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South Alabama shows guts and wins nail-biter at UC-Davis

October 24, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama Head Coach Joey Jones talks with Courtney Smith during a stoppage in play against Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.

South Alabama’s game against UC-Davis really lived up to its billing. It had excitement, adversity, tough play, heart and a little luck. This recipe came out in favor of the Jaguars, 24-21. But most of all it answered some lingering questions that Coach Jones wanted answers to. The Jags were behind against Nicholls State early in the game, but pulled away in the second half. However, the Jags needed some fourth quarter heroics and a little luck to pull out the win in California.

The Jags had to overcome four turnovers, two interceptions thrown by Brennan Sim and two fumbles, one from Sim and another by Bennett late in the game and frankly nearly disastrous, for the win. However, the defense continued to step up and make plays when necessary. Anthony Taylor made two crucial sacks on the final Aggie drive to set up the attempted field goal to send the game into overtime.

Coach Jones wanted to see what his team could do if they were down in the fourth quarter. He wanted to see how his kids would respond having to play a full four quarters of football. Well, he got his answer alright.

“We came through at the end, the defense did a great job,” said head Coach Joey Jones. “We fumbled the ball on the 30, but we sacked them and made them kick a field goal that was fortunately wide right.”

“I have to tell you, UC-Davis is a great, first-class football team,” Jones continued. “We came out to California and beat an extremely good football team tonight. They have great players and are very well-coached team. We had so many setbacks during the game, whether it was penalties or turnovers, but never had the feeling we were out of the game. Our kids kept playing hard. It’s just a great statement for our program. People have been asking me all year long, and I know where we are now; we beat a great I-AA program that won its conference last year, is probably going to win it this year, and beat San Jose State this season. We’re up there. Are we Division I-A yet? No, but we’re probably close.”

The Jags will return to Ladd-Peebles stadium to round out their season with three consecutive home games. The first of which will have Georgia State, in their first season of football, coming to Mobile coached by former University of Alabama head coach Bill Curry on Saturday, October 30th. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00pm.

Continue for a more detailed breakdown of the game.
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Jags Announce Three Transfers To The Football Program

July 7, 2010 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

On Tuesday, South Alabama announced that three players were transferring from other programs and joining the Jaguars this season. Among these three is the Jaguars highest profile player to date, former starting linebacker Jake Johnson from Virginia Tech.

Johnson is listed at 6’2″ and 232lbs. He was highly recruited by Virginia Tech, Maryland and Virginia out of high school and has a reputation as being a monster in the weight room. Johnson started the first eight games of the 2009 season and lead the team with tackles against Alabama. For the season he finished tied for fifth on the team with 55 tackles and 4.5 of them for a loss with two sacks.

However, at the end of the season Johnson lost his starting job and Beamer and Company moved him to defensive end in the spring. He asked and was granted his release back in May. Once the Jags heard he had his release from the Hokies, South Alabama make phone calls to see if he would be interested in the Jaguars. “It means the world to us to have a guy like him who has experience in big games and can provide that experience to our team,” Coach Jones remarked. “He’s going to bring a lot to the table. He’s a hard worker and a leader and we hope that’s going to rub off on our younger players.”

Johnson commented on South Alabama’s facilities by saying, “The main thing that attracted me is it’s going to be a Division I program in a couple of years and we’ll be playing against Division I schools. I’ll have three years of football, three years of school here and playing Division I teams, and you can’t beat that. I couldn’t get that from some other schools. All the facilities are brand-new and the technology is the latest stuff. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, but everything is great from the fieldhouse to the meeting rooms and weight room. I was really impressed. I can’t wait to strap the pads back on and start hitting again. I just love the game and I can’t wait to get started in August again.”

Kendall Houston, who was a high school standout at running back at Vigor. He helped them win the 2008 Class 5A title by running for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns as an all-state selection. He transferred from Arkansas State and is listed at 5’10” and weighting 180lbs. He participated in spring drills at ASU but never played in a regular season game. So he comes to South Alabama with five seasons of eligibility since the NCAA has South Alabama listed as an “unclassified” program, he is able to participate in games during what will amount to be his redshirt season in 2010.

The third transfer is Ben Giles from Pace, Florida. Another high school standout who transferred from Louisiana-Monroe to South Alabama. He is listed at 6’0″ and 235lbs. He sat out last season at ULM and comes to South Alabama with four years of eligibility. Coach Jones remembers recruiting Giles and said, “He’s a tough inside linebacker-type player. He plays tough and he’s a good addition to the team.”

With the addition of Johnson and Giles to the Higgenbotham and Dunn tandem, the Jags have firmly solidified the linebacker positions with even more depth and talent. Look for good things out of these four in the coming season.

Jaguars Process Continues: Red White Game 2010

March 11, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head Coach Joey Jones watches as Myles Gibbon leads the White team offense as they try to score in the second Red-White Game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The University of South Alabama Spring Football Game showcased alot of talent on both sides of the ball, but it also showed that there is improvement still yet to be had. The defense on both sides really stepped up when needed and the offenses showed flashes of brilliance, however neither side showed any all-around dominance.

