Jags Football To Be Without Hollinger This Season

January 19, 2013 · Filed Under Football, Recruiting · Comment 
Game Captains for South Alabama Romelle Jones, B.J. Scott, Greg Hollinger and Alex Page meet the Troy captains at mid-field for the coin toss in the two teams first meeting and the Jaguars first Sun Belt Conference game.

Game Captains for South Alabama Romelle Jones, B.J. Scott, Greg Hollinger and Alex Page meet the Troy captains at mid-field for the coin toss in the two teams first meeting and the Jaguars first Sun Belt Conference game.

While head coach Joey Jones and his staff are in the midst of recruiting for the 2013 class and trying to hire coaches to fill two positions on his staff, he will have a spot at tight end to fill.

The Jags will be without Greg Hollinger next season as he is not enrolled and will not return to South Alabama according to AL.com. Hollinger, a 6’4″ 230-pound former Jaguar would have been a senior during the 2013 season. He had to sit out his freshman year due to academic reasons.

Last season Hollinger caught 22 passes for 321 yards, averaging 14.6 yards per reception, and two touchdowns. In 2011 he caught four passes for 76 yards as a wide receiver.

Those numbers put him 6th on the team in receptions last season, 5th in yardage and tied for second on the team in touchdown receptions.

The Jags will return Wes Saxton who caught 26 passes for 336 yards last season and Jared Palmer who caught two passes for two yards last season. Also Rush Hendricks, Ryan Onkka and Kyle Sappington were all on the roster last season for the Jags.

Twin defensive backs Steffon and Steven Fuller, who were exected to enroll at South Alabama this semester, have not enrolled as of Friday. Instead, they are expected to enroll for the summer semester in May, however they will miss spring practice. They are expected to contend for starting spots this fall.

As for recruiting, Coach Jones and his staff have been vigorously recruiting. They are keeping in touch with prospects who have already given their verbal committments as well as talking with other prospects they hope to sign to the school.

This weekend a small group of prospects will be visiting. Xavier Johnson, is a 5’10” 167-pound running back from Tampa, FL., who verbally committed to South Alabama prior to the start of this past season but backed off his committment just before football season began. He rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior. While his numbers were down for his senior season, he still scored 10 touchdowns. Since then he has solidly reaffirmed his committment to the Jags.

Kevin Gary, a 6′ 180-pound wide receiver from Georgia Military where he caught 21 passes for 429 yards and 7 touchdowns his past season. Terrence Upshaw, a 5’9″ 180-pound running back from Duluth Georgia, who is ranked as a 3-star recuit by Rivals.com.

De’Shawn Beck, a 5’9″ 180-pound wide receiver from Los Angeles Harbor College. During the 2012 season he caught 37 passes for 647 yards and five touchdowns. Beck’s teammate Jarrell Wright, a 6’3″ 300-pound defensive lineman, who tallied 41 tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss and six sacks.

Earlier this week Jones said that the main needs of this season’s recruiting class are defensive linemen and offensive playmakers. Based on these recuits, that is what they are looking at.

However, the biggest on-campus recruiting weekend for the Jags will be next weekend. At this time they expect to have as many as 20 prospects on campus for a whirl-wind recruiting effort.

South Alabama will be able to sign a full class of 25 players.

Jags Fall To North Texas 24-14 On Saturday

November 12, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.


Jags gave up two long touchdown runs over 50+ yards as they lost to North Texas 24-14 on Saturday.

After holding the Jags on a fourth and one at the 49 yard line, Jereme Brown broke the second play of the second quarter, the first play of the possession for UNT, for a 51 yard touchdown run to tie the game with the Jags 7-7.

South Alabama would mount another scoring a little past midway through the second quarter that began with a 17 yard completion from Ross Metheny to Wes Saxton. After an incompletion, Metheny would complete passes to Bryant Lavender and Greg Hollinger for 6 and 14 yards respectively. A facemask penalty would move the ball to the North Texas 13 yard line where Metheny would find Jereme Jones for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead with under three minutes to go in the half.

The next possession by North Texas would begin with an illegal formation penalty against the Jags on the kickoff and wouldn’t get any better after that.

After an incomplete pass, UNT’s Derek Thompson would complete back to back passes for 15 and 18 yards to quickly move down to the Jaguar 33 yard line. Another incomplete pass and a rush for one yard forced the Mean Green to call a time out with 1:33 left in the half to consider their options for a 3rd and 9.

Coming out of the time out, Thompson would connect with his receiver for an 18 yard gain and a first down. After two more incomplete passes and UNT wuold face another long third down play. This time they would only get four yards but one of the Jaguar defenders would pick up the ball, thinking it may have been fumbled, and took off with it. That would draw a delay of game penalty on the Jags to give the Mean Green a fourth and 1 at the Jaguar 5 yard line. Then a substitution infraction would give UNT a first down at the 2 yard line. After a rush for no gain and an incomplete pass, Thompson would find an open receiver for the touchdown to tie the game at 14 with 17 seconds until halftime

South Alabama would begin the second half with a promising drive that would stall at the North Texas 11 yard line with a fourth and 1. Michel Chapuseaux would attempt a 28 yard line but it would miss wide right.

