Jaguars Practice Despite Bad Weather

August 17, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Quarterback Myles Gibbon looking for his receiver at Saturday’s scrimmage. He has been listed at the top of the teams first released depth chart on Monday. Photo by Doug Roberts

The Jaguars hit the practice field despite the effects of Claudette on Monday. Heavy rains only delayed the Jaguars practice by about ten minutes as they took the field after a day off for their first post scrimmage practice. They hit the field for just over two hours at around 3:30pm, which is their new practice time now that classes have started on campus.

Their practice schedule was similar to the previous two weeks of camp. Special teams, position drills, skeleton drills and so forth. In the final hour they had their 11-on-11 drills and workouts against the scout teams. In the situation play, the coaching staff had them work on two-minute drills and red zone plays.

While the routine stayed pretty much the same, today did mark another first that will have many peoples attention in the coming days. Coach Jones finally released the team’s first depth chart based on the previous two weeks performance and the scrimmage on Saturday. There is a list of 27 starters on offense and defense due to different formations with six of them true freshmen that did not take part in the spring practice. A total of 22 players from the signing class are on the depth chart and should see action in the coming fall schedule.

Not surprisingly, the offense is the more experienced unit taking the field. Three of the four projected starting receivers have used at least one year of eligibility playing at other schools while four JuCo transfers are listed as potential starters on the offensive line. Both players at the tight end position have experience at the collegient level as well as Brandon Ross, who is also a potential starter in the backfield. While quarterback Myles Gibbon and receiver Corey Waldon are the only true freshmen listed as first in their respective positions.

The defense is a different story all together, with six of the nine linemen and five of nine secondary players are all true freshmen. The players with experience are Andy Dalgleish who took part in spring practice and John Mark Patrick who played at Troy last fall. While cornerbacks Anton Graphenreed (Lenoir-Rhyne University) and Jerron Mitchell (Birmingham-Southern), both sophmore transfers will likely be starters. Also Justin Dunn (Birmingham-Southern) and Charlie Higgenbotham (University of Alabama) are set to be starters at the inside linebacker slots.

Coach Jones spoke about the evaluation process after Mondays practice. He had this to say, “We were just looking for guys who wanted to compete. Saturday’s scrimmage provided game situations, so we were able to see how they reacted. We discounted the first few plays since a lot of the kids were nervous when we first got out there, but once they got into it we could see how they play in front of a crowd. Some guys practice well but play even better in game situations. Other guys practice better than they play in games. That’s something we’re trying to evaluate as well. It’s still a long process, there’s two weeks before we have a game week. There are guys who are listed second and third who could end up as ones, and there are listed starters who could end up third at their position. They know that, so until we get to game week we won’t make a final depth chart.”

He also spoke about the practice itself and unlike previous practices, he did not have the best things to say about his team. “I don’t think we had a great practice, I thought it was average. I told the guys they can control two things – their effort and their intensity. Balls were wet and we were dropping passes, but that’s to be understood since this was really the first time we practiced in weather like this. That doesn’t worry me. But, the mindset that we came out with today is what bothered me. We have to come out with a different attitude this week or we will just be average. We are going to play like we practice, and I think they understand that.”

Coach Jones went on to speak about the change in routine and how it affected the players. He said, “I think the change in routine affected a lot of the guys today, but as a coach I tell them there are no excuses for that. I expect them to come on the field and be ready. Sure we were in class today and it was raining, and we can’t control that. We can control how we come out and practice, so hopefully we will learn from this. We’re still in camp even though school has started. Some of the practices may be a little longer, but we are trying to get as much work done as we can.”

The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 3:30pm.

For the full South Alabama depth chart, click here.

South Alabama’s First Two-A-Day Practice Cut Short By Lightning

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguars first two-a-day practice had to be cut short on Tuesday. Due to lightning in the area, the Jags second practice of the day was cut off midway through.

The morning practice began with special teams with the place kickers getting in some field goal work. Next was about 35 minutes of position drills. Then cornerbacks and receivers in some passing drills while the offense practiced running the ball against the defense’s front seven. Next the full offense and defense worked on third-and-long drills. Finally, the morning practice concluded with 3rd-and-10 drills.

