Jags Fall In Season Finale On Last Minute Touchdown

December 3, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones leading the team in the Jaguar Prowl in 2010.

South Alabama was unable to send the 19 seniors and head coach Joey Jones out with a final win in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The Jags finish the season 4-8 after the 22-17 defeat after the Aggies scored in the final minute of the game to regain the lead and ultimately the win.

The Jags took a 7-0 lead to start the second quarter then the Aggies scored 13 consecutive points to end the first half. The Jags had an opportunity to score a touchdown before the end of the first half after Garvin found Kawaan Baker for an 18 yard gain down to the two yard line, but a personal foul on Harrison Louden put the Jags back at the 17 yard line. Then the Jaguars went in reverse after Jordan McCray stepped out of bounds for a 9 yard loss on a reverse followed by an 11 yard sack and fumble that rolled out of bounds at the at the 40 yard line of the Aggies. A personal foul after the fumble gave the Jags 15 yards and an automatic first down at the Aggie 25. A pass to Reinkemeyer for a loss of a yard followed by Garvin being sacked for a loss of 3 set the Jags up for a 3rd & 14. Garvin’s pass, when it looked like he was just trying to throw it away, but he couldn’t get enough on it and it was intercepted on the sideline at the 24 ending the threat.

The Aggies opened the fourth quarter with a field goal to take a 16-7 lead before the Jags started began their comeback. With 11:49 left in the game, Cole Garvin found Jordan McCray for a 17 yard touchdown to cut the lead to two points.

The Aggies were facing a 4th & 4 at the Jaguar 17 and decided to go for it but the Jaguar defense forced an incomplete pass and took over the ball. Garvin complete four-consecutive passes for 10, 3, 19 and 42 yards with all but the third pass going to Jamarius Way, the third pass was to McCray. A few plays later, facing a 3rd and goal from the 10, Garvin targeted Malik Stanley but he couldn’t haul it in and Jones opted for a go-ahead field goal making it 17-16 with 3:13 left in the game.

The Aggies dinked and dunked their way down the field until Tyler Rogers connected with Grand Bay, Alabama native Conner Cramer in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead score. Their 2-point conversion attempt was no good leaving the Aggies nursing a 22-17 lead with :32 left in the game.

NMSU had the kickoff go out of bounds which would have put the ball at the USA 35 yard line with :32 left, but Jones and his staff decided to make them rekick it from the 30 yard line. The Jags attempted to set up a throw-back across the field but the throw didn’t have enough power behind it and skipped back allowing the defenders to close in, all the while with the clock running. Finally the Jags took over at the 27 yard line with :24 left.

Garvin found David Garner along the left sideline for an 11 yard gain. Garvin then kept it up the middle but short of a first down forcing the Jags to call their final time out with :12 left. After another incomplete pass, Garvin threw what was close enough to a hail mary attempt with the pass tipped by the defender and the bounce went away from Jamarius Way, if it had tipped the other way, he could have been able to cruise into the end zone for the game winning touchdown.

However, that did not happen and the Jags fell to 4-8 on the season while New Mexico State looks to be going to their first bowl game since 1960.

And with that head coach Joey Jones’ tenure at South Alabama comes to and end. Jones finishes 52-50 in nine season as the architect of the Jaguar football program since his hiring in 2008 and their first play in 2009.

Senior Jeremy Reaves became only the second defensive back in Jaguar history to record 100 or more stops in a season.

Jones spoke after the game in his final post-game press conference:
On the game itself: “All I wanted for us to do coming into this game was to fight and I thought we did that. We came up a little short. [New Mexico State’s] quarterback is a great player and made some plays on their last drive. With about five minutes left, they had a third-and-10 and he hit it. On their touchdown play, he was able to scramble around and made a great throw. It really wasn’t anything that our guys did wrong, but rather what [NMSU] did right. I was proud of our guys fighting tonight.”
On offensive adjustments in the second half: “We just executed better. In the first half, we dropped some passes. We also got down to the one and got a penalty, which brought the ball back and hurt us trying to score. Other than that, we played pretty well. I told the guys a halftime, that if we just keep running our offense, we’ll be ok.”
on his defenses play against running back Larry Rose III and forcing the Aggies to go to the air to win: “Our coaches did a great job calling plays defensively. Rose is a heck of a running back. We wanted to make NMSU throw the ball, but unfortunately Tyler Rogers is a very good quarterback. Our hats are off to New Mexico State.”

Jeremy Reaves spoke after the game as well:
On the game: “We fought and that’s all coach [Joey Jones] asked for. We fought for 60 minutes and the score didn’t reflect it, but I’m happy with the way our guys fought considering this was my last game here.”
On what the defense did to take New Mexico State’s running game away: “We knew that Rose was an electric player and that he was going to make plays. We also knew it was going to come down to us being physical. The defense was just able to stop them at the line of scrimmage and the point of attack.”
On the play of NMSU quarterback Tyler Rogers: “He’s a great player. We were talking throughout the game and he told me he was trying to throw away from me because I hit too hard. He’s a ball player though; he’s good with his legs and he’s good with his arm. He made plays when they needed him too. New Mexico State made the plays when they needed too and they showed up on third down. Credit to those guys and I congratulate them.”

Quarterback Cole Garvin, who started the game but rotated series with Dallas Davis through the first half spoke for the offense after the game:
On the way the offense played in the second half: “We made it a game [in the second half] and we really tried to get the win, but we couldn’t get it done on the last offensive drive.”
On what the offense did differently going into the fourth quarter: “We just kept calling the same plays that were working and minimized mistakes. Coach Owens called a really good game against the defense were in and we just kept hitting the holes.”
On the job the running backs and wide receivers did: “Those guys finding the holes is what made my job easy, along with what the offensive line did. It was a team effort.”

South Alabama finished with 353 yards of total offense, 331 yards through the air and only 22 yards rushing. Jaguar quarterbacks combined to go 26-of-46 for two interceptions and one touchdown.

Garvin went 22-of-37 for 268 yards with an interception and the only passing touchdown, but was sacked four times. Davis went 4-of-9 for 63 yards with one interception.

Jamarius Way led the Jags with 88 yards on seven receptions. McCray was next with 74 yards on four receptions and the lone touchdown. David Gardner, Malik Stanley, and Tra Minter all had three catches for 48, 47, and 42 yards receiving respectively. Four other Jaguars also caught passes in the game.

Davis was the Jags leading rusher with 15 yards on five carries. Jalen Wayne, and Minter both had eight yards rushing. Bull Barge, Darrell Songy and Wade Forde each had a sack in the game.

Defensively the Jags allowed 491 total yards, 451 yards through the air and only 40 yards rushing. Rogers went 40-of-61 with two touchdowns and an interception.

Jaleel Scott had 134 yards on nine receptions. Rose also had nine receptions adding 95 yards receiving. The Aggies had eight other receivers catching passes in the game.

Rose rushed for 52 yards and Jason Huntley added 10 yards rushing as well. Rogers netted a 20 yard loss in sacks and such.

With the Jaguars season over, the focus now turns to the coaching search, which should accelerate with the season’s end. Athletics director Joel Erdmann is expected to begin interviewing candidates this week since more candidate’s seasons are starting to end as well.