After taking over at the Jaguar 20 yard line, UNT would be flagged for a false start. But this would not matter as Brandin Byrd would take the first down handoff 85 yards for a touchdown to take a 21-14 lead with 9:32 left in the third quarter.

On the next Jaguar possession, Terrance Timmons would fumble the ball away at the Jaguar 46 yard line. North Texas would capitalize by driving down for a field goal to cap off the scoring 24-14.

A couple of possession later, the Jags had a golden opportunity to cut into the Mean Green lead when Tyrell Pearson would pick off a pass at the North Texas 40 yard line and return it down the left sideline. He would return it 38 yards to the two yard line and try to dive/reach for a touchdown, but the officials would rule it a fumble that would go into the end zone and out of bounds giving the ball back to North Texas at the 20 yard line.

The fourth quarter would become a punt fest. The Jags would go for it near midfield when they faced a fourth and 23 at the Jaguar 47, but Metheny’s pass completion to Gabe Loper would come up 2 yards short of the first down.

The Jags record falls to 2-8 (1-5 SBC) while North Texas’ record improves to 4-6 (3-3 SBC).

South Alabama held edges in some statistical categories. Jags edged the Mean Green in total yards (366-303), net passing yards (233-106), first downs (24-12) and time-of-possession (33:08 – 26:52). North Texas would lead the Jags in rushing yards 197-133.

Kendall Houston led the Jaguar running game with 42 yards on 11 carries, and his first touchdown since Georgia State over a year ago, as he filled in for Baker who did not see the field in the second half. Baker would end the game with 39 yards on six carries, Glover would add 36 yards on eight carries and Metheny would gain 17 yards on eight carries.

Metheny would go 23-of-45 for 233 yards and a touchdown. Lavender would haul in six passes for 36 yards, Jereme Jones would add five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown. Saxton had three catches for 38 yards, Corey Besteda had two catches for 31 yards, Loper added 26 yards on two catches. Greg Hollinger and Corey Waldon would both add a catch for 14 yards each.

Alex Page and Bryson James would both end the game tied for the most tackles with seven. Jake Johnson would add six tackles and a tackle-for-loss. The Jags were unable to get to the quarterback for a sack in this game.

“We played a good first half. We played hard and smart. They dominated us in the third quarter,” Jaguar head coach said after the game. “We had a good drive [to open the second half], and we missed a chip-shot field goal that would have put us up 17-14. We were playing great defense but we missed the field goal, then they scored on a long run and kind of dominated us from that point on. We didn’t much on offense after that.”

“We’re just a few guys behind right now,” Jones continued. “Everything we do has to be perfect, but I told them in the locker room that we have to stick together. This is as tough of a thing as any of us have been through, nobody likes to lose. We have to stick together and back up and support each other. This [transition to FBS] is a tough thing to go through. My hat’s off to North Texas. They came out and made great adjustments at halftime, and played a better game in the second half.”

“The good teams learn from the losses, watch film, make corrections and move forward. That’s what we have to do,” quarterback Ross Metheny said. “We have to put it behind us. It’s tough. There comes a point where being so close is not enough. We’re so close in so many games, and hopefully we’ll put it all together. We have three more chances to win football games, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”

“I told the guys in the locker room that I will never quit on them,” stated Jones. “We knew this year was going to be like this, so we have to stick together. Those guys really care about each other, and that’s all I can worry about right now. I can’t worry about what anybody else says. We just have to keep working and building these men up. They’re going through a tough thing right now. They have been asked to step up in a very good Division I league and try to win, we’re just coming up a little bit short in a lot of games.”

South Alabama returns home to Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday for their final home game of the season against Middle Tennessee. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm on Saturday.

Jags Fall To Arkansas State 36-29

October 13, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

South Alabama’s offense finally found a way to move the ball but cannot overcome a turnover and penalties in a 36-29 loss in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Arkansas State. The Jags would fall to 1-5 (0-2 SBC) for the season while Arkansas State would improve to 4-3 (2-1 SBC) for the season.

The Jaguar offense came to play against the Red Wolves on Saturday at Liberty Bank Stadium. The Jags took the opening possession on a 9 play 75 yard drive to open the scoring in the game. Then the defense would help them out by recovering a fumble on the Red Wolves first offensive play.

The Jags would move 16 yards in 7 plays before settling for a Michel Chapuseaux field goal to extend their lead to 10-0 with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

Chapuseaux would miss a field goal attempt, then convert another attempt as the Jags trail 14-13 at halftime. The Jags would not give up in the second half as they would score a touchdown with 17 seconds left in the game to cut the Arkansas State lead to 36-29. The Jags would not be able to recover the on-sides kick and fall on the road.

The Jags led in several statistical categories for the game. They led in first downs 24-23, rushing yards 132 – 113, passing yards 241 – 203, total offense 373 – 316, offensive plays 88 – 59 and time-of-possession 35:39 – 24:21.

Terrance Timmons was the leading rusher for the Jags with 43 yards on 13 carries, it would have been 56 yards except for a 13 yard loss late in the game. Kendall Houston added 36 yards on 18 carries, Metheny had 22 yards on 9 carries and Trey Fetner added 17 key yards on 3 carries.

