On Saturday, the Jaguars held fourth consecutive day of practice of preseason camp. Again they hit the practice field in shells for a two hour long practice before an off day on Sunday. They will then return to the field in full pads on Monday.
Practice began with special teams work on the punt game with punt returns and punt blocks. The offensive linemen worked on double teams during this period. After this first period, the team went into position drills with offensive linemen working on pass blocking fundamentals as well as screen drills. Receivers began with blocking drills then teamed with the quarterbacks, running backs and tight ends to work on passing routes.
The next period had the team working on both inside and outside running game with the play-action pass. They then broke and the skill players went into skeleton passing drills while the offensive and defensive lines worked against each other on pass protection.
After a break from the heat, the Jags offense worked on the team offense against the first team defense and the scout team defense. This was followed up with third-down conversion scenerios for the offense. Closing practice was specials teams work on kickoff coverage and the field goal team. Currently it appears that Jordan Means enters camp and the first team kicker followed by Chapuseaux and McGlon.
Coach Jones commented after practice saying, “I thought today was the best practice we have had, because we practiced hard and we stayed off the ground for the most part. If we can go full speed and just lock up on the ball carrier and not fall to the ground, then we have a chance to get better but also not get anyone hurt. I liked the fact that we practiced well today. And our kids are full of passion every day. It has been gratifying to watch, because they understand what it takes to win and they are starting to do that. And they are starting to understand that everything matters. We’re not perfect yet, but we’re getting close to having a complete practice every day.”
“We have some young guys who have come along, and part of that is having older guys who can actually direct those guys,” he continued. “They know what they’re doing now, and they can help those young guys along. I’m real pleased with the way it’s going so far.”
In his post-practice talk with the players on the practice field, Coach Jones talked with the team about former South Alabama player Anthony Mostella. “When you think of a South Alabama football player, Anthony Mostella is the kind of person that our players need to model themselves after as a person and a player, Coach Jones said. “And I want to honor his family by giving the jersey each year to a player deserving of that. We think Paul Bennett has those character traits. He is the kind of person who leads his football team; he is a hard worker and you can count on him. He has all those intangibles you need to be a winning football player here at South Alabama.”
In a tradition that started last season after Mostella’s untimely death, Jaguar players choose a senior to wear the No. 5 jersey to honor his memory. Senior tight end Paul Bennett was chosen by his teammates to wear the former running back’s jersey this season, he will be the first offensive player to wear the No. 5 since Mostella. Last season Senior linebacker Justin Dunn was chosen by his teammates to wear the number.
“It’s an honor to wear number five,” said Paul Bennett. “Mo was one of my closest friends. We came to South Alabama at the same time. He always came to practice with a smile on his face. He loved to work hard; he had a great work ethic. The best thing about him was that he was a humble guy. He just came to work every day and did his job. Honestly, it’s just a huge honor to represent him and his family and everything he has done for this program. I’m very blessed to be wearing number five this year.”
The Jaguars will resume preseason practice on Monday in full pads at 6:15am at the South Alabama Practice Facility on campus.
The Jaguar offensive line lines up against the Lamar defense. They helped Kendall Houston rush for 166 yards, the new single game record for Jaguar running backs, and did not allow a sack in the game.
South Alabama went on the road to Beaumont, Texas to begin their season-defining three game stretch and came home with a big win and a huge statement, 26-0. The Lamar Cardinals had averaged just over 341 yards per game but were held to a season low of 161 yards of total offense as the Jaguar defense came out ready for a big fight.
The Jags were quite conservative with their play calling in the game. After losing your first string running back to a season ending ACL tear, it was good play calling on Coach Gregory and Coach Jones’ part. While the scoreboard did not show what the Jaguar faithful were used to, it was definitely a resounding win.
The defense would score the only touchdown in the first half and the offense would only score one touchdown in the game. The rest of the scoring rested on the foot of Lawson McGlon who was officially 4-for-5 in the game but did make a kick that was nullified by a penalty. So a position that, at the beginning of the season, looked like it could lose a close game turned out to be the one that put the game out of reach.
“We sputtered somewhat on offense when we got the ball into the red zone, but we moved the ball well between the 30s,” said Coach Joey Jones after the game. “We had to settle for four field goals, but when you’re on the road sometimes that happens. I’m really proud of Kendall and the way he came in for Brandon after we lost him last week. He really stepped up and ran like a Division I running back tonight.”
“We know that UC Davis is a very good team. They’ve beaten San Jose State and won their conference last year,” Coach Jones stated on their upcoming opponent. “They’re a very sound team, we are going to have to go out to California and see what we’ve got. But, our kids are real excited about that. We’re trying to take this thing with baby steps, and we’ve taken some big steps already. It’s a great win, but where we stand I don’t know. At the end of the year I think we’ll be able to look back and see where we are as a team. All I know is that we came on the road, and were on the bus for six hours. The kids did a great job being focused, and we played a great ballgame. It’s a big win for our program.”
