South Alabama Defeats Tulane 41-39 In The Superdome

September 9, 2013 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
South Alabama celebrates their 41-39 win over Tulane on Saturday, September 7, 2013 in the Superdome.

South Alabama celebrates their 41-39 win over Tulane on Saturday, September 7, 2013 in the Superdome.

Hard work pays off.

After the season opening loss to Southern Utah, the Jags refocused and went through a week of hard nosed workouts to prepare for their trip to New Orleans. They were determined to prove they are a better team than what the fans saw on Thursday night against the Thunderbirds.

They did just that.

“That was a great win for a lot of reasons,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “We struggled last week at the end of the game. We played well for three-and-a-half quarters but then lost it. In this game we played well, but then they came back and we bowed up and won it. That’s a sweet way to win a ballgame. Tulane is a much improved team.”

“But my hat’s off to my staff,” Jones continued. “We worked 16 hours a day since last Thursday night because we care about these players. And these players care about this team. They came and worked, we had a great practice week. They did everything we asked them, never dropped their heads and they came out and won the ballgame today. That’s what it’s all about. That is a good life lesson for them there.”

The Jaguars got started early when Jay Jones picked up 29 yards on the first play from scrimmage. After an incomplete pass, Metheny would gain 11 yards on a quarterback draw. Metheny would cut up the middle again and race in for a 35 yard touchdown to take a 7-0 lead in only 47 seconds of play.

Tulane responded with passes from Nick Montana to Rob Kelley for 15 yards, Ryan Grant for eight but Terrell Brigham would force a fumble that would be recovered by Montell Garner at the Tulane 46 yard line. The second possession would not yield points for the Jaguar though, as Cris Dinham could only manage eight yards on 3rd and 11 and would lose two yards on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs.

After a three and out by the Jaguar defense, Ross Metheny and the Jaguar offense would begin at their own 40 after a 16 yard punt by Tulane. Metheny started the drive with a five yard run, but a personal foul on Sam Scofield would add 15 yards to put the Jags in Tulane territory at the 40 yard line. Metheny would then connect with Wes Saxton for 26 yards before connecting with Shavarez Smith for the 14 yard touchdown to take a 14-0 lead with 10:18 left in the opening quarter. The drive spanned three plays covering 60 yards in 56 seconds.

The Green Wave would respond on their next possession. Montana would hit Grant for a 41 yard gain with Orleans Darkwa capping it off with a run over right tackle for two yards for the touchdown to cut the Jaguar lead in half at 14-7 with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

South Alabama would get it back on their next possession. Dinham opened the series with a four yard rush to the Jaguar 29 before Metheny went back to his tight end Wes Saxton for 24 yards down the sideline to the Tulane 47 yard line. After a short gain by Dinham again, Metheny would run on back to back plays for seven and five yards. A couple plays later, facing 3rd and 3 at the Tulane 30 yard line, Metheny would connect with Davin Hawkins for his first career touchdown reception as the Jags lead extends to 21-7.

The Jaguar defense would force a punt on Tulane’s next possession. Metheny would open the Jaguars drive on the USA 20 yard line and would quickly throw a strike to Danny Woodson for 41 yards to the Tulane 39 yard line. Metheny’s pass intended for Bryant Lavender would fall incomplete, however a pass interference call would would move the ball down to the Tulane 24 yard line. Kendall Houston would end the quarter with a four yard rush up the middle to the Tulane 20. Metheny would find Saxton open on 3rd and 6 to get the first down at the Tulane 12 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Metheny would run for 12 yards on a quarterback draw for the touchdown and a three score lead at 28-7 with 13:52 left in the second quarter.

The Green Wave would piece together an 11 play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown to cut the Jaguar lead to 28-14 with 10:23 left in the game.

On the kickoff, T.J. Glover took the ball out of the end zone and only got out to the 12 yard line, but an illegal block would move it back to the Jaguar 6 yard line. USA managed one first down before being forced to punt from their 17 yard line. However, a bad snap would get past Scott Garber, but a heads-up play by him prevented a touchdown and only gave Tulane two points on a safety to make the score 28-16.

The Jags defense would force a three-and-out on the next Tulane possession, but on the second down play, Randon Carnathan would be injured and did not return to the game. More on his injury below.

T.J. Glover would return the punt 27 yards from the Jaguar 14 to the 41 to start their possession. On the first play, with Brandon Bridge in at quarterback, the Jags would be flagged for a false start to back them up to five yards. Jay Jones would get it back and then some with a 13 yard rush up the middle just short of midfield. Two plays later on 2nd and 9, the offense would be flagged for another false start to make it 2nd and 14 and coach Jones would call a time out to settle his offense down. The Jags would be forced to punt two plays later. Garber’s 46 yard punt would go into the endzone for a touchback with 3:06 left until halftime.

Tulane would open their possession with another deep pass from Montana to Grant for 45 yards to get to the Jaguar 35 yard line. The Jaguar defense would hold the Green Wave to a 47 yard field goal as Tulane cut Jaguar lead to 28-19 with 1:31 left until halftime.

Starting from their own 25 after the touchback on the kickoff, Jay Jones would rush for five yards on back-to-back plays as it looked like Coach Jones and Coach Matthews were content to run out the clock on the half. But then Metheny would find Jereme Jones for an 18 yard gain to the Tulane 47 yard line. The offense would run to the line to spike the ball as the Jags only had one time out with 14 seconds left till halftime. Metheny would then go back to Saxton again for 10 more yards to the Tulane 37 with :07 seconds left and they would call their final time out. Metheny would connect with Saxton one more time for eight yards and he would get out of bounds at the Tulane 29 yard line. Aleem Sunanon would make the 46 yard field goal attempt to lead the Jaguars into the lockerroom with a 31-19 lead at halftime.

Tulane would begin the second half with Dante Butler returning the kickoff from the endzone to the 19 yard line before Rush Hendrix would take him down. A false start would back them up to their own 14 yard line. On 3rd and 14, Romelle Jones would sack Montana for a six yard loss at the Tulane 9 yard line.

The Jags would have Glover’s 12 yard punt return brought back as E.J. May was flagged for an illegal block to start a bad possession for the Jaguars. Two plays later on 3rd and 5 at the Tulane 48 yard line, Metheny’s pass would bounce off of Bryant Lavender’s chest and would be intercepted by Nico Marley and returned 30 yards to the Jaguar 30 yard line, but a personal foul would move the ball to the 15 yard line. Tulane would score a touchdown three plays later when Darkwa would take it in from one yard out to cut the Jaguar lead to 31-26 with 11:42 left in the 3rd quarter.

On the ensuing possession for the Jaguars, facing 3rd and 8 from the Jaguar 27, Metheny would find Jereme Jones across the middle for 11 yards and a first down. But two plays later Metheny, running the read option, would fumble the exchange with Dinham that would be recovered by Marley at the Jaguar 39 yard line. The Jags would force an incompletion by Montana on 4th and 2 at the Jaguar 31 to give the offense the ball back on downs with 8:47 left in the 3rd quarter.

Metheny would start the possession with a 12 yard run before connecting with Saxton on back-to-back passes for 12 and 4 yards. But on 3rd and 5 at the Tulane 40, Metheny would be flushed from the pocket and try to float a pass to Saxton on the right sideline, but a leaping defender would pick it off and return it 25 yards to the Jaguar 40 before offensive lineman Drew Dearman forced him out of bounds saving a touchdown.

Montana would connect with Grant again for a 40 yard touchdown pass on their first play. Grant would be flagged for excessive celebration and the Jags would be flagged for roughing the passer. The defensive penalty was enforced on the kickoff while the celebration penalty was enforced on the PAT. Tulane would get their first and only lead of the game at 33-31 with 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Jags would drive 17 yards before being forced to punt which was fair caught at the Tulane 20 yard line. On 3rd and 8 from their own 22, Montana was sacked for a 10 yard loss by Alex Page. The special teams unit stepped up to help the offense as Qudarius Ford blocked the Tulane punt and Terrance Timmons would recover it in the endzone for a Jaguar touchdown to give the Jags the lead once again at 38-33 with 1:13 left in the 3rd quarter.