With the new single-quarterback system, Ross Metheny went 24-of-38 for 241 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and a sack. T.J. Glover led the Jaguar receivers with 47 yards on 3 receptions, Corey Besteda led in receptions with 5 for 45 yards, Greg Hollinger added 30 yards on 5 catches, Jereme Jones had 44 yards on 3 catches as well. Bryant Lavender added 31 yards on three receptions, Timmons also had 3 catches for 29 yards.

The Jaguar defense held David Oku to 84 yards on 22 attempts. Ryan Aplin was 17-of-22 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and two sacks. McKissic caught seven of his passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. Another key receiver, Josh Jarboe was held in check as well with only 3 catches for 34 yards and a touchdown.

“You can see that this team is growing,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “I saw some great things out there tonight. We’re playing the Sun Belt champion from last year, they have a very good football team. We took them down to the wire and got to within six points in the fourth quarter, we were right where we wanted to be.”

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these kids,” Jones continued. Despite what’s going on with a young team, they keep fighting and we’re getting better on the field. Offensively, we took care of the football and had 24 first downs, those were big positives. There were a lot of improvements, the kids fought and were having fun. It still hurts, but it was a darn good game.”

However the penalties were a bit too much to overcome. The Jags gave Arkansas State three attempts to convert a two-point conversion to go up 14 points in the fourth quarter. On the third attempt they converted.

But this was the spark that the offense needed. They got a solid, consistent performance at quarterback since the rotation is a thing of the past.

The offense came out and scored quickly and consistently moved the ball well throughout the game. The players should be encouraged at their progress this week.

The Jags will host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, October 20th for homecoming. FAU is also 1-5 (0-3 SBC) on the season. Kickoff time for the game should be announced early this week.

Jags Lose Tough Conference Opener To Troy

September 30, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

Game Captains for South Alabama Romelle Jones, B.J. Scott, Greg Hollinger and Alex Page meet the Troy captains at mid-field for the coin toss in the two teams first meeting and the Jaguars first Sun Belt Conference game.

The South Alabama Jaguars lost their Sun Belt conference opener to Troy 31-10 in a penalty-filled, wet mess. Coming into this game, the Jags knew where they had been and knew where they wanted to be, but after this game they know where they are, at least for the time being.

The Jaguars had four turnovers in the game and could only muster 59 yards passing in the game. Troy’s Corey Robinson threw for 223 yards and ran for a touchdown in the win. But the game had 25 penalties, 15 on the Jaguars for 142 yards.

South Alabama forced five Troy turnovers, a number of them in very key situations where Troy was driving for scores. But the Jaguar offense only managed 51 yards of total offense and two first downs in the second half after they were able to gain 201 yards in the first half.

“Troy played a great game. They were probably a little better than us, and we made a few mistakes. You’re not going to play it close when you do that,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones explained. “We had some first-half chances and I really thought after halftime that if we came out and scored it would be a different ballgame, but we didn’t do that. We’re a young program. We’re trying to get this thing going and sometimes this is part of it. We kind of know where we are now. Troy is a dominant team in the league, they’ve been there, done that.”

“Their defense made adjustments in the second half, and really shut us down,” Jones said. “I thought we moved the ball pretty good in the first half, but we didn’t in the second half and that was due to them making adjustments and playing well.”

“Offensively, they’re real explosive. They can move the ball at the drop of a hat,” Jones said. “I thought we played pretty good defensively at times, but they are very good offensively.”

Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said after the game, “We made the same basic game-plan calls in the second half that we made in the first. We probably ran them a little bit better. After you play a team for a half, you sort of scout them as you go as coach Dye used to say. You get better playing the things that they are doing. I think that was part of it. I thought we had a good plan against (South Alabama). They did some things a little different in some of the things they had done, but nothing majorly different. We sort of got in tune with them in the second half and played pretty hard and played better. Made some tackles and got a couple of tackles for loss, interceptions and turnovers.”

The game started well with B.J. Scott intercepting Corey Robinson on the Trojan’s first play from scrimmage, but the Jags were unable to convert the early turnover into points as they went three-and-out and forced to punt at the Troy 47 yard line.

After a rush for 11 yards and a first down, the Troy offense would be forced to punt, but T.J. Glover would fumble the punt at his own 29 yard line and it would be recovered by the Trojans.

The first and ten play would go for 24 yards to the Jaguar five yard line, but the Jaguar defense punt the clamps on again and forced Troy to settle for a 21 yard field goal.

Again the Jags would go three and out and the Scott Garber punt would be downed at the Troy 43 yard line. Corey Robinson would complete back-to-back passes for 16 and 38 yards to set up at the Jaguar one yard line. They would punch it in on the next play to take a 10-0 lead on the Jags with 8:05 left in the first quarter.

On the ensuing kickoff, T.J. Glover would return the kickoff from the one yard line 21 yards but a holding penalty would put the Jags at their own 12 yard line. Demetre Baker would rush for 7 and 9 yards and a Jaguar first down. But Ross Metheny would run on the quarterback keeper and fumble the ball away to Troy at the Jaguar 30 yard line.