“You have to play great defense on the road, and we did that tonight,” Coach Jones commented. “I’m real proud of the staff and players. They played lights out tonight. They knew this was their first big challenge, and answered that call.”
The Jaguars did not come out of the game unscathed. Unfortunately Chris Brunson suffered a broken ankle in the first half of the game against Lamar and will be out for the remainder of the season. Brunson was also a backup to Trey Clark, the center, who suffered a sprained ankle but should be okay. Coach Jones will probably try Brian Krauskopf in practice until Clark’s ankle is better and to give him experience in case he is needed in a game situation.
The Jags travel to Davis, California to face the Aggies of UC-Davis in a 4pm (Central, 2pm Pacific) game against their second of three consecutive FCS teams and their second in a row on the road. For a more detailed breakdown of the game, continue below.
Brandon Ross scores a touchdown early in the Jags game against Missouri S&T.
The Jags stay undefeated when another big win at home against Missouri S&T, 45-6. They improve to 5-0 on the season and 12-0 overall in the programs history.
Jordan Means opened up the scoring with a career-long 36 yard field goal on the Jags opening drive, just two and a half minutes into the game. The drive covered 41 yards in six plays but stalled and had to settle for the field goal.
Brennan Sim, the starting quarterback, took the first four snaps, including completing a pass to Courtney Smith for 29 yards. However, on a scramble the lowered his head for a few extra yards but was hit hard and had to leave the game. Myles Gibbon came in on third down but his pass to Courtney Smith was incomplete forcing the field goal attempt.
The Jags held the Miners and forced a punt. On the subsequent South Alabama possession, Sim returned to the field. Sim then completed his first pass attempt to T.J. Glover for 14 yards. Then two snaps later Sim was sacked and fumbled the ball which Missouri S&T recovered at the USA 26 yard line.
On the first play, Missouri S&T ran for one yard but offsetting penalties, holding on MS&T and a horse-collar tackle on USA, nullified the play. Missouri rushed twice for two yards on the first and no gain on the second. Then facing third and eight at the USA 24 a pass reception by Chad Shockley from Steve Watson for 13 yards got the Miners down to the Jaguar 11 yard line. The following play was an 11 yard touchdown reception again by Chad Shockley. However the extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Miners with a 6-3 lead with 5:15 left in the first quarter.
C.J. Bennett was under center for the next South Alabama possession. The opening play was a run by Ralph Turner for eight yards to the USA 41 yard line, but a holding penalty put the Jags back at the 31 yard line. On first and 12, Bennett’s pass attempt to Lemontis Gardner was incomplete, but the very next play Bennett hit Corey Waldon for a 42 yard gain to the Miners 27 yard line. Brandon Ross followed it up with two rushes, one for 13 and another for 14 to score the answering touchdown. With the Jordan Means extra point the Jags regained the lead 10-6 with 3:10 left in the first quarter.
On the subsequent MS&T possession, after an incomplete pass and a two yard rush, Enrique Williams sacked the quarterback Watson for 14 yards causing a fumble. Randon Carnathan picked up the fumble and returned it eight yards for the touchdown. Means point after was good extending the Jags lead to 17-6 with 1:50 left in the first quarter.
Missouri S&T’s next possession went 25 yards in nine plays covering 6:10 before being forced to punt, which was downed at the Jaguar five yard line.
C.J. Bennett handed off to T.J. Glover for three yards. Then Kendall Houston ran for another ten yards to give the Jags some breathing room. Bennett tried to connect with Ryne Baxter but the ball fell incomplete. Then the following play he hooked up with Corey Waldon for 16 yards. Another incomplete pass before another Kendall Houston rush for 25 yards put the Jags at the Miners 41 yard line.
Following a time out by South Alabama, a rush by Bryant Lavender for 38 yards to the three yard line. Houston then plunged in for the touchdown. The Means PAT made the score 24-6 with 7:28 left in the second quarter.
The Jaguars defense held the Miners to -4 yards in a three and out on their next possession. The punt went 39 yards but Jereme Jones got most of it back on a 20 yard return to the Missouri 39 yard line.
It only took the Jags three plays to score. A six yard run by C.J. Bennett to the 33 yard line. Brandon Ross then rushed for 22 yards to the 11 yard line. However, Ross would need to be helped off the field with an apparent knee injury. Kendall Houston would cap off the drive with an 11 yard rush for the touchdown. With the Means PAT, the Jaguar lead extended to 31-6 with 4:10 left in the second quarter.
Again the Jaguar defense shut down the Miner offense with another three and out punt. The Jaguars started at their own 40 yard line. Bennett’s two passing attempts went incomplete. Then on third and ten Bennett was sacked and fumbled which was recovered by Missouri S&T at the Jaguar 31 yard line.
The first Missouri play was a 15 yard completion to the Jaguar 16 yard line. Following an incomplete pass, Watson completed a pass for a loss of one yard. Then on third and 11, an incomplete pass brought up fourth down. Missouri S&T then faked a field goal but only managed to gain three yards before Justin Dunn made the tackle.