On the first drive of the game, the white offense lead by Myles Gibbon, drove 70 yards in 13 plays to put the first points on the board. With the drive facing a fourth-and-one near midfield, it was actually gut-check time. Do they play it safe and punt or do they roll the dice?

Well, the white team rolled the dice and and it payed off. Gibbon completed a pass to Paul Bennett for 13 yards for the first down and to cross the midfield stripe. This play got the offense in gear. Myles carred the ball for six yards, then Santuan McGee rushed twice for 13 more yards. Then Brandon Ross followed with a 17 yard gain to the one yard line on a sweep to the left. Gibbon would cap off the drive with a one yard dive into the end zone to give the White team an early 7-0 lead.

On the second drive of the game, the Red team would drive 55 yards down to the White team’s 25 yard line before getting stopped on a fourth-and-five play.

The White team would take the ball and drive 69 yards in just six plays. The majority of the yards were picked up on a 52 yard strike from Myles Gibbon to Courtney Smith on a post route. However an incomplete pass into the end zone on fourth down from the one yard line would end their drive.

Brennan Sim would lead the Red teams drive from the one yard line and go 99 yards to even the game with less than three minutes until halftime. After trying to run for a few yards of breathing room in the shadow of their endzone, Sim would find Donte Rome for a 14 yard completion on third down to keep the drive alive. Sim would go back to Rome for a 16 yard completion.

On the next play, Brandon Norton would record a sack on Sim costing the Red team eight yards. But he came back with a fake option run which the defensive back bit on and found Kelly Vail on a post pattern which he turned into a 73 yard touchdown.

The second half was a defensive showing with only one score in the second half to show for it.

The drive began when Zach Brownell intercepted a pass and returned it eight yards to the 38 yard line. Gibbon then found Courtney Smith for a first down play to get the ball to midfield. McGee, two plays later, would find a seam and go for 12 yards and another White first down at the Red teams 34 yard line.

Then on third-and-ten, Paul Bennett caught another Gibbon pass in the right flat for 22 yards just as time expired in the third quarter. But the Red team defense would not give up. They would cause three consecutive plays for a loss, including back to back sacks by Clifton Crews and Josh Chestang. This placed the ball on the 36 yard line. With fourth-and-24, the coaches options were limited.

Gambling for a win and some game pressure experience, the White team ran on Jordan Means to attempt a 53 yard field goal. The snap and hold were good and when Means put foot to ball and sent it sailing, everyone watched holding their breath. As the ball barely cleared the cross bar, everyone was wondering if it made it. Then when the referees hands went up in the air, the onlookers gave their loudest cheer of the night as the White team celebrated as well.

The drive and kick covered 13:52 and left about 11:30 for the Red team to try to match them and the White defense did not let the Red team get a drive going of any substance and held on for the victory.

Myles Gibbon went 8-for-9 passing for 131 yards with four of them to Courtney Smith for 83 yards. Paul Bennett had two receptions for 35 yards while Lamontis Gardner also added two receptions. Santuan McGee lead the team rushing with 10 carries for 43 yards and Brandon Ross carried the ball five times for 33 more yards.

The White defense was lead by Romelle Jones with five tackles, 1.5 of them for a loss. Richard Courtney and Logan Bennett each added four tackles while Bryson James had three. In total, the White defense only allowed 207 yards.

Brennan Sim went 13-for-22 with 184 yards. Kelly Vail caught four passes for a game high of 94 yards. Ralph Turner also had four receptions for 39 yards. The Red team offense could only muster 13 yards on 14 attempts, but Eli Smith lead the way with six rushes for 18 yards.

Ken Barefield lead all players with nine tackles, two of them for a loss. Michael Wilson added seven. Clifton Crews and Enrique Williams added four each as well. The Red defense only allowed 12 more yards than the White defense for 219 yards.

Head Coach Joey Jones was on the field observing the play the entire evening. Coach Jones had this to say about the game, “I think the kids had some fun out there. It was a good-spirited night, they’ve been at each other the last couple of days and had a good time. It was a good way to end a long spring training.”

“That was great,” added Coach Jones when asked about the Jordan Means’ field goal attempt. “I was over there and they were ready to run a fourth-down play to try and at least gain some yardage. I reminded them the wind was behind them, though I wasn’t trying to be a head coach. Jordan has a good leg, I knew if he got it going straight he had it. It was a great kick.”

All in all, the players had a great time. There were good spirited ribbing and text messages going back and forth all week according to Romelle Jones. Myles Gibbon added that it was like playing with a completely new team since both teams only had one practice in order to prepare for the game.

At halftime, Mobile businessman David Gwin who is a strong supporter of South Alabama Athletics along with his wife Lynn were recognized for their $100,000 donation for a football sculpture. The sculpture, as stated by President Gordon Moulton, will stand about 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide in the front circle of the entranceway to the Jaguar Football Field House and will be made entirely out of stainless steel.

Coach Jones and his staff honored several players for their efforts in spring practice. Each position received a Most Improved award with the winners being: Quarterback Brennan Sim, Running Back Eli Smith, Wide Receivers Bryant Lavender, Tight End Robby Stoner, Offensive Lineman Levi Slaydon, Defensive Lineman Kendell Bagnerise, Inside Linebacker Brett Hancock, Outside Linebacker Josh Chestang and Defensive Back Michael Wilson.  Other special honors went to Corey Walden on Offense and Ken Barefield on Defense. Charlie Higgenbotham received the “I Like To Practice” award and Brennan Sim earned the High Academic Honors award.