Troy would get flagged for a hold on their first down play and get backed up to the 38 yard line with a first and 18. A screen pass to Shawn Southward would be go for a loss of five as Jake Johnson and Romelle Jones combined for the stop. On second and 23, Southward would take the handoff 31 yards before Darrius Morrow would force a fumble that Terrel Brigham would recover at the Jaguar 6 yard line.

The Jags would finally get a good drive put together starting at the Jaguar 6 yard line. Baker would rush for 2 yards then lose a yard on the second run. Then C.J. Bennett, who rotated in for Ross Metheny, would scramble for 10 yards and a first down at the 17 yard line. Baker would rush again for 3 more yards then the Jags would take a time out with 3:29 left in the first quarter.

On 2nd and 7, Glover would come in as a running back and rush for nine yards and a first down. Bennett’s pass attempt to Wes Saxton would fall incomplete, then Glover would rush for 6 more yards to set up a 3rd and 4 at the Jaguar 35 yard line. Demetre Baker would come in for Glover and run for 10 yards and another Jaguar first down. After an incomplete pass to Cameron Broadnax, Bennett would opt to keep the ball and find a seam for a 50 yard run down to the Troy five yard line. Another run around the right side for Bennett would net two yards.

Trey Fetner would come into the game and run left for the three yard touchdown to get the Jags on the board 10-7 with 46 seconds left in the first quarter.

Troy would answer the Jags touchdown with one of their own. An 8 play, 70 yard drive spanning 4 minutes on the clock would put the Trojans up 17-7 with 11:46 left in the second quarter.

On the kickoff, Glover would get a 22 yard return out to the Jaguar 24 yard line, but a personal fould on Terrel Brigham would place the ball at their own 12 yard line. The Jags would go three and out and after a four yard return, would be set up near midfield at the Troy 48 yard line.

After a holding penalty on Troy, they faced a 2nd and 13 at the Jaguar 39 and Gabe Loper would intercept the Robinson pass at the 28 yard line and return it 19 yards out to the Jaguar 47 yare line. with 8:17 left in the half.

Baker would open the series with a 15 yard rush down to the Troy 48 yard line. Bennett would then run the ball for another 9 yards. On back to back rushes by Baker, he would rush for 4 and 1 yards, but on the second rush Troy’s Zach Miller would be flagged for a personal foul to place the ball at the Troy 12 yard line with a first down. After a Kendall Houston rush for three yards, Bennett would throw an incomplete pass intended for Lavender. Then on third and 7 at the Troy 9 yard line, Bennett’s pass intended for Jereme Jones in the end zone would be picked off and returned 10 yards.

The Jags defense would force a three and out and get the ball at their own 49 yard line with 4:18 left in the game. Metheny would return to the game and hand off to Demetre Baker on the first two plays for 6 and 3 yards. Then the Metheny pass intended for Greg Hollinger would fall incompleted forcing Garber to punt again.

Starting on their own 20 yard line, Robinson’s pass to Chip Reeves would go for 19 yards then the Jaguar sidelines would be penalized 5 yards for a delay of game as well as Tyrell Pearson being flagged for a personal foul for another 15 yards, putting the ball at the Jaguar 41 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Robinson would find Reeves again for another 39 yards to the Jaguar 2 yard line. Robinson would run the ball in on the next play to put the Trojans up 24-7 with 2:13 left in the half.

The Jags would put together another good drive on the ensuing possession. A short kickoff would be fielded by Randon Carnathan and returned 12 yards to the 35 yard line. Baker would rush for one yard on the first down play. Then Metheny would find Corey Besteda for a 19 yard gain to the Troy 45 yard line. Then Metheny would run for five yard and get out of bounds to stop the clock. Baker would run for another three yards followed by Metheny gaining a yard then the Jags would call a time out with 38 seconds left in the half to set up their 4th and 1 play.

After coming out with Fetner at quarterback and Metheny at receiver, Troy would burn a timeout to adjust. Then the Jags would come out with Metheny back at quarterback to which Larry Blakeney would be forced to burn another time out to adjust to. Then, with Troy out of time outs Fetner would return to the game and run for the needed yard and a first down at the Troy 35.

Metheny would throw a pass to Baker in the flat, but he would cut it back inside for no gain and forced the coaching staff to call a time out to stop the clock with 20 seconds left. Metheny would hit Jereme Jones for 11 yards and a first down at the Troy 24 yard line. The field goal unit would run on the first and the 41 yard attempt would be blocked but recovered by Demetre Baker at the Troy 31 yard line with 4 seconds left in the half. The Jags would be penalized for delay of game. With one second left in the half, the Jags would get one last shot and Chapuseaux would connect on the 53 yard field goal for a halftime score of 24-10 in favor of Troy.

The Jags would go three and out on their first series of the second half. Troy would drive down to the Jaguar 7 yard line befroe facing a 3rd and 6 at the 7 yard line, Alex Page would sack Robinson for a 13 yard loss and forcing Troy to attempt a field goal. The attempt would be blocked and recovered by Gabe Loper.