It’s expected that defensive coordinator Kane Wommack will serve as USA’s interim head football coach until a replacement is hired.

Thank you coach Jones, your work has built the South Alabama program from scratch to what it is today. Photo Credit: JagNationUSA Facebook Page

Jags Travel To New Mexico State For Season Finale

November 29, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 1 Comment 

South Alabama is making their final appearance of the season on Saturday, December 2 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. While the Jags may be eliminated from bowl contention, they still have a lot to play for if you ask the players.

“A lot of people want to send coach Jones out with a win because of everything he’s done for us. We want to do right for him,” senior offensive guard Harrison Louden said. “We want to do right for the seniors as well and I can’t emphasize that enough. We want to send everybody out with a win.”

Head coach Joey Jones, the only head coach the Jaguar football team has had in it’s 9-season history, announced his resignation just over a week ago after the Jags were eliminated from bowl contention by Georgia Southern. But coach Jones does not want to make his final game about him, but rather keep the focus on the players. He decided that he would not attend the regular Monday press conference this week. Though, last week, he said he had not considered what emotions he may feel on Jaguars sidelines for the final time.

“It will probably mean a lot more later when I have a cane and a wheelchair and they’re honoring me on the field for starting the program back in 2009,” Jones said. “It’s going to be special one day. I’m just proud to be a small part of it.”

But Louden is only one of six projected starters, Dominic Esposito, Andrew Reinkemeyer, Zach Befort, Finesse Middleton, Darrell Songy and Jeremy Reaves, who will dress out and play for the Jaguars for the final time. But others on the team have points to make as well, “Against New Mexico State on Saturday, I want us to show everyone that we are a good team,” said defensive end Jimmie Gipson. “I know things haven’t panned out the way that we would’ve liked them to, but I want to go out with a bang; I want to go out with a ‘W’.”

New Mexico State has their own, powerful motivations to win on Saturday as well. With a win, they could finish the season 6-6 and keep their hopes alive for the program’s first bowl appearance since 1960. They will be aided by their redshirt senior quarterback Tyler Rogers who suffered a grade 2 sprain of the AC joint in the second half of their game against Louisiana-Lafayette on November 18.

Rogers has put up big numbers this season, ranking third nationally in completions per game (27.9), sixth in total offense per game (339.8), 14th in points responsible for (188), and 16th in total passing yards (3,374) despite missing the last five quarters of action.

The only notable player slated to miss the game for NMSU right now is wide receiver OJ Clark. He ranks second on the team with 44 catches for 492 yards and three touchdowns.

The Jags know about attrition though. The Jags lost career-rushing leader Xavier Johnson due to a violation of team rules. They also lost running backs Tywun Walters for rules violations. Then they’ve lost three back to injuries leaving Tra Minter and Carlos Robinson as the only two active running backs on the roster from the beginning of the season.

On the season, the Aggies score an average of 30.27 points per game and allow 31.73 points per game. Offensively the Aggies average 450.4 yards of total offense per game, 343.6 yards through the air and 106.7 yards on the ground per game. They are converting 45.9% of their 3rd down attempts and 50% of their 4th down attempts on the season. Also on the season they have allowed 35 sacks for a combined 209 yards and have fumbled the ball 12 times and lost it six times. Additionally they average 55.8 yards per game of penalties. The Aggies score 83% of the time they reach opponents red zone and 68% of the time they are touchdowns.

Defensively, the Aggies allow an average of 401.5 yards per game which breaks down to 223.8 yards through the air and 177.7 yards on the ground per game. Opponents are converting 31% of their 3rd down attempts and 61.1% of their 4th down attempts. They have sacked opponents 28 times for a loss of 181 yards, they have forced 13 fumbles and recovered eight of them on the season. Opponents are averaging 60.1 penalty yards per game against the Aggies. Opponents score 86% of the time they reach the Aggies red zone and 66% of the time they score touchdowns.

The Jags average 20.1 points per game on the season as opposed to 26.9 for their opponent. Offensively the Jags average 332.6 yards per game of total offense, which breaks down to 104.1 yards rushing and 228.5 yards passing per game. They converted 30% of their 3rd down attempts and 44% of their 4th down attempts. USA has fumbled the ball 12 times and only lost three of them and have been intercepted 12 times. Jags have 18 sacks on the season for 113 yards and average 59.4 penalty yards per game. The Jags offense scores 74% of the time in opponents red zone and 44% of the time are touchdowns.

Defensively the Jags allow and average of 411.1 yards per game of total offense, which breaks down to 162 yards rushing and 249.1 yards passing per game. Opponents are converting 41% of 3rd down attempts and 56% of 4th down attempts. The Jags have forced 20 fumbles on the season and recovered 12 of them while intercepting opponents seven times. Jags have 20 sacks on opposing quarterbacks for 153 yards. Opponents average 37.2 penalty yards per game. Opponents score 75% of the time they reach the red zone, 49% of the time they are touchdowns.

What the Jags must do to win:
Slow down the passing game. The Aggies, behind their redshirt senior quarterback throw for lots of yards each game. His favorite target is Jaleel Scott, who averages 82.6 yards per game receiving with eight touchdowns and 908 yards on the season. But he spreads the ball around to a number of receivers, so they cannot sleep on the others either.

Keep the Aggies out of the red zone. As seen by the numbers breakdown, if they get into the red zone, they score 74% of the time in they reach it.

The best defense is to control the ball on offense. The Jags were shredded by Georgia Southern and the offense was completely ineffective and the defense was gassed as a result.

Speaking of offense, the offense must move the ball and score. While this would seem to be a no-brainer, the Jags have struggled to move the ball consistently, convert 3rd downs and, in their last game, put points on the board.

Let’s send the seniors out on a winning note and lets give Coach Jones a great send off while we’re at it!

Thanksgiving Reflection And Looking To The Future

November 23, 2017 · Filed Under Football · 2 Comments 

Head coach Joey Jones lifts the ‘Battle for the Belt’ championship belt for the third time in the last four years. | Photo Credit: Brad Puckett usajaguars.com

South Alabama was shocked and never recovered in Statesboro last weekend. It was kind of like one of those boxing matches where the favored competitor comes out against an underdog and the underdog lands that stunner head blow and the favorite is never able to recover.

The Jags got punched, and punched hard. They didn’t recover either.

Most fans thought that their bowl aspirations were going to be dashed the week before when they hosted Arkansas State, who had never lost to USA in their five previous games. They never thought an 0-9 Georgia Southern was going to be the one to dash their hopes. Which may have been a contributing factor in the loss. In college football, you can never underestimate your opponent.

The Jags went down 7-0 on the first possession, then a turnover set up the Eagles to go up 14-0. By the end of the first quarter the Jags were down 21-0 and it only got worse from there. The Eagles took out a season worth of frustration out on the Jaguars and sent their seniors out with a win in their final home game.

By the time the game was over, the Jags had been handed their first shutout, lost their chance at getting bowl eligible, and probably marked the end of head coach Joey Jones’ tenure as the only head football coach in South Alabama history.

