Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark Interested In Jacksonville State Opening

December 4, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Bill Clark works with the linebacker corps during pregame warmups prior to the Jags 9-3 win over Nicholls State.

South Alabama assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Bill Clark has expressed interest in the head coach opening at Jacksonville State University.

Coach Clark is an Anniston native and an 1990 graduate of Jacksonville State has not interviewed for the job. Yet.

But he has informed head coach Joey Jones about his interest in the position and well as informed the JSU officials of his interest in the position.

“I was called about the job on Friday when it first was announced that coach Crowe had been let go and I had an interest in looking at it,” Clark said Monday night to AL.com. “Obviously I’m very happy here and I have a great job. I talked to Joey about after the game on Saturday and he knows I’m going to look into it and see what it entails.”

Jacksonville State ended the season with a 6-5 record with losses to Arkansas to start the season and to Florida to end the season. Crowe posted an 87-57 record in his 13 seasons as the Gamecocks head coach. JSU athletics director Warren Koegel dismissed Crowe, the second-winningest coach in school hisotry, with two years on his contract.

Crowe led the Gamecocks to the Ohio Valley Conference titles in 2003, 2004 and 2011. He also led them to three NCAA FCS playoff appearances but failed to win a playoff game.

Coach Clark received his bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville State in 1990 in physical education. His first coaching job was an assistant at nearby Piedmont High School. He later served as an assistant at Tuscaloosa County High, Coffee County GA. High and Dothan High schools before being named head coach at Prattville.

He was the head coach at Prattville from 1999 – 2007 where he won two Class 6A state championships and his final two teams won 30 consecutive games. His 2007 Prattville team was ranked #2 in the country by USA Today.

Clark racked up a 107-11 record at Prattville with a 90.7% winning percentage. The last regular-season loss by one of his Prattville teams was in 2002. He was named the Alabama High School Athletic Association Coach of the Year following his final season with the Lions.

He left Prattville to join Coach Jones’ staff at South Alabama. He was one of the first hires by Coach Jones.

South Alabama’s defense have done a great job over the last four seasons. This year the defense still dug in even though they lost a number of players to season ending injuries. Quadarius Ford injured his knee in preseason camp. They then lost senior defensive linemen Anthony Taylor to a broken leg at Mississippi State before losing Randon Carnathan to a torn ACL at Louisiana-Monroe.

There were many times this season the defense was beat by big plays, particularly in the secondary. However the Jaguar defense would dig in their heels and all but shut down their opponents in the second half of many games.

Tuesday’s Practice Interrupted By Rain But Good

November 28, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark working with Jake Johnson and the linebackers during individual drills on Saturday morning.

On Tuesday morning the Jags hit the practice field until rainy weather interrupted their workout. They reconvened in the school’s recreation center to finish the workout on their last day on campus before traveling to Hawaii.

“You just have to adapt,” said defensive coordinator and assistant head coach Bill Clark after tuesday’s practice. “We’ve been blessed by not having to move inside a lot (this season) with the rain. It was a little tough at first but we came in and got a lot of good mental work and I think this time of year that’s more important than the physical, making your calls and checks. We wound up having a good day.”

Coach Clark said that the team will be tested like it has never been tested before as they make the long and much anticipated trip to Hawaii for the season finale. “I think it’s tough,” Clark said. “You could sugar-coat it and say it’s not, but it is. They know where they’re going, they know we’re at the end of the year and so the mental part, which we discussed (Monday), is going to be key.”

“How do we handle this transition? Can we put ourselves back in game mode on Thursday when everything gets started again? I think we will because we’ve got an older group of guys and I think they want to finish on a good note. That’s what out plan is.”

The South Alabama Jaguars began what some might consider a logistical nightmare of a trip on Tuesday.

The team will actually have to depart from three seperate locations in order to get to Hawaii for their game against the Warriors on Saturday. One group will fly out of Pensacola’s (FL) airport, another group will depart from Mobile’s Airport while a third group will fly out of New Orleans (LA) airport.

All three groups will reunite in Houston where they will continue their journey to Honolulu.

Head coach Joey Jones was part of a group that made the trip ahead of the team on Tuesday.

Following the game, most of the South Alabama group will begin their journey home following Saturdays’ game, which kicks off at 6pm local Hawaii time (10pm Central time). A few more will begin their journey home on Sunday morning while a few, including Coach Jones, will remain a couple extra days.

Monday Press Conference

November 27, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Romelle Jones and Alex Page give chase to the FAU quarterback during the Jaguars win in 2012.

The University of South Alabama held their weekly press conference on Monday. As the Jags are very busy preparing for their trip to Hawaii, the offensive and defensive coordinators filled in for head coach Joey Jones. The coordinators were joined by quarterback Ross Metheny and defensive lineman Romelle Jones. Below are highlights from the press conference.

Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark began with an opening statement. “We’re going to lose a day in travel, so we have had to kind of tighten our belts coming straight off the last game and get the game plan in even earlier than we normally would. It’s a different feeling this week, you’re at the end of a long season; as a player, you just have to fight through that. From a preparation standpoint, it’s a time crunch trying to get ready, I think we have done a good job the last couple of days.”

Clark then spoke about going up against a program that is run by Norm Chow, a well known coach. “It’s like the trip, it’s a great experience. Of course, these are the things that keep coaches up at night, going against a guy who has been at Southern Cal and with the Titans. And that’s who they are; it’s a pro-style offense. That has been a point of interest for our players given his history and how well he has done as a coordinator.”

“They came into their own last week and scored a lot of points,” he continued. “They have played against a lot of great opponents their first year he has been running the program, so I hope they are not hitting their stride right now.”