The process to join Division-I football continues on Saturday, September 4 when Pikeville (Kentucky) travels to Ladd-Peebles Stadium to open the 2010 Football season.

Coach Jones Has Good News And Basketball Gets Ready To Tipoff At Home

November 17, 2009 · Filed Under Basketball, Football, Men's · Comment 

The Jags have gone 3-1 so far in basketball with wins over West Florida 79-63, Houston Baptist 76-64 and Sacramento State 70-58. Their only loss was to Rice by two points, 71-69.

The Jags will open their home season on Thursday when they host Spring Hill college at 7:05pm at the Mitchell Center. USA will be honoring the football team for their accomplishments in their inaugural season at halftime of the men’s game.

Mentioned today on the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the NCAA has granted USA players who have not already used their redshirt year, the ability to count this year towards that. Since USA was not competing against “varsity” teams, the NCAA has allowed them to do this.

However this will apply differently from player to player. For instance, someone like Brandon Ross who has only used one year of eligibilty (at Memphis) will get to count this year as his redshirt year which means he has three more years to play at USA. But a player like Courtney Smith who has used his redshirt and played two years at UAB will only have one more year of eligibility left for next year. Charlie Higgenbotham and Justin Dunn both have the same eligibility status as Smith. All but one of the offensive linemen, who are JuCo transfers, have only used two years of eligibility and will have two more years to play for USA.

During Monday’s media day Coach Jones reflected on the Jags inaugural season. One of the first questions he was asked was about how he felt after realizing that the team had played its final game of the season. He answered by saying, “This weekend I was emotionally and physically drained from a year and a half of putting this thing together, but at the same time I’m just really excited for where our program is at this point. So much hard work has gone into putting this together, and I’m just really pleased with where we are in the process of moving into Division I.”

Another question was about where the team will go from here. “The biggest thing we’ve got to meet with the team about today is that we’ve got to continually raise the bar starting today and all the way through next season, and even beyond that,” Coach Jones answered. “We’ve got to realize where we want to be as a football program, and we’ve got to continually raise the bar every day, because we’re by no means a good Division I program right now. We’re going to be there, but we know that we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that point.”

He was then asked about what areas the team needed to improve upon. “It’s obviously in the weight room and the strength and conditioning area,” he said. “We’ve got to become a bigger and faster team, and then the second thing is recruiting. We’re hitting the recruiting trail this week, and have been recruiting, but we can focus all of our energies toward recruiting and signing what we deem are Division I players. We’ve got to make decisions along the way that we’re going to sign better players than we’ve got, or we’re not going to sign them. We don’t need numbers anymore. We need higher quality players as we go, so we’ve got to focus on that and not get caught up in trying to sign numbers.”

Coach Jones was asked what he would remember from this first season. He answered, “The number one thing I’m most pleased about is how the team came together. I’m not just talking about our players and staff, I’m talking about our trainers, equipment people, graduate assistants, and strength and conditioning guys. Everybody that was involved with the program seemed like they were all on the same page, and that was the most pleasing thing – to bring that many people together and get them all going in the same direction. We really had a bunch of great people.”

One of the last questions asked was what it means to the program to win all seven games this season. “Number one it makes a statement that South Alabama is here to build a Division I football program,”he said. “The 7-0 thing is a confidence builder. Success breeds success and losing breeds losing, so I would much rather be 7-0, because I think that carries over. It’s not that if we had lost a bunch of games that we wouldn’t have had a chance to have a great program, but any time you win kids get used to it and it’s harder for them to lose down the road.”

Commentary: Jaguars Winning Ways Similar To National Championship Contender

October 24, 2009 · Filed Under Commentary, Football · Comment 

There is no doubt the Jaguars first season of football has already exceeded many peoples initial vision. They thought that if the Jags could win a couple games, it would be a pretty good season. But with the Jags 4-0 and dominating every opponent in all phases of the game, this was unexpected by many local observers.

South Alabama is starting to get noticed around the state too. UAB and Troy fans are already talking up their programs and talking down to the Jaguars. This started after the first game and again after the second game. Are they already worried about their place in the state’s college football pecking order? If not, then maybe they should.

Looking at the Jaguars and the current #1 team in the state, the University of Alabama, you can see some parallels between the two teams (overlooking the last two or three games by Alabama). The Jags and UA are both led by good defensive play based on stopping the run.

The Jags Justin Dunn would probably be the Jags closest player to parallel the impact of Dont’a Hightower. Hightower played (out for season with a knee injury) inside linebacker and made lots of tackles and stuffed the run. Charlie Higgenbotham would be the closest Alabama’s Rolando McClain. He does a good job helping to stop the run and is able to drop into coverage as well. Although Josh Chestang could also be tagged as a possible McClain parallel too.