The Tulane and the Jaguars next possession would be three-and-out’s. Tulane’s next possession would be a disaster. A nine yard rush by Kelley would come back on a holding call to make it 1st and 20 at the Tulane 45. A bad snap would cause them to lose six more yards for a 2nd and 26 at their own 39 yard line. Montana’s screen pass to Butler would be sniffed out by Romelle Jones for a four yard loss to make it 3rd and 30 at their own 35. Clifton Crews would then sack Montana for another six yard loss to make it 4th and 36 from the Tulane 29.

The Tulane punt would be fielded at the Jaguar 25 by Glover and returned one yard, but Montell Garner would be flagged for a personal foul to move it back to the Jaguar 13 yard line with 10:43 left in the game.

The Jags would go three and out again and Scott Garber’s 45 yard punt would be returned only three yards to put the ball at the Green Wave 45 yard line. Montana would try another deep pass but Roman Buchanan would pick him off at the Jaguar 16 yard line and  it would be upheld after a review.

The Jags would take over at their own 16 yard line with 9:46 left in the game and a 38-33 lead. Metheny would open up with a 15 yard completion from Metheny to Davin Hawkins but he would fumble it out of bounds at the Jaguar 31 yard line. Then Metheny would load up again and connect with Shavarez Smith for a big 43 yard gain to the Tulane 26 yard line. After a rush by Dinham for no gain and an incomplete pass, the Jags faced 3rd and 10. Metheny would hand it off to Dinham who took it over left end and would go out of bounds after a 14 yard gain to the Tulane 12 yard line and another South Alabama first down. Jay Jones would run off left end for eight more yards to the Tulane 4 yard line. Houston would lose two on a rush, then on 3rd down Metheny’s pass to Jereme Jones would fall incomplete. Coach Jones would opt to take points and kick a 23 yard field goal to put the Jags up 41-33 with 6:07 left in the game.

Brandon McKee’s kickoff would be fielded at the one yard line and David Hawkins would bring down the Green Wave returner at the 18 yard line. Montana would find Matt Marfisi for 18 yards to the Tulane 36. After a deep pass intended for Grant fell incomplete, he came right back to Grant for nine yards on the sideline. Darkwa would get the first down on 3rd and 1 by getting two yards. Montana, after an incomplete pass, would find Xavier Rush for 10 yards and another first down. A run by Montana would go for 11 yards to get into Jaguar territory at the 43 yard line. A screen pass to Kelley would gain six yards, then a slant pass to Sydie London would gain three more yards to the Jaguar 23. Two plays later Montana would complete a pass to Rush for 10 more yards to the Jaguar 12 yard line. After a draw play only gained two yards to the Jaguar 10 yard line, Tulane would take a time out with 1:31 left in the game. After lining up, the Jags would take a time out to adjust their defense. On 2nd and 8 at the Jaguar 10 yard line, Montana’s pass appeared to be intercepted by Roman Buchanan, but after a review it was called an incomplete pass. On the next play Montana would hit Grant for a 10 yard touchdown to draw them within a two point conversion with 1:19 left in the game.

On the two point play, Montana was pressured out of the pocket to the right sideline when the Jaguars brought a blitz, he would put up a throw but it would be intercepted by Maleki Harris leaving the Jaguars up 41-39. The Jags would use their final time out to set up for the onsides kick. The kick would go nine yards and would be recovered by Bryant Lavender at the Tulane 44 yard line. The Jags could finally end the game with the victory formation.

South Alabama put up great offensive numbers. They gained 328 yard in the first half, which almost equaled the the 335 yards they gained in the whole game against Southern Utah in the previous game.

The Jags ended the game with 465 total yards of offense, 297 yards through the air and 168 on the ground. USA gained 25 first downs to Tulane’s 20. Tulane ended with a slight edge time of possession with 30:03 to USA’s 29:57.

Ross Metheny ended the game as the leading rusher with 75 yards on 11 attempts and two touchdowns. Jay Jones gained 64 yards on 11 carries, Dinham added 28 yards on 10 carries and Houston had 17 yards on 7 carries.

Tulane’s Orleans Darkwa rushed 10 times for 32 yards and two touchdowns.

Ross Metheny went 19-of-30 for 290 yards and two touchdowns while taking two sacks and two interceptions. Bridge was 1-of-2 for seven yards.

Nick Montana went 29-of-47 for 327 yards and three touchdowns and one interception.

Wes Saxton led the Jaguars with 92 yards on 7 catches. Jereme Jones added four catches for 50 yards, Danny Woodson also had 50 yards on three catches. Shavarez Smith gained 57 yards on two catches with a touchdown. Davin Hawkins caught two passes for 45 yards and his first career touchdown as a Jaguar. Two other Jags had catches as well.

Tulane’s highly touted receiver lived up to his billing with 187 yards on 14 catches and two touchdowns. Xavier Rush was the next closest with 34 yards on three catches.

Defensively, Qudarius Ford led the Jags with 8 total tackles, two pass breakups and a punt block. Romelle Jones and Terrell Brigham both added seven stops with Jones collecting two tackles for loss and one sack. Clifton Crews and Alex Page both had a sack as well. Roman Buchanan had the only interception for the Jaguar defense.

Tulane’s Sam Scofield led all tacklers with 15 total, 13 solo and two for loss. Robertson added 11 tackles, two for loss and a sack for the Green Wave.

South Alabama scored touchdowns on four of their first five drives.

Tulane rebounded early in the second half by turning three Jaguar turnovers into 14 points to take the lead on the Jags.

Qudarius Ford said after the game, “We practiced that punt block all week. We knew they weren’t going to be ready for it. When the coaches called it, I knew it was going to work. We just executed. We saw how the wings always flared out, and it left the underneath gap wide open. I knew when I got through that it was money.”

It was the first time since Tennessee-Martin on October 15, 2011 that the Jaguar offense has put together multiple scoring drives that were under a minute.

The 21-7 first quarter marked the most point production by the Jaguars in the first quarter of a game since they scored 20 against Lamar on September 10, 2011. They gained 245 yards and 11 first downs in the opening quarter.

The 465 yards of total offense is the most against an FBS school in the University’s short history. Metheny’s four scores is another school-record.

“We were just taking what they gave us and kept rolling,” Ross Metheny stated after the game. “We made the plays tonight, and that’s what our offense is set up to do. We put ourselves in position to make the plays, we just have to make them. We struggled with that a little last year and last week as well. But we finally made the plays and did what we were supposed to do tonight.”

“We got up big early,” Metheny continued. “The offense played great the first half, probably the best offensive half we have had. Then we came out and had three turnovers fairly quickly in the second half, but the defense was playing really good in the second half. We had to have a big play, and we blocked the punt. The punt return staff did a great job of coming up with that punt block. It was something we saw on film, and it worked just right. You have to make those plays in order to win big games and we did it.”

“It’s the biggest win we’ve ever had,” Jones stated. “We have a lot of games coming that we can win. Winning is a habit. We want our guys to win, and they have done that. I’m so proud of the way they fought back, and fought against the fact we lost last week late in the game and came out here and won a tough game on the road.”

“Tulane is a much-improved team, and they have a good football program,” he continued. “They’re going to do well in Conference USA. For us to come on the road and win one like that is big for the South Alabama football program. Curtis Johnson (Tulane head coach), his staff and the players acted first class the entire game. My hat’s off to them. They are the kind of team you want to play against, because they play the game the right way.”

Coach Jones spoke about true freshman Roman Buchanan by saying, “Coming in and playing like that in Division I football as a true freshman is big. We know he’s a great player, and he’s going to be a great one in the future for sure.”