Clark then spoke about what he has seen from his players the last few weeks. “The thing that we have talked about is fighting, and before last week I felt really good. You can sit here and talk about us being banged up, injuries and playing 13 games, but we can’t do that. I will promise you one thing, I know our guys are going to fight. We’re going over there to get a ‘W.’ We really want to see these guys finish strong, and finish on a good note for the seniors and next year’s team.”

“Our guys came out last night to practice just like it was week six or seven, and they did the same thing today. I think as a fan you have to like what you see on both sides of the ball and the kicking game, the effort that they have put in this year. Hopefully that can translate to a win.”

Finally Clark spoke about how important it is to finish the season strong in Hawaii. “We’re going to see their maturity level. Can you go do these things, have some down time and still be about your business? We have a lot of guys who have been through the wars, but they haven’t been through this though. It will be interesting to see how handle the long travel, the different time zone and one of the most beautiful places on earth.”

First year offensive coordinator Robert Matthews began with his opening statement before the press. “I think one of the things we have to make sure we are good at this week is monitoring the maturity level of the team with the travel, the long trip, the changing of the schedule and being in a place like Waikiki Beach. Certainly it’s a place where most of the guys on our team have not been before so they are going to see some sights and it will be a life-changing experience for them. While they are excited about being able to go and see a place like Hawai’i, they need to understand that we are going to play a football game. That’s our ultimate job, to go there, play the game and get a victory. Making sure our team is mature and that they handle it the right way, which I’m sure they will, is real important for us.”

Matthews then spoke about what Hawaii does defensively to create problems for opponents offenses. “They are a pressure defense, they try to create pressure situations on the quarterback and try to pressure your run game. It’s based out of a 3-5 [formation], and they are using multiple fronts and multiple coverages. They really just try to create confusion up front, give your quarterback different looks and wreck your run game with movement and blitzes.”

He then spoke about what he wants to see from the offense in the last game of the season. “I want them to finish strong. We have done some good things at times, and certainly there are things we would like to take back and work to correct. I want them to play with great energy, and I want them to enjoy playing the game of football. These guys don’t realize how lucky they are to be playing Division I football and to have the experiences they are having. I want them to embrace this opportunity, this is our final game of the 2012 season, and play with the passion that got them started in the game.”

“Obviously we want to execute, score points and move the football, but if they play with a high energy level and with that true passion that got them playing the game in the first place, then I think we will be successful.”

Quarterback Ross Metheny spoke about what he hopes to accomplish in the final game of the season for the Jags. “It’s a big trip, and we’re excited about it. We’re excited about playing a new opponent, but we have to keep in mind that it is a business trip and we are going there to win a football game and take care of business. We’re going to have fun with it, but again it is a business trip and we’re looking to play our best football.”

“It would be big for us to get a win going in to the offseason, just to have some momentum,” he continued. “The coaches and players always preach finishing strong, and I think a win at Hawaii would definitely be a good finish especially for our seniors who have put in so much hard work in building this program and getting this thing going. Finishing [the season] with a win would be great for them.”

Metheny then spoke about the importance of getting a win moving forward. “It just leaves a positive taste in your mouth going into all of the offseason work. This season has been up and down with a lot of close losses, and to be able to look back and say we finished strong with a win would be positive for our guys and a good motivator going forward.”

He also spoke about the Jaguars close losses this season. “Eventually, being so close isn’t enough. That’s kind of what has happened all season. We have been close in so many games, and haven’t been able to put a whole game together. Enough of that. We want to put one together, finish strong and take that into the offseason knowing that is what South Alabama football is going to be.”

Metheny then addressed where he thinks the program fits into the Sun Belt Conference. “If you look at the games we have played this year, we have been close in so many. It has kind of been a learning experience with everyone involved with this program. But one thing to take away from it is our competitiveness and our competitive spirit of this team and coaching staff. We have never quit in any game, and my hat’s off to my teammates and our coaching staff. You don’t want to take moral victories, but I think we have established ourselves and we can say that we can be competitive in this league especially going forward. There is a lot of respect for the teams in the Sun Belt, but we’re excited about the future going forward.”

Finally he spoke about going to Hawaii. “A lot of guys wouldn’t have this opportunity if they didn’t play Division-I football. It’s a neat experience. For me personally, I get to see my sister who lives out there. I’m excited about that. It’s going to be fun. It will be a new environment, but we will absorb it all then get down to business and go win a football game. We’re excited about it as a team. This is what Division-I football is – making big trips, travelling and going and playing football.”

Defensive lineman Romelle Jones began by talking about what he hopes to accomplish in the Jaguars final game of the 2012 season. “Our number-one goal is to definitely get a win. That is always the most important thing. It is a business trip. It’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. A lot of guys probably would have never had this opportunity without being a part of this great thing we have going at South Alabama.”

He continued by talking about the importance of getting a win for the program moving forward. “College football is built on momentum, and that would be great momentum going into the offseason. It would give guys something to look forward to. To have a win to finish the season and leave us with a great taste in our mouths going into the offseason would be great.”

Jones also spoke about the Jaguars close losses this season. “It’s not enough coming close every game. I feel like we shouldn’t look back at the past as much, but just look forward and use it as a building block as something great that we can build on this offseason. We can definitely have something to look forward to and build off of.”

He then spoke about where he feels the South Alabama program fits in the Sun Belt conference. “This season was a great building block. It wasn’t a great season, but I know it was a confidence-builder for a lot of guys. That let us know that we can compete with guys on any level and can pretty much go toe-to-toe with anybody in the Sun Belt.”

