Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2011-08-30

September 1, 2011 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

The first email question asked about an update on several players, so they went straight into the Orthopedic Group injury update. Greg Hollinger will not play this week. Santuan is good to go, Enrique is good and ready go. Tremain smith is good to go, surgery on pinkie, will have to wear a cast but will be good to go. Most improved player in the classroom and has Division I size. Also he is a junior with a lot of ability.

Another question said that USA seems thin at receiver, especially with T.J. Glover not being eligible. Might we see some new personnel to get involved and also trick plays, wild Jag and such. Receiver wise, Coach Jones said he feels better this year than last year. While they lost Courtney who was a big play guy, but he feels that we have a few guys who can make the big play. But Coach Jones feels that they have more guys that can play. Losing T.J. hurt from a big play standpoint, but the 2 deep at receivers can rotate in and do well.

Coach Gregory joined in to help answer the question and said that they are a very balanced, a 60/40 run to pass ratio is pretty balanced because there are certain down and distances where you just don’t throw the ball that much. If you are successful running the ball then you should be about 60/40, but if you’re not able to run well and you start getting up there around 50/50 or 40/60 then your probably not that good of a running football team.

The Jags want to be a running team, they want to wear the opposing team down, run play action passes and still be able to drop back and throw it. Coach Gregory also mentioned that he and Coach Antoine were talking the night before that they are really excited about their wide receivers. They have worked hard and as a whole group they think they have been improving dramatically right now.

Asked about size, Coach Gregory said that Corey Besteda is 6’2 1/2″, while it’s not 6’5″ like Courtney but he is a tall guy. The others range between 5’9″ and 6′ but Jereme Jones, who may be the most powerful of them all, is only about 5’7 or 5’8″.

Coach Jones says there’s not another guy like TJ on the roster, he was comfortable as a running back and a receiver. They thought they had one that could do that in Anthony Ingram, however he was injured and will miss the season.

Coach Gregory was asked via email about C.J. Bennett’s possibility of being a 5 year starter and if that was something that has ever happened in college football before. Coach Gregory said that not to his knowledge but it’s possible someone has done that before where they started a couple games then got injured and was redshirted. Coach Gregory said that was really how they got Bennett in the first place, because of the extra year of play.

Lee Shirvanian asked if Bennett was heavily recruited out of High School. Coach Gregory said he was recruited, he had verbally committed to Wyoming, then South Florida brought him in for an official visit the week before signing day but held short of offering him a scholarship which helped USA get him.

Lee then asked about a quote coach Gregory had said that Bennett was the best quarterback in the state. Coach Gregory said that we will find out this year, but he thinks he is a very good player. One thing that is unique about C.J. is that when he comes off of the field he can tell you what happened while other guys just cannot. Coach Jones then joined in talking about his quick release and how smart he is with the ball. His negatives is his height, which holds back your SEC caliber schools.

Back to talking about the game, Coach Jones stressed that West Alabama is a talented team with lots of junior college transfers, 14 of the 22 starters will be JC transfers. Last season they went 7-4 and their largest lost was by four points. He also said that they are being coached by a new coach so the Jags have to ready for everything. They could come out with on-sides kicks, trick plays or anything else.

Coach Gregory started breaking down the Tiger defense some by saying they will probably mostly play a four man front with some three man front. UWA is very high on a new free saftey they have and think he will be able to make some plays for them. They are big inside with a guy that is about 325 pounds and looks bigger than that. Also have a 6’5″ defensive end that is fast.

Coach Gregory mentioned that these guys can be very good players. They may not have been able to qualify at the Division I-A level but could get in Divison II. Lee asked if we would see both Demetre Baker and Kendall Houston in the backfield at the same time. Coach Jones acknowledged that we could see that throughout the year because they are both very good players and they don’t want them to be on the sidelines.

Coach Gregory answered Lee’s question about the two running backs and if they were similar. He said that Houston is a very voilent runner, he hits very hard and may not be super fast but runs hard and is hard to tackle. While Baker is fast, he likened him to a locomotive. He’s going to run over you but if he gets an open field he probably has close to 4.5 40 speed. When asked who else may see some action Coach Jones said that Ellis Hill will probably see some time because he has worked hard and done well in preseason camp. He is a good inside runner at about 5’9″. Santuan is a very good running back and has made some good runs and will see some time. Also J.J. Keels got mentioned as someone who is coming around.

Some very, very good news was that Coach Perry’s wife is doing very well. Last season it was announced that his wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatment. Now we know that she is recovering well.

Lee asked Coach Jones about the specials teams. He answered by saying that he feels much better about special teams this season. Kickers are kicking much better than last year when they were having problems kicking kickoff’s out of bounds and such. They are more consistent on kickoffs and on field goals as well.

Jereme Jones will return punts and kickoffs this season and B.J. Scott will also be back for kickoff returns and some punt returns.

When asked why he settled on Jordan Means as being the placekicker, he said that he kicked the best. He was more confident standing over the ball and make more kicks. So they felt the best with him but said that Lawson McGlon was neck-and-neck with Means so he shouldn’t relax just yet.

In the Fuego Who’s Hot segment, Coach Gregory said that normally you would think of a skill player when you think of someone who has been hot the previous week. However Coach Gregory said that he thought it was the offensive line this past week. He added that he is very excited about those guys.

Coach Jones singled out Jake Johnson as the standout guy on the defense for his leadership, he work in the preseason, during game week preparations and in the weight room as well. Lee also mentioned that there is not many more players on the roster on the defensive side of the ball who has played more games against Division I opponents. Coach Jones agreed highlighting Jake’s time at Virginia Tech and that he started the first eight games of his freshman season including a game against Alabama.

