Monday Press Conference

November 6, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones speaks with Pat Greenwood as the team heads into the locker room for halftime against Florida International on Saturday, November 3, 2012.

South Alabama held it’s weekly press conference on Monday with head coach Joey Jones, offensive lineman Chris May and defensive back Charles Watson. They spoke about the Jaguars game against Florida International on Saturday and previewed their trip to Denton, Texas to face the Mean Green of the University of North Texas.

Below are some highlights from the press conference.

Coach Joey Jones began with his opening statement. “North Texas is a very physical team, they play power football offensively. Defensively they don’t run a lot of things, but they do them extremely well. They have big guys up front who are 330 and 300 pounds inside. They play very good fundamental football and are very well coached.”

“They beat Louisiana-Lafayette on TV three weeks ago, they got after them. They play with a physical nature that they bring to every game.”

Jones then spoke about the Florida International game. “I walked into the locker room and for the first time I felt like we weren’t ready to play. I don’t mean that they didn’t care, they weren’t emotionally into the game. They were prepared mentally as far as X’s and O’s went, but when you play the game of football you have to bring some passion to it and I don’t think we did that early.”

“We gave up 303 yards of offense to them in the first half and in the second half they got two first downs, I think that tells you something,” Jones continued. “We brought our focus back in the second half and played defense the way we are supposed to play it. Offensively, we scored one touchdown in the first half as we sputtered around a little bit. We played much better in the second half, and had 460 yards of offense, the most we have had in the Sun Belt [Conference]. Offensively I thought we played well other than when we got down in the red zone. We got on the one-foot line, jumped offsides and didn’t get a play call in and had to call timeout, that was frustrating. Ross played well, he scrambled around and made some runs, he did some good things.”

“When you get behind 28-7, you better do everything perfect to have a chance to win and we didn’t. I think if we played the first half maybe the score is tied and it isn’t so critical that you have to make every play. We made a ton of plays to get into the game, people forget about those. Third-and-longs, throws across the middle. But when we got down on the goal line we really didn’t do well.”

On the subject of matching up with a physical team like North Texas, coach Jones had the following to say. “I don’t know which one I would choose, but I know that most of the conference are spread teams and this is one of the first teams we’ll play that I would call a power football team. It will be interesting to see how the kids match up against it.”

“The thing that is dangerous about them is that they will run, run, run, run and all of a sudden run play action and throw it deep over the top,” Jones explained. “We have to be smart and not give up the big throw. Our cornerbacks and safeties are really going to have to do a good job this week. We have to be disciplined in the secondary, especially this week.”

Jones commented about North Texas’ offensive style. “They are much like us last year, they run power and run zone and play action. They do a lot of different things with their sets and formations, but they are basically trying to set up the run. It’s not simple, they do a lot of different things, but their belief is that they are going to run the football and play-action pass.”

Jones then answered a question about how the Jaguar defense reacts to the style of play used by North Texas. “You would think looking at us that we would react pretty well to that, our defensive linemen are big guys on the inside with some size to them and they are pretty strong. But until you go out there and play a team that is this physical play after play after play, you don’t know. I don’t know that we have played against a team that is going to be this physical running the football.”

“We’re going to see how we match up this week for sure because they are going to pound you every play.”

He then spoke about how the team reacted to the loss to Florida International. “We met this morning, and the thing that was disappointing was the first half. Overall, we didn’t come to play and were down 28-7.”

“I asked them to tell me the difference between the team in the first half and the second half, and of course they didn’t have an answer for that. I don’t either, other than the fact that we weren’t ready to play, and we do that at this level we’ll get beat.”

“We’ve played some good games, but I don’t know that we have played a four-quarter game yet, I really don’t. I think we have played three quarters, we have played two, we have played three-and-a-half against Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State. We are doing some good things. For us where we are in our program, we have to play four quarters to have a chance to win. I thought our kids understood that going into this game, and they didn’t, if that’s not getting across to them, that’s my fault.”