Finally, Jones also spoke about going to Hawaii. “It’s something that growing up I never thought I would be able to experience at such a young age. It just really warms my heart. It’s a great thing, but at the end of the day we still have to focus and realize that it is a business trip and we need to take care of our business and finish this season off in the proper way.”

South Alabama and Hawaii will kickoff at 10pm Central time.

Jaguar’s Defense Improves In Second Game Of Season

September 11, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Bill Clark works with the linebacker corps during pregame warmups prior to the Jags 9-3 win over Nicholls State.

The Jaguar defense played a very stingy game against Nicholls State on Saturday. They produced six sacks and 14 tackles for loss against the Colonels for a total loss of 60 yards. That was more like what head coach Joey Jones and defensive coordinator Bill Clark wanted to see out of the Jaguar defense.

The Jags had problems getting pressure on the quarterback and catching ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. They only had 15 sacks and 59 tackles for loss all last season. That is only an average of 1.5 sacks per game and 5.9 tackles for loss per game.

They got a slow start against UTSA when they failed to record a sack and only managed five tackles for loss.

While the Jags didn’t have any film to review for the Colonels, they did have a plan that consisted of getting in the backfield, causing problems and making plays. And that’s what they did.

In addition to the stats mentioned above, they forced two interceptions and a fumble recovery while only allowing 118 yards of total offense. Coach Clark summed it up well after the game. “We got after the quarterback. We said that was our goal coming in. We schemed the whole week trying to get four guys coming at all times and the d-line really gave us a great push. It starts with pressure. That sure helps you out a lot.”

“We got some turnovers today, some takeaways, and we had a lot of three-and-outs,” Clark continued. “We had a tough penalty near the end and we can’t have any penalties, especially gifts like that. But sometimes when you’re playing hard and you’re running your tail off, you get some of those. We’ve just got to be smart, and for the most part I think we have. But our emotion, our energy, the way we tackled, being physical, that’s everything we preached this week. It kind of got back to being who we are. Sometimes, you have to step up. The offense is going to step up one week and we’ll step up another, but this week it was our turn and that’s what a team game is all about. It was our turn to do it and it will make us better for it.”

Jake Johnson got started early by sacking the Colonel quarterback on their third play from scrimmage. He would end the game with eight tackles , 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Also Pat Moore added five tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass break-up in his first start for South Alabama. Two of his sacks came in the second half in the red zone. Anthony Taylor had two tackles for loss and a sack. Terrel Brigham and Bryson James came away with interceptions in the game.

Looking ahead to the next couple games which include away games to NC State and Mississippi State before returning to host their first-ever Sun Belt game against in-state foe Troy University then following a week off they travel to defending Sun Belt champs Arkansas State, Coach Clark had the following to say. “I think this stretch is huge. We’ve got to go in with some confidence. You’re playing people who have got some great skilled athletes and they’re well coached. That’s the elite of the elite, so we have to play. The one we’re going to this week, at the end of the year (last season) they were scoring 50 points a game. I don’t know what they’re doing right now, but we’ve got our work cut out for us. This week we’ll just focus on N.C. State and then we’ll go from there.”

Jags Improve In Second Scrimmage

August 20, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Coach Joey Jones

Head Coach Joey Jones speaks to his team after the conclusion of the Jaguars first practice of preseason camp.

C.J. Bennett and Brandon Ross lead the Jaguar offense in Saturday morning’s scrimmage for the South Alabama. Ross scored three touchdowns on four carries while Bennett threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns while going 9-of-10 in the scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Ross’ first rush of the scrimmage was a four yard gain before crossing the goal line from one yard out on his second carry in a red zone possession for the offense. On the second snap after the mid-scrimmage break, Ross took the ball down the sideline for a 55 yard touchdown. Later in the scrimmage he got one more carry for a two yard touchdown. He racked up 62 of the 141 yards of rushing offense on the day to lead all Jaguars.

Ross is returning from a near one-and-a-half year absence following a knee injury in the 2010 season. Ross was the Jaguars’ leading rusher in 2009 and 2010 at the time of his injury.

Bennett led the first team offense on a 97 yard, 11 play drive for its first possession of the scrimmage. He completed six passes for 80 yards of the drive. He opened with a seven yard pass to T.J. Glover, he later found Bryant Lavender for 13-yards on two occasions and also found Tyrome Bivins for 12 yards to get to midfield. Demetre Baker added a two yard run before Bennett hit Jake Howton for 23 yards. Bennett rounded out the drive with a 25 yard strike to Cameron Broadnax for a touchdown.

Bennett only led the offense one other time. That drive spanned 65 yards in seven plays and it was capped off by a 31 yard touchdown pass to Baker.

The first team defense only surrendered two field goals on the day. The final field goal allowed came on a red zone possession at the 15 yard line.

Ben Giles and Anthony Taylor both lead the team with seven tackles each. Taylor added two pass-breakups to his total as well. Jesse Kelley added six tackles. Giles and Kelley both were credited with 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Randon Carnathan and Enrique Williams recorded three tackles each while Davin Hawkins led the reserves with five tackles.

Offensively, Terrance Timmons rushed five times for 29 yards, Ellis Hill had four rushes for 18 yards and Baker added 17 yards on the ground. Broadnax, Glover and Lavender along with Nathan Sassaman all had two catches each as they combined with four different quarterbacks to tally 181 yards through the air.

Michel Chapuseaux made field goals from 37, 42 and 39 yards. Aleem Sunanon convered the final score of the scrimmage with a 32 yard field goal.