The next Jaguar possession, they would go three and out. Garber’s punt would be fair caught at the 26, but an illegal block would back them up to the 16 yard line. Troy would drive down to the Jaguar 7 yard line facing first and goal, Justin Albert would get caught for a loss then Jesse Kelley would force a fumble that would be recovered by Enrique Williams at the Jaguar 16 yard line and avoiding a Trojan score.

Yet again, the Jaguar offense would go three and out and forced to punt. Back to back competions for Troy would go for 17 and 19 yards down to the Jaguar 27 yard line to end the third quarter. Two plays later, Robinson would be picked off in the end zone by Charles Watson for a touchback.

Baker would rush for a yard, Bennett’s first pass would fall incomplete intended for Hollinger, then on third and 9, Bennett would hit Jereme Jones for 19 yards to the Jaguar 40 yard line. Bennett would keep the ball for an 8 yard gain then Baker is caught for a two yard loss to set up third down and 4. Tremain Smith would be flagged for a false start then the 3rd and 9 pass would fall incomplete forcing the Jags to punt again.

On the punt, Troy would be flagged for holding to put the ball back at the Troy 14 yard line. Deon Anthony’s pass would be thrown up in the sky and completed to Chris Williams for a 44 yard gain. Again the Jaguar bench would be flagged for a 5 yard delay of game penalty as well. Troy would get a touchdown a few plays later for the final score of the game to make it 31-10.

The Jags would get the ball two more times. Metheny would be intercepted on his first pass attempt on a deep throw at the Troy 17. On their second, The Jags managed one first down before being forced to punt with 34 seconds left in the game.

“It’s our first Sun Belt Conference game, and I have to keep things in perspective as do our kids,” Coach Jones observed. “We’re all competitors and want to win. For us to play and beat a team like Troy in our first conference game would be a miracle. But as a coach, I look at it and think there were things we could have done to have been in the ballgame. We’re going to get there, we’re not quite there yet, but we’re going to get there. We’re just going through a growing time right now.”

Sometimes those growing pains hurt the worst when you had a chance in the game. But some penalties were so bizarre, that it was unbelievable.

For instance in the waning moments of the first half the Jags elect to kick a field goal with 14 seconds remaining on first down. The Chapuseaux kick was blocked and recovered by the Jags so the Troy field goal unit went to the sidelines to celebrate what they thought was a block and turnover. The South Alabama coaches found the nearest officials and told them that the ball should still be possessed by the Jags since an attempt was made and the ball was blocked and therefore never went past the line of scrimmage.

Meanwhile, the Jaguar kicking unit stayed on the field and the Troy coaches, special teams unit and offense were all grouped together near the sidelines conferring with the officials. Once the referee made the call, the Jaguar special teams unit was standing at the line of scrimmage waiting to snap the ball as the official stood over the ball. Once the whistle was blown, the Jags snapped the ball but it was immediately whistled dead. The penalty? Delay of game on the offense.

After marking off a five yard penalty, Michel Chapuseaux drilled a 53 yard field goal, the longest in his career and set a new Jaguar record for longest field goal.

That was such as the game went. Numerous obvious fouls occurred in front of officials that were perputrated by Troy that were never called. Junior defensive back Zach Miller, after a long incompletion by the Jags, was walking back to the line of scrimmage and as Corey Besteda jogged past him, shoved him in the back. It wasn’t a “genty nudge” or anything like that. It was a full on shove that was meant to try to make him lose balance. But it was not called, nor did the referee in the area caution him about the incident.

I think that sequence to end the first half really let the air out of the team in many ways. But they did not give up. They fought very hard in the second half and turned away a couple of scores, the offense could not get going with the hole they faced.

Jags Fall In Starkville 30-10

September 23, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 

C.J. Bennett reads the defense while head coach Joey Jones looks on from the sidelines in Starkville Mississippi.

South Alabama (1-3) played a tough game against Mississippi State (4-0) on Saturday evening, though they came up short on the scoreboard as they lost 30-10. The difference in the game was big plays, but the Jags led or were very close in several stats.

Mississippi State scored first on a 44-yard run and had five pass completions for over 20 yards, two kickoff returns that went for over 40 yards and two interceptions that were returned over 40 yards in the game.

However statistically the Jags held their own. The Jags had more first downs than the Bulldogs (21-15), more passing yards (224-200) and led the time-of-possession (30:35-29:25) and dominated the time of possession in the fourth quarter 9:07 to 5:53. The Jags were within ten yards of matching the Bulldogs overall offensive production 356-347 total yards.

The Jags improves on last weeks 0-for-11 third down performance. They converted 5-of-15 this week. They Jaguar defense held the Bulldogs to 5-of-14 on third down themselves. While that third down conversion stat isn’t what they would like to see, it is an improvement and it was against an SEC defense.

Demetre Baker lead the Jags rushing with 12 carries for 49 yards. C.J. Bennett ran three times for 29 yards including a stunning hurdle of a Mississippi State player to gain a first down in the red zone. Unfortunately on the next play he would throw an interception inside the five yard line. Kendall Houston would rush eight times for 21 yards.

