyday life. “Not only on the practice field this spring, but going to class, study hall, in the weight room,” he said. Jones believes that if its second nature the Jaguars will do it when on field. “There are consequences now, because there will be in the fall if we don’t play well.”

“We meet after every season as a staff and we meet as a team. The thing I challenged the team with was that I felt that leadership is something we have got to concentrate on this year,” said Coach Jones. “We have broken down into 13 different teams within the team, and each one has a captain. Everything they do in the offseason program is done by that team; there is peer pressure, things they have to do every day. And if they do anything the wrong way or just miss, they pay for it. We were a pretty disciplined team, but we are going to take it to the highest level. We’re not trying to punish them, we’re trying to create great discipline.”

As mentioned previously, Coach Jones announced changes in responsibilities for his assistants, both on the offensive side and on the defensive side of the ball. First year offensive coordinator Robert Matthews will take over working with the offensive line, while John Turner moves to tight ends, and Bryant Vincent moves to quarterbacks. Defensively Coach Clark, the defensive coordinator, will take over coaching the linebackers while Kurt Crain moves to defensive tackles and Brian Turner will concentrate on the defensive ends. Duwan Walker will continue coaching the secondary and Tommy Perry will continue coaching the running backs.

“After bringing coach Matthews in, he knew exactly what he wanted with the offensive line and had coached tackles. Rather than training somebody else and creating a learning curve there, I just felt like we would move him in and let him coach them,” said Coach Jones. “John was extremely happy about it, tight ends are a different dimension but he really liked the idea, and Bryant has been coaching quarterbacks his whole life and is really comfortable with them. Bill wasn’t really coaching a position, which I wanted him to, and he is comfortable with linebackers. Kurt had coached defensive linemen at Auburn, that’s really what he has always coached, and is excited about the move.”

Offensively, all of the changes make very good sense. Coach Matthews did a great job with the offensive line in his previous stints. Also Coach Gregory was the quarterbacks coach, so Coach Vincent’s move there also puts him back into coaching a position he is very familiar and comfortable with.

Defensively, Coach Crain has done a great job with the inside linebackers. His work with the defensive tackles will make a big difference as well.

There are a few players who will not be able to take part in spring drills or will not be at full speed. Kendall Houston and Enrique Williams are not scheduled to practice while they are recovering from offseason surgeries. Bryson James will not be able to return, if he is able to return at all, until late in the spring drills. Brandon Ross and B.J. Scott will take part, but in a limited role.

While the team is coming off a season that saw their first loss, facing a complete change of the offensive scheme and actually ending the season with a loss, Coach Jones is not worried how the team will respond. “I have never seen our team quite this motivated because they realize the challenges ahead. But they’re also excited about those,” he said. “This is where they all wanted to be, they’ve dreamed about playing these kind of teams every week. There’s no doubt there is a difference.”

Tuesday morning quarterback C.J. Bennett joined the WNSP morning show and talked about the changes on offense. He said that he played in a spread offense throughout high school, so the change to a pro-style offense was a bit of a transition for him. So he thinks the transition back to the spread will be an easy one for him. He also mentioned that they replace three offensive linemen and named Drew Dearman, Shaun Artz, Melvin Meggs and Trey Clark while they also expect big things from McKeller as well.

As for the running backs, Bennett said he has never seen a runner like Kendall Houston. He has excellent balance and a hard runner. Baker adds more speed and having a healthy Brandon Ross will make for an excellent trio of runners in the backfield.

They have a big challenge in front of them, but you better believe that this team has the heart and drive to tackle it.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-09-27

September 28, 2011 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Running backs and special teams coach Tommy Perry joined Lee Shirvanian and Coach Joey Jones at Baumhowers Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for the radio show. They covered the Kent State game and what they are going to do during this off week.

Lee jumps straight to the question that many people want to know after the last two game. Is this program ready week-to-week FBS competition? Coach Jones answered that he thinks the program is ready for that level of competition. Talking realistically, he said that when people looked at this years schedule and saw NC State and Kent State, they just hoping that those games would not get embarrassing.

But Coach Jones pointed out that the team played NC State close, even though the final score did not reflect that but if they had made three or four plays then the game would have been much closer. Then he said that the team came out and played “pitiful” in the first half against Kent State. He said that he takes the blame for not being as focused as they normally are for games. He said they played hard, but made some very critical mistakes and didn’t play smart. But they played good in the second half by gaining 330 yards of offense and holding Kent to around 80 yards but they had a chance to score the tying points late in the game.

