Jags End Losing Streak By Defeating FAU 77-66

November 30, 2012 · Filed Under Basketball, Men's · Comment 

The South Alabama men’s basketball team broke their three game losing streak with a win over Florida Atlantic Thursday night 77-66. The win improved the the Jaguars record to 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the Sun Belt Conference while FAU’s record falls to 2-4 overall (0-1 SBC).

“We worked on their stuff for three full days and I think tonight we guarded them,” Jaguar head coach Ronnie Arrow said after the game. “We still didn’t guard the 3-point line, but overall I was very happy, especially with our guard play. We only had nine turnovers and we held them to 41 percent shooting (from the floor).”

The win marks the 300th conference win for the South Alabama program and also coach Arrow’s 111th conference win to tie him with Gene Bartow for the most in conference history.

“I’m more into being 1-0 in the conference,” Arrow said. “That’s the most important thing. We’re working on the conference now and we play Florida International Saturday. Being 2-0, that’s the record I’m interested in.”

The Jags scored a season-high 44 points in the first half behind a career-best 23 points from Xavier Roberson. He scored 15 of his 23 points in the first half on five 3-pointers by going 5-of-8 from outside the arc prior to halftime. Six of his eight second half points came from the free throw line.

“When our 3-point shooters are on, we’re going to beat a lot of teams by a lot of points,” Arrow explained.

The Jags were down 10-6 early in the game but Roberson nailed back-to-back 3-point shots to take the lead. A layup from Javier Carter lead to another 3-pointer by Roberson to put the Jag lead up to seven points. Another layup by Carter would cap off the 13-0 Jaguar run.

Before halftime, South Alabama would put together another scoring outburst as four different Jags chipped in for the 9-0 run. Augustine Rubit slam would cap off the surge and propel the Jags to an 18 point lead.

“We were scoring off of our defense,” Arrow said. “We were able to defend and that ignited our fast break.”

FAU would end the half on a 7-0 run capped off with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 44-33 at the half.

Both teams would cool off in the second half. South Alabama shot 50% in the first half, but would only shoot 30.8% in the second half. The Owls shooting percentage would fall by 10% in the second half as well.

FAU would only be able to get within seven points of the Jags in the final 2:19 of the game. The Jags would go 8-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 65 seconds of the game to help preserve the win.

Roberson would lead the Jags with his 23 points with 5 rebounds. Freddie Goldstein added 15 points with 3 assists. Augustine Rubit would add 11 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double while Javier Carter would also add 11 points but come one rebound shy of a double-double with 9 for the game. Four other Jaguars scored in single digits for the game.

FAU only had one player in double digits. Greg Gantt scored a game-high 29 points with 8 rebounds.

South Alabama will travel to play Florida International on Saturday with tip-off scheduled for 6:30pm Central time.

Jags Look For Complete Game Against Mean Green

November 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

As the remaining games dwindle down this season the Jags continue to work hard to add more wins to their season total. A few weeks ago South Alabama notched their first win against an FBS team and a Sun Belt team when they defeated Florida Atlantic in double overtime.

While the Jags record is 2-7 (1-4 SBC) it does not show how close they are to a much better record. In recent weeks they have dropped games by a margin of one possession to FIU last weekend and Arkansas State a few weeks back. They also dropped the season opening game to UTSA by a field goal in the final minute of the game. If those game swing the Jags way the record would be 5-4 overall.

But those games did not go the Jags way and the team is eager to add more to the win column.

“We’ve played some good games, but I don’t know that we have played a four-quarter game yet, I really don’t,” Jones said. “I think we have played three quarters, we have played two, we have played three-and-a-half against Louisiana-Monroe and Arkansas State. We are doing some good things. For where we are in our program, we have to play four quarters to have a chance to win.”

“I think we have gained some respect from the other coaches and the teams we have played against,” Jones continued. “That’s gratifying in some ways because when you walk across the field and shake a guy’s hand, you can tell that they respect what you are doing. But it still wasn’t a win on the scoreboard, and until we start getting some of those it’s going to sting.”

While the totals in the Win and Loss columns may not show it, but the Jags have improved from game one through game nine this season. Yes they have had letdowns in certain facets of their game from week to week, but they still improve from week to week.

South Alabama dug themselves a big hole against FIU, yet put up attention-grabbing numbers on both sides of the ball against FIU, the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt title. The Jags posted a season-best 458 yards of total offense and averaged six yards per play. Defensively the Jags held FIU to a mere 31 yards of offense in the second half with only two first downs.