Jones also answered a question about how the team’s improvement not being reflected in the overall record this season. “We have played some really good games, I think we have gained some respect from the other coaches and the teams we have played against. That’s gratifying in some ways because when you walk across the field and shake a guy’s hand, you can tell that they respect what you are doing. But it still wasn’t a win on the scoreboard, and until we start getting some of those it’s going to sting.”

“We’re a much better football team now than we were the first year. It’s probably the biggest improvement that any team we have had these first four years has made within the season. You look at the games against Nicholls and UTSA and N.C. State, we are a way better football team, especially on offense, than we were back then.”

“Is it showing up in the conference standings? No, because we still see some L’s over there on our side. Did we play really well? Yes, but this game is all about winning.”

Offensive lineman Chris May spoke about his progression this season. “Coming into the season, Ucambre Williams and I were rotating out the first couple of games. Then he went down in the Arkansas State game, and I had to step up and fill in. That’s some pretty big shoes to fill. He was playing really well before he went down. We’ve improved a lot as an offensive line, as a unit, since the beginning of the season.”

May, speaking about the FIU game, echoed coach Jones’ talk about how the Jags have not put together a full game effort. “We really haven’t played all four quarters in a game. We came really close against Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe. If we would have come out with higher intensity in the first half than we did Saturday, then we would have had a better chance of pulling a ‘W’ out. We just have to learn as a team to come out and play all four quarters instead of just two or three.”

He then spoke about how the team measured up against Sun Belt opposition. “All of our conference games, except for Troy, we were right there in them until the end. I feel like that’s making a statement as what we’re going to do in the Sun Belt in the next few years. Those losses at the end [of the game] do sting, but it’s a statement for us as well.”

When asked about the offensive line play so far this year May said, “We’ve improved a lot from the beginning [of the season]. We’re so much better now than we were in the UTSA [Texas-San Antonio] game. We’re a little banged up right now, and have had people step up to fill in. As a unit, I feel like we’ve played pretty well this year.”

May then spoke about going from playing minimal snaps to starting. “I started cramping up at halftime of the Arkansas State game. I was only expecting to play a few plays, then Ucambre [Williams] goes down and I had to step in. You have to prepare a lot differently from the mental aspect of the game as a starter, compared to when you are just rotating in.”

Finally, May spoke about their opponent this weekend in North Texas. “They have some pretty big guys up front, and have a couple of good safeties. Their outside rushers are good, but I feel like we match-up with them athletically.”

Defensive back Charles Watson spoke about the defense’s halftime adjustments in the game against FIU. “We were open to a challenge. [Defensive coordinator] Coach [Bill] Clark told us that we could either get embarrassed or we could come back, play our ball and do what we normally do. If we start fast, then the sky’s the limit for us. And that’s the same for the offense. As long as we get them [offense] the ball, I have faith in them. I feel like we’ll have a better finish to the season than how we started, and we’ll finish strong.”

“We just had to go back to the basics,” Watson also stated about the second half performance against FIU. “We started off slow, but once we got things going we started playing our ball. We pretty much just preached shutout from then, and that’s what gave us the momentum from then on.”

Watson also spoke about North Texas. “Our coaches know what they [North Texas] like to do in certain situations. The coaches have a great plan for everything. We have a good defensive line and good linebackers. Our coaches want us to be able to stop the run. We have a good scheme [for this weekend], and as long as we [defense] pull together then we’ll be alright.”

South Alabama and North Texas kickoff in Denton, Texas at 4pm according to the UNT Football website. Video will be available through their website for a one month access fee of $10.95.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-10-16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jags Ready To Embark On Toughest Season Yet

August 31, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

On the eve of South Alabama’s season opener against Texas-San Antonio it’s a good time to look at what this season means to the program. After three seasons, the first two undefeated, and a 23-4 record the Jaguars are about to embark on their most challenging quest yet.

Last season they stepped up and faced two FBS teams, the first in the programs history. This season, they will face their first full Division I schedule. The only non FBS school on the schedule is FCS Nicholls State. Additionally, with the Hawaii rule, the Jags will play 13 games in 14 weeks this season including a full eight game Sun Belt schedule.