“I’ve never been involved in a game like the one we had tonight in all my years of coaching,” head coach Joey Jones said. “The game plan got away from us. Georgia Southern executed well. They’ve been making mistakes all year and shooting themselves in the foot, and then tonight, they didn’t do that at all.”

“It all ends with me,” Jones said in his post-game radio interview. “I’ve got to get my team better ready to play than that. Obviously, we had some scheme problems. We didn’t coach well on defense, we didn’t coach well on offense. One of those games that got away from us. … Just not a good night at all.”

Just two days later that was affirmed by Coach Jones’ announcement of his resignation effective at the end of his contract and he will coach the Jags final game on December 2nd at New Mexico State.

Then the next day after the announcement of his resignation, coach Jones said, “It’s been a blast. I’m happy for South Alabama. It’ll be in my heart forever.”

“The meeting yesterday was something I was dreading in a lot of ways, just to let them know I wasn’t going to be here anymore,” Jones said. “And it turned into one of the best days of my life. I was hugging them and they were crying on my shoulder for a minute. It was touching and it means a lot to me. I’ll carry that forever. I had about 395 texts yesterday, a lot of them former players and friends. Made me realize I did it for the right reasons.”

Junior linebacker Bull Barge said that the news was tough to take but has given the team a renewed focus with intentions to send Jones out a winner.

“Yesterday was tough,” Barge said. “We love coach a lot. To hear that yesterday, you wish you could have done more. As a man, it’s life. This game is a business. We’ve been taught that from the beginning. Right now, our focus is to send coach out on top, have one of the best games we’ve ever played this last game.”

Senior guard Harrison Louden said that coach Jones not only taught his team about football, but also to “be men off the field. … He was all about character. I think that’s what I’m going to carry with me more than anything.”

After starting 7-0 and 10-0 in their first two seasons as an unclassified program they began their climb toward FBS with a 6-4 record as an FBS independent in 2011. Then they became an FBS transitional team in 2012 they went 2-11 as they drastically stepped up their competition and got their first FBS win over Florida International. Then they have been unable to get over the six win hump records of: 6-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7 over the previous four seasons and currently sitting at 4-7 this season with one game remaining.

They notched some historic wins over the last two seasons as well. Wins over Mississippi State, their first Power 5 win, and San Diego State, their first win over a ranked opponent, in 2016. Then they knocked off Sun Belt front-runners Troy and Arkansas State this season.

Jones, 55, has a record of 52-49 with one game remaining in his 9th season leading South.

During his tenure Jaguar fans have seen:

  • Gerald Everett became the Jags’ first-ever NFL draft selection in April and is in his first season with the Los Angeles Rams.
  • 3 individuals selected to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine
  • 4 members of the program voted CoSIDA Academic All-District (highlighted by Trey Clark being selected the Jaguars’ first-ever Academic All-American)
  • 5 players invited to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl
  • 6 alumni currently active in the NFL and Canadian Football League
  • 24 former student-athletes received an opportunity to compete at the professional level
  • 43 times individuals earned all-Sun Belt recognition on the field over the last five years
  • 54 times an individual has been named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List
  • 92 times student-athletes have made the league’s Academic Honor Roll

After being a standout player at Murphy High School, Jones went on to be a standout player at the University of Alabama and named to Alabama’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s. He would play professionally with the Birmingham Stallions and Atlanta Falcons. He then began his coaching career in 1989 as an assistant coach at Briarwood Christian School. Two years later he was hired as the head coach at Dora. In 1996 he was hired as head coach at Mountain Brook HS and led the team to the Class 6A state championship game in 1996. He would go 101-27 in 10 seasons there.

He was then hired as the head coach at Birmingham-Southern to restart their football program and led them to a 1-7 record in Division II. He was then hired after the one season at BSC to start the program at South Alabama from scratch. He won the Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year in 2013 after going 6-6 in their first season as a full Sun Belt member and improving on a 2-11 record the previous season.

Coach Jones and his wife, Elise, have been invaluable to South Alabama and cannot be thanked enough. When he was hired he started pulling together a staff on the steps of the Mitchell Center and living out of a hotel for a couple of months. They worked out wherever they could, including an improvised weight room in a former student health center and professional business building.

Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and the administration has hired a search firm to aid them in identifying the next head coach. with a number of potential candidates being thrown around. Whoever takes over the helm of the program, they will be inheriting a solid foundation that Jones and his staff has worked hard to build. A great fieldhouse and adjoining practice fields. Soon the covered practice facility with restart construction after the partially constructed superstructure collapsed after a sudden summer thunderstorm exposed the inadequate bracing the builders had not put into place.

There has been talk of an on-campus stadium since day one of the program. As much as fans complain about it, the fans and school are all lucky the City of Mobile has Ladd-Peebles Stadium that the Jags could use as their home stadium since the beginning and for the foreseeable future. Without it who knows if football would have gotten started or how the funds to start the program would have been used as they would have possibly spent funds to outfit a location to play.

  • As for those potential candidates, these are a few names that have been mentioned for the job are:
    John Grass, Jacksonville State head coach who has won four-consecutive conference championships and reached the FCS title game in 2015
  • Jeremy Pruitt, Alabama defensive coordinator, he’s never been a head coach and is currently making over $1 million per year
  • Tee Martin, Southern California offensive coordinator, he was a standout at Williamson HS before leading Tennessee to the 1998 BCS national championship
  • Kevin Sherrer, Georgia linebackers coach, was USA’s defensive coordinator in 2013, spent time on the Alabama staff but is reportedly a candidate to become defensive coordinator at Florida State
  • Kevin Steele, Auburn defensive coordinator, was a serious candidate for the position when coach Jones was hired in 2007 but has a terrible 9-36 overall record as head coach at Baylor and 1-31 Big 12 record from 1999-2002.
  • Chip Lindsey, Auburn offensive coordinator, he’s never been a head coach but has run successful offenses at Southern Miss and Auburn
  • Will Hall, Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator, has a 56-20 record as head coach at West Alabama and West Georgia in Division II football and played at North Alabama, winning the Harlon Hill Trophy (Division II equivalent of the Heisman) as quarterback at North Alabama in 2003, when current USA AD Joel Erdmann was AD at UNA
  • Steve Campbell, Central Arkansas head coach, he is 33-14 in four seasons at UCA including 10-1 this season. He’s a Pensacola native, played center at Troy and was a graduate assistant for Pat Dye at Auburn. He also led Delta State to a Division II national championship in 1999 and won a junior-college national title at Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2007
  • Rhett Lashlee, UConn offensive coordinator, played for Gus Malzahn in high school before coaching with him as a graduate assistant then offensive coordinator at both Arkansas State and Auburn
  • Mario Cristobol, Oregon offensive coordinator, went 27-57 as head coach at FIU and took them to their only two bowl games in program history. He was then on the Alabama football staff from 2013-2016 as offensive line coach
  • Matt Luke, Ole Miss interim head coach, he was thrown to the wolves after Hugh Freeze resigned just before the season started amid scandals. He has been an assistant coach there since 2012 and served as co-offensive coordinator before being named interim head coach. He is Mississippi through and through, playing at Gulfport HS, then Ole Miss. He was a graduate assistant there in 1999, then came back from 2002-2005 then came back again in 2012
  • David Reeves, UAB defensive coordinator, he was a former Alabama high school coach who joined former Jag defensive coordinator in Jacksonville State in 2013, then joined him at UAB in 2014 as defensive line coach then became the defensive coordinator this season when the Blazers restarted their program
  • Kodi Burns, Auburn co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach, He’s only in his sixth season as an assistant coach. He was a former wide receiver at Auburn and has had coaching stints at Arkansas State, Arizona State, Middle Tennessee and Samford
  • Butch Jones, former Tennessee head coach, he started his head coaching career at Central Michigan after Brian Kelly left for Cincinnati, he then moved to Cincinatti after Kelly again left for Notre Dame. He then took over at Tennessee replacing Derek Dooley and finished with a 34-27 record there and a 14-24 SEC record. But his reputation of verbal abuse may not make him a desirable candidate. His first season at Tennessee was shakey after the Jags, down by eight points, mounted a last-minute drive to tie the game, but was intercepted in the end zone