The Jags also scored 13 unanswered points in the second half including a 75 yard touchdown pass to open the half from Ross Metheny to Corey Besteda. They also had three drives that crossed midfield in the fourth quarter and had a third and goal from inside the one yard line in the fourth quarter but could not get in the endzone after a false start penalty back them up five yards.

“We’re a much better football team now than we were the first year,” Jones said. “It’s probably the biggest improvement that any team we have had these first four years has made within the season. Is it showing up in the conference standings? No, because we still see some L’s over there on our side. Did we play really well? Yes, but this game is all about winning.”

South Alabama will be looking to put together a complete, four quarter game against North Texas this weekend.

The Jags gave up 334 yards of offense to FIU to rank second in the Sun Belt with an average of 364.7 yards per game. Metheny put up a game-record of 326 yards of total offense against FIU as he threw for 270 yards and rushing for 56 more yards.

North Texas enters the game averaging 405.8 yards per game including an average of 175 yards rushing per game. The Mean Green ranks fourth in the conference in rushing with two backs in the top 10 individually. Brandin Byrd has 572 yards on 152 carries with two touchdowns while Antoinne Jimmerson has 522 yards on 105 carries with five touchdowns.

UNT quarterback Derek Thompson has thrown for over 200 yards in seven consecutive games with a 316 yard game against Arkansas State last weekend. He averages 229.3 yards per game passing for the season to rank fifth in the conference.

However the Mean Green is missing Breland Chancellor to a season-ending injury. He had 966 all-purpose yards including 25 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns.

“The thing that is dangerous about them is that they will run, run, run, run and all of a sudden run play action and throw it deep over the top,” Jones explained. “We have to be smart and not give up the big throw. Our cornerbacks and safeties are really going to have to do a good job this week. We have to be disciplined in the secondary, especially this week.”

UNT has allowed an average of 410 yards per game and over 250 yards per game passing. In the last four games opponents are averaging over 315 yards per game through the air.

“North Texas is a very physical team, they play power football offensively,” Jones said. “Defensively they don’t run a lot of things, but they do them extremely well. They have big guys up front who are 330 and 300 pounds inside. They play very good fundamental football and are very well coached. They beat Louisiana-Lafayette on TV three weeks ago, they got after them. They play with a physical nature that they bring to every game.”

The Jags will kickoff against North Texas in Denton, Texas at 4pm. The game can be heard on WNSP and viewed through the University of North Texas’ online video service.

Jags Prepare For Trip To North Texas

November 5, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jaguar tight end Wes Saxton catches a pass from Ross Metheny over the middle in the Jaguars loss to FIU on Saturday.

South Alabama’s preparation for their trip to North Texas this weekend is well underway as they try to put behind their loss to Florida International on Saturday.

The Jags had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter but opted to kick a field goal that bounced off the left upright, no good. However they had equal parts good and bad from the game. They went into halftime with a 21-7 deficit but halftime adjustments allowed them to score 13 points and shut-out the Golden Panthers in the second half.

The Jags produced 458 total yards, their most productive game offensively this season. But they still struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone with only one touchdown in four trips into the red zone.

The Jags played well enough to win for the fourth consecutive game, but could not come out on top except for the Florida Atlantic game in double overtime.

The loss dropped the Jaguars record to 2-7 (1-4 SBC) for the season. The loss also sealed the Jaguars first losing season in program history. However they can still end the season on a positive note in the next four games. But, if the Jags want to end the season on a positive note in their final four games of the season, they will have to do it on the road. The Jags only have one game left at home when they host Middle Tennessee in two weeks.

North Texas will enter the game with a 3-6 record (2-3 SBC) coming off a loss to Arkansas State by a score of 37-19.

The Jags will begin to correct their mistakes on Monday afternoon when they return to the practice field. “We’re going to go back, look at this, make some corrections and focus on North Texas,” quarterback Ross Metheny said. “North Texas has a good football team as well. We’re going to focus on ourselves and have a good week or preparation and go to Denton and do what we do.”

Coach Joey Jones said his team dug a hole too deep when they allowed FIU to build a 28-7 halftime lead. He also said that the Jaguars are competitive in the conference, but that the conference is very competitive from top to bottom.