“Offensively and defensively, it was good,” Head coach Joey Jones said about the scrimmage. “Overall I’m sure we’re going to see some things on film that we need to correct. But we’re not quite where we need to be on special teams, and our sideline organization needs to get better. It wasn’t terrible, but there are some things that we have got to shore up. That’s why we do this. I think we will come out next week and do it again, and hopefully we will be perfect at it when we come out on Thursday.”

“We are evaluating our players and will see where we are on the depth chart, and make those decisions this weekend,” Jones continued. “Monday we’ll starting putting the game plan in for Texas-San Antonio, we’ll have a few extra days to getting ready for them.”

“I was monitoring a couple of spots, but we still had to do things against our offense,” said defensive coordinator Bill Clark. “We got our first guys a lot of good work, I thought we tackled well and got to the ball. Our goal was to go 100 percent on our assignments today, we’ll have to see the film, but I think we looked pretty sound. It’s basically what we wanted to see. We’ve still got work to do, but it was a good finish to camp.”

“I thought the defense came out and stopped the run pretty well and I thought they got after it,” coach Jones said about the defense.

Senior Safety B.J. Scott felt that Saturday’s scrimmage was better than the first one of the preseason. “We just had that in the back of our heads and we came out here and just got after it,” he said. “I think we all as a whole feel a little bit more comfortable and focused. It’s all mental at this point. We’re pretty much done beating up on each other.”

“Fundamentally we have improved a lot since camp started,” offensive coordinator Robert Matthews said. “We were able to execute a lot of base plays early today, in the second part of the scrimmage we tried to do some different things that we have been working on. Our guys know what to do, now it is just doing it at the speed and the tempo we expect. I think we are getting closer but are not there yet.”

The Jags returned to the practice field on Sunday so the student-athletes can take Monday off for the first day of fall semester classes.

 

Jags Work In Shells Preparing For Saturday Scrimmage

August 17, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Offensive line gets set while Coach Clark directs the defense during a practice early preseason camp.

The Jags hit the practice field on Thursday which marks exactly two weeks to the day that the South Alabama will open their season against Texas-San Antonio at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The two-hour practice was in shells.

Thursday’s practice had sessions where the offense worked on inside running plays, team blitz and blitz pick-up and some two-minute drills to close out the practice.

During the blitz session, C.J. Bennett completed passes to Kendall Houston, Corey Besteda and Terrance Timmons. Also Ross Metheny completed passes to Besteda, Cameron Broadnax and Houston. Drew Dearman was very impressive in pass protection.

During another 11-on-11 session, Bennett and Metheny both had big passes. Bennett found T.J. Glover for a touchdown while Metheny hit Bryant Lavender for a big gain. Also the defense made several interceptions; Charles Watson, B.J. Scott, E.J. May and Ben Giles all picked off passes.

During the two-minute drill, Demetre Baker broke a big run and Bennett hit on two big passes with Lavender. However the first team offense stalled and settled for a 50-yard field goal attempt. The kick missed it’s target though. The defense ended the drill with back-to-back interceptions by May and Terrell Brigham.

“It was a good day. We tried to back off a little bit and practice at about 90 percent where we’re getting to the football, and I thought we did that,” head coach Joey Jones said. “They’re starting to get a little tired, so we have to be smart about what we’re doing. We have a great special teams period lined up for tomorrow, and then we’ll bring them back Saturday for the scrimmage. I’m really looking forward to see how well we do when we start putting it all together and look at how everyone concentrates during a game-type situation.”

A highlight of the day for the defense was when Tyrell Pearson manhandled Rush Hendricks on his way for a tackle.

The Jags scrimmage on Saturday will be held at 8am at Ladd-Peebles Stadium but will be closed to the public. The Jags will not have practice on Friday.

USA Media Day Coverage

August 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama hosted their annual media day on Tuesday at the football fieldhouse on campus. They discussed the team’s progress this preseason and their expectations for the coming season.

Head Coach Joey Jones, Defensive coordinator Bill Clark and first year offensive coordinator Robert Matthews fielded questions from the media along with Seniors Jake Johnson, B.J. Scott, Trey Clark and sophomore Jereme Jones.

Below are some of the more notable questions and answers from their sessions.

Head coach Joey Jones opened media day with his opening statement. “We’re very excited about this season. Our kids have worked their tails off to get here. There’s a different look in their eyes right now, they understand the challenges we have ahead of us. And they’re competitors, they compete and want to compete with the best. It’s been very exciting to watch them during the offseason to get ready for this season.”

Coach Jones was then asked about this year’s team and how he thinks they will compete with other Sun Belt schools. “There’s no doubt that we’re better. We have better players. It’s going to be a year where we kind of feel our way through as far as knowing how good these [Sun Belt Conference] teams are. It’s a good conference, we know that. They’ve beaten some very tough teams in this country, so we understand that it’s going to be a very tough league. But we want to make a good representation for South Alabama. We want to go out and be very competitive. I want the other teams to respect us when they walk off the field. You certainly want to get to the point where you win a lot of games, but you can’t focus on that. We have to focus on the process of it.”

Jones then spoke about special teams when asked a question about it. “I think coach Perry has done a great job studying during the offseason. He went to a couple of NFL teams and picked up some great ideas, and we’re implementing those. We’ve emphasized the importance of it. I think we can help ourselves from the kind of unknown side of the game. I feel really good about where we are.”

He was then asked about the teams strength’s this season. “Our linebackers are very good football players, not that we don’t have good players at other positions. But if you look at our starters at linebacker, I think you start with Jake Johnson. He’s a great football player who I think will play in the NFL next year. He’s smart, can run and is a good tackler, he can do it all. Enrique Williams is looking really good and Clifton Crews is a very good athlete. I think those guys can compete with just about anybody.”