This is what the Jaguars have been working towards for the last several years. When they take the field, they will be a transitional FBS member.

Coach Jones can finally guage where his team stands in the FBS pecking order. “I think the biggest challenge for us, especially early, will be the depth on our team,” he Jones. “We’ve been recruiting to Division I really just this year. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have any Division I football players, we do. But do we have the depth that everybody else has because they’ve been recruiting for a while and have 85 scholarships and D-1 players? I would think that will probably be the biggest issue, depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.”

What about this season’s schedule? “The most difficult thing is playing 13 games in 14 weeks for us and playing pretty much all Division I opponents,” Jones said. “Whereas in past years we’ve played seven, 10 and 10 (games per season), we had some off weeks and some time to get ready for games. You’re going to get your three or four days of practice and that’s going to be it, then you’re going to have to move on to your next game.”

Gone is offensive coordinator Greg Gregory and in is Robert Matthews brining the spread to South Alabama. Matthews, who learned the spread at Oklahoma State and Southern Miss, will bring a completely different attitude to the offensive side of the ball. The offense will run as quickly as possible with a no-huddle tempo that is designed to keep the defense off guard and guessing what is coming next. Plus it is designed to take advantage of the depth South Alabama has at the skill positions.

The offensive line is where the biggest unknown is located coming into this season. Gone are three starters from the previous two seasons. However back is senior Trey Clark and sophomore Melvin Meggs. In steps Drew Dearman, Chris May and Shaun Artz. Also a second string, Ucambre Williams and possibly Kentucky transfer James Elliott if he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA. But this is the biggest offensive line the Jaguars have had in it’s short history.

Behind the line, there is plenty of talent on the roster. C.J. Bennett returns as the starter with Virginia transfer Ross Metheny as his backup and redshirt freshman Trey Fetner as the third quarterback. The South Alabama backfield is also stocked with talent. Back are Demetre Baker, Kendall Houston and Ellis Hill from last season along with Brandon Ross returning from a knee injury and redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons among others ready to contribute. At wide receiver back are Jereme Jones, Bryant Lavender, T.J. Glover, Corey Besteda and Tyrome Bivins with true freshman Cameron Broadnax who showed plenty of skill in preseason camp. With two tight ends graduating, Greg Hollinger moved over from wide receiver joining JuCo transfer Wes Saxton to fill their positions.

The defense is arguably the strength of the team. Led by Jake Johnson, the linebackers are the heart of the defense, with Clifton Crews, Enrique Williams, Maleki Harris, Bryson James, Ben Giles and Cordivido Grice to help him out.

The defensive front will need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks than in past seasons. Returning ends Anthony Taylor, Romelle Jones, Alex Page and Will Thompson will be joined by JuCo transfer Pat Moore to help towards that goal. At nose and tackle positions they return Randon Carnathan and Andy Dalgleish, who lead the group last season, with help from Montavious Williams, Rodney Thomas and Shane Doty (who moved from offensive line).

In the secondary, Alabama transfer B.J. Scott has stepped up as a leader. The staff focused their recruiting efforts to find more help there too. Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both come in and are expected to start. Alonzo Long will suit up next to Scott at free safety. Gabe Loper should get playing time as he is the returning secondary player with the most interceptions last season.

Michel Chapuseaux takes over the placekicking duties with Scott Garber also returning to handle punts.

“We want to be competitive. We want to win every game that we play,” head coach Joey Jones said. “That’s our goal. Now, is that going to be tough to do? Sure. I understand that it will be. The bottom line is I don’t want to cut our kids short in what we’re doing. We’re going to prepare and we’re going to go out there and prepare to win. But we also know there’s a difficult schedule ahead of us and we’ve got to step up each week. I think that our kids probably will play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder this year. Bottom line, every week that we play we’ve got to prove something. Anybody that we beat will be a big deal. We’re representing a lot of people, not just our football program but the university.”