In the secondary, Jerron Mitchell is probably the closest cornerback to the skill and ability to match Javier Arenas in coverage and tackling. Althought I haven’t seen him blitz the quarterback like Alabama does with Arenas. While Zach Brownell seems to have the same nose for the football as Alabama’s Mark Barron. They seem to put themselves into the right position to pick off an opponents pass.

Even the Jags and Alabama seem to have somewhat similar strengths and weaknesses on offense. Both teams run the ball very well with a good stable of running backs, but both are somewhat struggling in the passing game. The Jags don’t utilize the ‘pistol’ formation nor do they use the ‘wildcat’ formation either. Coach Jones and Coach Gregory feel that freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon is athletic enough that they do not need to use those formations. So they are too different to be compared to each other beyond the fact they are both starting quarterbacks.

Courtney Smith is big, fast and is a threat to score anytime he gets the ball, which is exactly what you would say about Julio Jones. Its hard to compare the rest of the receiver corps because of how few passes have been thrown and how many receivers have caught passes.

Again, both teams are very strong in the rushing game. Obviously Alabama’s Mark Ingram is quite a spectacular player, but so is Trent Richardson too. There are many traits that are shared by Ingram and Richardson for Alabama and Brandon Ross, Santuan McGee and Anthony Mostella.

I strongly urge you not to misconstrue these comparisons. It’s not meant to further praise Alabama or to proclaim the Jaguars just as good as Alabama. It’s merely meant to go towards showing what a good job coach Jones and his staff are doing here in Mobile. Alabama is currently ranked in the top two spots in all of the polls and rankings. Both teams are winning with fundamentals, strong defenses and a lots of rushing yards.

As mentioned in the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the Jags need to work on their passing game to be a more complete team. They are definitely dominating by running the game, but a football team wants and really needs to be able to move the ball by passing or running the ball.

Something else the Jags need to work on lately are their penalties. In the first two games the Jags did not commit many penalties. Against Hargrave they committed 4 for 30 yards and against Army prep they committed 5 for 40 yards. But against Georgia Military they committed 10 for 158 yards and against Louisburg they committed 6 for 52 yards. The Jags improved against Louisburg by reducing their number of penalties and yards but it is still more than the first two games. The Georgia Military game is obviously the low point of the Jags season thus far. If you subtract their penalty yards from their offensive production, they only gained 93 yards.

With this type of play out of such young players the Jaguars have quite a bright future ahead of them. With increasingly better opponents coming in the near future, the Jags will be in the position to play competitively and win.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2009-10-13

October 13, 2009 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Coach Joey Jones joined with Lee Shirvanian and Dameyune Craig at Baumhower’s Wings Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for today’s show.

First question they are going to start with, now that the Jags are 3-0 and they have defeated what they think will be their best competition of the year. Where do you think this program is in terms of what level of competition could you compete with Division I-AA, Division II or division III. If you could redo the schedule where do you think they could go? Coach Jones talked to the team yesterday about some of their goals for the rest of the year and what they can do to get there. He then, kind of reluctantly, went on to talk scores. The #2 Junior College team beat Georgia Military 28-8 and the Jags beat them 31-3, but by the scores they could compete with that team. However, Coach Jones was quick to remind the listeners that it does not mean they could beat them but it indicates that they could compete with some of the best JC’s in the country.

Coach Jones then said they could probably get on the field with many of the Division I-AA schools, but not the Appalachian States or other traditional big schools in that division.

Lee then asked Coach Craig said he really didn’t know because they have alot of freshman. But that they have a really great group of kids that go out and work hard and learn, so its hard to compare. He thinks they could do well in Division II and maybe Division I-AA. He also thought they could probably do well in the SWAC conference.

Lee also mentioned that they tried to schedule Alabama State but it didn’t work out. But Coach Jones hopes to schedule them in the future thinking it would be a good game.

Lee mentioned that the team has a lot of Freshman but they also have a fair amount of Junior College linemen and asked if that was the difference for the team. Coach Jones said that they came in and gave the team a maturity factor that rubbed off on the younger guys. They are more calm with something bad happens in a game.

Lee followed up asking if the Jags would be looking to bring in some more Junior College players and transfers like Courtney Smith and others. Coach Jones said you should always look to better your team any way you can. Meaning that they have Brandon Ross that expressed an interest in coming to USA. The same with Charlie Higgenbotham. He said they have to spread their wealth, they took Brandon even though they had a pretty good line-up at running back because he was a difference maker.

Lee asked Coach Craig what positions they were looking to focus on this recruiting season. He answered that they are looking at defensive ends, cornerbacks and safeties. They feel pretty good about receivers and running backs but they can always use offensive lineman.

Looking back at Georgia Military, Coach Jones said that they knew that defensively they were a good team. Also they felt like there were some deficiencies on their offensive line that they could exploit and pressure the quarterback. They hurried and hit the quarterback a lot but didn’t get too him. The defense ran him around the field so much that at one point he had full body cramps and they also hit him every time he threw the football which was good for the Jags.

Lee asked about Michel Chapuseaux’s injury which Coach Jones said he was alright. It looked worse than it was and it scared him some. It was a hard hit but he’s okay. Offensive guard Jon Griffin turned an ankle but is expected to be fine for the game on Saturday. Then John Mark Patrick who continues to out due to his knee problem.