Lee asked about the defensive secondary and how it has changed this season. Coach Gregory said that it is a major difference between last season and this season. He also said that he thinks that you are looking at bonafide Division I football players in all of the positions in the secondary. They have speed, range, coverage and they are tough.

He also said that he thinks it has been great for the receivers to face that kind of pressure. Early in preseason the receivers were getting beat up at the line but they have worked hard against them to get better.

Lee asked Coach Gregory if it was difficult for the Jaguar receivers to get separation from the defensive backs. Coach Gregory said yes, but also said that it was hard for them to get off the line.

Lee mentioned that everyone wants to talk about Alabama transfer B.J. Scott. Coach Jones agreed, saying Scott originally played corner back at Alabama and got moved around before injuring his ankle. But Coach Jones said he sees him as a safety because he is a very physical guy. With his skills he fits well in the South Alabama defense because the safeties are key in their defensive scheme because they need to be able to cover the run and the pass. Which Scott is able to do.

Damond Smith was the next player mentioned by Lee as someone who intrigues him. He is a transfer from Western Michigan and was highly recruited coming out of high school. Coach Jones agreed and added that he is a great player. He even mentioned that he saw about two or three plays of his highlight reel and said that this is a great player.

Lee asked coach Gregory about the quarterbacks and if he is going to stay with one quarterback this season. He answered that they are fortunate to have two great quarterbacks, but Bennett has won the starting position but Myles Gibbon is very talented, started lots of games and has played in the system for two years now. They would not have any problem with him going into the game, but reiterated that C.J. won the job. But he did say that there may be times when you could see both in certain situations.

They then started talking about walkon freshman Trey Fetner. Coach Gregory said that Kolt Peavy committed to USA early but Fetner had attended camp last year and was a very good prospect. However USA was not in a position to offer him a scholarship at that point.

They recruited him like a scholarship player and were fortunate to get him and was able to put him on scholarship when one became available in preseason camp. They would like to reshirt him, but they will have to wait and see how the season goes. He has a strong arm with good speed and is both physically and mentally tough.

Lee asked if there were any other players who were able to walk on, work their way into a scholarship. Coach Jones said they have over the last two years but this year Cori Barnett came in and earned a scholarship and will be starting at the Sam position. He said that each year they have one to three who earn scholarships that way.

Lee said that, looking at the depth chart, there are a few freshmen in the two-deep. Coach Jones mentioned Desmond LaVelle as being one that will be a great player and will not be redshirted this season. he continued saying that they are really good at linebacker again this season. Which is good after Higgenbothom and Dunn, both two year starting inside linebackers graduated last season.

Another freshman that could see playing time would be Maleki Harris according to Coach Jones. He is listed at both outside linebacker and safety.

On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Gregory said that J.J. Keels would be a freshman that could see plenty of time. He continued by saying that he probably has the best feet of the running back. He is able to get through very tight spots and has all of the skills that you want to have in a running back. As for being able to hold onto the ball, that is something that they develop and he said they will see how quickly he will develop that.

Lee asked Coach Jones about his thoughts on starting the season on a Thursday night. Coach Jones answered by saying that it’s his favorite way to start the season. Actually, if it was completely up to him, he would do it every year. The kids are ready to play, they have been working for about a month and they are playing when no one else is pretty much. But it also gives them an extra two days to prepare for the next opponent.

It also allows them to go through camp, then game prep, then the actual game and then let them get away for a day or two before picking it back up to continue their schedule.

Jags wrap up preseason camp

August 20, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
McGlon Field Goal

Taylor Noon and Lawson McGlon line up for a field goal attempt while Demetre Baker lines up to block.

South Alabama wrapped up preseason camp with a scrimmage lasting about one and a half hours focusing on game-like situations. They will then have the weekend off before returning to the practice field on Monday as well as beginning fall classes.

The scrimmage featured the first and second team offense and defense versus scout teams including special teams. The coaches had them refrane from tackling although they were in full pads.

They began the scrimmage with special teams work on kickoff coverage. That was followed by the first team defense facing the offense with them beginning at the offense’s one-yard line. Later possessions begain at the 20 and 30 yard lines.

The first team offense began at their own 30-yard line and drove down the field to set up a Jordan Means 37 yard field goal.

The punt team came on for some work before the first team offense and defense retured to the field for another series. They worked on second and long, third and long situations for the defense. Then the offense worked on first down, second and long and third and short situations. The final play of the first half of the scrimmage saw Lawson McGlon make a 40-yard field goal.

After the mid-scrimmage break, the first and second team defenses faced short field situations. The second team offense started with a short field and also starting on their own one-yard line.

The second half of the scrimmage saw more special teams work on kickoff and punt returns. Lawson McGlon also notched another 40-yard field goal as well as a 22-yard field goal to end the scrimmage.

The coaches will review the film from the situational scrimmage over the weekend to develop a depth chart as they go into preparation for their September 1 game against West Alabama.

“We exposed our team to a couple of things; sideline organization of the game, which I thought was pretty good for the most part though there are a couple of things we need to talk about as a staff to fix, and situational things on the field,” said head coach Joey Jones. “We didn’t tackle today, which I thought was good. We had a pretty good tempo, sometimes they tend to back off too much when you do that. We got all the special teams covered, we had three reps with each; we’ll watch the film and see what corrections we need to make there.”

Coach Jones then spoke about what the coaches will be doing over the weekend. “Number one, we’re going to evaluate the film and our players, what we need to do offensively and defensively and any corrections we need to make. Then we’ll talk about sideline organization, the things I noticed that we need to go over and get fixed for next week. And we’ll plan next week, how we’re going to attack it with a game a week from Thursday; how we are going to handle those three days before we get into game week. We know we’re going to have a situational scrimmage Thursday as well, bring them in Friday to watch the film and then it will be game week at that point.”