Coach Jones also spoke about stopping the two-point conversion at the end of the game. He said, “That was big. Most teams want to sprint out to the right, and I went up to coach Sherrer and asked him if we were going to bring edge pressure and he said, ‘We’re going to bring everybody.’ We brought an all-out blitz and pressured the quarterback, and he couldn’t really get his feet set to throw the ball. It was a great call by coach Sherrer.”

When asked if he would like to see a series between the two schools, Jones replied, “I would love for it to be. Two hours away; we’d love to have a rivalry with them in the future.”

However the two teams are not scheduled to play again until October 10, 2020 when Tulane travels to Mobile.

Randon Carnathan’s injury turned out to be some sort of Achilles heel injury and was in a protective boot on the sidelines when he returned to the sideline. The extent of his injury is unknown

JuCo tranfer Jerome McClain came out of the game with a concussion. He will have to clear medical tests before he will be allowed to return to practice or games.

Losing two defensive linemen will hurt their depth at that position.

Jereme Jones consecutive games with a catch streak is up to 29 now.

South Alabama will open Sun Belt play on Saturday when they play Western Kentucky for the first time. The game will feature Bobby Petrino’s up-tempo offense that they used to defeat Kentucky on the road to open the season. South Alabama and Western Kentucky is set to kick off at 6:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Come out and support your Jaguars in this key Sun Belt game. Go Jags!

Trey Clark Named To Capital One Academic All-America Team

December 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

From left to right is Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews, Center Trey Clark and offensive lineman Drew Dearman in the Jaguars first practice preparing for the fall football season.

Trey Clark has been one of the most consistent players for the South Alabama Jaguars football team over the program first four years of existence. He is the only individual in that time to start every game in the program’s existence. But he is also a consistent performer off the field and in the classroom.

For his accomplishments off the field, Clark was named to the second-team Capital One Academic All-America team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).

In order to qualify for the CoSIDA Academic All-America Team, Clark had to be selected first-team academic All-District, to be nominated for the organization’s academic honors, individuals must carry a minimum of a 3.30 cumulative GPA, have sophomore status both academically and athletically, and be a starter or important reserve.

Trey has been voted first-team academic All-District each of the last two years and was also selected to the FCS Athletic Directors Association Academic All-Start Team in 2011. South Alabama’s district includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Clark is one of only two players to start every game on offense this season for the Jaguars. But he is the only Jaguar from the offensive team to be on the field for every one of the school’s 938 snaps in all 13 games this season. He earned a season-high 91% mark at 23rd ranked Mississippi State on September 22. He went on to finish the season with an 89% grade. He averaged more than six knockdown blocks per game as well.

Trey was the lone individual from the Sun Belt to be named to the 2012 Capital one Academic All-America team.

Trey is a native of Prattville, Alabama.

South Alabama Post First FBS, Sun Belt Victory

October 21, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

The South Alabama Jaguars celebrate their double-overtime win against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. The win was the program’s first against an FBS opponent and also the first against a Sun Belt Conference team.

Lead by defense in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars fight their way back from a 14 point deficit in order to win it’s first ever game against a FBS opponent and also their first ever Sun Belt Conference.

Florida Atlantic would go up by 14 points early in the fourth quarter on a six yard rush on 3rd and goal. On the ensuing possession the Jags would start at their own 15 yard line but would move the ball down to the Owl 41 yards linbe before turning the ball over on downs.

The Jaguar defense would hold strong and force a three and out. The Owl punt would bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

Starting at their own 20, Metheny would come out firing by completing back to back catches to Jereme Jones for 14 and Greg Hollinger for 15 to quickly move the ball out to the Jaguar 49 yard line. After a rush for no gain by Terrance Timmons, a pass interference penalty would move the ball to the FAU 40 yard line. Then Metheny would complete a 27 yard pass to Gabe Loper to the FAU 13 yard line.

After an incomplete pass by Metheny to Jereme Jones, the Owls would be flagged for a personal foul to place the ball at the 5 yard line. Houston would go down for a loss of 3 yards back to the 8 yard line. A couple plays later the Jags are facing 4th down and goal from the FAU 7 yard line. The fourth down pass would fall incomplete but the FAU defender would be flagged for pass interference. Due to the penalty occurring in the end zone, the ball would be placed on the 1 yard line with an automatic first down.

Trey Fetner would run for a loss of one followed by Metheny rushing for no gain. After a time out, Metheny would hand the ball all to Demetre Baker who would plunge into the end zone for the touchdown to cut the Owl lead down to 31-24 with 5:45 left in the game.

The Jaguar defense would only allow four yards as they forced FAU to a three and out. The punt from their own 32 yard line would go 51 yards and T.J. Glover would lose two yards on the return to put the Jaguars first and 10 at their own 15 yard line with 3:54 left in the game.

The drive would start with a Baker rush for 18 yards before being force out of bounds at the Jaguar 33. Baker would run for another three yards on the next first down play. But back to back incomplete passes from Metheny to Jereme Jones and Gabe Loper would have the Jags facing fourth and 7 from their own 36 yard line.

The fourth down play would be another pass from Metheny to Gabe Loper down the left side, but it fell incomplete however FAU would have two flags thrown on them for pass interference. One would be declined and the other accepted to give the Jags 14 yards and an automatic first down at the midfield stripe.

Baker would rush for back-to-back gains of 8 and 4 yards for a first down at the Owls 38 yard line. Then Terrance Timmons would rush for four yards. On second and 6 at the FAU 34 yard line, Ross Metheny would find an opening and scamper 18 yards for a first and 10 at the FAU 16 yard line with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter.

After the time out, Ross Metheny would find Gabe Loper in the end zone for the 16 yard touchdown pass. Michel Chapuseaux would tack on the PAT and the Jags would have a tie game with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.

The squib kick would be picked up and returned 11 yards to the FAU 39 yard line with 1:05 left in regulation. Graham Wilbert’s first two passing attempts would fall incomplete. But the third down pass would be caught for 19 yards to the Jaguar 42 yard line before stepping out of bounds. On the next play he would find the same receiver for another 16 yard completion to the Jaguar 26 yard line.

After an incomplete pass on first down, Pat Moore would sack Wilbert for a five yard loss back to the Jaguar 31 yard line forcing FAU to take a time out with 21 seconds remaining in regulation. After the time out, the Jags would let FAU line up before calling their final time out of the game to set up a defense for the play. After the Jaguar time out, on 3rd and 15, Wilbert would complete his pass to William Dukes, for the third time on the drive, for 16 yards and a first down at the Jaguar 15 yard line before getting out of bounds with about 15 seconds left in regulation.

Florida Atlantic head coach Carl Pelini sends out his field goal unit with Mitch Anderson, who is playing in his first game, to attempt the game winning field goal. Anderson, who already had one attempt blocked earlier in the game, would kick it low from the hashmarks and Pat Moore would get his hands up and block it with time expiring.

To begin overtime, FAU would win the toss and elect to go on defense first. The Jags, with the ball first, would start at the 25 yard line heading into the north end zone. On first down, Metheny would run for five yards to the 20 yard line. But back to back incompletions to Bryant Lavender and Greg Hollinger would force the Jags to kick a field goal from 37 yards to take a 34-31 lead, their first of the game.

FAU would then start their rebuttal possession with a four yard pass completion to the Jaguar 21 before being forced out of bounds. A run would only net two yards on second down. Then the quarterback keeper would lose one yard to the 20 yard line. Anderson would convert on the 37 yard field goal to force a second overtime.

In the second overtime, FAU would go on offense first again going into the north end zone. A two yard loss on the first down run would put the ball back at the Jaguar 27 yard line. Another rush for no gain on second down would set up third and 12 at the Jaguar 27 yard line. The third down pass would fall incomplete to force another field goal attempt from 44 yards. Kicking from the right hashmark the kick would be low again and Pat Moore would block it for the second time in the game.

