South Alabama Downs Nicholls State 39-21

September 19, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones paces the sideline vs Nicholls State on Saturday.

The Jags saw many firsts on Saturday. Their first Division I-AA (FCS) opponent and their first deficit were cheif among them. However, the one first that Coach Jones and the Jaguar faithful were most proud and grateful to see what the teams reaction was going to be to those two firsts. I will definitely be among the first to say, I was pleased.

Last seasons finale saw the closest any team had come to leading the Jaguars and they fell about two or three yards short. The Jags then responded to them with a 98 yard drive to open up the scoring against Huntingdon. On Saturday, Coach Charlie Stubbs and the Nicholls State Colonels succeded in being the first team to lead the Jags.

The Jags received the ball to begin the game, but only gained 19 yards in four plays before being forced to punt. Nicholls State started their possession on their own 21 yard line. After getting down to the Jaguar 33 yard line, Nicholls State faced a fourth and one situation. The Colonels would score on a 33 yard run by Jesse Turner on that fourth down play, to put the Jags in their first deficit of the football programs’ short history. The drive covered 79 yard over five plays and 2:26 off of the game clock.

T.J. Glover received the ensuing kickoff, returning it for 69 yards before a touchdown saving horsecollar tackle by the Colonels. After enforcing the half-the-distance penalty, the Jaguars were in buisness at the Nicholls 11 yard line. The second play from scrimmage saw T.J. Glover go in for South Alabama’s answering score, tieing the game at 7.

On the next drive by Nicholls, the Jaguar defense only allowed four yards and forced them to punt. However the Jags next offensive series would yeild more yards, but would end with a punt that would pin the Colonels deep in their own territory.

Nicholls, starting at their own ten, would throw and incomplete pass and be assessed a penalty putting them just inside their own five yard line. But Nicholls quarterback LaQuintin Caston would find Turner in the flat and he would outrun the chasing Ken Barefield for a 95 yard touchdown to give Nicholls the lead again at 14-7 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.

South Alabama would answer right back. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Jags would start at their own 20 yard line but would cover the 80 yards in just six plays. Myles Gibbon would rush for 16 yards for a firs down. Then on the next play, he was tackled and was forced to leave the game with an injury to his right knee. Gibbon would not return to the game after that point. Brennan Sim would step in for Myles and would run for nine more yards before the first quarter ended. On the first play of the second quarter, Sim would connect with Richard Ross on a 47 yard completion down the missle of the field for the touchdown. This would begin South Alabama’s 20-0 run.

Nicholls would get take possession of the ball after the kickoff by Michel Chapuseaux went out of bounds and was placed on the Nicholls 40 yard line. Five plays and 24 yards later the Jags defense would face two big defensive plays. On third and one at the Jaguar 36, Justin Dunn and Alex Page would combine to stop Caston for no gain. Then on fourth and one, Jonathan Cameron and Anthony Taylor would stop Jesse Taylor for no gain. So the defense would hold and take possession of the ball on downs.

The Jaguar offense would then gash the Colonel defense for big gains on their possession starting with a screen pass from Sim to Brandon Ross for 30 yards. Then a 24 yard run by Kendall Houston would set up Santuan McGee for the eight yard, go ahead score. The Jordan Means extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Jags with a 20-14 lead with 11:11 left until halftime.

Nicholls would take the kickoff and begin their possession at their own 19 yard line. But after beginning to move the ball again, their drive would end with a Jaguar fumble recovery at midfield.

South Alabama would take the short field and score again on a Kendall Houston 5 yard touchdown run to cap off a 20 point second quarter and take a 27-14 lead into halftime.

Nicholls would get the ball, and good field position, to start the second half. With another kickoff sailing out of bounds, Nicholls would start at their own 40 yard line. The Colonels would drive down to the Jaguar 12 yard line but would turn the ball over on downs. The Jags would begin there and drive 75 yards in eight plays but would fumble the ball away at the Nicholls 13 yard line.

Nicholls would run four plays before Caston found Andrew Wynn down the middle of the field for a 62 yard touchdown to cut their deficit down to six points, 27-21.

South Alabama and Nicholls next offensive possessions would be three and outs. South Alabama would then get in gear once more and put together a five play 67 yard drive which would be capped off with another Kendall Houston touchdown run, this time for 20 yards putting the Jags up 34-21. This would be the beginning of a 12 point fourth quarter to end the game.

The Jaguar defense would then begin to pour it on. On the first play by Nicholls after the Jaguar touchdown, Tim Harvey would pick off a Caston pass at the South Alabama 40 yard line. The Jaguar offense would go three and out, but the punt would pin the Colonels at their own nine yard line. A sack on third down would put the ball on the three yard line for the punt. Erling Riis would come around the left side to block the punt, which would go out of the back of the end zone for a safety, putting the Jags up 36-21 with 11:04 left in the game.

South Alabama would field the free kick and start at their own 39 yard line. Brennan Sim would lead the offense on an 11 play 50 yard drive, burning 6:52 off of the play clock. Jordan Means would then cap off the game with a 28 yard field goal for the final score of 39-21.

Coach Jones commented after the victory, “I thought it was a great win for our football program, they gave the other two teams they have played fits in the first half. “We needed to have a game like that where we’re challenged.”

He continued, “It speaks to the character of our kids and our coaching staff with the way they coach them. We try to work on that in practice where they don’t feel pressure in games. I thought that was a great way to respond. Had we not responded like that and they scored another touchdown, then the ball starts to roll their way. This is our second year and ninth football game, and we beat a [Division] I-AA program that has been around for a long time. They are very well-coached and have great athletes. I don’t know what that means for the future, but my hat’s off to our players and coaching staff for the job they have done in that short amount of time.”