“There are a lot of good teams in this league and there’s not a lot of difference from the top to the bottom,” Jones said. “(FIU is) just as good as anybody and we’re playing close ball, but we just didn’t finish this game. We play North Texas (this) week and we’re going to try to go up there and get a win. It’s a tough conference.”

The combined records of the Jaguars final four opponents is 15-20, but Middle Tennessee State is tied with Louisiana-Monroe for first place in the conference (4-1 SBC) and MTSU is tied for fourth in the conference with a 3-2 record in conference play.

UNT will be the second Sun Belt foe in a row that will be leaving after the end of the season to move to Conference-USA. Both North Texas and Florida Internation accepted invitations to join Conference-USA in the prior to the beginning of the football season.

The Jags Offense Continue To Improve As They Head Into Their Game Against FIU

November 2, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Dearman and Matthews

Offensive lineman Drew Dearman, his father and Offensive Coordinator Robert Matthews after the annual Red & Blue Spring football game.

The Jags offense has been improving over the last few weeks. When offensive coordinator Robert Matthews evaluated where the South Alabama offense rated at the beginning of the season and how it rates now, he said they were getting better.

“I think we’re getting better,” Matthews said. “We’re certainly not where we want to be yet, but there’s been a lot of improvement. Really, we’re still learning. Every game you should get better. We’re in Season One of this offense and obviously the first four or five games we were rotating two quarterbacks and that was the plan we had. I think since we’ve had just one guy in there we’ve shown a lot more consistency. I think that we’ll continue to get better as the kids continue to work hard.”

The Jags began the season with a 1-4 record before they dumped the two-quarterback rotation. At the time they averaged 13.4 points per game and 300 yards of total offense per game. However since they chose a starting quarterback to play the entire game, the Jags are 1-2, is averaging 30 points per game and 364 yards of offense per game.

More consistency has been achieved from Ross Metheny working with the offense and getting a majority of the snaps in practice, rather than splitting the reps with the first team offense 50-50. This has helped bolster his confidence and the teams confidence around him.

“I think the guys need to know who the guy behind the center is,” Matthews said. “I think that’s important. And that’s not to say that playing two quarterbacks can’t work because a lot of teams do it and it is very effective. Look what Troy is doing with (Deon Anthony) and (starter Corey Robinson). It is a nice change of pace for them.”

“I think every team needs to find what their niche’ is,” Matthews continued. “For us and for this offense, one quarterback is the way we want to go with it. I think it helps the guys just from a practice reps standpoint. It’s hard to get two quarterbacks ready for everything. We still practice two quarterbacks for each game, but Ross gets the majority of the reps and the reps aren’t split as much and I think that helps his productivity too.”

But the changes to the offense has not been limited to choosing a starting quarterback. Defensive back Gabe Loper has made the move from defense to wide receiver in the last few games. That allowed T.J. Glover to move from receiver to running back to give the Jags backfield another speed option to get to the edge.

“That’s what our job as coaches is, trying to get the players in the best position as possible so they can make plays,” said Matthews. “I know that sounds really generic, but it’s true. We try to evaluate it every day. Certainly getting Gabe has helped us. It gives us another guy who can stretch the field. He has good height and great ball skills and that move has helped us. Its freed up some other guys to play some different positions which has been able to keep us more balanced.”

In the 10 teams that comprise the Sun Belt, we will compare the statistical rankings between South Alabama and FIU.

South Alabama ranks 9th in scoring offense with an average of 19.6 points per game through eight games while FIU ranks 7th with an average of 21 points per game through nine games.

The Jags rank 8th in the conference in scorind defense by giving up an average of 29.5 points per game through eight games. FIU ranks last in 10th place with an average of 34.8 points per game through nine games.

South Alabama ranks 10th in the conference in total offense with 324 yards per game average through eight games. FIU ranks 8th in the conference with an average of 386.4 yards per game through their nine games this season.

The Jags rank 3rd in the conference in total defense by allowing an average of 368.5 yards per game. FIU ranks 8th in the conference as they are allowing an average of 416.8 yards per game.

The Jags rushing offense has moved up to 9th in the conference with an average of 133 yards per game while FIU is just ahead of the Jags in 8th place with an average of 140 yards per game.

South Alabama’s rushing defense is ranked 3rd allowing 142.9 yards per game while FIU allows an average of 167.2 yards per game. The Jags pass defense is ranked 4th in the conference by allowing an average of 225.6 yards per game while FIU is ranked 7th while allowing an average of 249.6 yards per game.