But he said that they are a growing team, but that they are ready for the FBS level. They are only about 2 1/2 years into this program but they are certainly ready to play at that level.

Stepping back and taking an overall look, they played NC State very well and they played Kent State pretty well. They were in the games and could have made some plays to change the outcome of those games; could have beat Kent State and probably should have beat Kent State. While they may not be ready for Alabama or Auburn, they are surely ready for the lower level FBS teams.

Lee asked if Coach Jones could explain the difference from the first half and the second half. Coach Jones reiterated that he did not think that the team’s focus was there before the game. The looks in their eyes was not something that he had seen before, but that it wasn’t bad like they were completely unfocused but they didn’t have the concentration that they normally have. The second point he made was that this was the first time someone jumped on them. It was the first time that they made mistakes and before they knew it they were down 16-0. They had never been down like that before, they had been down 7-0 and came back against a lesser opponent, but they had not been down that much before so quickly it seemed.

Basically, the team was stunned a bit until someone made a big play in the third quarter to wake them up, loosen them up and get them going again.

Lee then turned his focus towards Coach Perry. He stated that normally the Jags have much better numbers from the running backs than what we had at Kent State. He asked him to talk a bit about that. Coach Perry credited Kent State’s front seven for being very good. He said they were very aggressive, did some movement that confused and slowed the Jags down up front.

Coach Perry went further on what Coach Jones had previously said about the team being stunned and said that the team needs to learn that they don’t need a big play to get going. That they need to keep working, ignore the scoreboard and manufacture good things out of nothing to be competitive. The Jags have talented, competitive players in the backfield but they made some critical errors in the game with lining up and who they picked up.

Perry continued talking about how tough and how physical those running backs were during the game. This is a good learning opportunity for them to look at how their work had a direct impact on the outcome of the game.

Coach Jones then jumped in and said that Kent State was the #1 rush defense in the nation the previous season for a good reason. He also said that they were, by far, the best defense that South Alabama has played thus far. The Jags had a problem running the football for a reason. Kent State has some good linebackers that are well coached. In the second half they were able to find a few things they could do and hit on all cylinders.

Lee then asked a question that many Jaguar fans had been wondering about during and after the game. Was Kendall Houston hurt? Coach Jones said that, before the game, his lower back was tight and the coaches could tell in warmups that he wasn’t the same.

Coach Perry jumped in to say that Kendall is a football player and that he took some hits the previous week at NC State that he was amazed that he was able to stay up.

Lee followed that up with a question about the running game being a staple of the Jaguar offense. He asked when do the coaches on the sidelines start to try to find something different? Coach Jones said that they worked on schemes all week in order to find a way to run the football. He admitted that they may have overdid that leading up to the game. When you go against a rush defense that good, no matter what kind of scheme you come up with, it’s going to be difficult to run the football. You just try to run, as a team, for about 120 to 130 yards and hope you can throw for over 200 yards.

A fan called in and spoke very positively of the coaches and the players. He said that many teams that go down by that much at halftime will come out and hang their heads but this team did not do that. They came out and played with heart and all of their might to try to get back into the game. He said that the fans were very proud of them and that the future is bright for the team.

Coach Jones said that they are not satisfied with losing and are not satisfied with making mistakes. They are going to keep working on those things. Yes they have accomplished some good things, but they want to get better and win.

Travis Toth joined after the first break to promote the Jags upcoming games. Particularly the homecoming game against Tennessee-Martin which will kickoff at 2:30pm and will be televised on UTV44 and ESPN3. Thursday October 13th will be a pep rally at the Bell Tower at 7pm. Starting at 6pm on Friday, they will have their homecoming parade which will be followed by moonlight madness. Moonlight Madness is South’s version of Midnight Madness where the Jags basketball teams can start practice, which will start at 7pm.

Travis also mentioned that they are getting calls for away game tickets. He said that they had to return the remainder of their allotment for the UT-San Antonio game but they still have tickets available for the game versus Georgia State in the Georgia Dome. They will be available up to October 7th before they have to return the remainder.

Lee then turned to Coach Perry again talking about kick returners and how Jereme Jones has done well, particularly in the punt returns. Coach Perry agreed that he has grown up quite a bit and is fitting in nicely. Lee also mentioned a couple of occasions where, if he had called for a fair catch, it would have been down between the 15 and 20 yard lines. But he returned the kick for up to around the 30 yard line. While it’s not the longest run, both coaches agreed that that is a huge difference in field position. Coach Perry ended the conversation by saying that it’s a hard position to coach because you want them to be aggressive but they have to be smart about it.