The offense only scored two touchdowns and didn’t have a chance to catch many passes because they didn’t throw much. They just want to do what they can to win, players are working hard to make a play when its their time and to just do their roll in the game plan.

Lee joked with Coach Craig about his days at Auburn and how the Georgia Military quarterback moved around to make plays. Coach Craig joked that his games ended better, he didn’t throw interceptions but rather threw more touchdowns. But he gave credit to Coach Clark, the defensive coordinator, for doing an outstanding job with the guys on defense and that it has been a pleasure working with him and everyone on the staff.

He even included Coach Schwind the strength and conditioning coach on what a good job they have done and how well they work together. He continued saying that the summer workouts they did with the players getting them prepared for camp really made a huge difference.

A listener emailed in a question about the special teams punt coverage. He was saying that one punt went into the end zone where the coverage team had a chance to catch it close to the endzone but allowed it to hit and go in for a touch back. He wanted to ask if they are coached to catch it if they have a chance like that and the receiving team is not trying to catch it.

Coach Jones said that the kids are instructed to catch the ball in that instance. They have stressed that and have worked on it. He said as a coach he looks back on that and asks himself if they did that enough in practice and did they put their kids in that situation enough for them to make it happen in the game. He then said he takes full blame for that because they should work on that enough so that it becomes second nature to them.

Certain positions they are looking at Junior College players to recruit. But right now they are looking to find the best players at the positions that they are looking to fill in. If they could find some Junior College defensive backs, coach Craig said that would be great. It would help them to get more experience in the backfield. Lee then made the observation that Zach Brownell and company are doing a good job in the defensive backfield. Coach Craig said its more about creating depth. They are comfortable at certain positions about their depth but when if one player gets hurt and it completely changes your game plan, that is a pretty tough situation.

The Jags finally have back to back game weekends. It feels good to finally have this and the kids are ready for it too. But Coach Jones said they feel they have used the previous off weeks very wisely and it has paid off on the field.

After Coach Jones said previously that Georgia Military was going to be their biggest test of the year for the Jags. Where do they go now? Coach Jones said they are trying to teach these kids to work every day. This is something that will help them on the field and in life. He also told them if they come out onto the practice field and work for two hours every day and get a little bit better every day then they are going to be better the next game and better at the end of the season. Coach Jones says he does not like to talk about going undefeated but that is their goal for the season. But how do they get there? They don’t get there by talking about it every day. They work towards achieving that by going out and working hard to get a little bit better every day.

Lee said that previously that it was mentioned that they felt like some of their receivers could possibly play in the NFL. So Lee asked if that was possible and who they might be. Coach Craig said that Courtney Smith has the intangibles. He has size and speed but some things he needs to work on to get there and he is willing to work to get there. They also have some young guys that are being redshirted right now. Kelly Vail from LeFlore was also mentioned.

When asked by Lee about who has the best hands, Coach Craig answered it would either be Lim Windham or Corey Besteda.

Coach Craig again praised the other coaches on the staff and said that the biggest thing he learned was that they can get Freshmen ready to play. Before he thought that they just were not ready to play coming into the team but what Coach Jones and the rest of the staff have done has changed that. They got these player in summer so they could work out and it has payed off big time because they are ready to play.

Coach Jones said that Louisburg may not be as talented as GMJC but they are still talented. They have players committed to Temple and other schools like that. They mentioned that they like to roll out the red carpet to teams when they arrive to play the Jags. They like to show them around the field house and to show off their facilities. Coach Jones said he has not been to many schools but he is pretty confident that they probably have among the best if not the best facilities in the Sun Belt and probably are good enough to make some of the lower end SEC schools a bit envious.

First Ever Media Day For South Alabama Football

August 24, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · Comment 

On Monday, head coach Joey Jones as well as offensive coordinator Greg Gregory, defensive coordinator Bill Clark, and players Jon Griffin, Charlie Higgenbotham and Anthony Mostella participated in the first ever Media Day for South Alabama Football. The program included a tour of the fieldhouse and lunch before the highly anticipated interviews.

Highlights of the press conference can be read on the USA Jaguars page located here.

Less than 12 days until kickoff. Do you have your tickets yet?

Defense Stiffens Up In Second Preseason Scrimmage

August 23, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Saturday morning was beautiful day for South Alabama to have their scrimmage. It was completely opposite of how the weather had been all week when it force practices to be cut short or canceled. It was also very different for the defense from last weeks performance when they gave up six touchdowns and nearly four hundred yards.

The defense came out with something to prove on Saturday and did they prove it to the offense. They only gave up one touchdown and two field goals outside of the red zone and goal line situational drills. Justin Dunn lead the defense with five tackles and one assist behind the line of scrimmage. Five players, Chris Cooke, Clifton Crews, Bryson James, Matt Saucier and Enrique Williams all had four tackles with Cooke and Williams both having two tackles for loss. Charlie Higgenbotham added three tackles while Josh Chestang had two tackles, both being sacks on quarterback Myles Gibbon. Zach Rone recovered a fumble and Brett Hancock came away with an interception to accound for the two first-half turnovers.

