Jags down MVSU 35-3

November 6, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

A bad snap caused a big loss for the Delta Devils.

Thursday nights matchup against Mississippi Valley State was a bit of a mismatch. The short week didn’t make much difference as the they won 35-3 in a cold breezy game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

With injuries to Jereme Jones and B.J. Scott, J.J. Keels handled the lone kick return duties against the Delta Devils. Keels showed he was ready for this opportunity very quickly in the game. After forcing the Delta Devils to punt, Keels would take the punt off of a bounce and return it 45 yards to the two yard line. Keels would not be able to take it into the end zone on the first down play, but Houston would on the next play though.

He would also take the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown to get his first touchdown as a Jaguar. Earlier in the second quarter, Keels would break a 25 yard run down to the Delta Devil one yard line, where he stepped out of bounds before scoring. Again Houston would put the ball in the end zone.

Every time the Delta Devils threatened to score, they would make a mental mistake and break their momentum, it would allow the Jaguars defense to stiffen and force a stop.

The defensive front, particularly the starting three, were in the backfield all night. Romelle Jones regularly beat his man but Delta Devils linemen did good to knock him off his rush from time to time. Ben Giles had a career night with nine tackles.

It was another game where the Jags could go deep into their bench and get other players some playing time and experience in game situations. But the Jags also tried out some new wrinkles in their goal line package and successfully scored a couple times in that situation.

Coach Jones commented after the game, “It was big for J.J. to come in there as a true freshman and make those types of plays. We lost B.J. and Jeremé, so we have gotten thin in our return game. I thought he stepped up and did really well. That [the kickoff return] was a big play in the game.”

“I thought we played really sound in the first half,” Coach Jones said. “The defense gave up a little yardage in between the 20s, but got stiff down there toward the goal line. The offense had a short field a couple of times, then we had an 80-plus yard drive in the first half, which is big. The special teams played well — the return game was good and we kicked the ball well. Overall I am real pleased with the game.”

“We are kind of a methodical football team, we don’t have big-play guys on offense,” he continued. “J.J. came in and sparked us in the return game, and he had a couple of good runs. But we are the kind of team that if we don’t make mistakes and have a lot of penalties, we have a chance to beat a lot of people. When we play like we did tonight then we end up on the winning side, so we just need to keep that up.”

The Jags have a week off before their final game of the season when they host Cal Poly on Saturday, November 19. The game can be seen locally on UTV44 and nationally on ESPN3.com and will kick off at 4pm.

Monday press conference previewing MVSU on Thursday

November 1, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguar offense lining up in the wishbone set in the first quarter against Henderson State.

South Alabama Head Coach Joey Jones recapped Saturday’s win over Henderson State and a preview of the Jaguars game against Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night. Joining Coach Jones was defensive end Anthony Taylor and freshman running back J.J. Keels.

Coach Jones spoke about Saturday’s win after coming off a loss to Georgia State. “We were challenged by that loss, and we needed to respond not only as a team but as men. I thought we did that. The kids came out and played hard again, which they always do, and got after and played passionate football. The challenge this week is that we have to do it again. We’ve talked about winning the game during the week – at practice. And they have continued to work hard and it has been a good deal.”

Quote on Coach Jones comments about the team’s defensive performance. “We had seven takeaways and I think we just got after them early and they just never got going. I thought we played extremely well defensively in the first half. It ended up being 28-0 at halftime, and I think it just took them out of the game.”

Coach Jones comments on Mississippi Valley State. “They are athletic on both sides of the ball, and got their first win of the season last week. They have a quarterback who is a tall, rangy guy who can run and throw. He is the key to their offense. Defensively, they run a lot of different fronts and multiple blitzes so it’s making us simplify our game plan even more – the fact that we have a short week and they run a lot of things defensively. The biggest challenge for us is the multiplicity of what they do defensively.”

Coach Jones speaking about Thursday’s game and how it affect the team. “It is a short week, and it changes your schedule somewhat. There isn’t a lot of preparation time. We’re used to getting a lot of preparation time in for a team, but it’s something we have to deal with and fortunately the other team does as well and they have to travel. We feel good about it, and the coaches have done a good job simplifying the game plan. What you have to do is execute in a game like this. You don’t want to put too much in and then the kids don’t get it and don’t perform well on Thursday night. Sometimes change is just good. As coaches, we are about routine. We have our routine and everything is planned, but sometimes a change is good not only for the staff but for the players. The great thing is that after this game on Thursday, we have a short week. They are going to get some time off, and that could really help us for that last ball game.”