South Alabama would then have the ball with the outcome of the game in their hands. Baker would run on first down for no gain. Baker would run again on second down for 7 yards. Then on third down, he would run again for no gain. After allowing the Jags to line up for the field goal attempt, Carl Pelini would call a time out to try to ice Chapuseaux.

After the time out, Chapuseaux’s 35 yard kick would never be in doubt. It flew right between the uprights and the crowd that had stayed went into complete pandemonium. The Jaguar players rushed the team on the field, coach Jones would get doused on the sidelines while FAU were quick to exit the stadium to get out from between the team and the students and band.

It was an amazing sight to behold as the Jaguars realized they broke their four game losing streak, won their first FBS game and also won their first Sun Belt Conference game.

FAU held edges in a couple key categories. They led in total yardage 461-359, passing yardage 303-179 and first downs 25-24. However the Jags did lead in rushing yardage 180-158 and time of possession 30:28 – 29:32. Penalties were down too with the Jags only being flagged four times for 50 yards while FAU was flagged 10 times for 80 yards. Neither side threw an interception. FAU fumbled once but recovered it themselves, while South Alabama fumbled twice but only lost one of them.

But FAU’s Anderson was 2-of-5 in field goals in his first ever game for the Owls, with all three misses being blocked. Michel Chapuseaux was a perfect 3-for-3 in route to the win.

FAU’s J. Wallace rushed 21 times for 101 yards to lead all in rushing. Demetre Baker, back from his suspension, rushed 16 times for 73 yards to lead the Jaguars running game. Timmons carried 11 times for 36 yards, Metheny had 13 carries for 34 yards and Glover carried 6 times for 29 yards. Jereme Jones, Trey Fetner and Kendall Houston also got carries in the game.

FAU’s Graham Wilbert was 27-of-41 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Ross Metheny was 13-of-27 for 179 yards and one touchdown.

The game was definitely Gabe Loper’s coming out party. Loper caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown while also adding a blocked field goal and drawing a couple pass interference calls at key times for the Jaguars.

Jereme Jones had three catches for 19 yards and Greg Hollinger caught two passes for 34 yards. Lavender, Desmond Jones, Corey Besteda and Jared Palmer all caught a pass as well.

FAU’s William Dukes caught five passes for 119 yards and a 50 yard touchdown pass. Two other Owls had over 50 yards receiving as well.

Four Jaguars ended the game with double-digit tackles for the game, a first in school history. Terrell Brigham, B.J. Scott and Enrique Williams all recording 11 tackles and Alex Page adding 10 tackles as well. Clifton Crews and Jake Johnson both had eight tackles each as well. Darrius Morrow had four tackles and two passes defended. Pat Moore had three solo tackles all for loss to go with his two field goal blocks he was credited with.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young men and my [coaching] staff for what they’ve done — for hanging in there,” head coach Joey Jones said in the post game press conference. “They fought every day at practice, and the main reason we won the football game is because of character. These guys were down 14 points in the fourth quarter, and I didn’t see quit in anybody’s eyes. They kept fighting and all of a sudden we had a play or two go our way, and we were in the ballgame. We got into overtime, and Michel Chapuseaux did a great job kicking field goals at the end. I don’t know how many plays we made in the fourth quarter, but it was a bunch of them. My hat’s off to this team and the coaching staff for what they’ve done.”

Loper spoke after the game about the touchdown pass from Metheny to tie the game and give the Jags a chance to go into overtime. “All credit goes to Ross. He made a perfect pass. I leaned on the defensive back like the coaches taught me to. He had my hand hooked. It was a similar play to Arkansas State last week, and I just remembered that I had to redeem myself. The coaches have been preaching all week that if the officials don’t call it, take it out of their hands and make the play. That’s all I could think about. I was just blessed to have the ball thrown so perfectly.”

Ross Metheny spoke after the game giving praise to Loper. “Talk about a playmaker. We have been trying to get Gabe on the offensive side of the ball since week one, and he definitely has a special talent and the things he can do in the air to go get the ball are special,” Metheny said. “He’s only been working as a receiver for a couple of weeks, and he already has the offense down, knows which way to line up and runs his routes really well. He’s definitely a guy we can count on, and I’m fortunate that he’s my teammate.”

Michel Chapuseaux spoke about the game winning kick after the game. “When the time had come, my heart was pounding and I was nervous. I had to settle in because I’ve practiced so long for this,” he explained. “When I start taking my steps over, I zone out everything and I tell myself to be ready for it. When I kicked it, I made sure it was between the posts and then I just turned around. I didn’t even look at it. I just let the crowd tell me if it went in, and then I had a swarm of teammates just hitting me. We definitely needed this win. We wanted it more. We didn’t give up, and this is definitely going to help us throughout the rest of the season.”

Senior Linebacker Jake Johnson spoke after the game about how the defense played. “The game is never over until it’s over. Anybody can win, anything can happen. We came back and got that touchdown. We had three blocked field goals. Chap had three kicks that he made.  We played well in all facets.”

“Defensively we had a good game plan, we just weren’t communicating as well as we should have in the first half,” Johnson continued. “We communicated better and stopped them a lot more in the second half. We just never gave up. That’s one thing you can’t ever do is give up.”

No one could say it better than Ross Metheny though. “All I can say is wow, what a game. Talk about a monkey off your back, getting the first Division I [FBS] win. We needed the signature win to propel us. We’re definitely going to embrace this win and cherish it, but we’re still hungry. We want more and we want to win more, so we’re going to come on Monday ready to work toward our next opponent.”

South Alabama will travel to face Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 6pm according to the ULL website. The game is not scheduled to be broadcast on television, however ULL does have a online video stream available.

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-10-16

October 17, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 
Coach Jones

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

Head Coach Joey Jones and host Lee Shirvanian was joined by defensive backs coach Duwan Walker at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for the Joey Jones Radio Show this week.

To start off the show Lee asked “What was your feeling like when you left the field in Jonesboro?” “I felt good deep down, but hurting just because we lost and because you never want to lose,” Jones answered. But he felt they made lots of progress on offense with making first downs, moved the ball and converting on third down. All the things they have been talking about over the last few weeks.

He commended the defense on playing well as well as special teams with a blocked punt, good kickoff returns and good kickoff coverage.

Coach Jones said that when he saw that they were down by six points in the fourth quarter he thought they could pull out the win, but ended up losing by seven points. He was very proud that they took a good football team down to the wire. Deep down he feels really good about how they did, but as a competitor he never wants to lose.

Bo Bishop from Baumhower’s Restaurant asked about taking something positive away from a loss. Coach Jones said that if you look at Arkansas State, they won the Sun Belt Conference Championship last year, they have a quarterback who was the player of the year last year as well as returning several seniors. The South Alabama players walked out onto the field and were ready to play, they didn’t let that phase them and that makes Coach Jones really proud of them.

Lee pointed out the the Jags ran over 80 plays in the game while Arkansas State was limited to around 60. He further mentioned that the Jags led in just about every stat except the points on the scoreboard. Coach Jones pointed out that the big thing was that the offense went out and controlled the ball, something they haven’t really done until this game.

Lee said that Ross Metheny did a great job for the Jags. Coach Jones said that he has great leadership skills and the players really listen to him. He goes out there with lots of confidence. Another thing he did was he did a great job of extending the play. If the throw downfield wasn’t there then he checked down and found an open running back or ran with it and go positive yardage. He didn’t force it downfield which helped them get first downs.

Lee pointed out the penalties. Coach Jones acknowledged them and said that they jumped offsides a number of times while trying to blitz or get to the line. Lee mentioned how Rick Cleveland mentioned during the game that the quarterback was using an odd cadence to draw them offsides. But Jones said that that was not a reason and that the defensive linemen need to watch the ball instead of listening to the quarterbacks cadence.