Coach Jones then went over their plan, beginning next week. “We’re going to go ahead and start working on the first ball game — we’ve done a little bit here and there before now, but it will give us an extra three days to work on West Alabama and put our game plan in, then go back and make corrections. There may be a scheme we don’t like or a blitz we don’t like that we will throw out. We’ll whittle it down and get ready for game week.”

Coach Greg Gregory, the Jaguar offensive coordinator, has been pretty pleased with the progression of the offense. “I think our first offense is good. I think the question mark that the so-called experts had about our football team — our offensive line — might be the strength of our offense,” he said. “I think those guys know how to play, they’re not the biggest but they don’t have to be; they block, they run, they’re athletic and they are competitors.”

“I think we’re really good at quarterback with our starter, though we’re thin at receiver right now because we have guys hurt; the guys that are here are having to take every rep, it’s wearing them out and their legs are getting tired,” Continued Coach Gregory. “We’re strong at running back, tight end and fullback. I’m really pleased other than I think we need our backups to make a huge jump. You don’t always need them right away in the first game, but somewhere in the season somebody’s going to have to play. Overall, we are about where I thought we’d be right now, we just have to polish things up between now and Sept. 1. Our kids are chomping at the bit, they’re ready to play.”

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark also spoke well of his unit. “The first thing as far as our guys go is we feel good. We’ve started developing some depth. We’re starting to see those twos, though some of it is due to injury. We’ve been able to see some freshmen and other guys that you wouldn’t see as much, we’ve gotten to throw them into the fire so we feel better about that. Obviously now our focus will start changing next week where we really start concentrating on West Alabama where we’ve been a little more general to start with. Overall we’re pleased with where we are, and we hope we’ll get everybody back well Monday.”

Probably the most encouraging words were spoke by Coach Gregory about the offensive line. If the starting five are solid with three or four really good second string backups ready at any time, then the team will be ready the tests they will face during the season.

The players will have the weekend off to rest and recover before beginning their preparations for the first game against West Alabama and classes starting on Monday.

Jags on TV and quotes from Coach Gregory

August 11, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Coach Gregory

Coach Greg Gregory from

Speaking about quarterback C.J. Bennett: I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama.

Announced TV dates and Kickoff times

South Alabama announced Wednesday evening that the Jaguars first televised game will not be the North Carolina State game as first thought. Actually it will be much sooner than the September 17th game.

Dr. Joel Erdmann, USA’s Athletic Director, announced that South Alabama’s season opening matchup against West Alabama will be aired live locally on UTV 44 as well as being aired nationally on ESPN3. While he was at it, he announced the kickoff times for the first four games of the season.

South Alabama and West Alabama will kickoff at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 1 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Jim Cox will handle the play-by-play, Dan Brennan will handle the color analysis and Pat Greenwood will handle sideline reporting for the broadcast. Actually Pat Greenwood will being handling sideline reporting for both WNSP’s radio broadcast and the television broadcast.

South Alabama’s first ever game against a FBS team will take place in Raleigh, North Carolina against NC State which can also be viewed on ESPN3. Kickoff is scheduled for 5pm Central time and will be the Jags first road game of the season.

Other kickoff times that were announced were games against Lamar on September 10 with kickoff at 4pm and the second FBS opponent for the Jags on the road at Kent State will kickoff at 2:30pm Central time. Other times will be officially announced in the future. However according to the season tickets, home games against Tennessee-Martin, Henderson State and Cal Poly will all kickoff at 4pm. The Thursday night game against Mississippi Valley State will kickoff at 6:30pm. is currently available to over 70 million homes across the country to fans who receive high-speed internet from providers who are affiliated with ESPN.

Dan’s inteview with Coach Greogory

Dan of Dan and Shelby, the morning show for local radio station 95WKSJ, has a football blog on the 95KSJ website. On Wednesday he was able to speak to Coach Greg Gregory about the upcoming season.

I will hit some of the notable pieces from the article. When asked to compare South Alabama to his former school, the University of South Florida who is arguably the measuring stick for modern start-up program. Coach Gregory said that “There is no doubt South Alabama will get to the same level as USF prior to them getting in the Big East.” He continued, “I think this program can go as far as the administration wants it to go.”

Another big question that everyone has for the 2011 Jaguars is how will the offensive line do when facing such an upgraded schedule. “We block better than a lot of football teams that you see on tape. I think we have enough talent to compete with anybody we play. I don’t really worry about our line. They are tough and they are going to compete. I don’t think it will be a major issue for us.”

Probably the answer that will get the most scrutiny by people around the state is when he is asked to evaluate quarterback C.J. Bennett. “Even when he came in last year as a 17 year old, all along I knew he’d be our guy,” said Coach Gregory. “I think he’s the best (college) quarterback in the state of Alabama. He’s a player. He can really throw it. Smart, sees things. When he tells you something happened on the field, that’s what happened. He is very polished. And he’s very excited to be here. He’s as accurate as you want, has as quick a release and the biggest thing is his willingness to pull the trigger. He’s got the best release I’ve ever been around.”

With Brandon Ross set to miss probably the first half of the season at least, Coach Gregory had some good thoughts on the Jaguar backfield. Kendall Houston picked up the role of being the big, hard running back where Ross left off after the injury. But this season he will have some help with the addition of Demetre Baker from the University of Georgia. Coach Gregory said that, “Baker has more flat out speed. Both of them are violent runner. They run the ball hard. Kendall’s probably a little more reliable right now at holding the onto the ball but Demetre’s a really good player.”

Go on over and read the whole write-up. He talks about replacing Courtney Smith, Jereme Jones place at receiver and transfer B.J. Scott possibly playing a part on offense in the future.

