Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-09-25

September 28, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones and Lee Shirvanian was joined by former offensive line coach and current tight ends coach John Turner at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard on Tuesday.

Lloyd Meyers first mentioned that the students are very excited. In the first two hours of student parking pass availability, all 250 were gone. There will be lots to do for kids and the first 10,000 through the gates into the stadium will get red rally towels.

Additionally, the Jags will be wearing their traditional home red uniforms. They are encouraging fans to wear Red to support the team.

Also a point of concern that Lee asked about was concessions. The University spoke with the concessions group and they will have extra water and drinks on hand for the larger crowd. There will be trucks standing by with extra drinks just in case.

Lee said he tried to find Coach Jones on the bus after the game, but could not find him. He reiterated that he does not want to congratulate him after a loss, but to him how competitive the team was and how well they played despite losing. Coach Jones said it was very gratifying to walk across the field and have the Mississippi State coaches compliment them on their heart and their effort in the game despite being out-manned in the game. But Coach Jones said he was hurting just as he would be after any other game and like his players.

Lee asked some questions about the two Jaguar quarterbacks, Ross Metheny and C.J. Bennett. Lee said that Bennett had the better game statistically, but asked that, after watching the video, who did well, who did better and who would start on Saturday against Troy. Coach Jones said, in a joking tone, that he would not answer Lee’s question about who is going to start and if they were going to rotate quarterbacks still. Jones did say that that probably both quarterbacks did certain things better than the other, but they are both getting their “bad things” out and improving. Bennett made some great throws, but they both threw some bad interceptions. Metheny towards the end of the first half that was returned to set up a field goal at the end of the half. Bennett threw an interception inside the 10 yard line, but it was a good throw where the guy just went over Jereme Jones and took it away from him.

After the first break, Lee mentioned how the Jags would love to set to attendance record for a Sun Belt game this week. Coach Jones agreed, but he just wants it to be “an electric atmosphere.” He mentioned that the Jags are playing real football now, they are starting their Sun Belt Conference schedule. Coach Jones then mentioned that when someone thinks about the Sun Belt they think about the success Troy has had over the years. They have won the Sun Belt Championship five out of the last six years. The Troy players know how to play against big time football programs, they have played at Tennessee, Mississippi State and many other places over the last several years. Really, they have set the standard for a school like South Alabama who has just started. He finished saying that it would be great to have 33,000 to 35,000 in Mobile for a game.

Coach Jones and Lee then introduced the guest assistant coach for the show, Coach John Turner. Coach Turner, like his brother Brian Turner, has been with the program since the beginning. He began coaching the offensive line, but this season he has made the move to tight ends.

Lee first asked Coach Turner a question about the two big tight ends, Greg Hollinger and Wes Saxton, if there were any plans to get them both on the field. Coach Turner answered by saying they do have some packages where both of them may be on the field at the same time.

Coach Turner then was asked a question by Lee about the offensive line and how he thought they did against the larger Mississippi State team. Turner said that Coach Robert Matthews does a great job tih the linemen, and that he thought they did very well against the Bulldogs. They weren’t intimidated and should be proud of what they did in Starkville.

Lee then asked Coach Jones a question about the Jags rushing game against the Bulldogs. He mentioned how they did not rush that well in the first half but did better in the second half and asked if it were adjustments or what caused them to do better in the second half. Coach Jones answered by saying that some of it was adjustments, but their gameplan was to try to get them tired early by throwing perimeter screens and passes to the edge by making them rush. They wanted to try to tire them out before they started running at them because of their size and speed.

Coach Jones then mentioned how the offensive line did a good job in protection because the Bulldogs were so big. It was hard for the linemen to knock them off the ball, but they only gave up one sack in the game which is a testament to how well the line played against an SEC defense.

Lee then asked about where Mississippi State fits into the order of the SEC. Coach Jones said that they would be in the second level of the SEC, they are not on the same level as Alabama or LSU, but that they could beat LSU.

Coach Turner then jumped in and started talking about a conversation after the game he had with his friend who happens to be the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. He said he was told that their team is made to compete with LSU and Alabama. They recruit size and structure their defense to be able to handle the running game of those two schools. He mentioned that, if you are a spread team, you have a chance just like Troy did the week before the Jags played the Bulldogs.

The Orthopaedic Group Injury report started by mentioning how the defense started so well and forced a three and out on the Bulldogs first drive, but then they lost Anthony Taylor with a broken leg and will miss the remainder of his senior season. Coach Jones mentioned that he was very sad for him because he was a good football player but he was becoming a great football player, but now his college career is over.

Others that Coach Jones was asked about was Ceasare Johnson. Coach Jones said he would not be able to play this year due to a blood clot issue. Doctors will not allow him to play. Quadarius Ford is still healing up from knee surgery, it’s still bothering him some but he is still working out and hope to be back soon. Anthony Harris had a shoulder injury and had surgery to correct it and will be redshirted this season. Even though he was a transfer, he was what coach Jones referred to as a 3-for-2 so he had three years of eligibility left to play two years of football. Lee mentioned Montavious Williams was limping but Coach Jones assured him that he was okay and would be ready to go this weekend.