A follow up on how the quick turnaround affects the Jaguar game plan. “We had to have it ready by Monday morning. Not only did we have to speed things up, but we also had to simplify a little bit to make sure we can execute. The biggest thing I stress is we have to be able to execute. We can’t put in too many things, and we just have to be smart about what we do.”

In the game against Henderson State, Anthony Taylor recorded his first career interception. This is what he had to say about it at the press conference. “The interception really turned it around, because they were moving the ball on us. We had a zone blitz called, and I dropped back into the right coverage and made the first pick of my career. It was a big moment for me and my team. I’m just happy I’m out there making plays for them. I got a newfound respect for what running backs do on that play. There is a lot going on and a lot of colors running together. The first thing I did was get out of bounds. But it was a big play and was really exciting.”

Taylor also spoke about the defense’s preparation for the Henderson State game coming off of the Georgia State loss. “Coming off the loss to Georgia State, our coaches really emphasized running to the ball. We really got back to that last week, and I think that showed. We got seven takeaways, that was a record-setting performance. I think getting back to the little things really helped us, just being an all-around swarming defense.”

Running back J.J. Keels spoke about his first career start against Henderson State. “I was happy and excited and tried to do my best to show everyone why I was recruited. Hopefully I can show that for the rest of this year and next year. I didn’t know I was going to start until our walkthrough before Saturday. It kind of took me by surprise, but it was the position I wanted to be in.”

Keels spoke about Saturday’s win as well. “I think the turnaround started at practice. Coming into the game off of a loss to Georgia State, everyone felt like we had to do better. During the week at practice, everyone knew that it was our week. These last three weeks will be the last games we will ever play with some of these people. This side of the ball, everyone came off with fire and so much passion that coach Jones was excited and he was happy with that.”

Keels also spoke about playing on a Thursday night. “It’s been a while since we played on Thursday. The last time was against West Alabama. The practice week is very short and we practice on days we normally do not practice. The times are stricter, but we have more fans on a Thursday. I think this game is big on Thursday. Everyone can come for entertainment, but it’s just another day at work.”

South Alabama and Mississippi Valley State kick off at 6:30pm on Thursday, November 3 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Jags will be wearing their all white uniform and are asking the fans to wear white as well.

Go Jags!

Jags blue out the Reddies 28-3

October 30, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Myles Gibbon encouraging the team as they go to the sideline to start the game.

South Alabama rebounds from turnover fueled, double-overtime loss at Georgia state to force a school record seven turnovers in a 28-3 win over Henderson State. Demetre Baker and Jordan Means combined to account for 22 of the 28 points for the Jags while donning their all blue uniforms for the first time.

Last years game was much closer with the Jags icing the game with a late field goal to win 37-31. But the rematch was never in doubt really. Both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions, but Enrique William’s interception on the Reddies second drive got the offense in gear. They started at the HSU 25 and have first and goal on the two yard line, but three consecutive rushes, two by Houston and one by Baker could not get the ball into the end zone thus they would settle for the field goal.

On the Reddie third possession, Clifton Crews would force a fumble on their first play which would be recovered by Gabe Loper setting up Demetre Baker to rush for 16 and 7 yards respectfully for a touchdown to go up 10-0 in the span of about three minutes.

Then on the fourth Reddie possession, they would line up in the punt formation but would fake it and run but would be stopped short of the one yard they needed for the first down. This gave the Jags the ball at the Reddie 29 yard line. Baker would take it into the end zone again for his second touchdown of the game. What looked like a bad snap would be handled by Taylor Noon and pitched to Jordan Means to run with, but he would be caught failing to convert. This left the Jags leading 16-0 with 1:57 left in the first quarter.

After a HSU punt on another three-and-out, the Jags would start at their own 27 yard line. Jereme Jones would almost get caught for a loss, but would break a 65 yard run down to the Reddie 8 yard line before being tackled out of bounds. Jones would be injured on the play and taken to the sideline and eventually to the locker room.

The Jags would again fail to punch it in with 1st and goal from the Reddie 4 yard line on three consecutive runs by Baker. The Jags would settle for a field goal by Means what was shorter than an extra point to go up 19-0 with 12:52 left in the 2nd quarter.

Henderson State would finally move into Jaguar territory and get as far as the 43 yard line before the drive fizzled out and forcing a punt which was downed at the Jaguar 14 yard line.

The Jags Paul Bennett would catch a good pass from CJ Bennett but would fumble it to the Reddies at the Jaguar 42 yard line. But on 3rd and 6 on the Reddies possession, the Jags would force a fumble and Romelle Jones would recover it at the Jaguar 44 yard line.