Jags Taking The Rest Of The Week Easy; Quarterbacks Set Themselves Apart

August 25, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Brennan Sim looking to throw under the watchful eye of Coach Jones during the first scrimmage.

The Jags final scrimmage of the preseason will be on Friday instead of Saturday. Saturday will be reserved for the fans to meet the players and coaches as well as an opportunity to pick up a copy of Tommy Hicks’ book, “Kickoff: The Story of the University of South Alabama’s Inaugural Football Season”.

Tuesday was the Jags final full contact practice before Saturday’s scrimmage. This will give the players a few days to mend their many bumps and bruises over the last couple of weeks.

The rest of the week will see team go out and work in limited to no contact drills.

Meanwhile back on the practice field, the quarterback position is starting to clear up just a little. Gibbon and Bennett have set themselves apart from Sim and Cotton. Sim looked like he was poised to be the starter coming out of spring drills, but as many know, things can and do change.

Gibbon put on about 20 pounds from last season but still runs a 4.56 40 if I was told correctly. But the different in Myles from last season to this season is quite a lot. His deep passing is still great, he still has decent speed but his drop back passing game still needs some work.

Sim also put on some weight, about 15 pounds to be exact. But he has been nagged with some shoulder problems and missed some practice this preseason.

C.J. Bennett came in and has done a great job learning the offense. He has done well and Coach Gregory seems to be confident enough that he can run the offense that he has been splitting time with the 1st and 2nd team offenses with Gibbon. Gregory also said that Bennett was a polished passer and is as good as anyone you have seen, but could work on his ball handling skills in the run game.

Raymond Cotton has had the most to contend with though. He transferred from Ole Miss just before preseason camp started and had to learn a new system. But probably the largest factor has been his injured shoulder. He injured it back in spring practice at Ole Miss and was feared that he may need surgery to repair it.

But as we know from last season, things do happen and starters can get injured. Thus it’s great to have quality players beyond the starter, not only to step in when needed but also to help keep the pressure on and the competition going to make everyone a better player.

Jags First Day In Pads Plus Media Day Coverage

August 11, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Tuesday was the Jaguars’ first day in full pads and it did not disappoint. An hour long, 70 play “mini” scrimmage in addition to Coach Jones, the coordinators and a handful of players talking with the media to preview the 2010 season.

Reflecting on the scrimmage, coach Jones thought it wasn’t very good. Actually he said, “I think that our practice today was marginal at best. It was our fifth day of practice in a row, we had a heavy lifting session yesterday afternoon so there legs were tired, it was our first day in full pads, it was hot and we had a scrimmage. We didn’t have a good energy level today for the first time this camp. Our first four days were great, but today we hit a wall.”

He continued, “Is that okay? It will be if we come back tomorrow and work our tails off. I’m okay with having a bad day because sometimes I think it shakes you up. You rattle the tree, shake out all the bad apples and then you continue. I don’t want every practice to be happy, sometimes you have to struggle to succeed.”

In the press conference on Tuesday, Coach Jones talked about looking into the future of the program and their goal to be a big-time Division I program. He spoke about how the kids understand the process they are going through and how they have to work hard to get there. He said from day one they have taken a Division I mentality and that they will continue to do so, from the classroom to the weight room and to the practice field.

Coach Jones himself and the players are all excited to move up in competition by facing all four year institutions, including several Division I-AA schools.

Coach Jones went on to mention some of the differences between last year and this year. They tried to get the best player they could get and get them out on the field. Last year they didn’t have any standards, they went out and did their best. Now they can use last season as a standard to improve upon.

During recruiting, they had higher standards. They only went for players better than what they had on the roster. I’m sure this was a time consuming task as they brought in some really good players last year.

My favorite segment was about the character of this seasons team. He said, “It’s probably as good as I’ve ever been around, and I’ve had some great teams with tremendous character. We preach that and believe in it, it’s something we can control. We can’t control how big they are, if we have a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman that’s what he is. But we can do something about character and the choices we make, and we really harp on that. I think our edge is doing things that are intangible. By that I mean, the work ethic and commitment to the team. We stress that every day.”

In the state of Alabama their are two teams which everyone compares every other team against. Nick Saban’s philosophy is character and work ethic. Coach Jones philosophy, similarly, is to outwork their opponent. But unlike other programs, South Alabama is not where they want to be yet and that gives them a fire to work harder than the team on the other sideline.

However, he still stressed that they are taking great strides but that they are not ready to face a Division I opponent yet. Having North Carolina State scheduled for next season, the Jags have work to do and a target to meet.

Talking about preseason camp, coach Jones said he stressed to his team that they are going to win games this week. The Jags are in the middle of a nine consecutive day stretch of practice. With heat indices of around 108 degrees, he stressed that the one who fight through these workouts will be on top in the fall.

Coach Jones spoke about the ghosts of an undefeated season. “We’re fighting our success last year a little bit. Just because we were 7-0 doesn’t mean anything. If we had been 0-7 it wouldn’t have meant anything to me either. I think that as coaches and players we need to look at it through regular glasses rather than rose-colored glasses because we all get comfortable and think everything is okay. We have to keep looking to be critical of ourselves no matter what the circumstance.”

When he spoke about offseason transfers, he said “Sometimes they fall into your lap, it just kind of works out.” The excitement of a new program and opportunity for early playing time is quite alluring. They can also see how they are doing thing right from the coaching staff to the facilities. Those kind of things are quite compelling to very good players at big schools where they don’t see much playing time.

Coach Jones addressed South Alabama’s quarterback talk by saying, “We are trying to get every one of our quarterbacks reps now, I’m not going to rank them one through four because they all have good qualities. We have a good problem. It will filter out as time goes, and we will have to make a decision in three weeks.”

