Jones Happy With Wednesday Practice In Preparation For NC State

September 13, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.

The South Alabama Jaguars returned to the practice field on Wednesday morning for a two-hour practice as they continue to refine their game play for North Carolina State on Saturday. Coach Jones said he was happy with what he saw during the practice.

“We had real good intensity,” he observed. “We had some real good one-on-one periods where the offense went against the defense. (We had) perfect intensity to the point where we’re not tackling but we’re playing hard to the point where we would tackle. That’s going to help us. As fast as they are on defense and as big as they are on defense, we’ve got to see that. As well as they execute on offense we’ve got to have the scout team showing good looks and they did that today.”

One of the keys to the game will be how the offense improves on it’s performance last week in the red zone. The Jags reached the red zone five times but had to settle for three field goals. But they also have to improve on their third-down efficiency to keep drives alive.

“We’ve got to control the ball,” he continued. “We can’t go three-and-out and put our defense in a bind throughout the game. We’ve got to be able to control the ball and run the clock. We’ve got to be able to convert when we have the chance to make big plays. We’ve got to be able to convert big plays. And that’s any game, but it’s more so when you are playing a team with a great defense like N.C. State.”

As the Jags get ready to travel to Raleigh for the game, wide receiver Jereme Jones is one game away tying the school record for consecutive games with a reception set by Courtney Smith at 17 consecutive games which is every game he played for the Jaguars. Jereme has a catch in the last 16 consecutive games for the Jags.

Ross Metheny is expected to get playing time under center on Saturday in Raleigh as he has in the Jaguars previous two games. Metheny transfered to South Alabama after he graduated in three years brought two years of eligibility to South Alabama.

While at Virginia in the ACC, Metheny faced the Wolfpack once in his three years there. Metheny knows some of the players on the NC State team, but he never traveled to Raleigh. Virginia hosted NC State last season and was the only time the two teams met while Metheny was on the roster.

But Metheny may have more experience playing in larger stadiums that most Jaguars. “Fortunately I have been in a couple of those big stadiums before. UVA is a pretty big stadium itself and I’ve been to Florida State and (Virginia) Tech and all those places. I have some experience going to those places. I got in a couple of game reps in an environment like that and that’s always useful to have. But it’s a new game and a new experience and a new team with these guys. I’m excited to get there.”

Metheny played sparingly at Virginia and this season he has gone 6-of-12 for 58 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns. He has also run 10 times for 14 yards.

C.J. Bennett has taken more reps in game that Metheny as he has gone 26-of-44 for 293 yards, one interception and two touchdowns.

But Metheny is eager to do anything to assist the team. “Anything I can do to help the team win is the main thing,” Metheny said. “It was good to get in there. I was telling someone those were the first meaningful snaps I’ve taken in three years. Anytime I got in at Virginia and got some experience, we were down big. It was that kind of situation. It was good to get in the game in that kind of environment and that stage and perform. I think it’s definitely useful going forward.”

Metheny continued, “Anytime you get some reps it becomes more comfortable. There’s definitely areas to improve on and that’s never going to change. I was comfortable (with the offense) coming out of camp, but anytime you get more reps and you’re preparing for a team and you get to practice, you get a lot more comfortable. So I’d definitely say I’m getting more comfortable with things.”

According to quarterbacks coach Bryant Vincent, Metheny has also caught on to the new offense quickly and has pushed Bennett throughout camp and the beginning of the season. “I think Ross has gotten better every day, every week, since he’s gotten here,” he said. “He’s a very driven, hard-working guy that really pays attention to every minor detail. I think he’s been a good addition for C.J. and for our football team because he gives us depth at quarterback and he gives us competition at the quarterback position.”

Tight end Greg Hollinger is listed as day-to-day but is expected to play in Raleigh however, he has been limited in practices this week due to a sprained left thumb. Hollinger was the only reported injury by the Jaguars staff.

The Jaguars and Wolfpack kickoff in Raleigh at 5pm CDT (6pm Eastern) at Carter-Finley Stadium. The game can be viewed on ESPN3 and WNSP 105.5FM will also carry the game, as they do every Jaguar game.