Coach Jones said the team had a great practice this morning with lots of hitting and a couple scuffles.

The afternoon practice added more new wrinkles to the team by having the defense working on the grass field while the offense worked on the field turf. They both started with position drills then moved into special teams by focusing on punt coverage. Then back to position drills again before lightning would end the practice early around 4:30pm.

Speaking after the practice session was cut short, Coach Jones said, “We had backed off of the afternoon session anyway. Their legs are pretty tired right now. We got in most of the practice. We missed one period of defense and an offense-only period at the end, but we were only going to go about an hour-and-a-half. We’re going to get another one Thursday.”

Coach Jones also spoke about injuries. Despite such a high level of intensity, the team has remained relatively healthy. “Nothing major right now, but just some slight pulls, hip flexors, thigh bruises and those types of things,” Coach Jones said. “I think we’re fine. We’ll get most everybody back in the next three or four days.”

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark spoke about the effort and enthusiasm the players are putting in so far in preparation to the Jaguars first season. “We say it starts with effort, and then it’s enthusiasm and then it’s playing smart,” Coach Clark said. “First we’ve got to get the effort, and we’re getting some good strides there. It’s been exciting so far to see these guys taking steps to get better because a lot of them were in high school not long ago.”

Again speaking about preparation, Coach Jones had more praise for the team. “There hasn’t been a day that our kids haven’t come prepared to work,” he said. “They got a little tired toward the end of practice, but they followed through. Some of the receivers are running a good bit, and when you’re running routes all day long it kind of gets to you, but they’re learning to fight through the last part of practice.”

By the end of the week, Coach Jones wants to have a depth chart. “At the end of this week we’re going to make our decision on the ones and twos,” he said. “Of course it’s not over at that point, but you get more reps, so you have a better chance to keep it. If you’re a number three after this week you’re going to have to really fight to get reps to prove yourself.”

The Jags will hit the practice field again on Wednesday with a 7:30am start time. They will have another two-a-day on Thursday before an off day on Friday in preparation to Saturday’s scrimmage and “Fan Day.”

Jaguars Wrap Up Week One And Begin The Critical Week Two Of Practice

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Saturday August 8, 2009

Saturday morning the Jaguars hit the field for their fifth consecutive day of fall practice. But this day the Jaguars took the field in full pads for the first time this fall.

They started the practice with about an hour of drills then the offensive and defensive units played against each other in a full-contact ‘mini’ scrimmage.

Myles Gibbon took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense, however Coach Jones was quick to say that its still too early to name a starting quarterback. “We’ve got three guys working,” he said. “Kyle Stewart would be involved, but he’s injured right now. With the other three it’s close. Some guys do things better than others, but I’m really holding back until we see them for a couple of weeks because you don’t want to make a comment based on one or two practices.”

Gibbon was quoted after practice saying, “We all have different abilities that we excel in, so we’re all just battling for that spot. Every time we make a good throw it boosts us up, or every time we make a good read it boosts us up. Coach is right, it’s really close right now.”

The Jaguars offensive line opened some holes to help create a couple long runs and also helped Sophomore running back Brandon Ross score a 12-yard touchdown (an the only touchdown) at the end of practice.

Coach Jones thought the defensive unit was pretty good at times but also mentioned they gave up too many big runs. He continued, “If we can stop that, stop the 25 or 30-yard run, and make that a seven-yard run, then I’d feel a lot better about what we’re doing. But we can’t give up 25 and 30-yard runs.”

The practice ended with a bit of competition for the kickers. Each of the four place kickers lined up for 42-yard field goals to determine how many gassers the team would have to run. The offensive and defensive units formed a tunnel down the hash marks to cheer them on, and also to give them some pressure. combined they went 2-for-4 but Coach Jones gave them a double or nothing opportunity, which the team accepted. However the final attempt was just a little wide right, thus the team had four gassers to end practice.