Over the past 10 years, the South Alabama campus has changed in so many ways since they started football. New buildings, updated sports facilities, additional dorms, and increased enrollment. What the next 10 years holds only time will tell. For the first time, the Jags are searching for a new head coach. It will be interesting to see who makes it through the coaching carousel, ends up on the final list and eventually gets hired and how it impacts recruiting with early signing period coming up in mid-December and national signing day in February.

As we hear more, we’ll keep you informed.

Jags Host Sun Belt Leading Red Wolves On Senior Day

November 8, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama (3-6, 2-3 SBC) will host conference front-runner Arkansas State (5-2, 4-0 SBC) in the Jags final home game of the season on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Senior Day. The Jags have dropped their last two games and have their backs to the wall in order to get bowl eligible, needing to win their last three games.

But we can’t put the cart before the horse. They must focus on Arkansas State and Arkansas State only.

After two positive games on offense against Troy and Louisiana-Monroe, the Jaguar offense has struggled against Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Some of the struggles have been self-inflicted with dropped passes. The frustrating part is that it seems the breaks keep going to the other team.

In Monday’s press conference, head coach Joey Jones acknowledged that each quarterback, at times, has played better than the other. In the Troy game, Cole Garvin got the start but struggled giving way to Dallas Davis, who led the team to victory. Then against ULL, Davis struggled and Garvin led the team to move the ball better, but was unable to get the win.

Also Jones said that it was unlikely to see true freshman Cephus Johnson see action this season. “He has not worked with our offense during the season,” Jones said. “He has been on the scout team. It would be an injustice to him, probably. They [Lafayette] had two-and-a-half weeks to get him [Levi Lewis] ready for us. I thought that was a great choice by their staff. He did a great job, great athlete.

“It’s been a thought, because I think Cephus is going to be a great one. He’s going to be the face of our program one day. I just don’t think at this point, because of the inexperience factor.”

Whoever is behind center on Saturday, the Jags will have a challenge in front of them. The Red Wolves have only allowed eight touchdowns in their four conference games this season, or just an average of two touchdowns per game. They also lead the nation in sacks per game with 3.71 per game.

Leading the way for the ASU is senior defensive end Ja’von Rolland-Jones, the reigning SBC Player of the Year, who has 9.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks on the season, or just over a sack per game. He’s already broken the school record for career sacks and is only 5.5 behind the NCAA record of 44 in a career (note sacks did not become an official NCAA stat until 2000). Rolland-Jones has four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in his three games against the Jags.

The rest of the Red Wolves defensive line aren’t chopped liver either.

Defensive end Caleb Caston has five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss on the season. Five other Red Wolves have multiple sacks this season as well.

Offensively, the Red Wolves do a good job spreading the ball around, but it all begins with quarterback Justice Hansen. Hansen is 170-for-265 this season with a 64.2% completion rate for 2,159 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He averages 308.4 yards passing per game.

But Hansen can also run. He is the teams second leading rusher with 259 yards on the season with a touchdown. He averages 4 yards per attempt and 37 yards per game.

Including Hansen, the Red Wolves have four runners with 195 yards or more on the season. They have a fifth rusher who has 98 yards on the season on 14 attempts.

Receiving, the Red Wolves spread the ball around too. They have seven receivers with over 100 yards receiving on the season, and 25 touchdowns amongst them. Of those seven, five of them have 20 or more catches on the season.

Offensively ASU is only converting about 40% of their 3rd down attempts on the season and average time of possession per game is a mere 26:28.

They score an average of 40.4 points per game and only allow 22.3 points per game. Their 465.9 yards per game of total offense breaks down to 142.6 yards rushing and 323.3 yards passing per game.

Opposing teams complete 50.7% of their passing attempts with ASU intercepting 8 passes on the season. Their defense has forced 15 fumbles of which they have recovered six of them. The Red Wolves have fumbled 11 times and lost four of them to their opponents. They also average 70.7 yards per game in penalties.

In last weeks game against New Mexico State, the Red Wolves trailed 14-7 at halftime and held a mere 17-14 lead after three quarters, but broke the game open in the fourth quarter to win 37-21.

By comparison, the Jags average 347.1 yards of total offense per game, with 124.3 yards rushing and 222.8 yards passing per game. They average 21.9 points per game, while the opponents average 25 points per game. Also on the season the Jags are converting 31% of their 3rd down attempts.

While the Jags have only fumbled seven times on the season and only lost one of those, defensively they have forced 16 fumbles and recovered 10 of them. The Jags average 59.4 penalty yards per game.

ASU has 26 sacks on the season for 162 yards while they have allowed 16 sacks for a loss of 88 yards. The Jags have sacked opposing quarterbacks 13 times for 87 yards while Jaguar quarterbacks have been sacked 16 times for 125 yards.

What do the Jags need to do to win:

Score points. Ultimately, they have to put points on the board. Earlier the better too. Whoever is under center, be it Davis, Garvin or Orth, they will have to get rid of the ball quickly when throwing and those passes will be short to intermediate throws. But in order to slow down the pass rush or blitzes, they need to run effectively and be able to run screens and/or draw plays that neutralizes the rush.

Execute. Probably as obvious as scoring points, the offense just has to execute. They have to fight to win each and every play and each player has to execute their assignment on each play. The offensive line has to open some holes for their runners and protect the passer. Receivers have to catch the ball when it hits their hands.

Play their assignments. Defensively, each player must play their assignment too. Against Louisiana-Lafayette, there were two or three blown coverages where defenders were trying to move up and help their teammate with their assignments. Two of them were for touchdowns. Though they corrected it at halftime, they had already given up 19 points and were able to shut them out in the second half.

Don’t fall behind by multiple scores early. The Jags may have to prepare themselves for a shootout because the Red Wolves can score and can score quickly. The defense will have to bring their A-Game as usual but they’ll need help from the offense to let them get some rest. Three-and-outs on offense will not help the Jaguar defense slow down the Red Wolves.