But Coach Jones said that if they cut down penalties they will have a chance to win.

When asked how Coach Walker thought the secondary played, he answered by saying he thought they played well. They could have done better, but their number one thing is to prevent big plays and they did a good job at limiting them.

Orthopedic Group Injury Report: Ucambre Williams will probably be out with a knee injury which didn’t look good. Shaun Artz hurt his back, waiting to hear more about that. Everyone else fared well.

Lee mentioned that both of them are offensive linemen and that they may not have good depth at there. Coach Jones said they have decent depth but you worry about having others step up and be ready as well.

Jones said that Chris May moved into Williams’ position and played most of the game since Ucambre was hurt on the second play of the game. Drew Dearman could come back into the lineup to fill in for Shaun Artz. When Lee asked about backups, Coach Jones said that they actually pulled a couple players from the scout team to get ready and play some with the other guys.

Coach Jones was pretty quick to answer Lee’s question about the status of Demetre Baker for this weeks game. Jones said he thought he would be alright, but that “the ball is in his court” and that was all he wanted to say on that subject.

Lee further mentioned that it was due to a violation of team rules. Lee further pressed if he might suit up again for the Jags and Coach Jones went back to his previous statement saying “it’s up to him”. He did acknowledge that Baker was not on the depth chart as of now for the Florida Atlantic game.

Lee then turned the focus to Coach Walker and the secondary. What did they do to rectify the problems they had in the secondary from last season. They hit the Junior College’s well looking for players. Tyrell Pearson is short, but is a mature, good player. Same with Darrius Morrow, he plays very well and came from the junior college ranks.

Walker also mentioned B.J. Scott as someone that has sparked the secondary. He said that it was unfortunate he wasn’t able to go through spring workouts, but he is now hitting his prime during the season.

What are the ingredients for good defensive back. Walker said that is always changing. This week the Jags will be playing receivers who are 6’4″ or so and size will play a part. But they are looking for players who are electric, can make plays and play smart. Speed and size are something they have to go after.

Lee mentioned that South Alabama is playing teams with receivers that are 6’3″ or 6’4″ and asked how do the shorter defensive backs compensate for that? Coach Jones said that they have to have great technique. Ideally you want guys who are tall and fast, normally smaller guys can be faster. But they try to get guys who are 5’10 up to 6′ tall with speed who can cover. Defensive backs can make it up by coming up between the receivers hands and knocking the ball away if they play with good technique and play smart. Just because they are small does not mean that they will have the deep ball thrown over them.

Lee asked Coach Walker how they grade defensive backs. Coach Walker said that mental errors and technique are big keys in grading the defensive backs.

Lee asked that if the coaches can tell immediately if a defensive back missed an assignment or if they have to wait to see video to determine who it was. Coach Walker immediately said that they know who it is and who has coverage responsibility to whom and where.

Lee mentioned that high school coaches always mention that homecoming is such a big distraction at that level. He then asked Coach Jones if homecoming is a distraction on the college level. Coach Jones indicated that it’s not a big distraction on the college level. In high school they have so many events going on in the whole school. College is not as intense as high school.

Lee then turns the focus to Florida Atlantic and mentioned their record is the same as the Jags at 1-5. But he cautioned that they have played some good teams in Alabama and Georgia. Lee then asked if Coach Jones thought this may be a very winnable game for South Alabama. Coach Jones was quick to say that they cannot overlook anyone, but that they feel good about their chances. They just have to go out and work hard to make the plays to win the game.

A caller asked that if the Jags might give the next game ball after Florida Atlantic to coach Kurt Crain’s family. Coach Jones said they have not thought about, but they just put up a plaque in the football fieldhouse dedicated to his memory and they have a “KC” sticker on the helmets as well.

Lee asked what kind of problems FAU may present to the Jaguar secondary. Coach Walker said that they are very athletic and, from the film, they look alot like South Alabama’s receivers. Coach Walker also mentioned that they ran the ball and threw the ball well against Georgia.

Lee asked if this was another team that runs a spread offense. Coach Jones said yes, but that they are not quite like they have seen in the last two games with Troy and Arkansas State.

Coach Jones likened the stature of the FAU quarterback to NC State’s Mike Glennon, he is about 6’6″ tall and are similar type quarterback who can deliver the ball well. He knows he has tall receivers so he can hang the ball high and let his receivers go up to get it.

Lee mentioned the Jags ranking in the BCS. He said that the Jags are 111 in the list while FAU is 110, but that both are above teams like UNLV, Colorado, Colorado State and Akron among others. Coach Jones said that the football in the Sun Belt Conference is really good and that the Jags are getting better, but that they are not there yet.

Coach Jones answered a question posed by Lee asking about why couldn’t it be South Alabama traveling to play Alabama next season instead of Georgia State. Coach Jones said he doesn’t know, he’s not the one who makes that decision at Alabama. He did indicated that they have talked to them about it, but that was all.

After a break, Lee told coach Jones that when Coach Jones started at South Alabama, one of his assistants said that he would have no problem going head-to-head recruiting against Alabama and Auburn. Lee then asked if they have gone head-to-head against them for any recruits. Coach Jones said that they have but that they cannot mention any names of recruits.

Email question asked what it would take for the school to call this season a success and how are they defining success for the program today? Coach Jones said that he normally sets goals for wins in a season, but this year is different in that they do not have as many players as most of the teams they are facing this season. But they are approaching it on a week-to-week basis to see if they are improving. They don’t really know how to measure this season, but at the end of the season they will know where they stand in the conference.

Lee then turned to coach Walker for his input on the question. He said that it’s progress. They have to work hard every week to get better and earn respect from their opponents.

Jags Fall 31-7 In Raleigh

September 15, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson zeroes in on a NC State runner for one of his 14 tackles in Raleigh, NC.

South Alabama fell in a tough road game at North Carolina State on Saturday night by a score of 31-7. The Jags (1-2) finally scored in the fourth quarter to prevent a shutout.

NC State’s Mike Glennon went 24-of-34 for 257 yards and three touchdowns (all in the first half) to lead the Wolfpack over the Jags. On the Wolfpack’s first possession, Glennon went 8-of-9 and accounted for all but five yards of the 80-yard drive. He capped off the first drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass with 9:22 left in the first quarter.

Glennon’s second touchdown pass came with four minutes left in the first quarter and went for 44-yards. His third touchdown pass put the Wolfpack up 28-0 before halftime.

Demetre Baker led the Jags with 45 yards rushing on seven carries. Kendall Houston added 17 yards on four carries.

Ross Metheny went 14-of-20 for 189 yards with an interception and a touchdown. C.J. Bennett went 10-of-15 for 74 yards with an interception. Both quarterbacks were sacked three times each.

Jereme Jones extended his catch streak, and tied the all time record set by Courtney Smith, with his eight yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Demetre Baker led the receiver corps with five catches for 55 yards. Wes Saxton added four catches for 72 yards. Corey Besteda got the offense going on the touchdown drive with a 43 yard reception. Besteda caught three passes for 68 yards. T.J. Glover added three catches for 10 yards. Three other Jaguars had two catches each and another three had one catch each.

Jake Johnson led all players with a season high 14 total tackles. Alex Page had five tackles, with two sacks for 14 yards. Clifton Crews and Anthony Taylor both had sacks as well.

The wolfpack had 22 first downs to only 14 for the Jags. Overall, NC State outgained the Jags 384-314. The wolfpack out-gained the Jags on the ground 127 to 51, but the Jags would outgain their adversaries 263-257 through the air.

In the Jaguars first drive, Bennett picked up first downs with completions to Saxton and Besteda, but a poor pass was intercepted on a third-and-15 near midfield. Then on the ensuing Wolfpack drive, one of Page’s sacks put the Wolfpack with a third-and-15, but a personal foul gave them a first down. But the Jaguar offense could not recover from the setback.