With the change at offensive coordinator after last season, it was only a matter of time before someone asked him about question about the offense. He spoke about their offensive philosophy. “We always want to be balanced, but if you can’t run the football then you can’t win in my opinion. You can throw the ball and win games, but you have to run the ball to be able to win championships. One thing I have noticed is that the kids have really bought in to this offense. They’re locked in when they come to meetings and go to practice. When you have that, good things are going to happen. We’re going to be successful in a lot of ways because they have bought in.”

Finally he answered a question about the quarterback position. “When I look at our players, I look at them and try to find guys who can help us win. I think both Ross Metheny and C.J. Bennett can win for us right now. The competition has been great. I think they have both sharpened each other and have made each other better. It’s good for us as a program, and it’s good as a quarterback to have the heat on you. But I think we have two guys at quarterback who have shown us they can win right now. They both fit this offense really well, and are both very similar in their traits.”

Next up was defensive coordinator Bill Clark with an opening statement for his segment. “You’re going to see a whole different set of guys on defense. Our options are opening up to a lot of guys now that we’re Division I. When you go out recruiting, those big defensive linemen go first, they are hard to find. We’ve got some guys who are undersized, but are the type of guys who play their butts off. We have to keep those guys healthy.”

Coach Clark fielded a question about practicing against an offense that will be similar to other Sun Belt teams they will be facing this season. “I think it’s key. Anytime you can go against similar people is good. You can practice as high-rate as you can, but to actually see it is its own deal. It’s going to make us a ton better. We want to be high-energy, highly-motored and we want to get off the field and get our offense the ball. When you’re guys are sucking wind, or you can’t get your subs on the field because they aren’t used to it, then that’s a problem. We’re glad we get to practice against them. It makes us a lot better.“

He also spoke about Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott as veterans and leaders on the defense. “You always count on your veterans. Everybody’s got another year, but the senior. Sometimes, as a junior, sophomore, or freshman, they think, ‘I’ll get my time.’ But a senior’s job is to say, ‘No, this is your time. This is for sure my time and I won’t get another chance.’ We want to bring [underclassmen] energy levels up to theirs. They are very good leaders. They lead by example, and they’re good people. They’ve been in big games and big stadiums. In front of a lot of people, like we saw with N.C. State, last year, people like Jake help you out there. We’re blessed to have them and we’ve got a lot of juniors that are like seniors since they’ve been with us when we started. We’ve got a pretty veteran group.”

Coach Clark revisited how he came to be with the Jags. “I tell the story all the time. Coach Jones called my office while I was in the second week of playoffs just checking in and seeing what we were doing. We talked a lot. He just mentioned that this was an opportunity and I, of course, said, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ I’d always heard about South Alabama, and through the long haul, it worked. We really feel like this is a family. I think you’ve seen us play like that. We were sitting here on a cement slab (four years ago) telling people what it was going to look like. To see the football facility, to see where we’re headed, changes at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, watching our guys grow, to finally be Division I, is pretty neat.”

Finally he spoke about the pressure to prove something. “As a high school guy, I always felt like I carried the banner for my guys. There are so many great coaches that just don’t get that opportunity, and we feel like we’re representing the kind of guys, like high school coaches who teach class in the day and coach because they’re doing what they love.”

The last of the coaches who spoke at media day is first year offensive coordinator Robert Matthews. He first spoke about the offense and what he hopes the fans will see this season. “Hopefully you’re going to see a lot of first downs and a lot of points. Offensively, we’re into the second week of camp, and we feel like we’re making a lot of progress. We have repped a ton of guys at a lot of different positions. We’re practicing really efficiently. We’ve got two team periods going at the same time, we have two 7-on-7 periods going on at the same time, and that’s helping to answer the question of depth from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. We feel like there are a lot of guys getting reps to help us this year, as well as next year. We’re in this for the long haul, not a one season and out kind of deal. Coach Jones is a Mobile native and we want this to be a proud program.”

“Hopefully, in our offense, a lot of guys are going to touch the ball. We’re rotating receivers, tight ends and running backs in and out, and we hope to snap the ball at a high rate and get it to our playmakers. That’s what this offense is about, so if Jereme is one of those guys, then he should definitely have a smile on his face. I think the kids have a good understanding of what we’re looking for. There are still certain plays that aren’t perfected yet, but I think overall the kids have put in a lot of time since spring ball through the summer, and we’ve had an efficient camp because of that. It’s more refining as opposed to re-teaching.”

Coach Matthews was then asked about the adjustment period for the players. “I think the kids are working hard. We’re getting better every week. Really, they don’t have a choice. If they want to play, they’ll do what the coaching staff asks of them. There’s a good camaraderie amongst the staff and the players, and I think it’s progressing well.”

Matthews also spoke about his growth as a coach up to his new position as offensive coordinator with the Jags. “In my first coaching job at a high school in Georgia, we ran the Wing-T offense. We were successful because we had good players and the kids believed in it. With the revolution of football as a sport, you have to score points. We utilize that philosophy using the one-back spread. I’ve been fortunate to have been around some really good coaches, and some really good guys that are prolific coaches have mentored me. Coach Jones has been involved in some good offensive schemes himself. I think we’ve done a really good job of meshing those ideas together and just putting together a product that will help us win.”

He was later asked about the quarterback competition during camp this year. “It’s been really fun to have a bunch of different guys working in that position. You have to have depth at that position. C.J. has been here and he’s played some games, and he’s getting better every day. Ross brings a different perspective, because he’s been in a different program, and Fetner and Peavey have all been working hard and they’ve all gotten better. That’s a testament to us getting guys a lot of reps during practice because you want to build depth.”