The Jags would then march 56 yards in nine plays with CJ Bennett running it in from 9 yards out to cap off the drive. Means’ PAT would be blocked leaving the Jags lead 25-0 with 4:15 left in the 2nd quarter.

Henderson State would start at their own 32 yard line after a short kickoff was fair caught at their 32 yard line. The Reddies would then begin driving into Jaguar territory getting down to the 37 yard line. But the defense would hold on 4th and 11 at the Jaguar 42 to get the ball back.

The Jags would then use their hurry-up offense to try to put points on the board before halftime. Bennett would find Lamontis Gardner for 3 yards on first down. The Jags would call a time out with 41 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. Bennett would find Bryant Lavender for 8 yards and a first down at the HSU 47 with the Jags calling their 2nd time out of the half.

Bennett would find Corey Waldon for 13 yards down to the Reddie 34. Bennett would rush the offense up to the line and spike the ball to stop the clock. Bennett would tuck the ball and run for 6 yards before stepping out of bounds at the Reddie 28 yard line. After an incomplete pass on 3rd down, Means would line up for a 45 yard field goal into the wind with 9 seconds left until halftime. His kick would just barely make it over the crossbar giving the Jags a 28-0 halftime lead.

Henderson State would add a field goal with 33 seconds left in the 3rd quarter to break the shutout, however that would be the only score in the second half.

The first part of the second half was really sloppy for the Jags. After playing a penalty free first half, they would lose some composure in the second half.

It did give Coach Jones and the team to go deeper into their depth chart for a second time this season. At one point, there was only one starting player in the lineup on offense. JJ Keels saw plenty of time at running back and Greg Hollinger got more time than he had all season as well.

Romelle Jones continues to play like a beast on the defensive line. The secondary is playing thin without Damond Smith and BJ Scott. Jereme Jones suffered a bit of a hyper extension to his shoulder but is okay. We probably will not know if he is able to go on Thursday until Tuesday’s radio show.

Drew Dearman has been seeing more playing time on the offensive line and the coaches seem to be quite comfortable with his play. He did a great job on Saturday.

Coach Jones had the following to say at his post game press conference. “Those takeaways were big and we had a short field on offense a good bit tonight, and that’s always a good thing. I thought we really played a good game defensively for the entire game. We didn’t give up any big plays, and if we don’t do that then we are going to be very hard to score on. They did that tonight and I was proud of them.”

“We were prepared, the coaches had them prepared and we had a good week of practice,” he continued. “We match up with teams that are in the spread formation pretty well. I think our athletes fit the spread defensively, and we had a good pass rush tonight. That’s one thing we haven’t had in a while. We put pressure on the quarterback, and we were hitting them and trying to knock the ball loose.”

The Jags defense held the Reddies to 155 yards passing and a mere 55 yards rushing for only 210 total yards. While the Jags offense racked up 252 yards rushing and another 123 yards through the air for 375 for the game. The Jags also held a 37:06 to 22:54 time of possession advantage as well.

Demetre Baker had his first 100+ yard rushing game with 113 yards on 20 carries. Jereme Jones ran once for 65 yards, Myles Gibbon ran 7 times for 27 yards. JJ Keels ran 12 times for 27 yards. While Kendall Houston only carried the ball three times on the opening drive for four yards and that was his game.

CJ Bennett went 11-of-18 for 101 yards with one interception for the game. Myles Gibbon went 4-of-8 for 22 yards and no interceptions. Corey Walden and Bryant Lavender both caught three passes each. Waldon had 35 yards and Lavender had 26 yards.

The Jags have a quick turn-around as they host Mississippi Valley State on Thursday night with kickoff scheduled for 6:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The Jags will be dressed out in their white uniform, so the athletic department is asking the fans to wear white to the game.

Jags end two game skid with 30-27 double-overtime victory

October 9, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Baker and Jones

Coach Jones looks on as Demetre Baker looks to the sideline before blocking for a field goal attempt.

South Alabama went on the road for their third consecutive game this season and came away with a 30-27 double overtime victory over Texas-San Antonio to end their two game losing skid.

The Jags got on the board early after forcing UTSA to punt on their first series. Starting at their own 22 for their first drive, C.J. Bennett and Lamontis Gardner would spark the offense with a 35 yard pass. Then the Jags would methodically continue marching until Kendall Houston would put the ball in the end zone from the one yard line to cap off a 12 play, 78 yard drive that spanned 7:24 on the clock.

The Roadrunners would answer back on their next possession. After driving 25 yards out to mid field as the first quarter ended, they would open the second quarter with a 50 yard pass from Soza to Okotcha to tie the game at 7 each.