Then he spoke about Brennan Sim specificly, “Brennan’s a leader. When I talked to [head strength and conditioning coach] Justin Schwind last summer when Brennan came, he told me that he was one of the best leaders we had in the weight room, and he had just gotten there. He is one of those guys who is just a born leader. I haven’t known him since he was growing up, but when he walks into a room there is a presence he has. Brennan has a calming effect on our young players, he has an experience factor that a lot of guys on the team don’t have right now.”

Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark spoke next about the defense. He spoke about how he could not think of how last season could have gone any better from a team standpoint. But that they will have a larger challenge to tackle this season with back to back weeks of games. Last season they had several breaks between games. His list of positives was that they have lots of veterans returning from last season. Last year they were trying to find out who could play, this season they will have to step up.

Players have returned bigger and stronger and they are working on developing depth. One position that he feels that they have developed depth is at cornerback. A position of concern is safety and that the coaches are working on that. He is said that the coaches were very excited about linebacker position with a lot of depth. Defensive end, however, is a position he is looking for players to step up in.

He has a goal of getting three players at each position for depth. They want the defense to be dynamic, which means they need the new players to come in, get the scheme down and play at the level they expect them to. It will take some time in order to progress to that point.

Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said that he expects the offense to be a good football team since they have so many players returning with experience. The continued by saying that they are fostering as much competition at every position as they can. Returning players know that they have pressure on them from the new guys.

However, the Jaguars are returning a good core of skill players in addition to the entire offensive line from last season. Add into the mix the “exceptional” group of freshmen and incoming players and he thinks the pressure and competition will drive them to be even better.

They know that they need to improve since every team on the schedule this season is better than any team they faced last season.

The hot question, again, was about the quarterback position. Coach Gregory said he thought Sim was a little better than Gibbon in the spring, but only slightly. But C.J. Bennett has picked things up quickly since he was there all summer. The newest addition, Raymond Cotton, is in a position where he is playing catch up since he wasn’t on campus during the summer. He was quick to point out that he was very talented. But he ended the QB talk by saying, “The bottom line is we’re going to play whoever gives us the best chance to win games.”

There was no hesitation from Coach Gregory when he spoke about what the offense needed to get better. “The key to getting better offensively is the line. I think a great quarterback deflects praise to the offensive line, because it’s not going to happen if we don’t have an offensive line. I think that’s where we have to make the biggest step in our football program. We’re a little bit undersized with our returning guys, but they are athletic and we need them to step up and play at a high level. Our freshman are just young, but they have size. We’re trying to find out who can provide us depth at each position, but I think we have some young guys who are going to help us out up front.”

He spoke similarly about the freshman running backs as he did about the quarterbacks saying, “The best players will be out there, and if they’re capable of playing, we’ll get them out there. They all have a chance.”

For a more in depth read and quotes from players, check out

Jags Make Adjustment To A Short Week Of Practice

October 16, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

For the first time this season, not to mention in South Alabama history, the Jags only had one week to turn around and prepare for an opponent. But the schedule was constructed to work up to this point in the season.

Lousiburg Junior College from North Carolina will enter the game with a 5-1 record and ranked #18 in this weeks NJCA poll. They are quite similar to Georgia Military by running multiple sets on offense and utilizing the 3-3 stack on defense.

The results of the last game versus Georgia Military was a 31-3 win for the Jags while limiting the Bulldogs to 234 yards of total offense.

Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory mentioned that the similarities is a definite benefit for the Jags. “What really was a blessing for us is that Louisburg’s defensive scheme is the exact same as Georgia Military’s,” he said. “All we had to do this week was tweak some things – maybe we want to use some plays we didn’t last week or vice versa, we have taken out plays that we ran against Georgia Military that we didn’t like.

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark said something quite similar about the defense. “Obviously we won’t do all the same things as last week, but it will help us,” he said. “If we went from Army Prep running the option to more of a traditional offense it would’ve been harder.” Coach Clark also mentioned that their workouts through the season has helped the defense to get to this point where they can adjust to playing back-to-back games. “It’s a little bit different, everything is compacted, but we’ve handled it well,” he said. “On defense, we are so focused on adjusting to what the other offense does – the formations, the plays, the tendencies – so we’ve been lucky to have extended amounts of time prior to this week. Of course, Saturday will be the test to see how well we’ve handled it.”

The Jags are approaching this week like it was any other. Their goal is to be a better football team by weeks end than they were at the beginning of the week. “One of the ways we have approached this is to say that we are going to work to improve,” Coach Gregory said. “Sure, we have to work against the scheme of the opponent, but we are really focusing more on ourselves. We want to win every game this year but we are trying to build a football program and lay a foundation, so half of our practice is based on improving fundamentals like throwing, catching and tackling rather than the opposition.”

Even though the Jags are 3-0, the coaches are quick to point out there are improvements to be made. “Right now we don’t throw the ball as well as I would like to throw it,” Coach Gregory said. “That’s a combination of not being good enough at quarterback yet and that we’re not a great pass protection football team yet. That always takes the longest amount of time. We’d like to work on that more in some of these ball games if we get the opportunity, but we’re playing to win.”

Through the first three games the Jaguars have been clearly dominant in the ground game, gaining an average of 257.7 yards per game while only averaging 135.7 yards per game through the air. The coaches are pleased with the performances, however they want a more balanced attack. “The one thing we are trying to do is build a tough, hard-nosed, attacking football team,” Gregory explained. “We’re doing that, but we have to become a more balanced football team not in how much we throw but just having more confidence in our ability to throw.”

On defense the Jags are doing good as well. They have allowed an average of 268 yards per game and only surrendered 16 points in the process. In addition to the yards, the defense has held strong on third down by only allowing seven of 38 attempts to be converted into first downs, which is an 18% success rate.