“We knew when N.C. State held Connecticut to seven points last weekend that they were a very good defensive football team,” South Alabama head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “When you look at their film from last year and this year, they are two totally different teams. They showed that today. They were very good up front, and got to the quarterback several times. We could have done some things better, but they are very good defensive football team.”

“I thought we fought hard defensively, and the positive thing was that I thought we won the second half,” Coach Jones continued. “I challenged them at halftime to win the second half, and we came out and did that. We didn’t quit. Our kids fought hard. There are obviously some things we can work on, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that they were pretty good on defense.”

If the Jags can limit their mistakes, such as turnovers, negative yardage plays and penalties at key times, the Jags offense could move the ball and score like they did in the season opener against UTSA. But it seems that, once the offense commits a mistake, they have a hard time regaining their forward momentum.

Metheny really looked good at quarterback tonight after Bennett started struggling. He did a great job getting the ball out to his receivers quickly. The offensive line had their hands full with a big, quick defensive line for the Wolfpack. Drew Dearman had another great block on a screen pass play that allowed the receiver to gain some extra yards.

The Jags will continue their two game road-trip with a Saturday night match-up with Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi. Kickoff is scheduled for 6pm.

Jags Defeat Nicholls State 9-3

September 9, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Left guard Drew Dearman (72) looks to pick up the rusher getting by Ucambre Williams (76) as CJ Bennett (15) loads up to throw downfield.

South Alabama gets it’s first win of the season in a defensive struggle against Nicholls State. Three-and-outs and forced turnovers were the story of the game. The Jaguar defense held Nicholls State to a mere 118 yards while forcing three turnovers and only allowing three points to the Colonels.

“Putting pressure on the quarterback really helped us tonight,” head coach Joey Jones said. “I thought we played with a lot more energy on defense, it looked like the defense that I’m used to seeing.”

The first quarter saw several three-and-outs in the first quarter as Nicholls only managed 23 total yards and the Jags only 19 total yards. Each team faced four third downs and only the Jags converted one in the entire first quarter. On top of that, the first two Jaguar drives started at their 2- and 1-yard lines respectively.

Finally on Scott Garbers third punt, the Jags were able to flip field position. Facing 4th and 20 from their own 22 yard line Garber punted, with the aid of the wind, a 69 yard punt to the Colonel 9 yard line. The Jags forced them to punt and had great field position at the Colonel 46 yard line with 1:51 left in the quarter. The offense drives down to the 35 yard line, but on the final play of the quarter, Ross Metheny takes a three yard sack.

After switching sides of the field, the Jags faced a 3rd and 13 going into the wind. An incomplete pass forces the Jags to punt, but Garber cannot keep it out of the end zone.

The Colonels are able to drive, on the ensuing possession, to the Jaguar 20 yard line, but are backed up by a 10 yard loss on a fumbled snap by the quarterback on first down. After back to back incomplete passes, Nicholls State finally break 0-0 tie with a 48 yard field goal, aided by the wind, to take a 3-0 lead on the Jags.

But the Jags answer right back with a drive of their own. Starting at their own 25 yard line after a touchback on the kickoff. T.J. Glover rushes for no gain on first down, then Bennett completes back to back passes to Terrance Timmons and Glover for a first down. Then they rush the ball five consecutive times, three by Baker for 6, 15 and 8 yards respectively. Then Kendall Houston rushes for 6 then loses 3 back to the Nicholls State 30 yard line. Bennett then finds Wes Saxton for 11 yards to make it 3rd and 2 at the Colonels 19 yard line. Timmons rushes for no gain, but a personal foul gives the Jags half the distance to the goal and an automatic first down.

After a penalty and facing 3rd down, Bennett hits Jereme Jones at the goal line but is marked down at the one yard line. Facing third and goal, the hand-off to Kendall Houston loses a yard. After looking like the Jags were going to go for the touchdown, Coach Jones sends on the kicking team but calls a time out when the play clock starts to wind down. Michel Chapuseaux converts the 19 yard field goal to tie the game.

In the second quarter, the Jags defense held Nicholls to -13 yards rushing.

After punts by both teams to start the second half, the Jags put together another drive starting at their own 48 yard line until they reached the Colonel 17 yard line and stalled out. Chapuseaux’s kick into the wind misses wide left.

On the second play of the Colonel’s ensuing possession, Bryson James would pick off the Landry Klann pass at their 33 yard line. On first down, Bennett would find Houston open on the screen pass and with a big block by Drew Dearman, he would scamper for 14 yards to the Colonel 19. But a roughing the passer penalty would put them at the 9 yard line with 1st and goal. A four yard run by Houston would be followed up by two incomplete passes to Lavender and Besteda before settling for a 21 yard field goal with 5:17 left in the third quarter.

The Colonels would go three and out on their next possession and their punt would be fair caught at the Jaguar 22 yard line. Later on in the drive, on third and 6 at the Jaguar 38 Ross Metheny would be flushed out of the pocket and find daylight on the left side. As he was approaching the sideline, the Nicholls State defender was playing the angle to get him but would be completely leveled by T.J. Glover. The game would have to stop and trainers went to assist the injured player.

The player would eventually put on a backboard and have his neck immobilized before put on a stretcher and carted off the field. He was moving his arms and legs and even game the crowd a thumbs-up as he was loaded onto the cart. He was taken to a local hospital for observation as a precaution.

However, on the next play after the stoppage, Terrance Timmons would fumble the ball away to Nicholls State at the 50 yard line with three seconds left in the third quarter.

The Colonels would drive down to the Jaguar 17 yard line, but on 2nd down and 12 yards, Montavious Williams would recover a fumble at the Jaguar 19 yard line ending the scoring threat again.

The Jaguar offense, led by Ross Metheny again, would begin the drive with
three consecutive completions to Saxton for two yards, Hollinger for nine yards and T.J. Glover for 29 yards to put the Jags in Colonel territory at the 41 yard line. The Jags would eventually get down to the Colonel 17 yard line where they would have to settle for another field goal by Chapuseaux to put the Jags up 9-3 with 9:01 left in the game.

After a touchback on the kickoff, the first play by the Colonels would be intercepted by Terrel Brigham at the Colonel 38 yard line. After driving down to the Nicholls State 19 yard line, Baker and Bennett would fumble the handoff exchange and it would be recovered by the Colonels.

With a chance to run out the clock after a couple first downs, the Jags would go three and out starting at their own nine yard line. The Scott Garber punt from the Jaguar 16 would go 48 yards and only returned 6 to the Nicholls State 42 yard line with 2:38 left in the game.

Klann’s first down pass would fall incomplete, but the second would be caught for four yards before getting out of bounds. Then Klann would find tight end Nich Scelfo open for 9 yards and into Jaguar territory. Then a 16 yard pass completion and run down the right sideline would put them at the Jaguar 29 yard line. B.J. Scott would be flagged for pass interference on the subsequent play, putting the Colonels at the Jaguar 14 yard line needing a touchdown.

The first down play would go for a loss of one yard. Followed by an incompletion then a Pat Moore sack of Klann would back them up to the Jaguar 18 yard line facing 4th and 14. Nicholls would call a time out with 38 seconds remaining in the game to scheme a play. After allowing the defense to line up, they could call their final time out. Then the fourth down pass would be broken up by Darrius Morrow to save the game. After a knee, the Jags would watch the time run off the clock for the 9-3 win.

South Alabama led with 279 total yards, 169 passing and 110 rushing while Nicholls State ended the game with 118 total yards, 96 passing and a mere 22 rushing. The Jags held the time of possession lead with 34:52 to 25:08  while they also ran 75 plays to the Colonels 52 plays.

Demetre Baker lead all players with 75 yards rushing while Metheny had 14 , Bennett had 13 and Houston only 10.

T.J. Glover lead the receiver corps with 43 yards on three catches. Hollinger and Lavender both had three for 36 yards and 20 yards respectively. Jereme Jones caught two for 22 and Wes Saxton also caught two for 13. Also Corey Waldon returned from his knee surgery in preseason camp to catch his first pass of the season for seven yards.