Coach Stubbs said, “I thought it was about who handled adversity best. When we were prospering, we couldn’t keep the momentum and while they were able to make plays, they capitalized on the momentum. I believe that was the difference in the game.”

USA has 21 first downs while Nicholls had 10 for the game. The Jaguar defense only allowed 99 yards on the ground, but gave up 319 through the air for a total of 418 with an average of 24.5 per completion.

South Alabama had a total of 490 yard of offense on 64 plays for an average of almost 7.6 yards per play. The Jaguar offensive attack was quite balanced with over 200 yards each in the air and on the ground.

Kendall Houston rushed 12 times for 116 yards while Brandon Ross added 115 on 19 carries. Richard Ross, 4 catches and 80 yards, was the only receiver with multiple catches and the only TD reception. Corey Besteda added 37 yards, Brandon Ross 30, Courtney Smith 20 and five others had receptions as well.

Myles Gibbon left early with an injury to his knee, but went 1-of-3 for 20 yards. C.J. Bennett lead one drive in the first quarter, also going 1-of-3 for 3 yards. Brennan Sim who got the most action went 10-of-12 for 185 yards and the only touchdown, but also the only sack.

Scott Garber punted six times, averaging just under 43 yards per kick with a long of 53 yards. With half of his punts being downed inside the opponents 20 yard line.

T.J. Glover returned three kickoffs for 116 yards, averaging over 38.5 for the game.

This is definitely a good test for the young Jaguar team. The learned that they were able to trade punches with a good opponent without blinking. They kept doing what they do best and won the game in an impressive fashion. No, not by 40 or more points, but by three scores against a team with an equal number of scholarships.

While Nicholls State would hardly be considered a top tier FCS team, they did pose a significant increase in competition from what the Jags have faced. It was enough of a challenged to show the coaches and players what they need to work on.

The secondary faced a big challenge and gave up lots of yards. But this was to be expected from a Charlie Stubbs coached team. The secondary stepped up several times and did well, but they also gave up several big plays. The secondary is also the thinnest area of this team, so being overly critical right now is not necessary. First step is consistency though.

Jordan Means took over the place kicking duties this week and did well. One point after was blocked, but none were outright misses. Plus he did make his only field goal attempt. However, Means’ kickoff’s are shorter than Chapuseaux. Chapuseaux kicked deep on kickoff’s but he did give them excellent field position twice with two kicks out of bounds.

The offensive line looked really good after the first series even though Brian Krauskopf was injured and did not play for most of the game. Melvin Meggs stepped in nicely and did a great job.

The Jags go on the road for their first away game when they travel to Dothan, Alabama for the Wiregrass Football Classic. They face Edward Waters from Jacksonville, Florida with kickoff at 3pm and the Jaguar Prowl being scheduled for about 1:30pm.

South Alabama Faces Toughest Opponent To Date in Nicholls State

September 15, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jaguar Quarterback Myles Gibbon reads the Pikeville Defense in the first half of the South Alabama victory over Pikeville on September 4, 2010.

The South Alabama Jaguars will have the biggest test of the programs short history on Saturday when they host the Nicholls State Colonels. This will be the Jaguars first time to face a Division I-AA opponent. Also this will mark the first time the Jags will face an opponent with the same number of scholarships.

Don’t let the Colonel’s record fool you. Even though they are win less, they did face schools that are Division I-A in San Diego State and Western Michigan. As Coach Jones said, “Anytime you play a Division I-A school, they’re going to have more scholarships than an FCS school so the scores sound pretty bad. But they played both teams tough early, and just wore out. The bottom line is I think those teams just had a lot more depth, and so toward the end of those games they got a little tired. They are a very good football team and we’ll find out what we’re about after this week and see where we are as a football program.”

Even the team knows what the numbers can lie sometimes. Starting Quarterback Myles Gibbon recognizes that the Colonel’s lost to a good Western Michigan team. They have been studying them for the last two weeks and they know should know what to expect. At least on video.

The Colonel’s head coach is Charlie Stubbs. Stubbs has over 31 years of coaching experience, 22 of which on the collegiate level. This is his first season with the Colonel’s coming from the University of Central Missouri where he was the offensive coordinator. He has been an offensive coordinator for over the last 14 years, six of which as an assistant head coach.

Stubbs began his coach career at BYU, his alma mater, in 1983. The following year he was part of the National Championship staff at BYU in 1984 under LaVell Edwards. He was offensive coordinator at Oregan State from ’85-’90, Memphis ’94, Tennessee-Martin ’95, Nevada-Las Vegas ’96-’97, Alabama ’98-2000, Tulsa ’02-’06, Louisville ’07, and Central Missouri ’08-’09.

His offenses have been ranked in the top three in the PAC-10 during his time in Oregon State, including finishing 10th nationally in ’87 and sixth in ’88. Then in ’96 UNLV finished ninth nationally in passing offense. The offense then led the WAC and finished 12th nationally in ’97.

As most notably in the south east, Stubbs was the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at the University of Alabama. His offense led Alabama to appearances in the ’98 Music City Bowl and the Orange Bowl in ’99 while also winning the SEC Championship and being named the ’99 SEC Offensive Coordinator of the year.

As you can see, the Colonels should have a strong offense. The Colonels defensive coordinator is a former defensive coordinator from Thibodaux High School. He was a defensive end coach for Nicholls State previous to his high school coaching.

Stubbs and the Colonels will be running the spread offense with an athletic quarterback who can make plays. As history has shown, the Jaguar secondary will be tested along with the rest of the defense.

Don’t expect a blow-out victory for the Jags this go around. It should go into the fourth quarter this time and be a good test for the Jags. Can they match up with a Divsion I-AA school? Come to Ladd-Peebles Stadium this Saturday and find out.

GO Jags! Beat Nicholls!