The Jaguar pass offense is ranked 10th in the conference with an average of 191 yards per game while FIU is ranked 4th in the conference with an average of 246.4 yards per game.

In special teams stats the Jags rank 6th behind FIU’s 3rd place rank in kickoff returns. FIU averages 22.6 yards per return while the Jags average 20.5 yards per return. Again South Alabama ranks 5th place behind FIU’s 2nd place rank. FIU averages 8.1 yards per punt return while the Jags averaged 7.1 yards per return.

FIU is ranked 8th in 3rd down conversions while the Jags are ranked last in 10th place. The Jags average is 29.8 percent conversion average while FIU is converting 37.1 percent of their attempts.

South Alabama is tied for last place in the conference with Troy with penalty yards per game average. Both schools average 74 yards per game in penalty yards while FIU is one spot ahead of them in 8th with an average of 73.2 yards per game.

In time of possession stats the Jags rank 6th place with an average ToP of 29:28 per game while FIU is ranked in 5th place with an average ToP of 31:02 per game.

In the turnover margin stat, South Alabama ranks 9th in the conference with a -5 turnover margin which is one spot ahead of FIU who ranks 10th in the conference with a -6 turnover margin.

In red zone stats, the Jags rank 5th in red zone offense while FIU ranks 8th in the same stat. THe Jags are converting 81.2 percent of their trips to the red zone while FIU is converting 75.9 percent of their trips.

In red zone defense the Jags rank 1st in the conference by only allowing their opponents to score 73.7 percent of the time they get into the red zone. FIU ranks last in 10th place allowing opponents to score 88.6 percent of the time.

South Alabama Wraps Up Preparation for Florida International

November 2, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguars held their final practice on Thursday in full pads. It lasted about two hours and, according to head coach Joey Jones, the team made good improvements in several areas.

While they prepared to face Florida International, they also spent time working on themselves to shore up some areas of concern. “It was a good practice,” Jones said. “The theme for the rest of the year of us is to finish, finish this week, finish the games, finish the season, and I think they have a great attitude toward that right now, I really do.”

“The leadership is really starting to come out,” he continued. “Because when you’ve got to pull it out of them all the time, you’re probably not going to get it. But when they start doing it, when the peers start doing it, then you’ve really got something.”

On Friday, the Jags will have a short walk-through practice.

In Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings of all 245 FBS and FCS schools South Alabama ranks #153, which is the lowest ranking for a Sun Belt team. FIU is ranked #146 while FAU, the team the Jags defeated two weeks ago, is ranked #138. While ULM is the highest ranked Sun Belt team at #46. Mississippi State is the highest ranked team on the Jaguars schedule this season at #28.

In the poll by CBSSports.com, who ranks all 124 FBS school, the Jags ranked #118, which is again the lowest ranked team in the Sun Belt. FIU is ranked #102, FAU is #109, ULM is #32 and Mississippi State is the highest ranked team on the Jags schedule as they rank #15.

Fans are encouraged to wear BLUE for the game on Saturday as the team will wear their Blue Jerseys and Blue pants.

Kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium between the Jaguars and the FIU Golden Panthers is set for 2:30pm on Saturday.

Coach Jones Continues To Prepare For FIU Despite Birthday

October 30, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Monday was head coach Joey Jones’ 50th birthday, but instead of a big birthday blow-out his mind was elsewhere. With Florida International due to visit Mobile on Saturday, he was busy studying film, overseeing practice and helping plan for the game.

But it wasn’t completely forgotten as reminders were there throughout the day. During practice, at the weekly press conference and even at the 1st & 10 club.

“We just had an hour and 10 minute practice (Monday afternoon), reviewing the special teams and installing the special teams gameplan for this week,” Jones said. “Then we had about a 40-minute segment with the offense and defense, what we wanted to install. It was really a light practice, more of a mental practice today.”

Special teams play was not at it’s normal level against ULM as Coach Jones also pointed out. “That shows you you’ve got to bring you’re a game every week,” Jones said. “I don’t know that we were satisfied with where we were, we just had a bad game on special teams. It shows you, I think that was a major factor in that game with field position and the blocked punt, they really whipped us on kickoff team and they stopped us deep in our territory except for once.”

“That makes a big difference on defense when they are starting their drives on the 30 or 35 as opposed to the 18 or 20.”