Coach Jones reporting during The Orthopedic Group injury report that they had a few small things. Corey Waldon has a sprained knee and they think he will be back soon and no later than by Monday. Corey Besteda underwent a minor surgery to remove a small “loose body” from his knee. It was reported that Besteda’s procedure went very well and should be back by the middle part of next week.

The Jags had actually scheduled to play UC-Davis this week, however they bought out their trip to Mobile. Coach Jones said he would have loved to face UC-Davis again, but the off week was needed and well timed after all.

The next question was about recruiting and priorities of their staff recruiting. Coach Jones said they are graduating several players off of the offensive line, so they will be looking to bring in guys up there. They also want to continue to develop depth in the secondary.

Another caller talked about how well the Jags did against a very good defense. Coach Jones agreed and said he was pleased because there was a defensive linemen that they blocked well that made Alabama look silly at times.

Lee read an email asking about what the quarterbacks coach is doing to improve C.J. Bennett and the other Jaguar quarterbacks performance. Coach Jones said that the biggest thing for them is to have their quarterbacks get their progression down and stick with it. They don’t want them to continually anticipate things. Coach Jones said that is the biggest thing for C.J. and that it’s not anything technical throwing the ball.

Lee asked to look back at the first half of the Kent State game and tell us if he got his progressions right. Lee also mentioned that we have to keep it in prospective because C.J. has only started seven games and he is only a redshirt freshman.

Coach Jones reiterated what he and Coach Gregory have said several times; C.J. is a great quarterback. The problem, he thinks, is that C.J. has learned the offense so well that he knows the coverages and where to go with the ball but that he thinks he can make every throw. It’s that he is too aggressive. But he does have an uncanny ability to go to the right guy. But in certain situations it’s the best thing to throw the ball away.

Coach Jones continued by saying that C.J. is a good quarterback and he is going to be a great quarterback. He has already made several big plays for the team and he will make more. Basically, they want a good game manager but they don’t want the quarterback to be scared.

Lee mentioned to Coach Jones a quote that was published from him that said, “losses will make us better.” Lee asked wouldn’t it be better if wins make us better? Coach Jones clarified that it’s not the losses that make you better but the reaction to the losses that make you better. Complacency in human nature is a tough thing to fight. All they have had is good things, they had a 19 game winning streak and all kinds of good things happening to the program. How they react to these two losses will determine what type of team they are and will make them better.

Coach Jones said that the players will have three days off at the end of this week while coaches are on the road recruiting. They will come back in on Sunday and begin their game week preparation for their trip to San Antonio.

Lee asked if they saw that the team was more banged up coming off of back to back FBS games than they did playing teams like West Alabama. Coach Jones, at first, indicated no but upon reconsideration he said yes but only a little bit. Because the FBS teams are bigger, they probably did have more bangs and bruises, but they fared very well through those two game.

Next season it’s going to be very tough he said, with back to back games against Mississippi State and NC State as well as games against Troy and Middle Tennessee.

At the end of the show, Lee asked coach Perry how his wife was doing. It was last year that they announced that she was diagnosed with cancer. But she has recovered well and is a big inspiration for Coach Perry and many others as well.

West Alabama game notes

September 4, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Wishbone

Demetre Baker, Paul Bennett and Kendall Houston line up in the wishbone at the goal line.

The Jaguars get the job done, but it wasn’t pretty. The Jags had to shake off four turnovers in the first half to get the 20-10 victory and extend their all-time record to 18-0.

The Jaguars racked up 205 yards on the ground and another 151 yards in the air in the game. The rushing attack was lead by Kendall Houston who ran for 78 yards on 11 touches for two touchdowns after being suspended for the first half with three other players. Ellis Hill added 40 yards on seven carries in the start. Demetre Baker, another player suspended for the first half, added 39 yards on six carries. C.J. Bennett ran for 31 yards on eight runs with a touchdown. Santuan McGee chipped in 17 yards on four carries.

C.J. Bennett was 12-of-21 for 151 yards and three touchdowns with one sack. Bryant Lavender lead the receivers with three catches for 55 yards. Corey Waldon also had three catches for 21 yards. Jereme Jones added 27 yards with his two catches. Four other receivers had receptions in the game, highlighted by Lamontis Gardner with a 28 yard reception.

South Alabama gained one more first down than West Alabama with 18 to their 17. Both teams gained 10 first downs on the ground. The Jaguars rushed for 205 yards on 36 carries to UWA’s 167 yards on 47 carries. USA averaged 5.7 yards per rush to UWA’s 3.6 yards per rush. Also the Jags only lost 10 yards while running the ball compared to UWA’s 49 yards lost rushing.