This Jaguar team can win the game. They may be a 12 point underdog to most, but they are talented and they have it where it counts. Lots of momentum for the season was dashed in their first conference game this season when referee calls negated two pick-sixes along with a host of other questionable calls led to the Jags falling in double-overtime to Idaho. Though the slightest of I-told-you-so’s occurred when the officials were reviewed and determined that they blew some calls in the game. Unfortunately that was a couple days too late, a complete disservice to the student-athletes who prepare and play in every week, and a disservice to the coaches who’s job is on the line based on the number of Wins and Losses they post.

The Jags have been in this position before, needing to win out to get bowl eligible and they have accomplished that too. But they can’t think that way right now. This week they have to go 1-0. To do that they have to fight to win on each and every play of the game. Play to win the next play, forget about the results of the previous play.

The Jags and the Red Wolves have kickoff scheduled for 4pm on Saturday, November 11 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for Senior Day. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3 as well as on the flagship radio station 96.1 FM and 99.5 FM The Jag, which is also available via the iHeartRadio app.

Go Jags!

Jags Fall At Home To Cajuns 19-14

November 5, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

South Alabama’s offense struggled and was unable to overcome Louisiana-Lafayette’s early lead, falling to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt play.

The Jaguars defense struggled to contain freshman quarterback Levi Lewis, who started his first game in his career after Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth pulled his redshirt this week due to two quarterbacks nursing injuries.

Lewis went 8-of-15 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 129 yards. Doing most of his damage and scoring all their points in the first half as the Jaguar defense tried to adjust to his unexpected start. But once they made their halftime adjustments, the Jags defense held the Cajuns to a mere 109 total yards in the second half, 81 yards rushing and 28 yards passing.

Unfortunately the Jaguar offense was only a little more productive in the second half than the Cajuns, but the 12 points deficit and the inability to move the ball and score was enough to doom USA.

The offense wasn’t helped by head coach Joey Jones’ announcement on Saturday that senior running back Xavier Johnson had been suspended for the remainder of the season for a violation of team rules. Additionally, Deonta Moore was unavailable for the game either, so the rushing duties were left to Tra Minter, Carlos Robinson and Denzel Foster.

Jag running backs ran for 95 yards on 21 carries. But when you factor in quarterback scrambles and sacks, the Jags only managed 87 yards on 29 carries after losing 42 yards on sacks.

Dallas Davis started the game but appeared to take a couple hard hits and was ineffective in the game. Coaches decided to replace him with Cole Garvin, who went 22-for-35 for 274 yards. But he also had threw two critical interceptions in Cajun territory. The second of which came at the Louisiana-Lafayette 4 yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Jags were set up by an 81-yard pass from Garvin to Jamarius Way, but the interception happened when a Garvin pass was tipped by one of his receivers and was picked off on the bounce.

Again the Jags had some late heroics with a drive taking just under two-and-a-half minutes to draw within five points. However their attempt at an onsides kick did not work this time and they ran out of time and opportunities.

After getting a field goal in the first quarter, the Cajuns scored their first touchdown on a 54 yard pass from Lewis to Jacquet when the defender went to come up for run support thinking Lewis was scrambling and someone had coverage on his guy, but Lewis threw it up and connected with him for the touchdown. The Cajuns missed the extra point to make it 9-0.

On the Cajuns next possession, they drove down to the Jaguar 13 yard line when Lewis, again rolling out to the right side of the field tossed the ball to Chase Rogers when the defender thought he had help over the top and went to go up for run support. Unfortunately he didn’t and that netted them their second touchdown for a 16-0 lead.

The Jags would allow a field goal on the next Cajun possession for a 19-0 lead with 3:10 left before halftime.

Garvin would lead a drive with four consecutive completions to start the drive. He would cap off the drive with a 12 yard touchdown to Malik Stanley on an inside slant with :38 left before halftime.

“We found out today that he was going to play and had no idea about that in our preparation,” Jones said in his post-game press conference. “They changed up their offense a little bit with a little bit more of a quarterback running game. I thought our defense adjusted well once we got to see what they were doing with him in the first half.

“We have to be able to make some of those plays,” Jones continued talking about the bad breaks in the game. “We had a fumble on the ground in the fourth quarter that we had our hands on that would have given us the ball around midfield. I think right now the biggest concentration for us though is to be able to come out of the gates better. We can’t play catch up. The last two games we got behind early and had to play catch up and if you miss a couple of plays here and there you’re going to lose ball games. If you’re up on people, you can afford to make some of those mistakes, but you can’t be behind and make those mistakes.”

“It’s tough,” Jones said on the disappointment of the loss. “We knew it was going to be a big game for us and a big game for them. We didn’t come out of the gate very well only scoring seven points until a minute left in the game on offense; we’ve got to do better than that. I thought we had a good game plan and the kids played hard, but we didn’t make a lot of plays and had a lot of missed opportunities early missing some receivers that were wide open.”

“We just have to work on not breaking our own momentum,” Garvin said after the game. “We had momentum a lot that game, and the offense would mess it up for ourselves and that hurt us. Getting in the red zone and not scoring – we have to stop doing that.”

“He’s more versatile and is better with his feet,” said senior defensive back Jeremy Reaves. “We were prepared for deep balls, but with him being so small he couldn’t see over the line of scrimmage so everything was outside. He gave us a different look; he was a running back, basically, at quarterback.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow when you go out there and fight. There were too many plays left on the field. We just have to get in the film room and in practice, and we have to take that stuff seriously. We have to take mistakes seriously in practice, because it translates to Saturday. I put that on the seniors; we’re the leaders and we’re responsible for that. We have to get that corrected.

“One [of the touchdown passes] was on me; I was trying to do someone else’s job and essentially lost my man. It’s the same thing that hurt me last week too. I can’t make those mistakes; my teammates look to me to make the play and not blow it up. The other was just guys being aggressive and looking to make plays, and we left a guy open.”

“Early on, there were just mental busts that happened and got them [ULL] ahead,” said Darrell Songy. “Just small, basic plays we need to take care of to help take away their momentum at the beginning of the game. As we got into the game, we felt more into position and adjusted to the quarterback. But it was just too little too late.”

South Alabama has one shot to get bowl eligible now. They have three must-win games, starting with the red hot Arkansas State Redwolves next Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The Jags will most likely be heavy underdogs to ASU, who are 5-0 all-time against the Jags and have won the conference title three of the last four seasons.

“We’ll line up and get ready to play, I promise you,” Jones said. “Arkansas State has got a really good football team, but we still need to get ready to play. … It’s certainly backed up against the wall for us right now.”

Jaguars Hosts Ragin’ Cajuns Today At 3pm

November 4, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

The Jaguar football team looks to shake off last week’s loss in Atlanta when they host Louisiana-Lafayette at Ladd-Peebles Stadium today. The Jags have had nine days to regroup and correct things since Georgia State.

Lafayette (3-4, 2-2 SBC) comes into the game off of a 47-3 drumming by Arkansas State on the road but have had 16 days to rest and regroup themselves. After putting up at least 42 points in three of their first four games, the Cajuns haven’t been able to score over 24 points per game since.

The Cajun defense depends on the teams momentum. If the Cajun offense is moving the ball efficiently, the defense gets some rest and play well.