“You never want to look at it this way, but you’re always one play away from whoever the number two is to being a starter for the remainder of the season. You better prepare for it because it’s the reality of what could happen. It’s hard to compare from last year because they’re two different offenses. Everybody asks, ‘What about C.J. from last year?’ I’m not worried about C.J. from last year. I’m worried about C.J. and how the rest of the guys are doing right now. He comes to work every day and he’s being a good leader and he’s working hard at this offense. I think he’s progressing.”

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson was first up for the players. He first spoke about the progress of the defense so far during camp and the expectations on the season. “We’re a lot better at this point in camp than we were this time last year. We’re more complex on defense, which is good so we don’t look the same out there every play. We have a lot of players stepping up, a lot of new defensive linemen, Jesse Kelley. He’s 19 years old and is really stepping up at nose tackle. We also have a couple of corner backs who have stepped up. Alonzo Long has done well.  We’re really looking good halfway through camp.”

He was asked about how important it is for the defense to establish a personality on defense. “I think it’s real important. The intensity that you bring now during camp is going to translate in the games. We try to bring a high intensity, a high motor, a high effort everyday from every position, so that when the game comes, we are so used to going at that speed and that intensity and that is the face of our defense.”

Johnson was asked about the overall attitude of the defense this season as compared to previous seasons. “Our attitude is a lot better. We seem to be a lot more focused. We watch a lot more film and have a lot more meetings. Like I mentioned earlier, we aren’t running the same scheme. We have gotten more complex in some of the things that we have run in the past.”

He was also asked about how being exposed to the spread offense in practice will help the defnese when they start conference play. “The spread attack is what a majority of the teams in the Sun Belt are running. (Seeing the spread in practice) is going to help us get conditioned. Having seen it so much in practice, we are going to be prepared for it. It also really helps out the defensive backs. They’re getting so much work, not just on defensive drills, but they are working on so much man coverage, that I feel it’s going to help them in the games. I think it’s going to help us out greatly.”

Senior defensive back B.J. Scott spoke about the progress of the defense so far during camp and what expectations he has for the season. “Midway through camp, we have some players with some dings who are a little banged up and we’re trying to get them back as fast as we can, but I think our defense is looking good this year. We’ve prepared ourselves throughout camp.”

Scott also spoke about the improvements made in the secondary, also mentioning Alonzo Long as well. “We are more athletic at the corner position. Alonzo Long has really stepped up and is looking really good. Tyrell Pearson is doing a great job for us as well.”

Finally, he was also asked about facing the spread offense in practice. “Seeing a hurry-up tempo offense at practice makes the secondary and the defense as a whole get to the line and call our coverage in the secondary a lot faster. It helps us, just as much as it helps the offense.”

Senior center Trey Clark spoke about the progression of the offense in camp. “Right now we’re just working hard and staying focused on each practice right now. It’s going to be tough and it’s going to be hot. I think it’s really important for us as a team to stay focused on each practice, improve on the fundamentals and get the ins-and-outs of our offense worked out before the first game.”

Clark was asked about the conditioning of the team. “The new offense we run is very fast paced and high tempo. That demands great conditioning. With our offseason, summer workouts and fall camp, I think we’re really making strides in that area.”

When asked about the state of the offensive line, he said: “Our strengths are our ability to play fast and utilize our athleticism. As far as our weaknesses, we have to get better at our pass protection and learning to play together. We have some guys that are stepping into starting roles, so getting used to playing next to one another is going to be important for us.”

Finally he spoke about the new starters on the offensive line. “We have several linemen that have stepped up this camp, especially Drew Dearman, Shaun Artz and Chris May. They’ve all done an outstanding job. We also have a transfer, Perry Meiklejohn, who has done a great job. For the returners, it will be important for us to bring them along a little bit, but for the most part, they’re doing a great job and have stepped up. I’m here to help them any way I can, but they’ve done a great job in learning the offense and working to improve every single day.”

Sophomore wide receiver Jereme Jones also answered the question about the progression of the offense in camp. “It’s progression really well. We have a dynamic offense. We go through our bumps and bruises, but overall I think  we’re doing what doing we have to do to be where we want to be at the end of the season.”

Jones was also asked about the conditioning of the team. “We do a lot of conditioning, but it’s not suicides or gassers, we do it while we’re doing plays. We do fast-tempo things like getting lined up fast, just like we would do in a real game.”

Specificially, Jones was asked about the receivers transition to the new offense was progressing. “When we first started in the spring it wasn’t easy. We had to really study the playbook, learn the plays and watch a lot of film. But when the summer came around, we knew what we had to do and where we needed to be. When the fall came, it wasn’t a big learning curve. Instead of having to learn, we just executed.”

Finally he was asked about the quarterbacks. “C.J. was doing a lot of what he’s doing now in practice, last year, it just didn’t correlate to the field like it was supposed to. C.J. is throwing the ball the way he’s supposed to, leveraging the ball the way it needs to be. Ross is a good quarterback too. He does a good job of running the offense. He’s similar to CJ, he leverages the ball well and puts it where it needs to be. There’s going to be some competition this year.”

Blue Squad Comes Out On Top In Red & Blue Spring Game

March 25, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 3 Comments 
Coach Perry with running backs

Coach Tommy Perry coaching the running backs during halftime of the Red & Blue Spring Football Game on March 24, 2012.

South Alabama unveiled their new offense to much fanfare on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. With sunny skies and a slight breeze, the Jags took the field to wrap up their fourth spring practice and their first preparing for a full FBS schedule.