“Our guys know tackling and takeaways, and when you talk to them and they shoot it back you feel like they are getting it,” stated Clark. “We want to get better fundamentally, we want to be better tacklers. There are things in the last game we saw that we believe we can improve on. We had their quarterback trapped four or five times and couldn’t get him down – he’s a great athlete, but we should be able to do that. The way the players have bought in has been excellent. When you’re a coach they are going to do what you say, but to really get them to believe has been important because we have a really high standard. We feel like we are about excellence, and one of our goals is a shutout. That’s a tough goal when you play four 15-minute quarters, but that’s what we’re looking for. Every week is a chance to improve, we’re only as good as our last game. I’m pleased at this point, but know we have work to do.”

The Jaguars kick off against Louisburg JC on Saturday, October 24 at 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.


Coach Joey Jones TV Show Preview

October 8, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

I hope Pat Greenwood and UTV-44 will not mind this, but I am going to post an overview of the Coach Joey Jones TV Show that will air Saturday morning only an hour before kickoff. You really should record it and watch it later if you can. Its set to air from 10:30am for a half-hour leading into the SEC Network Game of the Week.

Pat and Coach Jones began the show talking about the win over Army Prep. Coach Jones said during the second drive by the Jags, he could see the Army Prep defense showing signs of weakness. They were visibly huffing and puffing, resting their hands on their hips and getting down into the stance late. He credited the humidity for helping to wear them down so early, but he also praised the Jags for jumping on the early and hard.

Pat also mentioned Courtney Smith’s new nickname of ‘quick six.’ He then asked coach Jones if they saw something that they wanted to exploit with the screen pass to Courtney. Coach Jones said that they thought they could possibly score early behind the passing game and thats what Coach Gregory thought also and it worked.

They spoke about the fumble by Courtney in the first quarter and Coach Jones said that is something they work on in every practice, including the practices since Army Prep.

Pat pointed out that Myles had a good game. Coach Jones agreed and said that he had more confidence going into the second game and did a good job.

Coach Jones mentioned after reviewing the Ralph Turner play that they need to get the ball into his hands more since he is a playmaker.

Pat asked if Coach Jones knew they were as deep at running back as they seem to be after so many players got touches against Army Prep. Coach Jones said he actually did not think they were quite that deep at RB, but he was quite happy to see so many players get some playing time. Plus Coach Jones said that the team is much farther along that they thought they would be and he is quite happy about that.

Coach Gregory joined Pat and Joey for a segment where they talked about his previous experience. When asked if he was pleased about the first two games and in particular the Army Prep game, Coach Gregory said he was not satisfied. The team left alot of points out on the field early and they have to work on converting scroring attempts into points.

Pat and Greg went back to his time at South Florida and how he missed the start of the program but was there for their rise on the national landscape. Coach Gregory said he was quite surprised at the calibre of players that Coach Jones and his staff have assembled. He wasn’t at the school when they were recruited and wasn’t sure what he would have to work with when he took the job. He also mentioned that he thought South Alabama is in a great place to recruit and he thinks that the Jags can develop like South Florida has.

Looking to Georgia Military, they mentioned that they run multiple formations on offense and they utilize a 3-3 stack type defense. The stacking of defensive players helps to mask where the linebackers are going to attack and such. Coach Gregory also mentioned that they bring alot of pressure.

The injury report is pretty clear. The Jags have recovered from some bumps and bruises and is pretty much healthy. The only exception is John Mark Patrick who is still sidelined with a knee injury from the Hargrave game.

Coach Jones reiterated that Georgia Military brings experience in both players and coaches to the game. He likened it to having two Hargrave’s with one with a years experience to mentor the young players.


Looking forward to Georgia Military, since 1995 they have had 30 NFL players with 18 different teams. So they are a very talented team.

Reflecting Back On Saturday’s Game

September 9, 2009 · Filed Under Commentary, Football · Comment 

The Jaguars were undersized in comparison to Hargrave Academy, but matched up well and won the game. – Photo by Doug Roberts.

Saturday’s game is just now sinking in for many people in the Mobile area. Unfortunately several people had the impression that the Jaguars would be pushovers in their first season and would be lucky to win any. Or at least that is the impression that many of the uninformed masses gave.

But now that the Jags have won their first game against a team with such talent as Hargrave Academy, more people are getting excited about Jaguar football, which is great for the program and for Mobile area sports. This is exactly what the school needed, to energize the fan base in Mobile that is historically known to be a bit lethargic.

As for the game itself, the game plan worked pretty well. Coach Jones and Coach Gregory used the running game to play some smash mouth football. This took alot of pressure off of freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon. However it was still obvious at times that he was nervous on several pass attempts, but still played very well.

The defense was very good in the first half at shutting down the Tiger offense. In their seven possessions in the first half, the defense forced two interceptions, a fumble and four punts. The second half was a little different, they gave up two touchdowns in Hargrave’s first two drives but forced an interception and turnover on downs to end the game and preserve the victory.

Another thing that was quite obvious was the staff’s lack of confidence in their kicker. Instead of attempting a long field goal, they decided to go for it on fourth down which ended up turning the ball over on downs. Then again with time running down in the first half and already leading 13-0, the coaching staff could have attempted a field goal to extend their lead to 16-0 but instead they let Nick Owen run the offense and eventually turn the ball over on downs when time expired.

Probably the most biggest game changer was penalty yards, USA was only flagged four times for 30 yards while Hargrave racked up 15 penalties for a whopping 135 yards.