Bennett would go 11-of-20 for 111 yards and no interceptions. Metheny would go 6-of-10 for 58 yards and would be sacked three times.

Chapuseaux would go 3-of-4, hitting field goals from 19, 21 and 34 yards but missing a 35 yarder.

“South Alabama is good up front, they rotated eight guys in there,” Nicholls Statate head coach Charlie Stubbs said. “We are kind of young up front in a couple of positions and we weren’t able to substitute as freely as they did. I feel like they kind of wore us down in that area. We weren’t able to really establish much of a running game, except what I could muster with LaQuinton Caston as a Wildcat quarterback, so that goes hand-in-hand. South Alabama made us one-dimensional, and we’re not good enough right now in the passing game to try and win just by dropping back and throwing the ball. Against a defense like that, we have to play really well, execute and stay out of long-yardage situations.”

“It was big for us to win this game. We lose that game and we’re reeling,” Coach Jones said. “I told the kids, ‘A win is a win.’ Ten years from now we’ll look back and remember we won the football game, but we also have to be honest with ourselves and what we have to work on. We were just a little out of sync on offense, and a lot of that had to do — and I’m not making excuses — with not having film on them. When you go into a game and you haven’t watched any film on them, you’re not able to watch their schemes. They changed some schemes up from two years ago. The first few times we had the ball, it was on the one or two- yard line, and we kind of got started on a bad note. I don’t think we adjusted very well, and that’s something we have to look at next week.”

The Jaguar defense played lights-out defense for the game. The Colonel defense schemed well to get enough pressure on the quarterback to cause problems and did well at times at containing the running game.

The Jaguar offense did well when they sped up the tempo can caught the defense in mismatches. But when they got something going, something would cause them to stall out. This will have to be worked on in the next week before the Jags travel to North Carolina State.

However, NC State lost to Tennessee to begin the season then squeaked out a win over FBS-transitional UConn on Saturday. We’ll have to wait and see what the Jags will do against the Wolfpack next saturday when they travel to Raleigh for their first road game of the season.

The Jags and Wolfpack will kickoff at 5pm CDT at Carter-Finley Stadium. The game will be streamed online by ESPN3.

Jags Ready To Embark On Toughest Season Yet

August 31, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

On the eve of South Alabama’s season opener against Texas-San Antonio it’s a good time to look at what this season means to the program. After three seasons, the first two undefeated, and a 23-4 record the Jaguars are about to embark on their most challenging quest yet.

Last season they stepped up and faced two FBS teams, the first in the programs history. This season, they will face their first full Division I schedule. The only non FBS school on the schedule is FCS Nicholls State. Additionally, with the Hawaii rule, the Jags will play 13 games in 14 weeks this season including a full eight game Sun Belt schedule.

This is what the Jaguars have been working towards for the last several years. When they take the field, they will be a transitional FBS member.

Coach Jones can finally guage where his team stands in the FBS pecking order. “I think the biggest challenge for us, especially early, will be the depth on our team,” he Jones. “We’ve been recruiting to Division I really just this year. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have any Division I football players, we do. But do we have the depth that everybody else has because they’ve been recruiting for a while and have 85 scholarships and D-1 players? I would think that will probably be the biggest issue, depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.”

What about this season’s schedule? “The most difficult thing is playing 13 games in 14 weeks for us and playing pretty much all Division I opponents,” Jones said. “Whereas in past years we’ve played seven, 10 and 10 (games per season), we had some off weeks and some time to get ready for games. You’re going to get your three or four days of practice and that’s going to be it, then you’re going to have to move on to your next game.”

Gone is offensive coordinator Greg Gregory and in is Robert Matthews brining the spread to South Alabama. Matthews, who learned the spread at Oklahoma State and Southern Miss, will bring a completely different attitude to the offensive side of the ball. The offense will run as quickly as possible with a no-huddle tempo that is designed to keep the defense off guard and guessing what is coming next. Plus it is designed to take advantage of the depth South Alabama has at the skill positions.

The offensive line is where the biggest unknown is located coming into this season. Gone are three starters from the previous two seasons. However back is senior Trey Clark and sophomore Melvin Meggs. In steps Drew Dearman, Chris May and Shaun Artz. Also a second string, Ucambre Williams and possibly Kentucky transfer James Elliott if he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA. But this is the biggest offensive line the Jaguars have had in it’s short history.

Behind the line, there is plenty of talent on the roster. C.J. Bennett returns as the starter with Virginia transfer Ross Metheny as his backup and redshirt freshman Trey Fetner as the third quarterback. The South Alabama backfield is also stocked with talent. Back are Demetre Baker, Kendall Houston and Ellis Hill from last season along with Brandon Ross returning from a knee injury and redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons among others ready to contribute. At wide receiver back are Jereme Jones, Bryant Lavender, T.J. Glover, Corey Besteda and Tyrome Bivins with true freshman Cameron Broadnax who showed plenty of skill in preseason camp. With two tight ends graduating, Greg Hollinger moved over from wide receiver joining JuCo transfer Wes Saxton to fill their positions.

The defense is arguably the strength of the team. Led by Jake Johnson, the linebackers are the heart of the defense, with Clifton Crews, Enrique Williams, Maleki Harris, Bryson James, Ben Giles and Cordivido Grice to help him out.

The defensive front will need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks than in past seasons. Returning ends Anthony Taylor, Romelle Jones, Alex Page and Will Thompson will be joined by JuCo transfer Pat Moore to help towards that goal. At nose and tackle positions they return Randon Carnathan and Andy Dalgleish, who lead the group last season, with help from Montavious Williams, Rodney Thomas and Shane Doty (who moved from offensive line).

In the secondary, Alabama transfer B.J. Scott has stepped up as a leader. The staff focused their recruiting efforts to find more help there too. Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both come in and are expected to start. Alonzo Long will suit up next to Scott at free safety. Gabe Loper should get playing time as he is the returning secondary player with the most interceptions last season.

Michel Chapuseaux takes over the placekicking duties with Scott Garber also returning to handle punts.

“We want to be competitive. We want to win every game that we play,” head coach Joey Jones said. “That’s our goal. Now, is that going to be tough to do? Sure. I understand that it will be. The bottom line is I don’t want to cut our kids short in what we’re doing. We’re going to prepare and we’re going to go out there and prepare to win. But we also know there’s a difficult schedule ahead of us and we’ve got to step up each week. I think that our kids probably will play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder this year. Bottom line, every week that we play we’ve got to prove something. Anybody that we beat will be a big deal. We’re representing a lot of people, not just our football program but the university.”

The schedule will be tough. After UTSA and Nicholls State, the Jags travel to N.C. State again and Mississippi State before returning home for their first-ever Sun Belt Conference game against Troy. Troy, whom most expect will quickly develop into one of the leagues best rivalries, will mark the first part of the season. After their one and only off week, the Jags then visit the SBC defending champion Arkansas State. Then the downhill stretch of FAU (home), ULM (away), FIU (home), North Texas (away), MTSU (home), ULL (away) and their “bowl game” of the season at Hawaii.

If you only count wins and losses as the measuring stick for a season, it could be a difficult season. But if you expand your criteria for this team that will be completing it’s two year FBS transition at the conclusion of this season, you may be surprised.

South Alabama Is More Experienced Than Many Think

August 28, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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

You may already know the cliche “defense wins championships.” Over the last three college football seasons you can see that a stifling defense does win championships. While South Alabama is far from that level, they do have a very experienced defense.

The team was unclassified by the NCAA in their first two years of competition so the players who joined the team were allowed to participate in games during their redshirt season. This allows them to play in all five of their seasons of eligibility.