Both squads began the game by trading interceptions. But the Blue squad would earn the first points of the game after a six play, 61-yard drive was capped off by a three-yard touchdown by Demetre Baker. Baker got the drive in gear with a nine-yard run then Bennett would complete three consecutive passes to Jereme Jones, Tyrome Bivins and Baker to move the ball down to the 10 yard line. Baker would then run for seven yards followed by the three-yard touchdown run.

The Red squad would answer with a 31 yard Michel Chapuseaux field goal late in the first quarter. The drive spanned 11-plays with Trey Fetner going 4-for-4 for 44 yards and walk-on freshman Terrance Timmons added 42 all-purpose yards with an 18-yard gain to begin the drive and a 22-yard catch to keep the drive alive on third-and-13.

The Red squad would see it’s only lead of the game after Julien Valentin scored with about three minutes left in the first half. After seemingly being stopped after a short gain, Valentin popped out and the defense thought he was down, however none of the referees blew the whistle and ended up scoring on a 45 yard run. “It was a freaky play,” Valentin explained after the game. “I don’t know where it came from but I had to just keep fighting and keep going. The next thing you know I’m in the open field and the ref is running with me, so I just ran as hard as I could to the end zone.”

Chapuseaux would tie the game for the Blue Squad after connecting on a 28 yard attempt with 41 seconds left in the half. Bennett would go 5-of-6 on the drive to move the team 64 yards in eight plays. He would connect with J.J. Keels twice with the second completion going for 35 yards before the drive stalled out at the 11 yard line.

After a short break and an opportunity for coaches to talk with players on the sidelines, the game continued.

The only score of the second half was by the Blue Squad’s Tyrannace Brazil to cap off a 12-play 80 yard drive spanning 4:58 on the clock. The Blue squad would take over the ball with 45 seconds left in the third quarter with Brandon Bridge at quarterback. Bridge would connect with Jereme Jones on the first play for a 16 yard gain. Later a 20-yard pass to Brazil would move the ball across mid-field for another first down. Bridge would find Wes Saxton for a 10-yard completion on fourth-and-1 at the 35 yard line. Bryant Lavender would make a nine-yard catch at the 14-yard line, but would be injured on the play as the back of his head would be struck by a players knee as he went down. The referees would flag it as a late hit personal foul to move the ball to the 7-yard line. Two plays later, Brazil would score to give the Blue squad a 17-10 lead.

The Red squad had the tying score in it’s sights on the next possession. Myles Gibbon would find Anthony Ingram open for a 67-yard gain after a blown coverage by McGaskin, but Ingram’s failure to secure the ball all the way into the endzone would let McGaskin make up for it by punching it out at the one yard line and having it go out of the back of the end zone for a touchback and possession going to the Blue squad.

The Blue squad would go three-and-out on their possession. After moving the ball for a simulated punt, Trey Fetner would be sacked by Byron Sneed for a loss of six yards. Then Charles Watson would stop Austin Powell short of the first down on a fourth-and-12 at the Red Squad’s 43 yard line to seal the game.

Keels, Bivins and Lavender all ended the game with three catches each to lead the team. Keels would rack up the most yards of the three with 52. Jones and Baker would each add two catches for the game as well. Bennett would go 11-of-14 for 128 yards and Brandon Bridge went 4-of-7 for 55 yards. The Blue squad would gain 192 of it’s 217 total yards through the air.

Valentin rushed 10 times for 88 yards and added two catches for 10 more yards. Anthony Ingram had four catches for 98 yards. Valentin and Ingram shared the game-high honors for all-purpose yards. Terrance Timmons added 50 yards and 24 yards more on two catches.

Fetner went 7-of-14 for 69 yards and Myles Gibbon went 3-of-5 for a team best 84 yards. The Red Squad gained 163 yards passing and 131 on the ground for 294 yards of total offense.

Qudarius Ford, Darrius Morrow and Andrew Philon all shared team-high honors for the Red squad with five tackles each. Justin Walker added four tackles and Cordivido Grive, Desmond LaVelle and Pat Moore all adding three tackles each. Moore would have a game-high of 1.5 tackles for loss.

Jake Johnson lead the team with six tackles and added an interception on the Red Squad’s first snap of the game. Dylan Hutto added five tackles with Davin Hawkins and Dionte McDuffy both added four tackles each. Logan Bennett, Jonathan Cameron, Robert Terrell, Charles Watson and McGaskin all added three tackles each. Logan Bennett would spend lots of time on the sidelines before leaving before the end of the game due to a possible concussion.

“We talked and bickered back and forth all week,” said C.J. Bennett. “It’s kind of fun going against each other and putting the pads on for real. In practice, they [the coaches] always want to stop you. It was a friendly game, I thought everyone played well, and the Blue team came out on top. I think the offense is coming along great, as you saw here we are capable of some long drives and getting that ball moving. If we take care of the ball, I think we have big things ahead of us.”

“I thought we did well, we’ve come a long way since the first practice of the spring,” said Jake Johnson after the game. “But we still have leaps and bounds to get better. I was impressed with a lot of the guys, we were mixed and matched but we all showed great ability out there.”

Coach Jones spoke after the game. “We kept both teams handcuffed, the defense could run a couple of fronts, the offense could only run so many plays,” Jones said. “We achieved what we wanted to, I don’t think anyone was hurt badly. Our evaluations through the first 14 practices were really what it was all about, we know where we are.”