C.J. Bennett would go 14-of-26 for 154 yards with the one interception and one touchdown. Ross Metheny, the starter of the game, would go 8-of-17 for 70 yards with an interception.

Bryant Lavender led all receivers in both receptions, with six, and yards with 80. Jereme Jones and T.J. Glover both caught four passes for 49 and 12 yards respectively. Greg Hollinger had three catches for 49 yards and the only receiving touchdown of the game. Corey Walden added three catches and 17 yards. Three other Jaguars caught passes as well.

Defensively, the Jags would finish with three players racking up double-digit tackles for the first time in school history. Enrique Williams had a career best 12 tackles including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott both had 10 stops. Johnson had 1.5 tackles-for-loss and Scott had one TFL.

“We have some things we need to work on for sure, but I saw a lot of heart on that football field tonight,” said Jaguar head coach Joey Jones. “You’re talking about a top-23 team, and we’re a new program. We fought our rear-ends off. I’m just proud of the team as a whole, and I told them in the locker room that I could live with that. We have to get better, we’re a young team and have a long way to go, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of them tonight.”

The Jags came out inspired in the first quarter and played lights-out defensively holding Mississippi State to only 27 total yards and zero yards rushing while gaining 67 yards offensively.

After marching down the field late in the first quarter, the Jags drive stalled at the Bulldog 30 where Michel Chapuseaux attempted a 47 yard field goad which would sail wide left. The Bulldogs would respond by driving 70 yards in three plays to score the games first touchdown.

With the Bulldogs leading 17-0 just before halftime, the Jags Tyrell Pearson would intercept a Tyler Russell pass and return it 25 yards. However two snaps later the Bulldogs would intercept the Ross Metheny pass and return it 66 yards to set up a field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

Both of the Jags scoring drives would come in the second half, both drives marching over 70 yards and spanning at least five minutes each. Metheny would lead the first scoring drive that covered 71 yards in 13 plays, but the Jags would not be able to punch the ball into the end zone from inside the five yard line and would settle for a 22-yard field goal.

Around midway through the fourth quarter Bennett would guide the offense on a 12 play 78 yard scoring drive that would be capped off by an 18 yard touchdown pass to Greg Hollinger.

Jereme Jones broke the record previously held by Courtney Smith by catching a pass in his 18th consecutive game. Jereme was quoted after the game saying, “It’s special because it puts me up there with one of the best receivers [in school history], but I’m more focused on the win-loss record. We took a huge step forward, playing with a nationally-ranked SEC team. We fought with them.  It’s disappointing we couldn’t come out with the win, but we’re a work in progress.”

“We have to grow from this,” coach Jones stated. “We have to get better. We’re brand new and we’re trying to learn and find our way through it, but I was proud of what we did. We learned some things offensively. We moved the ball pretty good, but we threw a couple of interceptions in the red zone and we have to find a way to run the football down in the red zone. We have to get that done. Defensively, I thought we fought hard the whole game. Special teams weren’t as good tonight as it has been. Our coverage wasn’t that great. We gave them good field position a couple of times on kickoffs.”

The Jags return home to host their first Sun Belt game when they face the Troy Trojans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 2:30pm.

On the third down play on Mississippi State’s first possession, defensive end Anthony Taylor went down in extreme pain. Trainers from both teams cared for him and appeared to place an air splint on his right leg. We were not able to get any information about his status.

Jones Happy With Wednesday Practice In Preparation For NC State

September 13, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.

The South Alabama Jaguars returned to the practice field on Wednesday morning for a two-hour practice as they continue to refine their game play for North Carolina State on Saturday. Coach Jones said he was happy with what he saw during the practice.

“We had real good intensity,” he observed. “We had some real good one-on-one periods where the offense went against the defense. (We had) perfect intensity to the point where we’re not tackling but we’re playing hard to the point where we would tackle. That’s going to help us. As fast as they are on defense and as big as they are on defense, we’ve got to see that. As well as they execute on offense we’ve got to have the scout team showing good looks and they did that today.”

One of the keys to the game will be how the offense improves on it’s performance last week in the red zone. The Jags reached the red zone five times but had to settle for three field goals. But they also have to improve on their third-down efficiency to keep drives alive.

“We’ve got to control the ball,” he continued. “We can’t go three-and-out and put our defense in a bind throughout the game. We’ve got to be able to control the ball and run the clock. We’ve got to be able to convert when we have the chance to make big plays. We’ve got to be able to convert big plays. And that’s any game, but it’s more so when you are playing a team with a great defense like N.C. State.”

As the Jags get ready to travel to Raleigh for the game, wide receiver Jereme Jones is one game away tying the school record for consecutive games with a reception set by Courtney Smith at 17 consecutive games which is every game he played for the Jaguars. Jereme has a catch in the last 16 consecutive games for the Jags.

Ross Metheny is expected to get playing time under center on Saturday in Raleigh as he has in the Jaguars previous two games. Metheny transfered to South Alabama after he graduated in three years brought two years of eligibility to South Alabama.