Again sparked by big offensive plays, the jaguars would respond on their ensuing possession. Bennett would find Gardner again for 11 yards to start the drive. Then would be forced to burn a time out when the play clock was running down. Coming out of the time out, Bennett would hit Kevin Helms for a 32 yard gain to go from the Jag 33 yard line to the 35 of UTSA. From there, the jags would have to settle for a 48 yard field goal by Jordan Means to retake the lead 10-7.

Not to be outdone, UTSA would mount their own drive  but would stall at the Jaguar 31 yard line and also settle for a 48 yard field goal to tie the game again at 10 apiece.

The Jags next possession would start at their own 20 yard line and would drive out to the 43 before Kendall Houston would be hit in the backfield and fumbled the ball which would be recovered by UTSA at their own 48 yard line. Soza would connect with Kam Jones for 51 yards to the USA 1 yard line. Okotcha would take it in on the next play to take the lead over the Jaguars 17-10 with 2:54 left in the first half.

On the kickoff, Jereme Jones would find a seam and return it 55 yards to the UTSA 26 yard line before being forced out of bounds. However the defender would be flagged for a personal foul for a half-the-distance penalty to start the Jags at the UTSA 13 yard line. However the Jags offense never found forward gear. Houston would lose a yard on first down. Then an incomplete pass to Corey Waldon would bring up third and 11 going into the Roadrunner student section.

Brian Krauskopf would be flagged for a false start putting the Jags facing 3rd and 16 from the UTSA 19 yard line. After a time out, Bennett would float a lob pass towards the end zone which would be intercepted by UTSA ending the Jags hopes of tying the game before half time.

After running a few plays, the Roadrunners allowed the clock to run down and go into halftime with a 17-10 lead.

South Alabama would receive to open the second half and start at their 30 yard line. Houston would rush for no gain and five yards on back-to-back rushes to open the series. Then facing 3rd and 5, the Jags would burn their first time out of the second half with 13:33 left in the 3rd quarter when the play clock was running down again. Following the time out, Krauskopf would be flagged for another false start backing them up to the 30 and face a 3rd and 10. Bennett would find Gardner for six yards and would be forced to punt.

The Jags defense would hold the roadrunners to a three and out and force a punt. USA would be flagged for holding after the punt and would start their possession on their own 24 yard line. After a one yard run by J.J. Keels, Bennett would complete back to back passes. The first to Bryant Lavender for 17 yards then to Gardner for 18 yards to get into UTSA territory.

Keels would rush for no gain, then Bennett would be flagged for intentional grounding even though he was hit as he was trying to deliver the ball. After the 11 yard loss and loss of down, the Jags faced 3rd and 21 at their own 49 yard line. But Bennett would find Jereme Jones for 30 yards to get the first down at the UTSA 21 yard line. Demetre Baker would take it in from there to tie the game at 17 each with 8:09 left in the third quarter.

UTSA would start from their own 20 yard line after the kickoff. They would move down the field fueled by key long plays. The first was on 3rd down for 21 yards and a 16 yard pass on 4th and one at the Jaguar 46 yard line. However the defense would come up big and force a Soza fumble at the Jaguar 10 yard line which was recovered by Charles Harris.

Houston would end the quarter with three consecutive rushes for 6, 8 and 5 yards respectively.

As the drive continued to begin the 4th quarter, the Jags would again have to burn a time out when the play clock was running down with 13:20 left in regulation. Eventually the UTSA defense would hold and force a Scott Garber punt which would be downed at the 1 yard line.

The Roadrunners would move the ball out to the 25 yard line before a mishap on the snap would occur and be recovered by Soza back at the 3 yard line to face a 3rd and 32. A six yard pass would give the punter a little breathing room. Jereme Jones would field the punt at the UTSA 48 yard line.

Bennett would run for 10 yards and a first down to start the drive, but would then stopeed and forced to punt at the UTSA 44 yard line.

With 4:18 left in the game and UTSA in possession of the ball at their own 24 yard line, they began running the ball and the clock to set up a game winning score. Soza would start the drive with a 9 yard pass. Then Okotcha would run for eight yards and a first down. Soza would thrown on first down again, this time for five yards to their won 46 yard line. Then UTSA would rush four consecutive times to move the ball and continue winding the clock. Okotcha would go for five yards. Then Harrison for 18 to the USA 31 yard line but would go out of bounds to stop the clock.

Then Kam Jones for four more yards and again go out of bounds. Okotcha would rush for 6 yards and a first down to the USA 21. Kam Jones would try to throw the ball on first down but Gabe Loper, filling in for suspended Damond Smith, would be flagged for pass interference putting the ball on the USA 6 yard line with 1:12 left in the game.