The scrimmage began with the Jaguar offense starting deep in their own territory at the two yard-line. In four plays the offense picked up two first downs. Brandon Ross gained six yards on a run for one of the first downs and Gibbon hitting Kevin Helms on the left sideline for 21 yards for the other first down. On the offenses second series, Enrique Williams tackled Eli Smith for a safety on the second-team’s first snap. However they regrouped and picked up a pair of first downs. Brennan Sim found Corey Besteda for 11 yards for one. Then three plays later Sim found Bryant Lavender for 17 yards for the other first down.

On Saturday, Kim Shugart posted an article on al.com for the Mobile Press-Register about the place-kickers. It covered their troubles in last weeks scrimmage and continued struggles to become consistent. You can read the article here. But it was Michel Chapuseaux who scored the first points for the offense on Saturday with a 38 yard field goal. A key play setting up the field goal attempt was a 35 yard completion from Gibbon to Ralph Turner. On the very next series, Chapuseaux had a 48 yard attempt hit the left upright and bounce off. That attempt was set up by a 19 yard completion to Lemontis Gardner by Gibbon on a third and nine from their own 41 yard line. While Lawson McGlon hit both PAT attempts and Jordan Means hit a PAT as well.

The next series the first-team drove inside the 15 yard line but the second sack of the day by Chestang, eventually led to a fourth and four situation from the 11 yard line. Gibbon then ran a quarterback draw but was stopped one yard shy by Anthony Taylor.

On the second-teams second drive, they drove to the defense’s 38 yard line but Nick Owens was sacked by Alex Tamariz for an eight yard loss on third down to end the series. However, Owens would lead the offense to the events first touchdown the next time on the field, capping off a five play 50 yard drive with an Eli Smith rush off right tackle for 27 yards.

The second possession by the third-team offense crossed midfield as well, but was ended by a fumble recovered by Rone.

After a short break, the defense came back and prevented the offense from scoring on both series following the break. On the first of two red zone possession drills starting at the defense’s 20 yard line, Chapuseaux hit a 39 yard field goal. The scrimmage ended with two touchdowns on goal line drives starting at the 5 yard line. Ross found the end zone on the first team’s first play. Then on third and goal from the six, Owens rolled left and hit Nick Brunson in the corver of the end zone for the other touchdown.

Myles Gibbon went 8-for-13 for 105 yard in the air and 21 yards rushing on six carries. Nick Owens went 6-for8 for 45 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Sim went 2-for-7 for 28 yards and an interception. Gabe Graham went 3-for-4 adding 28 yards also. Each quarterback was sacked once. Combined all four South Alabama quarterbacks went 19-of-32 for 206 yards. Ross had 10 rushes for 47 yards, Eli Smith had four for 30 yards and Anthony Mostella had 3 rushes for 20 yards. Combined the offense rushed 43 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The offense combined for 310 yards for the scrimmage. The complete stats can be found here.

After the scrimmage, Coach Jones commented on the defense by saying, “Defensively, they did a great job of bracing themselves in the red zone. They bent between the 20-yard lines, but toughened up. Offensively, we need to learn how to punch the ball in the end zone. That’s where most offenses have problems early in the year, and some of that is not allowing cut blocks because we don’t want to do that to our own guys. When you’re in the red zone, it’s hard to overcome a loss on first or second down, because the defense really has you where they want you.”

“One thing that the defense needs to work on is coming off the goal line,” Coach Jones observed. “One of my pet peeves is when we can’t keep teams pinned deep in their own territory. If we have them on the 2-yard line, let’s keep them down there, make them punt and get the ball around the 50. Then you have a greater percentage chance of scoring a touchdown.”

Jones continued speaking about the offense, “Nick had one of his better practices, he really did well this morning. I thought Myles had a good day too, he didn’t make any glaring mistakes that I saw. He was real poised out there, and he’s not getting flustered running our offense, which I like to see from a young quarterback. Brandon was tough running the ball. He’s not in shape yet because he’s been out a good deal with an injury, so he is not totatlly ready for a ball game. But, he is very tough on the inside.”

Gibbon spoke after the scrimmage saying, “We need to become more effective inside the red zone, because the most important part of an offense is being able to score when you get there. We had some big plays, but when we get down the field we need to execute better. Hopefully we can run the ball better in the red zone because when you’re passing there is so little space to throw to.”

Overall Coach Jones was happy with how the team responded and performed in their second preseason scrimmage. “Overall, I’m very pleased with both sides of the ball,” he said. “I thought we were a little more organized today, especially on the sidelines. One of the things we were trying to do was get them in the types of situations they’ll see in games as best we could, I think they learned a lot from that today. This was a real successful scrimmage.”

However, this team is quite different from the team that showed up for the spring scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium back in April. Coach Jones knew they would react differently because of that and he was right too. “It’s not that they were tight, but you could sense a little difference,” he said. “That’s why we brought them out here. We’ll do it again one more time before the first game to get them used to these surroundings.”

Myles Gibbon spoke about his visit to the stadium after the scrimmage by saying, “It felt good to finally come to where our home will be this fall and be in this atmosphere. When we walked out on the field, I just tried to imagine what it is going to be like having loads of people in here cheering and the stands filled from top to bottom. We’ll see what happens, but it’s exciting thinking about it.”