While at Virginia in the ACC, Metheny faced the Wolfpack once in his three years there. Metheny knows some of the players on the NC State team, but he never traveled to Raleigh. Virginia hosted NC State last season and was the only time the two teams met while Metheny was on the roster.

But Metheny may have more experience playing in larger stadiums that most Jaguars. “Fortunately I have been in a couple of those big stadiums before. UVA is a pretty big stadium itself and I’ve been to Florida State and (Virginia) Tech and all those places. I have some experience going to those places. I got in a couple of game reps in an environment like that and that’s always useful to have. But it’s a new game and a new experience and a new team with these guys. I’m excited to get there.”

Metheny played sparingly at Virginia and this season he has gone 6-of-12 for 58 yards with no interceptions and no touchdowns. He has also run 10 times for 14 yards.

C.J. Bennett has taken more reps in game that Metheny as he has gone 26-of-44 for 293 yards, one interception and two touchdowns.

But Metheny is eager to do anything to assist the team. “Anything I can do to help the team win is the main thing,” Metheny said. “It was good to get in there. I was telling someone those were the first meaningful snaps I’ve taken in three years. Anytime I got in at Virginia and got some experience, we were down big. It was that kind of situation. It was good to get in the game in that kind of environment and that stage and perform. I think it’s definitely useful going forward.”

Metheny continued, “Anytime you get some reps it becomes more comfortable. There’s definitely areas to improve on and that’s never going to change. I was comfortable (with the offense) coming out of camp, but anytime you get more reps and you’re preparing for a team and you get to practice, you get a lot more comfortable. So I’d definitely say I’m getting more comfortable with things.”

According to quarterbacks coach Bryant Vincent, Metheny has also caught on to the new offense quickly and has pushed Bennett throughout camp and the beginning of the season. “I think Ross has gotten better every day, every week, since he’s gotten here,” he said. “He’s a very driven, hard-working guy that really pays attention to every minor detail. I think he’s been a good addition for C.J. and for our football team because he gives us depth at quarterback and he gives us competition at the quarterback position.”

Tight end Greg Hollinger is listed as day-to-day but is expected to play in Raleigh however, he has been limited in practices this week due to a sprained left thumb. Hollinger was the only reported injury by the Jaguars staff.

The Jaguars and Wolfpack kickoff in Raleigh at 5pm CDT (6pm Eastern) at Carter-Finley Stadium. The game can be viewed on ESPN3 and WNSP 105.5FM will also carry the game, as they do every Jaguar game.

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.

USA’s New Offense Produces Big Play Potential

September 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguar offense looks to the sideline for play adjustments against UTSA.

South Alabama’s new spread offense, mistakes aside, produced 31 points and some explosive plays. The Jags had eight plays of 20 or more yards against UTSA with half of those from the offense. Most of them came in the first quarter.

A 3rd-and-5 pass from C.J. Bennett to Corey Besteda sent for 25 yards, a 3rd-and-10 pass from Bennett to Greg Hollinger went for 23 yards and a 28 yard rush by Demetre Baker went for 28 yards, all in the first quarter alone.

In the fourth quarter, Tyrell Pearson picked off a UTSA pass and returned it 28 yards to the UTSA 7 yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The special teams got into the action as well. T.J. Glover had a kickoff return of 48 yards before fumbling the ball away in UTSA territory. Glover also added a 34 yard punt return later in the fourth quarter to set up a 34 yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Jereme Jones with less than three minutes left in the game.

The Colonels was the Jaguars first Division I win as they are an FCS school. They were also the first team to ever take the lead on the Jaguars during a game.

Charlie Stubbs, the Colonels head football coach, has over 32 years of coaching experience. He came to Nicholls from Central Missouri where he was the offensive coordinator. Previous to Central Missouri, he was offensive coordinator at Louisville as they were #4 nationally in passing offense and featured two future NFL players.

Prior to Louisville, he spent four seasons at Tulsa where they were ranked among the top 25 each season. From 1998-2000 Stubbs was the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at the University of Alabama where they went to the Music City Bowl in 1998 then won the SEC title and the 2000 Orange Bowl. He also won the SEC Offensive coordinator of the year award in 2000. He also spent time at Nevada-Las Vegas, Tennesee-Martin and Memphis. His first full-time position was at Oregon State.

In 1984 he was a graduate assistant for BYU under coach LaVell Edwards. They went 13-0 to win the national championship. They were the last non-BCS school to earn the title.

Look for the Jags to be focused on correcting the turnovers that plagued them last week. Also look for the defense to be prepared and ready to show last week was also atypical for them.

Jags Fall At Home To UTSA 33-31

September 2, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Receiver Jereme Jones looks in the pass from CJ Bennett in the first half of the 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio.

South Alabama fell in their season-opening game versus Texas-San Antonio 33-31 on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Four turnovers and ill timed penalties did the team in. Each turnover resulted in a UTSA score.

UTSA kicker Sean Ianno, who’s game winning field goal attempt was blocked last year in the Alamo Dome, made the 51 yard attempt with 16 seconds left in the game to avenge a 30-27 double-overtime loss to South Alabama last season. It was UTSA’s first-ever road victory in the program’s second season of competition. This was the second consecutive loss at home for the Jags and second loss all-time at home.