USA was 12-for-21 passing with three interceptions for 151 yards while averaging 7.2 yards per attempt and 12.6 yards per completion. UWA went 10-for-22 passing with two interceptions. They averaged 4.6 yards per play and 10.1 yards per completion.

South Alabama gained 356 yards on 57 offensive plays with an average of 6.2 yards per play. USA fumbled three times and lost one, both of the recovered fumbles were by Baker. West Alabama ran 69 plays while gaining 268 yards while averaging 3.9 yards per play. They fumbled twice and recovered both of them.

UWA won the time of possession battle 32:39 to 27:21 and also possessing the ball for 10:18 in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Gary Johnston was the Tigers leading rusher with 72 yards on 22 runs and a touchdown. He also threw for 101 yards while going 10-for-22. His favorite receiver was Gerald Worsham with five receptions for 44 yards. Ken may added 48 yards on three catches. Two other players had receptions as well.

UWA’s Gabe Poe lead all players with 12 total stops. Enrique Williams lead the Jags with 11 total stops, five solo. B.J. Scott  added 10 more stops, 8 of them solo. Ken Barefield was credited with a sack for 12 yards and Clifton Crews with Enrique Willams both credited with half a sack.

After the game Coach Jones commented on the game. “Not having Kendall and Demetre the first half didn’t help, but they are great running backs,” he said. “Those two guys are probably the core of our offense running the football. We’re a very good football team with those two guys running it.”

“Obviously it wasn’t a great ball game; we didn’t play extremely well though I thought West Alabama played really hard,” Coach Jones continued.  “When you have four turnovers in the first half, it’s not a good thing — we have to learn to protect the football. We had some penalties and untimely things happen, so we have to go back to work and see how we can get better.”

“But I think that was a great second half. We pounded the ball at them and ran it really well, we got Kendall and Demetre in there and controlled the ball,” he continued. “I thought we played better in the second half, but we have to play four quarters to beat good teams and we just didn’t do that tonight; we didn’t play extremely well the whole game.”

West Alabama coach Will Hall commented after the game as well. “I thought they wore us down a little bit. It’s a credit to them and their defense as well. We came out offensively in the second half and went three-and-out, and USA got it and went down and scored. There were some good adjustments by USA at halftime.”

“We spilled our guts out on the field. I expected our kids to do that, but I’m so proud of how they did. Credit to coach Jones and coach [Bill] Clarlk. They do a great job and have a great thing going here at South Alabama. I think these are the two most up-and-coming programs in the state of Alabama. I can’t say enough though about what they do at South Alabama and I can’t say enough about our kids’ effort tonight. I really think we have a chance to have a good D-II football team.”

Tremain Smith went off in the first half with the trainers looking at his hand, plus Melvin Meggs had to come off the field but redshirt Drew Dearmon came in and performed well on the line. Meggs should be back next week and hopefully Smith’s re-aggravated injury isn’t serious.

South Alabama will host Lamar on September 10th with kickoff slated for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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Jags Taking The Rest Of The Week Easy; Quarterbacks Set Themselves Apart

August 25, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Brennan Sim looking to throw under the watchful eye of Coach Jones during the first scrimmage.

The Jags final scrimmage of the preseason will be on Friday instead of Saturday. Saturday will be reserved for the fans to meet the players and coaches as well as an opportunity to pick up a copy of Tommy Hicks’ book, “Kickoff: The Story of the University of South Alabama’s Inaugural Football Season”.

Tuesday was the Jags final full contact practice before Saturday’s scrimmage. This will give the players a few days to mend their many bumps and bruises over the last couple of weeks.

The rest of the week will see team go out and work in limited to no contact drills.

Meanwhile back on the practice field, the quarterback position is starting to clear up just a little. Gibbon and Bennett have set themselves apart from Sim and Cotton. Sim looked like he was poised to be the starter coming out of spring drills, but as many know, things can and do change.

Gibbon put on about 20 pounds from last season but still runs a 4.56 40 if I was told correctly. But the different in Myles from last season to this season is quite a lot. His deep passing is still great, he still has decent speed but his drop back passing game still needs some work.

Sim also put on some weight, about 15 pounds to be exact. But he has been nagged with some shoulder problems and missed some practice this preseason.

C.J. Bennett came in and has done a great job learning the offense. He has done well and Coach Gregory seems to be confident enough that he can run the offense that he has been splitting time with the 1st and 2nd team offenses with Gibbon. Gregory also said that Bennett was a polished passer and is as good as anyone you have seen, but could work on his ball handling skills in the run game.