The defense is the more experienced side of the ball. Four seniors, six juniors and a sophomore on the first team defense. The senior starters are Anthony Taylor at Jack linebacker, Jake Johnson at Mike linebacker, B.J. Scott at safety and Andy Dalgleish at nose tackle.

Junior defensive starters include Montavious Williams at tackle, Alex Page at end, Clifton Crews at Sam linebacker, Enrique William at Will linebacker, Darrius Marrow at cornerback and Tyrell Pearson at cornerback. Alonzo Long is the only sophomore starting on the defense at strong safety. Long and Pearson are both JuCo transfers.

There are five sophomore starters on the offense with five of them entering into their third season of play. They are joined by one senior, two juniors and one redshirt freshman. Trey Clark at Center is the only Senior slated in as a starter with Tremain Smith listed as a possible starter at right tackle. Junior starters are Bryant Lavender with Greg Hollinger and Corey Waldon both listed as optional starters. Sophomore starters are Drew Dearman at left guard, Shaun Artz at right guard, C.J. Bennett at quarterback and Demetre Baker at running back with Wes Saxton at tight end, Ucambre Williams at left tackle, Melvin Meggs, Jereme Jones at receiver are all optional starters.

So when the Jags hit the field on *Thursday, they will be an experienced team ready for competition. While they are not eligible for the Sun Belt Conference championship hopefully the experience on the defense, and on offense for that matter, will translate into a very competitive season.

The size and experience is what worries UTSA defensive coordinator Neal Neathery. He mentioned that Baker and Kendall Houston took turns exploiting holes opened up by the offensive line in the Jaguars 30-27 win in the Alamodome. “Both of the (backs) they played were physical, strong, in between the tackles runners. I thought it was a game where we didn’t feel great about ourselves when it was over when it comes to who was the tougher team,” Neathery said.

“Just as a unit last year they were probably the toughest, most physical offensive line we played,” Neathery said. “They were really good, and their running backs had a lot to do with that.”

* Currently the Jaguars are set to kickoff on Thursday, August 30th against Texas-San Antonio but Tropical Storm Isaac could postpone the game.

Jags Work In Shells Preparing For Saturday Scrimmage

August 17, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coach Matthews Speaks About Offense

August 10, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Offensive lineman running position drills in preseason camp.

One of South Alabama’s most daunting tasks this preseason is to solidify the offensive line. Three starters have graduated from last year’s squad. Gone are veterans Chris Brunson, Jon Griffin and Brian Krauskopf.

So far this preseason, offensive line coach and Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews, is currently rotating 13 different players on the offensive line. Trey Clark at center is the anchor to the line as he has started all 27 games in South Alabama’s history. Tremain Smith has earned playing time as a reserve in the previous two seasons.

“We do have some young guys, a lot who are getting reps, including some who have been here but have not been starters,” Coach Matthews said. “We have been rotating 13 different guys on the line right now, They have been changing positions because we are trying to find the best five. For the first week-and-a-half of practice there have been a lot of good things, and there have been some things we need to clean up. I think we are headed in the right direction.”

“Tremain and Trey have been tremendous leaders, they are vocal leaders and they lead by example, and a huge help to us,” Matthews continued. “They have been real good telling the young guys that it is going to be OK. It’s a big transition coming from high school, but our young guys have done a good job getting through that.”

On the right side of the line, Melvin Meggs is expected to continue solidify that side of the line. Meggs has started 19 games through two seasons. But coach Matthews doesn’t want Meggs to only settle for playing time, he wants him to keep getting better.

“Melvin’s biggest challenge is being the best Melvin he can be,” Matthews explained. “Everyone knows he is a good football player, he’s been a starter on the line. Any time you are that guy on a team, you have to push yourself to be better than just that. He’s been working hard on that. Melvin knows he is going to play, let’s be honest, everyone knows that. But he needs to play at a level he is capable of being at. Our challenge, and his challenge, is to continue to push himself to where he can be more than just a player. We want Melvin to be a great player.”

Drew Dearman and Shaun Artz entered camp with a golden opportunity to earn the starting left guard and right tackle positions respectively. Shane Doty and Ucambre Williams both could provide help as well. Chris May, who was redshirted last season, should be another contributor this season. Coach Matthews likes his footwork and also says that he has worked hard to study how the offense works and to discipline himself within the system. “He is very athletic, he was a state championship wrestler coming out of high school,” Matthews said. “I’ve been extremely happy with the progress of Chris, he is only a redshirt freshman so he has four years left to play. Certainly we want him to be game-ready in a couple of weeks, but his long-term future is really good.”

Four incoming freshman from the 2012 class have also been receiving reps on the line. Daniel Aust and Clay Machen have been working at outside positions on the line while Steven Foster and Joseph Scelfo have been working at interior positions on the line.

This is a fresh start for the offensive line. With no seniors and only two juniors, the line is stocked with young talent. With eight players weighing in at 300-pound or more, they also have size. What they lack is experience in the new system. In the spring, the Jags began the transition to a spread offense, while the players that were already in the program were accustomed to the pro-style offense that the team used in it’s first three seasons.

The fundamentals are the same, but the semantics and certain aspects of the position is different.  “We play a lot faster than they used to play, but some of the schemes are very similar. Football is football, pass protection is pass protection and run blocking is run blocking,” Matthews said. “Our terminology is a little different, but I would say there is about a 50-percent carryover from a skill set and things of that nature. We’ll see how it goes. I think they are headed in the right direction, but we have a way to go before we are any good. This is coaching cliché, but we have to come out to work every day. It’s the truth. We’re not great, but we’re not bad and we have to get better.”

As they head into the first scrimmage of the preseason, the offensive line get the most attention. “We’re going to find our best five,” Matthews said. “A guy that played guard today might be playing center tomorrow… We’ll start to narrow that down in the next week or so. … Saturday will be a big day for those guys to show what they’ve got and how they’ve progressed so far.”

Coach Matthews not only plays faster, but in practice he is constantly in motion and he keeps the players in almost constant motion. Like he is doing with the offensive line by rotating in lots of players and moving them around to see where they fit. He is doing that on a larger scale with the whole offense. “The thing I like is we’re moving a lot of guys around right now trying to see where everybody fits,” he said. “Nobody is backing away or turning away from that. Guys are learning two, sometimes three positions, and they are embracing it, so I really like the attitude of how they’re doing that. I think there’s no question we’re a lot better right now than we were in the spring. We’ll continue to be a work in progress and every day is important for us.”

Coach Matthews brings a thorough knowledge of the spread offense with him and a thick playbook to go along with it. Matthews came to South Alabama from Southern Miss through Oklahoma State. He is well steeped and is ready to unleash it’s potential at South Alabama. And the key is pace. Action needs to swift and constant and decisions need to be made quickly and correctly.

Matthews also spoke about other positions.

“People don’t realize how much you run in this offense as a wide receiver. They’re changing sides of the field, they’re running routes. We might throw a 6-yard route, but someone else may have had to run 30 yards to get that route open and he didn’t get the ball. He has to run back and get lined up. They have worked extremely hard and I’m proud of their progress.”

“It’s good to see Kendall (Houston) healthy again. We’ve been working about five [running] backs back there, and I think that’s good for competition.”

“We’ve been going two groups at once and we have five quarterbacks right now getting reps. Obviously, we’ve got to find out who our starter is, but even some of the younger guys on the roster, the reps they are getting right now are invaluable to them as they continue to learn the playbook.”

“I think they’re [tight ends] getting better every day, and we’ve got about two or three guys who hopefully will help us win on Saturdays.”

Trey Fetner returned to the field on Thursday after missing a day and a half with an illness. Senior linebacker Jake Johnson missed much of Thursday’s practice with a mild ankle injury but is expected to be ready for Saturday’s scrimmage. Tight end Wes Saxton missed part of yesterday’s morning scrimmage but should be ready for Saturday as well.

Saturday’s scrimmage is closed to public and the team will be off Sunday.

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