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson leads the Sun Belt Conference in tackles per game with 9.6. He has 77 total tackles in the teams eight games including 40 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Enrique Williams is close behind Johnson in third place with an average of 9.4 per game. He has 75 total tackles in eight games with 31 solo, 5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

The Jags and FIU kickoff at 2:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. FIU is set to leave the conference after this season to join Conference-USA along with North Texas.

Despite Loss Jags Continue To Improve

October 29, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones chats with Ross Metheny on the sidelines just before the second half began against Florida Atlantic.

Head coach Joey Jones is proud of the way the Jags played against Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend. He sees them continuing to get better despite the score on the scoreboard. But he will quickly tell you that, despite that, he will quickly tell you that he saw mistakes that probably cost them a chance at winning, not just keeping the game close.

As coach Jones said after the game, “We played pretty good football for three quarters and we played tough. ULM is a very good football team. I’m proud of the way we played for three quarters, but they took the game under control a little bit in the fourth quarter. Their quarterback (Kolton Browning) and receivers made some great plays.”

“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Jones continued. “There were some things we could have done better, but I’m proud of where we are and what we accomplished today. But we have to be honest with ourselves. The negative things that happened, if we fix them, we’re probably in the game even more. But the positive side of it is we’re pretty close to a team that is really good in the conference.”

“We just have to work on us,” he said in conclusion. “We’ll start fixing some things here and there, and we’re going to be there.”

ULM improved to 6-2 on the season, 4-0 in the Sun Belt, with only losses to Auburn in overtime and Baylor.

South Alabama’s record fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Sun Belt. But they will be hosting Florida International this weekend who enters with a record of 1-8 on the season, 0-5 in Sun Belt play after a 14-6 loss at home to Western Kentucky.

Dropped passes helped to stall the offense as they only went 3-of-13 on third down conversions against ULM. Also big plays continued to be problematic for big third or fourth down conversions or just long plays down the field.

Quarterback Ross Metheny has emerged as a good leader for the offense while his confidence continues to grow. He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jereme Jones. He was adept at avoiding sacks and moving around to find an open receiver or finding some room to scramble if needed.

Including his two touchdown catches, Jereme Jones caught seven passes with Bryant Lavender catching six passes and Gabe Loper with three.

And for the first time this season, a Jaguar running back rushed for over 100 yards in a game. Demetre Baker ran 14 times for 115 yards including a 61 yarder that set up the Jags first score. This was the first 100 yard rusher since Baker’s performance against Henderson State last season.

The Jags had two sacks in the game to break their tie with last season’s number of 15 for a total of 17 this season.

The Jags and FIU kick off at 2:30 pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Jags Ring Out The New Year With Another Win

January 2, 2010 · Filed Under Basketball, Men's · Comment 

We hope everyone in Jaguar Nation had a fun and safe new years celebration. Ronnie Arrow and the Jaguars got to celebrate a little early on New Years Eve with a victory over Florida International to kick off their two game Sun Belt road swing through Florida, 71-59. This improves the Jags record to 10-4 overall and 2-0 in the Sun Belt. FIU under first year head coach Isiah Thomas drops to 4-12 overall and 1-2 in the Sun Belt.

Coming off the big win over 18th ranked Florida before Christmas, the Jags had some time to reflect and regain their emotions for the FIU game. And it showed. They held the Panthers to only 16 points in the first half on 25% shooting and only just over 35% for the game. The Jags also forced 19 turnovers in the game as well as a season high seven blocked shots.

Tim Williams led the trio of Jags in double figures with 18 points. Freshman Martino Brock added 15 points and a game high eight rebounds while Senior Bryan Sherrer scored 10 points.

After letting the Panthers get close, the Jags held held them without a score for the final 6:23 of the game to go on a 13-0 run into the locker room up 31-16.

The Jags would push their lead to 18 with just over 14:00 to go, but FIU would try to rally going on an 8-0 run all scored by Marvin Roberts. However, the Jags would not let them cut the lead into single digits. The Jags would go on a 6-1 run to put the game away in the end.

Coach Arrow was quite happy with the teams performance to end the new year. “It’s great to win the final game of the old year and go into the new year on a good note,” he said. “Our defense played well – we held them to 35 percent and they hit some big shots at the end or it would have been even lower. We got some key steals at the end of the first half that ignited our offense. I think our guys are finally understanding what it’s all about defensively.”

The Jags return to action Saturday night when the travel to Florida Atlantic for a 7pm tip-off.

Go Jags!