South Alabama’s offense was unable to get much of anything going against Georgia State after an interception on the second play from scrimmage was returned inside the Jag 10 yard line and led to an early touchdown lead by the Panthers. The Georgia State defense seized on that early momentum in a rivalry game and stymied the Jags all night long.

USA only managed 41 yards rushing against the panthers on 23 carries and Xavier Johnson held to -3 yards on seven carries. It didn’t help that Johnson kept losing footing on the new turf in Atlanta every time he tried to cut. The offense threw for 297 yards, but Davis threw two interceptions in the game while completing 56% of his passes. He didn’t get much help from his receivers as they dropped several catchable passes, including the first interception.

The Cajun offense averages 160 yards per game rushing and 229 yards passing per game. Freshman Trey Ragas is tied for third nationally in rushing touchdowns for freshman with 7 and seventh nationally in total rushing yards with 542. Additionally the Cajun offense has scored on every trip inside the red zone (28-for-28, 25 TDs, 3 FGs).

The Jags need three wins in the next four games to get bowl eligible and cannot afford to get their sixth loss before next week’s game against Arkansas State, where the Red Wolves will probably be heavily favored.

Look for the Jaguar offense to try to establish some momentum early and establish the run. Since Richard Owens has taken over as offensive coordinator, the Jaguar offense have done a better job at limiting negative plays and making 3rd down yardages more manageable.

Punter Corliss Waitman is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and has helped the Jaguar special teams to be one of the most efficient in the nation.

What do the Jaguars need to do to win:

The same keys from last week apply this week. The Jags cannot come out of the locker room flat. While the series may not have the same level of spirited rivalry as Georgia State or Troy, they cannot let the Cajuns seize the momentum early and get their offense and defense going.

Head coach Joey Jones has preached every day since the Panther loss that they need establish the run. The Jaguar offense cannot be one-dimensional. But the receivers also need to help out their quarterback by looking the ball all the way in and securing the catch before looking to make their move.

The Jaguars defensively had problems both covering Penny Hart and stopping the Panthers running game. The Jaguars secondary depth is thin and they have some nicks and bruises, just like any football player does at this time of year. But the young players have shown they have talent and are getting the experience they need to play at a high level. If the offense can help them get some rest on the sidelines, they will continue to play at a high level as a unit and play their type of Swarm Defense.

South Alabama (3-5, 2-2 SBC) and Lousiana-Lafayette (3-4, 2-2 SBC) will kick off at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 3pm. You can watch online via ESPN3 or you can hear the play-by-play on 96.1 FM and 99.5 FM The Jag in the Mobile area.

Panthers Snap Jags Two-Game Win Streak 21-13 In Atlanta

October 27, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama (3-5, 2-2 SBC) lost momentum early to Georgia State (4-3, 3-1 SBC) and was unable to get back on solid footing until under three minutes to go as the Jags two-game winning streak came to an end by a score of 21-13 in Atlanta.

On the Jags first possession and the second play of the drive, Dallas Davis’ pass hit Messiah Francis in the hands, but popped up and was intercepted at the 36 yard line and returned to the Jaguar 3 yard line. The Panthers seized momentum at that point and never intended to relinquish it as they played very spirited defense and solid offense.

On the Jaguars second possession, they drove from their own 23 yard line to the Panther 25 before they stalled and settled for a 42 yard field goal attempt by Gavin Patterson. However, Patterson pulled it wide left and the Jags came up empty.

Early in the second quarter the Jags finally got on the board after 38 yard punt and four yard return put them at the Panther 42 yard line. But again, the Jags drive would stall out at the 11 yard line but this time Patterson slid it inside the right upright.

After trading possessions, Corliss Waitman’s punt was downed at the Panther 8 yard line, but an unsportsmanlike penalty backed them up to the 4 yard line with 5:14 left in the opening half. Then they proceeded to drive it 96 yards in 3:31 to take a 14-3 lead over the Jaguars. Which would be the score at halftime.

After both teams opened the second half with three-and-outs, the Panthers started a drive that would span 14 plays, 51 yards and take 7:39 off the clock. Around midway through the drive the Jags thought they had gotten the stop that they needed on 3rd and 9, but two flags would be thrown. One for roughing the passer when Jimmie Gipson low trying to get to Conner Manning and pushed into his legs just as he was throwing the ball. The other was when Nigel Lawrence lowered his shoulder and kocked the ball loose for an incomplete pass. The targeting would be overturned but the roughing the passer moved them to the Jaguar 40 yard line with a first down. Two holding penalties on the Panthers after that and they were forced to eventually attempt a 50 yard field goal, which they missed well right of the upright.

The Jaguar offense would capitalize on the good field position with a 7 play, 32 yard drive to add a 46 yard field goal and cutting the lead to 14-6 with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.

A pass to Penny Hart would spark the Panthers again on the ensuing drive when he took a short pass and turned it into a 45 yard gain to the Jaguar 20 yard line. They would run tempo to take advantage of the Jags to follow up with a 10 yard run. A couple plays later, when a Jag defenisve lineman jumped offsides, Manner tossed a back-shoulder throw towards Hart in the corner of the end zone to score their final touchdown of the game and to take a 21-6 lead with 12:55 left in the game.

On the next possession, the Jags were starting to move the ball and had converted their first 3rd down of the series when Davis threw a pass to the right sideline where Cedric Stone stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass. He finally stepped out of bounds at the Jaguar 26 yard line. But the Jaguar defense held strong and got the ball back on downs in four plays.

The offense would drive from their own 34 yard line to the Panther 7 but three consecutive incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs.

The Jags would get the ball back with 2:45 left in the game. After taking a 5 yard sack on first down, Davis found Jamarius Way behind the defense down the left sideline for a 75 yard touchdown and giving them the shot in the arm they needed, albeit a bit late.

Corliss Waitman teed up and kicked a perfect onsides kick that Blake Worthy was able to recover on a perfect bounce at the Panther 49 yard line with 2:11 left in the game.

Deonta Moore ran on first down for 7 yards but three consecutive incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs. On the final play, Davis tried to get it to Jamarius Way but he was double covered, but it looked like he had another receiver a little more open about five yards deeper on a crossing route but he was unable to see him.

The Jags finished the game with 338 yards of total offense, 297 passing and merely 41 rushing. The Panthers finished with 309 total yards, 195 passing and 114 rushing. The Jags converted 5-of-16 on third down and held a 31:30 to 28:30 time of possession advantage.

Dallas Davis was the teams leading rusher with 11 yards on 7 attempts. Foster also had 11 yards on only one carry. Xavier Johnson, who had problems all night long slipping on the newly installed turf at Georgia State Stadium, the former Turner Field, finished with -3 yards on seven carries.

Jamarius Way finished with 118 yards on 6 catches with the lone touchdown. Sam Harris caught 7 passes for 73 yards. McCray caught three for 35 yards. Seven other Jaguars also caught passes in the game.

Dallas Davis finished 27-of-48 for 297 yards, a touchdown but also two interceptions and one sack.

Conner Manning finished 17-of-31 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Penny Hart led the Panthers with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Glenn Smith had two catches for 36 yards and the other touchdown. The other five receivers who caught passes had 19 or fewer yards.