The schedule will be tough. After UTSA and Nicholls State, the Jags travel to N.C. State again and Mississippi State before returning home for their first-ever Sun Belt Conference game against Troy. Troy, whom most expect will quickly develop into one of the leagues best rivalries, will mark the first part of the season. After their one and only off week, the Jags then visit the SBC defending champion Arkansas State. Then the downhill stretch of FAU (home), ULM (away), FIU (home), North Texas (away), MTSU (home), ULL (away) and their “bowl game” of the season at Hawaii.

If you only count wins and losses as the measuring stick for a season, it could be a difficult season. But if you expand your criteria for this team that will be completing it’s two year FBS transition at the conclusion of this season, you may be surprised.

Jags Unveil Goal Line Offense In Tuesday Practice

March 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 6 Comments 
Jaguar Offensive Line

Offensive lineman Drew Dearman signals pre-snap as the Jaguars work in Spring drills.

South Alabama hit the practice field at 6:30 AM on Tuesday morning for a workout in full pads. This was their last practice before their scrimmage set for Thursday at the Jaguar Practice Facility.

During part of the practice session, the players went through individual workouts and drills with position coaches. The linebackers worked with the defensive line against the offensive line and running backs. The linebackers worked on angle tackles and covering running backs out of the backfield. While they were working the receivers and defensive backs worked against each other on pass routes and skeleton passing drills.

During the team portion of the practice, the offense worked on first down plays, third-and-long situations and for the first time this spring, they used their goal line package.

Both the first and second team offenses ran four plays inside the red zone and four more on the goal line. This was during a 15-minute session during the team session of the practice.

Brendt Bedsole said mentioned two players who have caught his and Head Coach Joey Jones’ eye this spring as big surprises. The first he mentioned was Terrance Timmons, a walk-on from Davidson High School. Timmons was not highly recruited out of high school, possbily because of this size. He is only listed as being 5’7″ and weighing 175-lbs, but this works well at running back.

Bedsole said that Coach Riley from Davidson High School has lots of praise for Timmons’ work ethic and ability. He actually told the coaches that he would not be surprised if Timmons worked his way up to being a captain before he leaves the program. Bedsole mentioned that Timmons could see lots of playing time.

Another player mentioned was Chris May at left tackle, but was not able to go as much in depth about him as Timmons. May is listed as being 6’4″, 280-lb freshman.

Bedsole did mention that C.J. Bennett did well as did Trey Fetner at quarterback. He also mentioned that they have some big targets at tight end in JUCO transfer Wes Saxton and Greg Hollinger, who has moved from wide receiver to tight end this season. Saxton and Hollinger will create tough match-ups on linebackers this season.

“The kids came to work today,” said Coach Jones. “I thought we got better as a team. My challenge to them is, is everybody on the team getting better? You can certainly watch the film and find several guys that didn’t, but as a unit I thought we improved and that it was a good, spirited practice. We have to beat people on our schedule right now, we can’t wait until August to do it. We have to take advantage of every minute that we can to get better, and I think they did that today.”

“I don’t really care who won or lost, it’s just a matter of the physical part of it,” Coach Jones continued. “lining up two yards out from the goal line and seeing who is going to knock who back. That’s really what it boils down to on the goal line, it’s about attitude at that point when you get down there. We just ran some base plays offensively because we wanted to see who would step in there and get their nose bloody.”

As mentioned above, the Jaguars will have a scrimmage on Thursday morning before the players have a week off for spring break. The scrimmage will get underway around 6:45 AM and will run through around 8:30 AM. It will be around 120 to 140 play scrimmage and will not be controlled as much as a fall scrimmage. But it will have situational plays as well.

“It will be very similar to the first one really, except we’re going to infuse special teams into the scrimmage, instead of going for a while and then running a certain special team, if it’s fourth down we’re going to punt or kick a field goal,” Coach Jones said previewing the Thursday scrimmage. “As they score, we will kick off after that. We want to get them thinking it’s like a game. It’s not going to be exact game situations, but as we progress we’re trying to do that more.”