Raymond Cotton has had the most to contend with though. He transferred from Ole Miss just before preseason camp started and had to learn a new system. But probably the largest factor has been his injured shoulder. He injured it back in spring practice at Ole Miss and was feared that he may need surgery to repair it.

But as we know from last season, things do happen and starters can get injured. Thus it’s great to have quality players beyond the starter, not only to step in when needed but also to help keep the pressure on and the competition going to make everyone a better player.

Jag Defense Plays Better In Second Scrimmage Of 2010

August 21, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Myles Gibbon, running the first series with the first-team offense, scores the first touchdown of the scrimmage.

The second scrimmage of the preseason was a bit more even than the first one last week. Less touchdowns but also less turnovers. Which pleased Coach Jones when it was all said and done.

Several players were out due to injury on the defense. None severe, just nagging injuries which the coaching staff decided to sideline for the scrimmage. Randon Carnathan, Justin Dunn, Tim Harvey, Jake Johnson, Romelle Jones and Alex Page all sat out the scrimmage.

The Jags ran about 93 plays, close to their goal of 100. Overall the offense gained 251 yards with the first team defense only allowing 48 in their seven series on the field. The only two turnovers of the day were recovered by Jarred Williams and Montavious Williams, but both were committed by Ellis Hill, but one was a bad exchange from Brennan Sim. Anthony Taylor made back-to-back sacks for the first-team defense while Kendell Bagnerise added one right after Taylor to back the offense up 18 yards in one possession.

With so many playmakers out on defense, Jonathan Cameron and Bryson James led the defense each with four tackles. Zach Rone lead the second team defense with five tackles.

Myles Gibbon led the first team offense 80 yards in seven plays on their first possession to score the first touchdown. Brandon Ross made the big gain on the series with a 39 yard run, including knocking a defensive back flat on his tail, to set up the touchdown. After two runs by Santuan McGee, Gibbon ran to the left and made the corner of the end zone for the score.

C.J. Bennett led the first team offense the second time they were on the field. He would lead the offense down the field but could not get into the end zone and they settled for a 37 yard Michel Chapuseaux field goal.

The second first-team touchdown would be from a combination of Gibbon and Bennett under center. With the offense facing fourth down from the defense’s 43 yard line, Myles would hit Bryant Lavender for a 14 yard gain on the left sideline. Then Bennett would enter the game who would fine Ralph Turner open on the right side of the field for a 29 yard touchdown. The series covered 60 yards in six plays.

The second-team offense would have it’s best drive of the day on their first possession of the game with Bennett at quarterback. He would start the series off with a 14 yard completion to Lamontis Gardner. Then after a handoff for a short gain, he complete a pass to Gardner for eight more yards and a second first down of the series. But the series would come to an end after a fumbled handoff on third down was recovered by the offense and forced them to punt.

Bennett went 5 of 8 passing for 65 yards and a touchdown, Brennan Sim completed three for 27 yards and Gibbon completed one for 14 yards. Corey Besteda, Gardner and Lavender each caught two passes while Ralph Turner led the receivers with a touchdown and 29 yards on one reception.

Coach Jones had the following to say after the scrimmage: “We changed things up, but I thought we looked a little sharper. There were a few penalties out there, which we have to get corrected in the next couple of weeks, but I thought it was a good day. It was more like a game, we called all the special teams out there so they had to be alert on the sidelines. My overall feeling is that the offense and defense got better, and special teams were pretty consistent.”

He continued, “We will evaluate this film and go into next week with an idea of who our ones and twos will be. Of course, it’s not over because these kids compete for jobs every day, but we have to find a starting point when we begin next week.”

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Jags Preseason Camp Coming To A Close

August 20, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Freshman T.J. Glover out running the defense in the Jaguars first scrimmage.

Coach Jones and his staff shortened Thursday’s practice by a half hour. Although the practice was still an hour and 45 minutes long, it was a just reward for two weeks of hard work on the practice field. Of the last 14 days the Jaguars practiced 13 of those days and well Coach Jones does not want overwork them.

Early in the practice on Thursday, the Jags worked on skeleton, 7-on-7 passing drills which started with the offense starting in the red zone but ended with the offense facing third down inside it’s own 20 yard line. Later in the practice, the offense and defense worked against the scout teams.