Glenn Smith rushed 17 times for 73 yards, Kyler Neal had 10 carries for 32 yards and Manning had three carries for 8 yards.

Coliss Waitman continued his great season with five punts averaging 46.4 yards per punt, a long of 51 with four of his punts being downed inside the 20 yard line.

Head coach Joey Jones summed it up like this, “It was a case of Georgia State grabbing the momentum early on with the first interception and turning that into a touchdown. We never got the momentum back after that. We never really did anything to flip it back our way, except late in the game when we got the long touchdown pass and recovered the onside kick. We had a chance to drive the ball down and score, but didn’t get that done. It just felt like we were climbing out of a hole the whole game. We would drive the ball a little bit on offense, but then stall out. We have to learn from this game, because over the last two weeks, we’ve been able to take the momentum away from teams and held it, but we didn’t do anything to turn the momentum in our favor tonight.”

While not billed as such, the Jags and Panthers game has turned into a bit of a rivalry as they both started football within a couple years of each other and have played very spirited games against each other. When you give momentum to a rival early in the game like that, it’s very hard to get it back. See the Troy game for a good example.

Dallas Davis took the blame offensively, “Offensively, we just didn’t execute. The offensive line did a good job and gave me all the time in the world to throw but we just didn’t execute out on the perimeter, and we have to be able to do that to win games. I feel like we came out flat today, and that’s on me; I have to get the offense going, so I take the blame for it.”

Jeremy Reaves summed it up well too, “We have to bury this game and put it behind us. Sunday starts a new week for us when we get back on the practice field. You just have to learn that you can’t come out flat. Every team you play is going to give you their best every week; you can’t expect to just show up and beat someone. We have some good ball clubs in the Sun Belt. You have to bring your energy and your ‘A’ game every week or you’re going to get beat.”

The Jaguars will start a two-game home-stand on Saturday, November 4 when they host Louisiana-Lafayette. The game is scheduled to kick off at 3pm. The Jags will need to win three of the next four games (Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and New Mexico State) to get bowl eligible.

Strong home support over the next two home games will be a must. Especially against Arkansas State, who is probably one of the top teams in the conference. If the Jags can win out, including a win over ASU, they will be in a very good position win out.

Jags Travel To Face Georgia State On Thursday In Nationally Televised Game

October 25, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama (3-4, 2-1 SBC) and Georgia State (3-3, 2-1 SBC) both have short preparation times to get ready for their Thursday night game in Atlanta.

The Jags come into the game with back-to-back wins and look to even their overall record for the season while Georgia State looks go back over .500 on the season after their three-game win streak was broken at home by Troy on Saturday by a score of 34-10.

USA had their best offensive performance of the season with 549 yards of total offense and an average of 8.1 yards per play. Xavier Johnson broke the career rushing record as he rushed for 99 yards to help the team rush for 242 yards.

Possibly more importantly, the Jags converted 7-of-12 3rd down attempts.

It wasn’t only the offense who had a big game. Jeremy Reaves tied for top spot on the career interception list, returned a fumble 92 yards to set up the offense for a touchdown, and had eight tackles in the game to earn Sun Belt Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Georgia State has wins over Louisiana-Monroe (3-4), Coastal Carolina (1-6), and Charlotte (1-7) this season. Their losses were to Tennessee State (3-4 FCS), Penn State and Troy.

This is head coach Shawn Elliot’s first year at the helm, previously he was co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at South Carolina where he had served for the last seven seasons under both coach Will Muschamp and Steve Spurrier. He served as interim head coach after Spurrier retired midway through the 2015 season. Previous to South Carolina, Elliot served 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, including during their three-consecutive NCAA title run 2005-07 and during the Mountaineers’ historic upset at Michigan in 2007.

The Panthers offensive coordinator is Travis Trickett. He served as offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic and Samford before joining Elliot’s staff. FAU set school records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2016.

GSU’s defensive coordinator is Nate Fugua, who came to the Panthers from FCS Wofford where he had served 12 season, the last three as defensive coordinator. Under his oversight, the defense helped the team to a 10-4 record and finished 5th in the natino in totoal defense, 6th in scoring defense, and 12th in rushing defense.

One of the notable staff members is cornerbacks coach Sam Shade. Shade, who some may remember from his time at the University of Alabama and the 1992 National Championship team, played eight years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins. Prior to joining GSU, Shade coached the last eight years at Samford by coaching cornerbacks and the last seasons also as the passing game coordinator. Samford’s defense led the nation in passing yards allowed (139.1 yards per game), and ranked seventh in pass efficiency defense in 2014. In 2015, Samford led their conference with 16 interceptions (17th in FCS). They finished either first or second in their conference in pass efficiency defense each of the last four seasons.

Georgia State is committed to running the ball. Against Troy, the Panthers ran the ball 33 times for 52 yards. In each of the previous four games the Panther ran the ball at least 40 times. They did not have much production against Charlotte (124) and Coastal Carolina (91), but ran for 224 yards against the ULM in Louisiana.

The Panthers rely on their passing game to get it done though. Against Troy they managed 335 yards through the air in the loss. In their three wins, the Panthers threw for 250 yards or more, including 446 against ULM as they rolled up 670 yards of total offense.

The Panthers offense leans on senior quarterback Conner Manning who is averaging 252.7 yards per game with seven touchdowns on the season with a 66.5% completion percentage. One of his favorite targets is Sophomore Penny Hart, who leads the Sun Belt with an average of 7.8 receptions per game (6th in FBS) and 97.8 yards per game (15th in FBS).

The Jaguar defense allowed an uncharacteristic 307 yards rushing to the Warhawks. The Panthers are going to run the ball, as shown by their rushing attempts in previous games. GSU may not run for lots of yards, but they attempt it enough that you have to play it honest which lets them throw the ball. Which, they are pretty good at averaging 269.7 yards per game. But they also have six interceptions and have had eight fumbles, losing five of them. They also convert 57% of their 3rd down attempts. They also convert 61% of their red-zone trips into points, 44% of them into touchdowns.

What do the Jags need to do to win:

The Jags defense will have to play solid, both against the run and the pass to win. Hopefully last Saturday’s run defense is just an anomaly based on the ULM match-up. But even so, the defense held the Warhawks to 23 points, which was a little over half what they averaged coming into the game. The secondary, led by Reaves, are starting to gel more and play more mature as well.

Offensively, the Jags are playing better. Head coach Joey Jones and offensive coordinator Richard Owens have them taking what the defense will give them, playing patiently and reducing negative plays which puts you in position to convert 3rd downs easier and move the ball. If they continue building on that again this week, then they will have a good chance to notch their third win in a row.

Don’t come out flat against Georgia State. The Panthers and Jaguars have a fairly spirited rivalry that has grown since both started football within a few years of each other. Last year the Jags eeked out a 13-10 win for homecoming, but the Panthers stunned the Jags in Atlanta in 2015 by a score of 24-10. They would love nothing more than to rain on the Jaguar parade again, especially to break a two-game win streak and make up for their loss to Troy last week. But they also need to keep their wits about them. Don’t let the Panthers bait them into needless penalties. Just go out and play their assignment, play to win each and every play, and play fundamentally sound, something they’ve been able to do lately.