Coach Jones commented about the end of practice competition by saying, “We want to continue to do that with our kickers. We want to constantly put pressure on them, because that’s what it is – they have to run out on the field after standing on the sideline for 30 minutes to kick a game-winning field goal. We’re trying to get them used to that situation. If you apply a lot of pressure on the kids in practice then the games are easy.”

The real challenge is coming in the second week of practice according to Coach Jones. “The first game is going to depend on how we do this second week. I’ve been coaching for about 18 years now, and that second week is vitally important for us to get better. It’s like I told the players, we’re in a tunnel right now and there’s not a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to keep working and working and working until we find some light, and hopefully that’s going to be here in about two or three weeks.”

Sunday was the teams first day off of fall camp but they returned to the field on Monday at 7am.

Monday August 10, 2009

The Jaguars are entering the second and most critical week of practice according to Coach Jones. This week ushers in the first two-a-day practices and their first fall scrimmage. “We’ve challenged the team,” Coach Jones said. “This second week has to be the best week of practice we’re going to have. “What we do this week is going to determine our identity. This is not a fun week – there’s no game coming up, they’re tired, we have two-a-days; all reasons for them to quit and give up – so if we can do it this week we will be able to do it throughout the year. If we can fight through that this week I know that we will get better as a football team during the rest of the season.”

The staff has several goals this week according to Coach Jones. They need to develop a depth chart, make progress with the playbook and focus on a segment of special teams that did not receive a lot of work in the first five practices. Coach Jones wants to hone the Jaguar kicking game. He said, “We’ve worked on parts of it so far, but we need to start putting that together so we have our base packages in by the end of the week. We also need to find out who our special teams players are going to be, and that goes back to the depth chart. We want to find guys who are backups, but good athletes who want to play – I’d rather have those guys on special teams in the game if they can earn the spot.” Coach Jones continued, “In an ideal world you want every special teams guy to be a backup player, but we are going to put our best players out there on special teams because we want to win. This just opens a door for backups to get on the field.”

Improvement was the running theme after practice from several players. Redshirt freshman linebacker Josh Chestang commented that the depth chart can change every day, so they have to continue to improve every day and not give up. Also redshirt freshman offensive lineman Trey Clark said, “Despite the heat and the two-a-days, we need to get better every day.”

Monday’s practice went from 7am until about 9am but starting on Tuesday, they will begin two-a-days with the first starting at 7am and the second starting at 3:30pm with each expecting to last about two hours.

After five straight days of practice last week, Sunday was a good day of rest for the team. Defensive coordinator Bill Clark said, “It was nice. We went to church and had a nice lunch before coming back for some meetings,” It gave us a chance to get our legs back underneath us, so it was good to have the day off. We needed it, especially after three days of hitting and getting after it.”

After five grueling days of practice, Coach Jones knew that the team needed a break. “Any time you go through a long week of practice, your body and your mind get worn down,” said Coach Jones. He also followed that up with a good compliment about Monday mornings practice by saying, “But, they responded great this morning.” Furthermore, he gave the team some high praise to begin this critical and challenging week by saying, “This is one of the best groups I have ever been around as far as coming out prepared mentally and physically for practice. I haven’t been around a group like this in a long time.”

The practice started with about 15 minutes of kickoff coverage adn return drills. Then this was followed by about 25 minutes of position drills. Next the offense and defense broke off into two units to square off in the next drill. Offensive line and running backs against the defensive front seven and safeties while the quarterbacks and receivers worked against defensive backs.

Around mid way through practice, the offense ran 7-on-7 skeleton passing drills against linebackers and db’s for about 15 minutes. The final 50 minutes of practice was situational work. About 20 minutes was devoted to running plays against scout teams.

The offense had three downs to get the first. On its first three attempts, they were successful. It was started with an eight yard run by Brandon Ross on the first snap. Nick Owens hit Corey Besteda on third down to get a first down. Then Gibbon hit Ralph Turner with a pass for another first down. But then the defense responded with three stops in a row, which included with two possessions ending with fumble recoveries. The second fumble was forced by Matt Saucier and recovered by Alex Page.

The day ended with about 10 minutes of third down situational drills.