Later still, the Jags would run several situational drills including the first-team offense running first and 10 plays from their own 35 yard line. During the first series of the drill, Myles Gibbon connected with Santuan McGee in the flat for 15 yards. Brandon Ross ran for 10+ yards. The second series saw Ross and McGee both have runs of ten plus yards.

The second team offense struggled against the defense by only converting one third down play against them and suffering a sack. But Myles took a low snap and scrambled for a first down.

Friday the team visited Camp Grace instead of working out. Coach Jones and his staff did the same thing close to the end of preseason camp, which officially ends this weekend as South Alabama resumes classes on Monday morning.

Saturday morning the Jags will hold their second scrimmage of the preseason at 9am and according to Coach Jones, several positions are still up for grabs. The staff is also hoping to start brining into focus a fuzzy depth chart too.

“We’re trying to still evaluate players,” Coach Jones said. “Obviously, we’re trying to progress offensively and defensively with all of our packages, but we’re still looking at individuals. We can see things are starting to fall into place as far as the depth chart goes, but we obviously won’t make any decisions until after Saturday. After this week, we’ll focus more on polishing our offense and defense.”

The coaches are hoping for a better scrimmage from last Saturday’s. The defense gave up three big plays of 40 yards or more, two of which went for touchdowns. But, on the other hand, the offense turned the ball over three times and gave up three sacks.

Freshmen C.J. Bennett and T.J. Glover both showed some brilliance in last weeks scrimmage. Bennett threw for 162 yards on 7 of 13 passing with two touchdowns. Glover led with three receptions for 106 yards, including one for 70 yards.

“We did some good things, but overall too many mistakes were made,” Coach Jones mentioned of last week’s scrimmage. “I think the execution offensively needs to get better, and we need fewer negative plays. Defensively, we don’t need to give up big plays. Last week, they (defense) played well but just gave up too many of those. I think if we can cut that out, then that would be a plus on the defensive side of the ball.”

Unfortunately, C.J. Bennett was one offender on negative plays. He needs to learn how to get rid of the ball to avoid sacks and negative plays.

South Alabama’s First Scrimmage of 2010 Preseason Coverage

August 14, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

T.J. Glover running down the sideline on his 79 yard reception.

The defense started the scrimmage by allowing a 70 yard touchdown pass from Myles Gibbon to Lamontis Gardner but the defense would come back stronger after that by not allowing another score for the next seven series.

The defense would intercept two passes and recover a fumble during the seven series, scoreless stretch by the offense. C.J. Bennett would lead the offense to drive from mid field to score. However, the touchdown pass went through the intended receivers hands short of the end zone but Bryant Lavendar would catch it in the end zone for the touchdown.

After a break, the offense came back with something to prove. The offense, lead by Gibbon, would see three holding calls on the opening drive of the second half. However they worked hard and eventually put the ball into the end zone. T.J. Glover made it into the end zone twice but each were called back on holding penalties. Hill eventually got the ball into the end zone.

There would be three more touchdowns by the offense with two of them being keyed off of big plays. Santuan McGee had a 42 yard touchdown and 79 yard reception by T.J. Glover set up the offense for another score.

Myles finished 6 of 8 for 119 yards and two touchdowns. C.J. Bennett went 7 of 13 for 162 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. T.J. Glover had two catches for 106 yards. Corey Besteda, Lemantis Gardner and Ralph Turner all had multiple receptions. Brandon Ross only rushed twice for 23 yards. Cotton and Ellis Hill both had 17 yards rushing.

Enrique Williams lead the team in tackles and added an interception. Bryson James added three stops and an interception as well. Kendell Bagnerise and Rodney Thomas both recorded sacks with Thomas.

Watch the video of Coach Jones’ speaking after the scrimmage in our previous post by clicking here. Plus check out http://local15tv.com/ and http://fox10tv.com/ for coverage of the post scrimmage talk as well.

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Jaguars Hit The Practice Field In Shells

August 9, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Sunday

Sunday saw the Jags hit the field with shells while adding more contact. The hits were easy to hear and were definitely hard but full tackling was not allowed. They were only allowed to hit and hold up short of bringing someone to the ground.

Sunday’s practice began with more special teams practice. On Friday, they began with punt coverage but on Sunday they began with kickoff coverage. After beginning with special teams, the Jags then broke off into positional drills. Quarterbacks worked with receivers on timing and routes while running backs worked on handoffs and blocking. Linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs all working on basics as well.

After positions, the Jags then went into an inside drill session, which actually had the Jags hitting for the first time in summer camp. The offensive and defensive units swapped players in and out numerous times to more reps in for the new players. As Coach Jones said after practice, “The only way you can find out about guys is by giving them reps. I think we have some good young players who can build some depth for us at each position. Today, I felt like we got more people in practice, and we need to continue to do that.”