South Alabama and Georgia State will kick off in Atlanta at the new Georgia State Stadium on the grounds of the former home of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field. For the Tennessee State game, the Panthers played in front of an announced sell-out crowd of 24,333, however that does not look like actual capacity of the stadium but more of a self-limited number.

The game is scheduled for a 6:30PM Central kickoff and will be aired on ESPNU nationally. Radio in the Mobile area will start their coverage at 4:30pm on 99.5FM The Jag and 95.1 FM in the Mobile area.

South Alabama Win Homecoming Match Up Against Louisiana-Monroe

October 21, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Offensive line and tight ends coach Chase Smith talks with the Jaguar offensive line with the rest of the offense seated along with them during the Jags 33-23 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

South Alabama (3-4, 2-1 SBC) defeats Louisiana-Monroe (3-4, 3-2 SBC) 33-23 in a game that saw a number career highs being broken, a career record being tied, and another career record being broken.

It all began with Xavier Johnson breaking the career rushing record on his second carry of the game, when he broke a 33 yard run on the opening drive of the game. Johnson would end the game with 99 yards on 11 carries.

Sam Harris had career high with eight catches and 141 yards. Dallas Davis threw for a career-high 3 touchdowns in the game and for 317 yards, the most by a Jaguar quarterback this season.

Jeremy Reaves moved into a tie for interceptions in a career with Tyrell Pearson, with his sixth.

The South Alabama offense, led by Dallas Davis, rolled up 549 total yards, 317 through the air and 232 on the ground. Most of the rushing yardage came in the second half as the Warhawk defense held the Jags to 97 yards in the first half.

The Jag defense had problems stopping the Warhawks in the first half. They allowed 312 total yards in the first half, including 239 on the ground. But defensive coordinator Kane Wommack made some great halftime adjustments and held Louisiana-Monroe to only 68 yards rushing and 106 yards passing in the second half.

The Jags only trailed once in the game after Marcus Green took a reverse 74 yards to the Jaguar 1 yard line, followed by a touchdown run by Ben Luckett put ULM ahead 20-17 at the 6:00 mark of the second quarter.

The Jags were driving but Davis threw into triple coverage, the ball was tipped and then intercepted. The Jaguar defense forced a three-and-out to give the ball back to the offense with 1:33 left in the half.

Davis drove the Jags 80 yards to regain the lead behind his arm and the Jaguar receiving corps. The drive culminated with a beautiful catch in the end zone by Sam Harris on 3rd and goal at the 5 yard line.

“Our kids came out and played well tonight, we really grew up as a football team,” said head coach Joey Jones in his post game press conference. “Our offense was able to put up over 500 yards and was 7-of-12 on third downs, so there were a lot of improvements. Our kids played their guts out, I’m excited about the way they played. I’ve known we had a good football team this whole time. We’re looking forward to our next ball game.

“We played a tough schedule early and I knew we had a good football team. We’ve won the last two and our guys want to win a conference championship, and the only way you can do that is win them one game at a time. We can’t look ahead. We’re not a dominant type of team where we are going to beat everyone 55-0, but we are going to have to play good, solid football and win the fourth quarter; that’s what we’ve got done the last couple of weeks.”

Jones commented on Harris’ play in the game, “I don’t believe anyone offered him a scholarship out of high school. He’s probably the most competitive young man I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t say a lot but when the lights are on, he’s going to play and compete. That’s why he’s a great player.”

South Alabama will travel to Atlanta for a Thursday night game against Georgia State that’ll be aired by ESPNU starting at 6:30pm and radio pregame will start at 4:3pm locally on 99.5FM The Jag and 96.1 FM. Both teams will have a short week going into the game

Jags Host Warhawks In Homecoming Match Up

October 17, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama had their 24 hours to enjoy the win over Troy, but they quickly got back to work. They are set to host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, October 21 for homecoming.

In the second half of the Jaguars game in Troy, the offense converted over 50% of their 3rd down attempts, a drastic improvement over the first half when they converted zero of their seven 3rd down attempts.

The Jags offense ranks 120th in total offense with 311.5 yards per game and 109th in yards per play at just under five yards per play. Pair that with the Warhawks defense that ranks 125th out of 129 FBS teams in total defense by allowing an average of 495.5 yards per game and 6.6 yards per play.

Add to it that the Jaguars lost a heart breaker of a game in Monroe last season in overtime 42-35. ULM also leads the all-time series 2-1 over the Jags. USA gained 516 yards of offense, but were flagged 12 times for 83 yards in penalties.

The Jaguar defense also has a chip on their shoulder from last season. They allowed the Warhawks to go 4-of-4 on fourth down attempts.

Head coach Joey Jones and offensive coordinator Richard Owens has a decision to make. Cole Garvin started the season as the starting quarterback, but was injured in the first series against Oklahoma State in the second game of the season. From there, Dallas Davis took over the starting job until he, too, was recovering from an injury suffered in the Jags game against Idaho. Garvin started under center against Louisiana Tech and again against Troy. But he was replaced late in the first half against the Trojans in favor of Davis to give the offense a spark.

The offensive output in the second half happened despite losing Xavier Johnson in the first half with what was reported as a sprained ankle. It concerned fans seeing him taken to the locker room on a cart without his shoe. But it seems like the extra rest between games may allow him to suit up for the game.

During the Monday press conference, Zach Beford said “Every one [game] is a big one. We want to win every single one for the rest of the year. The fact that it’s homecoming, hopefully we just get some more support from our fans and around the city. But it should be a fun environment with homecoming and hopefully we can get a W.”

USA had a great group of fans travel to Troy who were very loud and provided lots of excitement for the team. The team gave a big thanks to the Jaguar fans who made the environment electric for the team.

The Warhawks come off a 47-37 loss to Georgia State at home. Since 2014, they are 4-10 in conference games away from home, but are 2-0 this season.

South Alabama’s kickoff coverage was much better against Troy. They’ll need to keep it up though, ULM’s Marcus Green had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter against Georgia State. Later Green scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

What do the Jags need to do to win:

The offense can’t play down to their competition. They need to continue to improve. In the second half, the Jags converted 3rd downs which helped them keep possession of the ball and give the defense some rest. The ULM defense has not performed well all season, but they’ll look to play better coming off of their first conference loss of the season.

Special teams forced a fumble and recovered a muffed punt. They also covered kickoffs the best they have all season. Corliss Waitman can boom the ball a mile and has been a great weapon to help flip the field and give the defense a big advantage. Finally, Gavin Patterson nailed a career-long of 47-yards.

The defense played lights-out in Troy, except for the one scoring series for Troy. The secondary played strong and will need to keep improving with players like Marcus Green lining up looking to take advantage of the more inexperienced players on the field because of injuries.

The messageboard fans would like to see Coach Jones show more emotion on the sidelines. Some of them will not be happy no matter what, but winning will make fans out of just about anyone.

Kickoff is set for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game can be seen on online on ESPN3 and heard on 99.5 The Jag FM and 96.1 FM in the Mobile area in addition to streamed online by iHeartRadio via 99.5 The Jag.

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