Later in the show Lee mentioned that he did not see Corey Besteda in the game against Mississippi State. Coach Jones said that he did not play because of an ankle injury but that he is good and will be ready to play on Saturday.

Lee then mentioned that Montavious considered Troy but decided to play for the Jags. Then asked about recruiting and if the Jags recruited against other Sun Belt teams and if games like this weekend are big factors in recruiting. Coach Jones said that they recruit against Troy, Southern Miss, Memphis and sometimes Central Florida. He also mentioned that playing well always helps recruiting, especially a game like this that is going to be televised. So you certainly want to play well under those conditions.

Lee talked about having Troy head coach Larry Blakeney on the WNSP morning show and how they ran around 100 plays on offense against against Lousiana-Lafayette. Lee then mentioned the Jaguar offense as being a “quick” tempo offense. But that the Jags are not that quick on offense. Troy tends to aim to get between 90 and 100 plays in a game, so when the ball is ready they are usually snapping the ball.

Coach Jones indicated that the Jaguar defense should be ready for that type of tempo because, in the summer, they practiced against the offense as they were really going up tempo. The defense has adapted and worked on communication and signals so they can get ready for the next play.

Lee then asked Coach Turner if there offense was like ours at least when the line up. Coach Turner said that some of their formations and pass concepts are similar to what the Jags use. They will not be a mirror of each other, but there will be plenty of similarities between the two offenses.

It was mentioned that South recruited the record breaking Troy running back very hard, but he ended up going to Troy instead.

Coach Jones was asked to break down the Jaguar defense versus the Troy offense. Jones said that Troy can throw the ball and run the ball well. So if you condense to stop one or the other then they have a chance to hurt you with the opposite. So the defense has to play smart and do well against a balanced team.

Coach Jones was then asked to break down the Troy defense. He mentioned that Troy has been known for a while to play tough defense and they are well coached. He did mention that they don’t seem to be blitzing as much as they have in the past, but seem to have backed off some this season and seem to be playing better because of that.

Lee asked Coach Turner about the players that Troy recruits because they have the most players in the NFL of any of the Sun Belt teams. Coach Turner said that the players that they had had that goes to the NFL are players that the coaching staff have done a great job in their evaluations. They players they get they do a great job evaluating them and then, when they get them on campus, they do a great job developing them. Coach Turner said that they are doing the same thing at South Alabama. They really work hard to evaluate players and then work really hard to develop those players that come to South Alabama. Coach Jones further mentioned that having championship rings on their fingers really helps in recruiting good talent as well.

Coach Jones pointed to the Dallas Cowboy defensive end DeMarcus Ware from Troy. He said that in high school he was 6’4″ and weighted 190-pounds. No one would have thought of him as a defensive end, but Troy thought he would be a great defensive end after putting on more weight, and sure enough he is now in the NFL and a six-time pro-bowler.

Lee flipped back to asking about the Jaguar offense and it’s tempo. He asked if the Jags were going to do something similar to Troy and try to get around 90 or more snaps in the game. Coach Jones said that they are definitely going to go with more of their offense, but would not try to go for that many plays. He said that the Jags goal is between 70 and 80 plays in a game. Lee mentioned that snapping the ball that much usually means you are possessing the ball more than your opponent, which is typically a good thing.

Coach Jones said that something he and Coach Turner spoke about on the way to the radio show was that they do not want to do in the game is to have lots of three-and-outs. He said that three-and-outs puts your defense in a bind and fatgues them. They need to sustain some drives and put the ball in the end zone.

Lee asked about what the defensive line does without Anthony Taylor. Jones said that the rest of the players just have to play. They were rotating in and out anyway, but the other guys have to step up. No one else steps into the rotation, but they have some players that can play on the inside and on the outside. They will cross train them more.

Coach Jones indicated that Pat Moore will get more playing time. Lee said that he is a junior college transfer that has not been talked about much. But he is very well noted for his pass rushing ability. Coach Jones thinks he is going to be a tremendous player and that he grew up a lot against Mississippi State with some big hits. Even gave him the big hit of the game, even on offensive linemen who were trying to block him.

A caller mentioned that people talk about quickly trying to get the defense off the field for fatigue factors. But doesn’t the offense get fatigued as well? Coach Jones said that they do, but when you have the ball on offense, you are keeping it away from the other team and not giving them a chance to score while giving yourself a chance to score.

Lee asked for Coach Jones to mention things to note for the game this weekend. Jones answered by saying that Troy has 14 senior starters returning so they are a senior dominated team and that he thought those starters were spread evenly between both sides of the ball. The offense is explosive with fast guys at receiver. They have a quarterback that can throw the ball well. The defense plays well and with a good level of confidence. Jones mentioned he was hoping they would have an average special teams, but that they are good with a single guy who punts and kicks.

Their offense puts lots of points on the board and puts pressure on you to also score lots of points, which the Jags have had trouble doing since the first game of the season.

Lee mentioned that some out-of-town people have asked him if they would be able to view South Alabama’s facilities because they have heard so much about them. Coach Jones was very hesitant, but said that they would have someone there that would be able to show people around. Lee further mentioned it as a recruiting tool, which Coach Jones agreed with. Jones further said that, without that facility, they would be further behind as a new program than what they are now. It really makes a difference in everything they do.

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.