The opening drive went as planned, they drove 75 yards in eight plays and scored a touchdown. An 11 yard rush by Demetre Baker capped off the drive as the Jags took the early 7-0 lead.

On their next possession, the Jaguars were driving again and reached deep into UTSA territory before quarterback C.J. Bennett tossed an interception in the end zone to end the drive. UTSA took that turnover and drove 80 yards to answer and tie the game at 7-7.

The ensuing kickoff was returned by T.J. Glover from near the goal line out past the 50 yard line before he fumbled. The ball was recovered by UTSA and scored a second touchdown to take the lead 14-7.

In the second quarter, UTSA kicked field goals of 47 and 32 to increase their lead to 20-7 before South Alabama fought back last in the quarter. The Jags drove down and scored on a play-action pass to running back Desmond Jones with 20 seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 20-14.

Michel Chapuseaux added a 43 yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the UTSA lead to 20-17. Later, Kendall Houston waltzed in from one yard out to give the Jags a 24-20 advantage early in the fourth quarter.

The roadrunners scored on a 34 yard forth-down play to retake the lead at 27-24. After the kickoff, Bennett took the snap and was preparing to make a throw, but Demetre Baker cut in front of him and brushed the ball out of Bennett’s hands. The fumble was recovered by UTSA at the Jaguar 21 yard line. The defense held them to a field goal, but were trailing 30-24.

The Jags fought back though. Bennett found a wide open Jereme Jones open down the left side for a 34 yard touchdown pass to put the Jags back on top 31-30 with 2:46 to play.

On the ensuing kickoff, Chapuseaux’s kick was fielded just short of the end zone and returned out to the 31 yard line, but Tyrome Bivins was flagged for a personal foul, the 15 yard penalty put UTSA at their 46 yard line. The Jags would get five of those yards back on a false start penalty.

After an incomplete pass, UTSA’s Okotcha rushed for five yards before being forced out of bounds by Jake Johnson. Their 3rd and 10 play was a pass completion from quarterback Soza to Armstrong for 15 yards to the Jags 39 yard line. Okotcha then had back to back runs for no gain and four yards. Soza completed a pass for one yard to get to the Jaguar 34 yard line before the roadrunners used their final time out to bring on the kicking unit. Sean Ianno nailed the 51 yard kick to take the lead 33-31 with 16 seconds left.

T.J. Glover returned the kickoff to the Jaguar 29 yard line. Terrance Timmons gained seven yards on the next play, but could not get out of bounds quick enough as time expired.

UTSA out-gained the Jags 398 to 308, out-rushed the Jags 126 to 183 and out passed the Jags 182-215. Jags held the edge in first downs 18 to 16 though.

Jaguar quarterbacks combined to go 15-of-26 with one interception and two touchdowns. UTSA led the way in penalties with 11 for 114 yards while the Jags only had seven for 80 yards, with the personal foul on the kickoff return being the most costly of the game.

Jags returned two punts for 37 yards, averaging 18.5 yards per return, and returned two kickoffs for 95 yards, which averaged 47.5 yards per return. UTSA returned two punts for -7 yards and three kickoffs for 58 yards.

UTSA held the edge in time of possession 33:07 to 26:53. The Jags fumbled three times and lost all three.

Demetre Baker led the Jags on the ground with 63 yards rushing on 12 carries with Kendall Houston rushing 11 times for 43 yards, Terrance Timmons ran four times for 20 yards, Bennett rushed nine times for 12.

Bennett went 15-of-24 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and one interception with one sack. Ross Metheny went 0-for-2.

Jereme Jones led the receivers with 51 yards on three receptions, including the long 34 yard catch late in the fourth quarter. Corey Besteda also had three recptions for 40 yards. Greg Hollinger added 42 yards on two receptions, Glover had 25 yards on two catches, Lavender had 12 yards on two catches, Kendall Houston added 10 yards on two catch as well.

T.J. Glover led the game with 145 all-purpose yards with 25 receiving, 95 in kickoff returns, 37 in punt returns but -12 on one reverse.

Jake Johsnon and Enrique Williams both led the Jags with eight total stops. Alonzo Long added seven stops and Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both added five. Pearson picked off one Soza pass and returned it 28 yards.

After the game, Jaguar head coach Joey Jones spoke about the game.  “First of all I want to congratulate UTSA. I thought they played a great game, and my hat’s off to them,” he began. “They played well, and we knew they would. They played us into double overtime last year, and we knew they had a good football team. They have a lot of good players. They didn’t do anything any different. We obviously turned the ball over too many times. I think it came down to turnovers and key penalties at the wrong time.”

Speaking about the final Jaguar touchdown to regain the lead with 2:46 left in the game. “We had to find the right time to run the play,” stated Jones. “We got in the formation and they ran what we expected them to.  Everyone did their job and we executed. We saw a mismatch with Jeremé.  We had been waiting to call that play, and we found the right spot.”
“The offense showed a little fight. We teach ball security, and today we got away from that. Turning the ball over is something you can’t do in a close game, and they [the turnovers] really came back to bite us in the end. The good thing is all these mistakes are correctable.”

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.

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