When asked about the possible tying touchdown for the Red Squad late in the game, coach Jones answered, “It looked like he got stripped. That’s a lesson on both sides of the ball. On offense, securing the ball all the way across the goal line is paramount, and defensively to never give up. That was a great play to never give up.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark was pleased with the defense in the game. “We didn’t blitz and we were in man coverage all day. We didn’t want to show anything.” With just over five months until the first game, they didn’t want to give anything away to upcoming opponents.

With spring practice over, we now have to wait for fall camp to begin and football season to arrive. South Alabama will open the 2012 season, their first playing a full FBS schedule and playing a full Sun Belt schedule, when they host Texas-San Antonio on Thursday night on August 30th.

Recap Of South Alabama’s First Scrimmage

March 4, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Coach Jones

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

South Alabama held it’s first scrimmage on Saturday in front of some 200-plus visitors. The visitors were high school Juniors who are on the Jaguars recruiting radar for the upcoming class. This was their opporutinity to see campus, tour the facilities and also see the Jaguars in action.

In the scrimmage, Demetre Baker scores two of the four touchdowns on the day while leading the runningbacks with nine carries for 42 yards. On the first scoring drive, C.J. Bennett was 3-of-4, all three completions went to Bryant Lavender for gains of 14, 6 and 25 yards respectively. Lavender’s last reception of the drive moved the Jags inside the 10 yard line and setting Baker up for his touchdown. Terrance Timmons also had a 14-yard rush on the drive.

The second scoring drive saw Bennett connect with Anthony Ingram for an 11-yard catch to begin the drive. On third down and needing one yard to move the chains, Bennett would find Kennedy Helms for a 30-yard completion which would set Baker up for his second touchdown.

C.J. Bennett would end the day going 11-of-17 for 114 yards while adding two runs for nine yards. Trey Fetner would end the day 4-of-7 for 60 yards while working with both the first and second team guys. He would lead the second-team on a 11-play 55-yard drive. He completed two passes to Saxton to move within the ball inside the 30-yard line. Baker would run four consecutive times to get the ball down to the two yard line. A false start penalty would back them up, but Fetner would find Jereme Jones just inside the endzone on the right side for the touchdown. Fetner commented after the scrimmage saying, “Actually, that wasn’t part of my progression. I saw a hole real quick, and I tried to get it in there. It was a mistake, but a good one, so we’ll take it. I did a decent job today, but the line and receivers did a great job. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, though.”

Other scores on the day was a 45-yard field goal by Michel Chapuseaux and a one-yard touchdown run near the end of the scrimmage by Julien Valentin. His touchdown would cap off an 11-play 40-yard drive by the third team offensive unit.

The Jaguar defense gave up 306 yards on 109 plays, which was an average of less than three yards per play. Ben Giles ended the scrimmage with nine total tackles and a pass break-up which was nearly an interception. Charles Harris and Desomnd LaVelle both added six tackles of their own and Randon Carnathan had five tackles. Will Thompson posted five-and-a-half tackles for loss and three sacks while Pat Moore totalled four-and-a-half tackles for loss and four sacks. Ceasare Johnson added five tackles and one-and-a-half sacks. Eddy Cabrera had the only takeaway by recovering a fumble late in the scrimmage.

Bryant Lavender lead the wide receivers with five receptions for 57 yards. While Ingram catching two passes for 39 yards and Wes Saxton also catching two for 25 yards.

“I’m excited about the new offense,” said Demetre Baker after the scrimmage. “I think I’ve still got a lot of things to work on, definitely some reads now that we are not running a lot of power-I. I never will be pleased, though, because I think that every day I can come out here and get a little bit better, run a little harder, make better cuts and read my blocks better.”

Coach Jones commented after the scrimmage by saying, “I thought Demetre had a good day running the ball. He ran real powerful today, he didn’t have any extremely long runs, but he had a lot of five- and 10-yard runs, fighting for tough yards.”

“I believe we are much further along than I thought we would be at this point with the operation of the offense, because the kids have bought in and the staff has done a tremendous job coaching it,” continued Jones. “When they go out on the field they understand what it going on, but it is going so fast they make a mistake or two. But I’m real pleased, because it puts a lot of pressure on the defense when you snap the ball extremely fast.”

Speaking about the depth on both sides of the ball, coach Jones had this following quote. “With the ones on both sides of the ball it was a back-and-forth slugfest. What I see when I look at the offense and defense is a lot more depth on defense. When you put the twos out there there is not a lot of change, but when you put the twos out on offense there is. One of the things we have to work on is our depth offensively.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark commented about the defense after the scrimmage was over. “We saw a lot of good things, and we saw some things we have to get better at,” he said. “sometimes that tempo really shows you some things. A lot of guys did a lot of good things, although you won’t know that exactly until you see the film, but we had some guys on the twos who really looked good. That depth chart may be changing next week.”

New offensive coordinator Robert Matthews commented on what he saw from the offense during the scrimmage. “I saw some good things, though I thought we made too many pre-snap penalty mistakes,” he said. “We had some false starts that are unacceptable. We are getting a lot of guys reps, we had seven quarterbacks take snaps today, which makes it hard sometimes with continuance but at the same time its good for our evaluations.”

The most resounding statement by Coach Jones was, “Today was a very big day regarding our depth chart where those guys could prove themselves. After this Thursday, the bulk of spring training will be over.”

South Alabama only has three more practices prior to spring break with the first being at 4pm on Sunday. The Jags are scheduled to work out in just shorts. Following that, they will return to the field on Tuesday in shells then in full pads on Thursday for their next scrimmage.

Post Scrimmage Videos

March 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 


Head Coach Joey Jones talks about the scrimmage.


Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark post scrimmage remarks.


Offensive Coordinator Robert Matthews post scrimmage remarks.

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