After the inside drill, the offensive and defensive linemen seperated to work on individual position technique. The secondary, linebackers, receivers and running backs worked against each other in pass coverage drills.

Monday

Similar to before, they had an 11-on-11 live-action session for ten plays. Freshman running back T.J. Glover rushed twice and broke one off the left end for 25 yards. In the two carries, he totaled about 30 yards but impressed the coaches and onlookers in the process. The Jaguars running backs coach Tommy Perry said, “He’s fast and you notice it. We’re trying to make things work so we can get him the ball in space, because he is electric. He’s a freshman, so he has to learn what to do, but as a coach you get excited when you see that extra gear, because he definitely has that.”

I would definitely look for Glover to be used in motions, misdirections and screen plays in the coming year with his speed.

The defense stepped up on six plays by stopping the offense for no gain on three rushes. They also forced two incomplete passes and and interception by redshirt freshman Eddy Cabrera.

After the 11-on-11 session, the offense worked on picking up the blitz with the defense. The first play of the drill saw Myles Gibbon hit Bryant Lavender, a freshmen, on a go route for 30 yards. Brennan Sim went 3-for-3 in the passing drill averaging close to seven yards per pass. He completed passes to Jereme Jones and Courtney Smith.

Monday was another practice in shells for the Jaguars. Practice began with a period of special teams practice, again focusing on kickoff returns and ended the practice with kickoff coverage.

The practice was similar to what the Jags will continue to do throughout preseason camp, but only with shells and limited hitting. They had multiple periods of third down situational drills and multiple 11-on-11 drills.

The first third down situational drill had the offensive line and running backs practice running plays against the defensive interior. On the other side of the field, quarterbacks and receivers worked against defensive backs  in coverage. During this set of drills, Anthony Taylor and Charlie Higgenbotham came away with sacks as well as forcing and recovering a fumble.

One of the 11-on-11 sessions was running plays in the red zone. The offense started witht he goal of making a first down starting at the 20. On the first play, Sim connected with Courtney Smith for a nine yard gain, short of the first down when Anton Graphenreed tackled Smith one yard shy of the first. The offense then had two big gains on the defense with Houston on a rush and a screen play to Johnny Lockett from C.J. Bennett. But the defense held on the next two plays.

The final 11-on-11 of the day continued the outstanding play by the defense. They only allowed two first down in ten plays with three consecutive sacks. Jake Johnson was in on two of them as well as Ben Giles and Ucambre Williams. The first play saw the offense make a first down with a pass from Sim to Courtney Smith on a slant. The offense’s only other first down was on a quarterback draw by Raymond Cotton on their last play.

The offense was hot early in the third down 7-on-7 drills. They converted about half of their attempts with Bennett being responsible for four first downs with four completions to four different players. Brennan Sim helped to get three first down. Only two Jaguars, Taylor Noon and Bryant Lavender, caught two passes for first downs.

Coach Jones commented on the practice afterwards by saying, “It was a very good practice, though I thought we had a little lull in the middle to latter part for the first time. That’s normal, and what I was proud of is that they fought back at the end of practice. We’re in the middle of nine straight days of practice, and that ‘s tough. They just have to get a little better every day, and so far we have improved.”

The Jags continue their nine consecutive days of practice on Tuesday when they don full pads for the first time this preseason camp.

Two Basketball Players Dismissed; Cotton Joins Football Team

August 4, 2010 · Filed Under Basketball, Football, News · Comment 

Basketball

On Monday, it was announced that South Alabama head basketball coach Ronnie Arrow dismissed Labree Sledge and Kentari Nettles from the basketball program. Both signed National Letter of Intents with South Alabama in November and enrolled in summer school classes but violated team and University rules.

Coach Arrow had this to say about Sledge and Nettles, “Due to recent circumstances we felt like it would be in the best interest of both the program and the individuals involved that we part ways at this time. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Sledge averaged 9.8 points per game while attending Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. Nettles attended LeFlore High School and led them to the 5A semifinals in 2008.

Football

It’s official, Raymond Cotton is joining the Jaguars and is expected to practice with the team when they hit the practice field for the first time on Friday morning. Raymond, a redshirt Freshman received his official release from Ole Miss on Wednesday.