Soza would be caught for a loss of 6 yards to the 12 yard line by Jake Johnson. Okotcha would rush on the right side for three yards to the 9 yard line. UTSA would take a time out with 3 seconds left on the clock to attempt a game-winning field goal. Coach Jones would take the Jags final time out to try to ice the kicker.

The 26 yard field goal attempt would be blocked by Randon Carnathan sending the game to overtime for the first time in Jaguar history.

USA would get the ball first to start overtime and would keep it on the ground. Baker would rush for 10, 2 and 12 yards to get the ball to the 1 yard line. Ellis Hill would take it in on the next play and Jordan Means would add the PAT to take the 24-17 lead.

UTSA’s ensuing possession would start with a false start. But Soza would hit Kam Jones for a 30 yard touchdown pass and add the PAT to tie the game at 24 and go into the second overtime.

UTSA would have the ball first and Okotcha would be dropped for a loss by Jake Johnson on the first play. Soza would rush for one yard then throw and incomplete pass as he was hurried by Montavious Williams. Ianno would kick a 43 yard field goal to take a 27-24 lead.

Demetre Baker would scamper 25 yards on the first play of the Jaguars possession to score the game winning touchdown for the final score of 30-27.

UTSA would outgain the Jags overall 409-351 and through the air 263-196. But the Jags would outgain them on the ground 175-146.

Demetre Baker would lead all rushers with 88 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Houston would gain 74 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Soza would be the leading rusher for UTSA with 70 yards on 15 carries.

C.J. Bennett went 11-of-17 for 176 yards and one interception while Soza was 15-of-22 for 263 yards and two touchdowns. UTSA’s Kam Jones would lead all receivers with 103 yards on five catches with a touchdown. Lamontis Gardner would lead the Jags with 70 yards on four catches.

UTSA held the ball longer, 33:51 to the Jags 26:09.

After the game Coach Jones had this to say. “We have a fighting spirit about us. It looked kind of bleak there for a minute when they had the ball down on the five-yard line. But we rushed through and sacked the quarterback and we block a kick, so they never quit. It was a big win for our program. I’m just so proud of them for fighting. We lost two games on the road, and to have another road game right behind them and to come back and win was real big for us.”

“I want to congratulate UTSA. I thought they came out and played a tremendous game — it was a big game for them,” Coach Jones also stated. “The crowd was into it; it was that typical home atmosphere. They had a great game plan and great coaching, and probably deserved to win the game in some ways. But on the other side of it, we said at halftime we were not going to quit.”

“We came prepared and had a good game plan. Good things happen when you fight your tail off,” said running back Demetre Baker. “Their defense was big and solid. I didn’t think they were very fast sideline-to-sideline, but they were much bigger physically.”

Linebacker Jake Johnson spoke highly of the roadrunners. “For a first-year program, they are a heck of a team. They had some great players and had a good game plan against us. I’m glad we came out on top. We had a few mistakes here and there, but that is all correctable. I’m just glad we got out of Texas with a win.”

South Alabama returns to Mobile for their first home game in five weeks when they host Tennessee-Martin for homecoming. The game will kick off at 2:30pm, earlier than normal, since it will be aired live on UTV44, Comcast Sports Southeast and nationally on ESPN3.com.

Fan Day scrimmage 2011

August 14, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Jersey and Pads

South Alabama had their first two-a-day practice on Tuesday. In their morning practice, they had a very physical and vigorous workout that might have been a preview for the Fan Day scrimmage coming up on Saturday, August 13.

Practice began with special teams work with roughly the first 10 minutes were devoted to work with the punt team. After that, the offense worked on individual and group work which featured screen drills along with routes for tight ends, receivers and running backs.

The next session had the offense and defense working on the running game, both inside and outside, along with play-action passing. The offense then went to skeleton passing drills against the their defensive counterparts. While the skeleton drills were going on, the offensive line worked on pass protection against the defensive line.

The team then took a 10 minute break from the heat before resuming practice. After a stretching session, the offense took the field against the scout team working primarily on reverses.

The offense and defense then took the field against each other. The first 12 plays from scrimmage were snapped from the offense’s 20-yard line. Demetre Baker took the first ball for no gain. Then Myles Gibbon recovered a fumbled from a low snap which resulted in a loss of yards for the offense. Kendall Houston then rushed for 15 yards on the third play which was followed by a six-yard run by Devin Robinson. Baker kept the momentum with a 10-yard rush on fifth play.
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