The Jags are going to build on their success in this game. With a game under Gibbon’s belt and with the offensive line passing the test, they can start to expand the playbook some to include more passing during game situations. On defense, they just need to continue what they have been doing already. The defensive line and linebackers did a great job. The secondary looked good at times but they still need some work.

Special teams will get more work in the next two weeks. They gave up more return yards than Coach Jones wanted to see. Plus the kickers need to work on field goals, particularly mentioned was longer field goals of around 38-42 yards.

With the next game scheduled for September 26th, this gives Coach Jones and his staff more time to work the second and third stringers before Army Prep. Which is a luxury most teams do not have, but with so many young players this will help develop depth.

Depth Chart Changes And Secondary Commentary

September 3, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

There have been some shifts in the starting lineup that has been noted this week. Montavious Williams moved from defensive end to inside at defensive tackle and from second team to the first team. Alex Page has also moved from the second team to first team at defensive end replacing Anthony Taylor.

Benefiting from Friday’s situational scrimmage, Lawson McGlon has kicked his way to first-team place-kicker. Wilson was also named as one of the two kick returners with Santuan McGee.

While Santuan McGee was listed number one on the depth chart early in the week, offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said on the Joey Jones Radio Show on Tuesday that Brandon Ross was the starter at running back. As for tight ends, Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett have switched places on the depth chart but are listed as co-starters.

Some other notable changes have taken place as well. Due to some injuries in the secondary, the Jags had to make some changes just to get through fall camp. Ken Barefield started fall practice as a wide receiver but was moved to safety but was convinced to move by defensive backs coach Duwan Walker. Then just a few weeks after making the move, he was marked as a starter.

Zach Brownell, a freshman safety himself, missed most of fall camp recovering from an injury, but had this to say about Barefield, “He works hard watching film, and he’s been paying a lot of attention. I give him some tips here and there, and those might have helped him out, but he’s done a great job of learning the position on his own.” Brownell returned to practice this week and has quickly made his way back to playing on first-team defense.

Coach Walker looks on the positive side of Brownell’s time off due to injury, “It probably worked out well because he got his legs up under him, and now he’s good and healthy and ready to go,” Walker said. “We were in a position where we had to practice some other kids, so to get these other guys back on the field has definitely built in some depth for us. We feel pretty good about going into the season as far as depth is concerned.”

Tony Threatt, another freshman safety, also spent time away due to injury. He has since returned to practice and is expected to help contribute depth at safety along with Matt Saucier and Alex Phifer.

If you are a new reader to this site and happen to recognize Saucier’s name, it was because he was the first team quarterback in spring practice. He has since made the move to safety in fall camp. Coach Walker likes the idea of Saucier playing defense. “We like guys that handle the ball every down, and as a quarterback you’ve got the ball in your hand every down,” Walker said. “After being a quarterback, you have some kind of idea of what the offense is trying to do. He’s a smart kid, and it was easy for him to pick up.”

I’m sure you noticed that that all of the five safeties that will be seeing significant playing time are all freshmen. They will have help in the secondary from four cornerbacks who do have experience playing beyond high school. Junior Michael Wilson and Sophomore Anton Graphenreed are expected to start on Saturday and they will be joined by Sophomores Jerron Mitchell and Steven Pease. However, Coach Walker doesn’t look at Graphenreed and Wilson as starters with Mitchell and Pease playing backup, he sees them collectively as players. “We don’t look at ourselves as having starters at cornerback, we just think of it as having kids that we can roll in,” Walker said. “Steven Pease is going to be a great player for us, and along with Jerron Mitchell, we expect those guys to be able to roll in at the corner position.”

With the schools first-ever game fast approaching, there is little worry about the inexperience at safety. They may be freshmen in status, but many have offensive instincts which can translate to on-field experience.

As of Thursday morning, 15,818 tickets remain for Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium according to the website.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2009-09-01

September 1, 2009 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Coach Jones and Lee Shirvanian were at Wings Sports Grill on Airport Boulevard for the Joey Jones Radio Show and covered several interesting topics. Coach Jones strayed from his ‘unofficially’ named ‘Joey Jones Special’ (the black and white chicken platter) to get the chopped steak.

The first thing mentioned was Hargrave played their first game over the weekend against Radford, which they won handily 63-3. However the score does not indicate the level of talent they played. Radford is merely a club football team in their second year. However on the other hand, don’t let that disuade you about the level of talent that Hargrave puts on the field.

Coach Jones has talked to many people in the area and each one has said that they plan to be at the first game against Hargrave. Many people said they are staying home to watch USA instead of traveling to watch Alabama take on Virginia Tech. But Coach Jones said he is still going to estimate a crowd of about 35,000 for the first game if the weather is nice.

Lee then asked Coach Jones to talk about how good Hargrave is. He made sure to reiterate that Hargrave is a very talented team with lots of Division-I players. They are capable of big plays. The offensive line is better this year than it was last year and possibly in the last couple years and it is a concern of Coach Jones and his staff. The defensive front and secondary has some good players. The team has to stay focused and work to prevent big plays from happening on both sides of the ball.

Hargrave has only lost two games in the previous two years and Coach Jones also said that they have been a very good team over the last few years. But he doesn’t want the team to get caught up thinking about how Hargrave is going to play, but focus on how they are going to play themselves. He thinks the conditioning factor and their preparation will benefit the Jags and help lead them to a victory. Hargrave has the ability to choose from a vast number of players, not many schools has that luxury. They had read somewhere they Hargrave gets to school from about 3,000 players a year at about five different camps.

Comparing the Jaguar defensive line against the Hargrave offensive line, the defensive line may be a little under sized but the Jags play very hard, they are quick and agile. He thinks they can keep pace with Hargrave because they have worked so hard for so long already and they have the footwork to use their speed to cause problems.