Jags Receives Verbal From Coveted Defensive End

July 24, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Recruiting · Comment 

Fresh on the heels of picking up their 10th verbal commitment, the Jags picked up their 11th verbal of the 2013 signing class. Willie Williams Jr of Sumter County High in Americus Georgia, a 6’2″, 255 pound defensive end gave his verbal commitment to the Jaguars. Alabama, Georgia, UCLA and Arkansas were all recruiting Williams.

“This football team is very, very good,” Williams said. “I really like the coaching staff and I think it’s a real good program. It’s a good school and I believe I’ll get a good education.”

Williams was attracted to the Jaguars because he would have the opportunity to play right away and because the program was so young.

William’s coach Michael Pollock had very good words to say about his player. “He’s a very athletic defensive end,” Pollock said. “He can play tight end and defensive end, which he does for us, which gives you some idea of what kind of athlete he is. We even feel if he had to that he could play linebacker for us.”

Pollock continues, “His pass-rush skills are extremely good and he does a great job. He’s not a one-dimensional player. He defends the run well too. But he really has a nose for the quarterback on the rush game. I think his feet and his speed are two assets that he has. I believe he could play right away (at South Alabama). He’s played for us since he was a sophomore. I think he has the skills to go in and make an immediate impact for them.”

“He went to Georgia and dominated at their camp earlier this month and they were talking to him heavy,” Pollock said. “I think it’s an opportunity for Willie to go to a place – you know, they have really, really made it a point of emphasis that he is one of the main guys they are wanting. I think he feels that South Alabama really cherishes his abilities and as a person and really wants him there and I think that’s part of why he picked them.”

Coach Bryant Vincent was recruiting Williams. Pollock said that Coach Vincent did a good job of recruiting him. Even though he was getting a lot of looks from SEC schools, Pollock believes that Williams was impressed by South Alabama’s facilities and coaching staff. But most of all he thinks Williams was impressed most of all by the Jaguars interest in having Williams join the program.

Willie Williams Jr highlight reel.

The other verbal commits are:

  • Tiquan Lang CB Lowndes GA. 5’8″ 168-lb 73 tackles, 3 int, 1 kick block, 5 KOR for 201yds and 1TD, 6PR for 113yds in 2011.
  • Terrell Pinson FS Itawamba CC 6’3″ 200lb As a freshman he played WR and caught 10 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown.
  • Xavier Johnson RB Chamberlain, FL. 5’9″ 170lb Rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 TDs in 2011.
  • Caleb Hayman WR/TE Gainesville, FL. 6’1″ 193lb
  • Dejon Funderburk WR Washington (Pensacola), FL. 6’0″ 175lb Caught 31 passes for 720 yards adn 7TD’s while rushing for 362 yards and 4TDs.
  • Taylor Lamb QB Calhoun, GA. 6’1″ 190lb Had a 73% completion rate for 3,635 yards, 40TDs and 9Ints.
  • Justin Jones RB Northeast Miss. JC 5’6″ 180lb Rushed for 920 yards and caught 27 passes as a freshman.
  • Roman Buchanan S Daleville, AL. 6’2″ 195lb 72 solo tackles, 45 assists, four sacks, three forced fumbles and two recovered, two interceptions, four passes defended and a field goal blocked as a junior.
  • Tevaris McCormick WR Biloxi, MS. 5’9″ 170lb 769 yards receiving, 213 yards rushing and 265 yards on returns with 16 total touchdowns.
  • Jacob Chaffin DT Spain Park, AL. 6’3″ 260lb 38 solo tackles, 8 tackles for loss and three sacks as a junior.
  • Devon Earl S Hoover HS, AL 5’10” 180lb 61 tackles, 5 INTs, 10 pass deflections and 3.5 tackles for loss as a Junior
  • Noah Armstrong OT Lawrence Co. 6’8″ 300lb Offered by Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Southern Miss.

Jags Begin Spring Practice Facing Lots Of Changes

February 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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