The Jags will have Sunday off and will return to the practice field for their 3:30pm practice time on Monday.

Jaguars Practice Despite Bad Weather

August 17, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Quarterback Myles Gibbon looking for his receiver at Saturday’s scrimmage. He has been listed at the top of the teams first released depth chart on Monday. Photo by Doug Roberts

The Jaguars hit the practice field despite the effects of Claudette on Monday. Heavy rains only delayed the Jaguars practice by about ten minutes as they took the field after a day off for their first post scrimmage practice. They hit the field for just over two hours at around 3:30pm, which is their new practice time now that classes have started on campus.

Their practice schedule was similar to the previous two weeks of camp. Special teams, position drills, skeleton drills and so forth. In the final hour they had their 11-on-11 drills and workouts against the scout teams. In the situation play, the coaching staff had them work on two-minute drills and red zone plays.

While the routine stayed pretty much the same, today did mark another first that will have many peoples attention in the coming days. Coach Jones finally released the team’s first depth chart based on the previous two weeks performance and the scrimmage on Saturday. There is a list of 27 starters on offense and defense due to different formations with six of them true freshmen that did not take part in the spring practice. A total of 22 players from the signing class are on the depth chart and should see action in the coming fall schedule.

Not surprisingly, the offense is the more experienced unit taking the field. Three of the four projected starting receivers have used at least one year of eligibility playing at other schools while four JuCo transfers are listed as potential starters on the offensive line. Both players at the tight end position have experience at the collegient level as well as Brandon Ross, who is also a potential starter in the backfield. While quarterback Myles Gibbon and receiver Corey Waldon are the only true freshmen listed as first in their respective positions.

The defense is a different story all together, with six of the nine linemen and five of nine secondary players are all true freshmen. The players with experience are Andy Dalgleish who took part in spring practice and John Mark Patrick who played at Troy last fall. While cornerbacks Anton Graphenreed (Lenoir-Rhyne University) and Jerron Mitchell (Birmingham-Southern), both sophmore transfers will likely be starters. Also Justin Dunn (Birmingham-Southern) and Charlie Higgenbotham (University of Alabama) are set to be starters at the inside linebacker slots.

Coach Jones spoke about the evaluation process after Mondays practice. He had this to say, “We were just looking for guys who wanted to compete. Saturday’s scrimmage provided game situations, so we were able to see how they reacted. We discounted the first few plays since a lot of the kids were nervous when we first got out there, but once they got into it we could see how they play in front of a crowd. Some guys practice well but play even better in game situations. Other guys practice better than they play in games. That’s something we’re trying to evaluate as well. It’s still a long process, there’s two weeks before we have a game week. There are guys who are listed second and third who could end up as ones, and there are listed starters who could end up third at their position. They know that, so until we get to game week we won’t make a final depth chart.”

He also spoke about the practice itself and unlike previous practices, he did not have the best things to say about his team. “I don’t think we had a great practice, I thought it was average. I told the guys they can control two things – their effort and their intensity. Balls were wet and we were dropping passes, but that’s to be understood since this was really the first time we practiced in weather like this. That doesn’t worry me. But, the mindset that we came out with today is what bothered me. We have to come out with a different attitude this week or we will just be average. We are going to play like we practice, and I think they understand that.”

Coach Jones went on to speak about the change in routine and how it affected the players. He said, “I think the change in routine affected a lot of the guys today, but as a coach I tell them there are no excuses for that. I expect them to come on the field and be ready. Sure we were in class today and it was raining, and we can’t control that. We can control how we come out and practice, so hopefully we will learn from this. We’re still in camp even though school has started. Some of the practices may be a little longer, but we are trying to get as much work done as we can.”

The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 3:30pm.

For the full South Alabama depth chart, click here.

Jaguars First Fall Scrimmage Was Full Of Big Plays From Both Sides Of The Ball

August 15, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Jones looking over the field at the Jags first fall scrimmage.

Big plays was the name of the game at the University of South Alabama‘s first fall scrimmage. Both offense and defense put on a good show for the crowd who came out for the scrimmage.

The offense collectively had 393 yards and score six touchdowns on the day. The defense posted 15 sacks and 24 tackles for loss as well.

Myles Gibbon lead the first team offense and completed 8-of-11 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Sim went 5-of-7 for 78 yards. The Jags totalled 217 yards through the air for the game. Courtney Smith lead the Jags with three catches for 68 yard and two touchdowns. Corey Besteda also caught three passes. Corey Waldon had two receptions for 61 yards.

Santuan McGee had 74 yards on eight carries to lead the Jaguars rushing attack. Anthony Mostella had 11 carries for 55 yards. Ellis Hill had 10 carries for 34 yards and Eli Smith had 19 yards. Each of the listed rushers reached the endzone.

The defense was led by Justin Dunn who had 10 tackles. Clifton Crews had seven tackles with four of them for a loss and a team high three sacks. Alex Phifer also had seven tackles. Charlie Higgenbotham, Bryson James and Enrique Williams all had six tackles. Josh Chestang, Andy Dalgleish and Anton Graphenreed all had two sacks each. In the second half, Marquise Diamond came away with the only turnover on an interception near the goal line. The defense allowed less than three yards per carry.