Its very hard for the Jags to get a sense about Hargrave’s team because they have such a huge player turnover each year. But similarly, Hargrave will have a difficult time preparing for South Alabama since they have yet to play a game. It will be critical for South Alabama to make good, effective halftime adjustments.

To start the second segment offensive coordinator Greg Gregory joined Lee and Joey. Lee asked Coach Jones about injuries, was there anyone out for the first game? Coach Jones answered that the Jaguars are healthy for the most part, there are two or three players who are pending right now. The thing he is worried about most is the flu, there are a couple guys with flu-like symptoms that he wants to get healthy quick.

Lee then asked how did Coach Gregory come to the decision to start true freshman Myles Gibbon at quarterback, since its the most asked about position on a football team. Coach Gregory affirmed that Gibbon won the job. Each of the quarterbacks received equal number of reps during camp. They all worked hard and Myles was very mature for a freshman, he is 20 years old. While he has separated himself from Brennan Sim and Nick Owen, they are still very close to each other competition wise.

Lee followed up asking if he was worried about the level of competition Myles saw since he is from Canada. Coach Gregory flat out said no. At first he would have, but after seeing him face the Jaguar defense for the last several weeks, he has done very well and that is not a concern at this point.

Coach Gregory followed that up by saying that Myles is a guy that could go into most places and compete from the beginning. He may redshirt the first year at some established programs, but he can compete with the best of them.

Lee asked about possibly rotating quarterbacks. Coach Jones said no, they want to go with one quarterback and he is not one to rotate quarterbacks. He continued by saying that Sim and Owen are close to Gibbon’s talent and they feel that either one could step in and win the game for the Jags in needed. Coach Gregory said that there are two very important things when evaluating a quarterback. The first thing to look for is a quarterback that won’t get you beat. Then the second thing is for a quarterback that gives you the ability to make some big plays to help you win.

Lee asked “what does Myles bring to the table?” Coach Gregory said his size (listed as 6’3″ 210 lbs), his speed (he will run a 40 between 4.5 and 4.6) and his strong arm can throw the ball deep. They will have to wait and see how accurate he is until he is in a game situation.

Lee asked about how they go about putting together an offensive game plan. Coach Gregory said that you start with what you do best. There are things that they do well and that they will do in all of their games, they try to fit them into the game by formation against the defense. Then you find and install some wrinkles that you can use to try to get some big plays to help you win.

Having a young quarterback and a young defense on the field, the Jags must execute well. Coach Jones told us that he asked the players to think about how they were going to respond. How were they going to handle the crowd and how are they going to respond if they miss a block or commit any number of possible mistakes on the field. Both teams are young and inexperienced so both teams will make some mistakes. But Coach Jones thinks whoever minimizes the number of mistakes will win the game.

Lee asked Coach Jones about leadership and he responded by saying that he thinks Myles is a great leader. He is a bit soft spoken but he has a winning swagger about him that rubs off to all of the other players.

A caller asked how do they monitor players to keep them out of trouble. Coach Jones said they cannot monitor them all the time. The NCAA does not allow schools to have football dorms like Coach Jones and Coach Gregory had when they played in college. They had to check in with their monitors all the time. Students now stay in general student dorms or apartments and they just can’t be monitored all the time. So part of the recruiting process is to make sure you get kids that are well disciplined and to discipline those when and if they warrant it.

Lee Shirvanian mentioned that he was at a high school game on Saturday and there were lots of kids cramping up. So he asked what precautions is USA taking to try to prevent this. Coach Jones said that they will get plenty of fluids leading up to the game and there will be plenty of fluids available on the sidelines. Another thing that has been overlooked by many but they are doing is to get more salt in their diet and to make sure they have a good amount of fat on them as well. Kids with low body fat, once they burn through their carbs, will start burning muscle and they will cramp up. The forecast shows that it should be about 85-88 degrees for the game, Coach Jones would actually prefer 95-98 because he feels it would benefit them over Hargrave.

Lee then asked about the running game, if they had a clear number one running back. Coach Gregory said that their clear #1 running back is Brandon Ross. However they have two or three backs, that if something happened, could easily step up and give them a good chance to win. The will rotate running backs and spread the carries around, however Ross should get the majority of the carries. They do have situational backs because some block better than others, some catch the ball better out of the backfield than others. He also reaffirmed that the Jags are a one back offense, but not to be confused with being a spread offense. They are a one back team with power running and passing but also some option thrown in.

Lee then asked if they have something akin to the ‘wild cat’ formation, something like the ‘wild jaguar.’ They both said no, Gibbon can run with the best of them and could get as many yards or more than the running back so they don’t need that type of formation for him.

Lee then asked how they found Gibbon. Coach Jones said one of the coaches saw him in a football camp and started recruiting him. Many schools stay away from Canadian players because they take different classes up there as opposed to in America. So they have to take some time and take extra courses in order to be eligible by the NCAA.

Coach Jones commented that they know of about 9 of 13 players on defense that have committed to Division-I schools. Also Coach Gregory has been recruiting from Hargrave for about 20 years, so he knows Hargrave pretty well. He has a good relationship with Hargrave’s head coach and when he told him that he was taking the job at South Alabama, his response was that he wanted to come down and play.

Another question from Lee was about footwear for the game. What kind of shoes do they wear. Coach Jones said that they use just normal cleats. The turf at Ladd-Peebles Stadium is actually a little shorter than on the practice field and that makes it a little faster. He does want to get the player out at Ladd one more time before the game because of that difference.

The final question was how many players were going to suit up for the game. Coach Jones said they were going to dress out about 96 players. Lee followed up asking how many of those were scholarship players, which Coach Jones answered that about 50 of them were scholarship players. He went on to say that their team is about 50/50 scholarship and walk-ons right now.