He joins a good stable of quarterback at South Alabama. Brennan Sim, Myles Gibbon, Gabe Graham who were all there last season. Including incoming Freshman C.J. Bennett from Tampa, Florida and Matt Saucier who took snaps at quarterback in the Spring of last year but moved to Safety before the season started. Nick Owens transferred after last season when it became obvious that he was not going to get as much playing time with the Jags.

Cotton was ranked among the top 30 quarterbacks nationally by both ESPN and Scout.com as well as being in the top 15 players in the Mid-Atlantic region. He also participated in the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp last summer after his one season with Fort Meade.

It was also announced on Wednesday that Jarred Williams is transferring from Florida-Atlantic to South Alabama. he will also be able to participate in the teams first practice on Friday morning.

Williams is a 6’3″ 245 pound defensive end originally from Fort Walton Beach, Florida and will have four years of eligibility for South Alabama after redshirting last season with FAU.

Williams marks the fifth student-athlete to join the Jaguars from a NCAA FBS (formerly Division I-A) program.

As stated above, the Jags will begin preparation for their second season of football on Friday. They will be facing a tougher schedule so the coach staff made spring drills more physical and challenging to fit the bill. They also recruited well to fill specific needs and to add depth at certain positions.

The schedule will expand from seven game to ten with all of their opponents being four-year institutions as well as the Jags first three road games. Coach Jones expects 129 Jaguar players to report on Wednesday and will take care of all of their academic preparation on Thursday and probably have meetings to prepare for practice on Friday.

One of the positions that was of major concern was the secondary. Saucier was among the players who were converted from offensive positions to help give the Jags depth in the secondary. Another was Ken Barefield who flourished in the secondary. They added Jonathan Cameron from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and Darrow Fisher for experience as well as some freshmen who will add to the depth.

Coach Jones also wants more depth on the offensive line. He said only about six players got the majority of the playing time last season and he wants to get more involved. “We need to have at least 10 guys that we feel like we can count on. We’re recruiting to try and get to that point. Playing the schedule we’re playing this year, we’ve got to create some depth there, and competition. Last year, those guys knew it didn’t matter what they did, they were going to start. We didn’t have any depth. Now we’re going to have some guys breathing down their necks and pushing them and that’s always good.”

Another position of interest to Coach Jones is defensive end. “We need to find guys who can come off the edge and sack the quarterback. We feel like we’ve got some big guys on the defensive line, some very good players, but we’ve got to develop some pass rush,” Coach Jones said. “They’ve really gotten bigger, faster and stronger. But most of those guys we’re playing with on the defensive line, they’re freshmen. We don’t have a lot of veterans there to help them out.”

Friday’s practice will go from 7:10-9:45am to begin the first of nine straight days of practice. Friday and Saturday the team will be practicing in T-shirts and shorts. They will then add shells for practice on Sunday and Monday then will practice in full pads beginning on Tuesday.

Raymond Cotton Leaves Ole Miss For South Alabama

July 29, 2010 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

According to Raymond Cotton Sr. his son Raymond Cotton has received his release from Ole Miss on Thursday and plans to sign with South Alabama. South Alabama could not comment since no scholarship papers have been signed yet. Also according to Cotton’s father, his release was only good for South Alabama.

Cotton has ties to the area when he led Faith Academy to the AISA final as  junior before moving to Maryland. He originally committed to Auburn before changing his mind for Ole Miss. He threw for 2,243 yards with 24 touchdowns in Fort Meade, Maryland as a senior.

Cotton joins the Jaguars and will not lose any eligibility since South Alabama has not yet reached FBS status. Cotton adds to the Jaguars impressive lineup behind center with Myles Gibbon, Brennan Sim and Gabe Graham on the roster and incoming freshmen C.J. Bennett and Calvin Jenkins. Althought it looks like Jenkins may greyshirt, which means he would enroll at South Alabama in January. Nothing formally has been announced yet about his status.

At Ole Miss he redshirted his freshman year but threw for 178 yards and two touchdowns in the Grove Bowl, the Ole Miss spring game. He was bothered by a partially torn labrum but still came out of the spring drills as the Rebel’s number 2 quarterback.

Cotton’s departure from the Rebels leave them thin at quarterback with sophomore Nathan Stanley penciled in at the starter and a junior college transfer Randall Mackey as their only other quarterback on the roster. Several sites have been reporting that Jeremiah Masoli, who was suspended from Oregon’s team, could transfer in and walk-on for the Rebels as a graduate student.

As far as transfers goes, each announcement get higher and higher in profile. A former starting linebacker from Virginia Tech and now a quarterback with the ability to start in the best football conference in the nation, the SEC. Coach Joey Jones and his staff are racking up the style points quickly.

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