The defense was strong at first, only allowing one first down in the offense’s first four possesions of the scrimmage. However, the offense adjusted and had four big running plays. Eli Smith started it with a 12 yard run, followed by Gibbon’s scramble for 11 yards, then Smith ran for seven yards and finally McGee broke free on the left sideline for a 30 yard touchdown.

Gibbon took a short break while Sim guided the offense for two series. When Gibbon came back onto the field he immediately made a big play. The safeties bit on a play-action fake and Gibbon took advantage with a strike to Courtney Smith for a 55 yard touchdown pass.

The next two series would see the offense start to threaten but the defense would respond with a big play. The first series the offense had three plays of 12 yards or more to get down to the 15 yard line. But the defense would sack Gibbon which lead to a missed field goal by Jordan Means. The next series saw the offense get down to the 24 yard line before stopping Hill for a four yard loss and another missed field goal.

Gibbon returned to lead the offense after the half-time break. The offense started at midfield with McGee opening with a six yard run. Then Ralph Turner was stopped for a two yard loss on a completed pass. Then Gibbon scampered for 10 yards for the first down. Three consecutive run plays gave the offense another first down at the 24 yard line. However Gibbon was sacked on first down for a six yard loss putting the pressure on the offense with a second-and-16 on the 30 yard line. But Gibbon stepped up and found Corey Waldon for a 29 yard gain and a first-and-goal inside the one yard line. Eli Smith was stopped behind the line for a loss of five yards but would score on the following play.

Nick Owens had his best drive of the day two series later. He completed both of this two pass attempts and ran twice for 14 yards. Again, Eli Smith broke a six yard touchdown run, this time up the middle.

Brennan Sim lead a drive late in the day day. He hit Waldon for 32 yards to set up for a 13 yard scoring run by Ellis Hill. Then on the final drive of the day, Eli Smith had runs of nine and four yards to set up Nick Owens for a two-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Smith, his third of the day.

Key third down stops by the defense lead to four missed field goals on the day. They stopped Mostella short of a first down in the red zone on a pass reception. They forced two three-and-outs and ended another drive by stopping Eli Smith short of a first down on a fourth-and-three on the 13 yard line.

“I thought it was a good day, it was a typical first scrimmage. The guys were a little nervous out there with the crowd,” said Coach Jones. “But that’s the reason you do this, to get them exposed to game situations. We have two more weekends to do this.”

Coach Jones continued, “The effort was there, though we did get a little tired towards the end. The emotional level might not have been as high as it has been this month, but the bottom line is that a lot of the things we need to look at will be on film. The biggest thing the guys need to take from today is to learn from their experiences out there.”

“It went well today, we did a little better than I think we should have because it’s harder for the offense going against a defense that has seen our plays for a couple of weeks now,” said first team quarterback Myles Gibbon. “We had some ups and downs, but overall I thought we did pretty well.”

“You can always get into a rhythm, but all it takes is one bad play to get you out of it,” Gibbon explained. “Once we start moving, we want to stay consistent and keep pounding the ball – we don’t want our heads to get too big. If we get good protection up front a big play is going to happen. Our front five blocked well every time we made a big play today,” he continued. “Any time a quarterback can drop back and not feel pressured by the rush, he’s going to be able to throw the ball up and complete some long passes.”

“We ran the football a little better offensively, and had a couple of big throws as well,” Jones commented. “I was proud of the way that the quarterbacks controlled things on the field, and our running backs are really coming along. I think we can stick any of our running backs on the field and they will make plays.”

But Coach Jones reiterated, “Still, we had too many plays on first down where we lost eight or 10 yards – now you’re stuck with second-and-long, which the offense didn’t realize until they were put in a game situation. When it happens in practice and you lose eight yards it’s no big deal because you’re not driving to score a touchdown. In a scrimmage situation, they realize what a problem it is to overcome second-and-18.”

“Defensively I think our team speed is very good,” said Coach Jones. “We need to find a couple more guys who can play in the secondary and come through for us. The defense is playing real hard, their coaches have them playing at a fast pace. We’ve got to do a better job of preventing big plays – anytime you can keep the offense from breaking a big play you give yourself a chance to win the ball game.”

With a crowd of about 1,000 people turning out for this first scrimmage, it was quite refreshing to see the support from the area. The support really impressed some of the players as well. Myles Gibbon said, “It was interesting, this was bigger than anything I’ve seen back home. It’s nice to have that support and have a lot of people come out. They don’t know what to expect yet, so it’s nice that they were out here rooting for us.” He also said they were tired and a bit beat up from the last two weeks of camp. He also mentioned the pain in his legs when running the ball, but his strength of character, his leadership and the crowd helped him to keep going.

“What I told the kids is that we’ve been on the field for two weeks. We have two more weeks, and then we have a game week, so we’re really just halfway through camp,” said Coach Jones. “We’re not a finished product yet. If we get a little better every day, we’ll be fine in a couple of weeks.”

With classes starting on Monday, August 17th, the Jaguars will begin practicing at 3:30pm.

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