The Jags ran out the final 54 seconds of the first half with two rushes by Ellis Hill for seven and eight yards respectively.
Missouri received the kickoff to begin the second half and started at their own 12 yard line. The Jags defense started the half with big to force a three and out. The Miners punt went 43 yards but Jereme Jones returned it 24 yards to the Miners 34 yard line, but a face mask penalty on Missori put the ball at the Miner 19 yard line.
Gibbon connected with Courtney Smith for 14 yards to the five yard line. Santuan McGee came up a yard short, only gaining four of the needed five yards. But Gibbon would plunge in for the score on the next play. The extra point put the Jaguar lead at 38-6 with 12:28 left in the third quarter.
On a drive that ended the third quarter and began the fourth quarter, the Jags had another scoring opportunity. The Jags drove 54 yards in eight play and getting down to the Miner four yard line before facing a fourth and three at the six yard line. Lawson McGlon attempted a 23 yard field goal but his plant foot slipped causing him to fall but the kick went wide left.
Later in the fourth quarter, Missouri started at their own 12 yard line. After a time out before the Miners third and two, they come up short on a rush and only gained one yard. Then, after a bad snap, the punter picked up the ball and tried to run for the first down but ended up losing five yards.
Santuan McGee would run four consecutive times for three, three, three and seven yards respectively before scoring the final touchdown of the game.
South Alabama gained 202 yards on 33 rushes and 167 yards passing for a total 369 yards. The Jaguar defense only allowed 71 yards on 41 rushes and 83 yards passing for at total of 154 yards.
South Alabama had several players run the ball. Brandon Ross rushed 6 times for 55 yards before leaving with a knee injury. Kendall Houston ran 4 times for 49 yards, Bryant Lavender ran once for 38 yards, Ellis Hill seven times for 29 yards and Santuan McGee six times for 21 yards. While several others also ran the ball for single digit yards.
Six Jags caught passes. Courtney Smith caught three for 73 yards, Corey Waldon caught two for 58 yards, T.J. Glover caught one for 14 yards and Richard Ross caught one for 11. Two others had one reception each.
C.J. Bennett went 5-for-10 for 107 yards. Gibbon was 2-for-4 for 17 yards and Brennan Sim was 2-for-2 for 43 yards.
Enrique Williams finished with a career high eight tackles and a forced fumble. Ben Giles added seven tackled while Justin Dunn added six himself with each of them with two tackles for loss. Tim Harvey and Jake Johnson had five tackles each and Ken Barefield and Alex Page each had four tackles. The defense held the Miners to an average of less than two yards per rush.
Coach Jones commented on the Jaguars performance after the game. “I thought the defense played very well. Obviously, early they made a drive, but as always our coaches on the sideline made adjustments and our kids adjusted to what they were doing. From that point on, they did a really good job. I was real proud of them today.”
Coach Jones commented on Brennan Sim returning to the sidelines after halftime without his shoulderpads. “Brennan got dinged a little bit, and we had to get him out. C.J. came in and played well. It seems like each game that there is a quarterback who steps into the mix and plays well. It’s more of a feel thing that we go with each game. I thought C.J. had a great game today.”
The Jags will go on the road for their next two games. The first is in Beaumont, Texas against Lamar for a 6pm kickoff. However reports are that Brandon Ross will have an MRI on his knee on Monday so the Jags appear to be without their number one running back going into their two game road swing.
Coach Jones commented about the players and the upcoming road games. “They know these upcoming weeks are going to be tough; we have to travel to Texas and California, and come back here and play Georgia State after that. As competitors we’re looking forward to that. They’re excited about getting on the road, going on a six-hour bus trip and playing a very good Lamar football team.”
October is shaping up to be a huge month for South Alabama football with games against Lamar, UC-Davis and Georgia State. The first two being road games. We will soon see much this team has grown and how far they are on their roadmap to Division I-A play.
South Alabama Football coach Joey Jones oversees his team warming up at Rip Hewes Stadium for the Wiregrass Classic.
It was evident, even before kickoff at the Wiregrass Classic in Dothan, that South Alabama outmatched Edward Waters. Not to belittle the Tigers, but these two teams could not have been any more different. Edward Waters is a private, traditionally black NAIA college with an enrollment of 839 students. While South Alabama is a public school with an enrollment of over 15,000 students.
But Edward Waters has a rich and interesting history. It was founded and initially named “Brown Theological Institute” in 1866 specifically to educate newly freed black slaves. Then the school experienced financial difficulties and was forced to close for nearly a decade. In 1883 it reopened as “East Florida Conference High School” then later it was renamed “East Florida Scientific and Divinity School”.
Within ten years, the educational program was extended and it’s name was changed to Edward Waters College. In 1901 it was destroyed by a fire. Then in 1904 they acquired the site that it currently resides and began to rebuild.
It was first accredited as a junior college in 1955 and by 1960 the college had restored its four-year cirriculum. Then in 1979, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accredited the school as a four-year institution.
Of the 839 enrolled, over 90% of them rely on financial aid and the school has been growing. It was highlighted in among “The Best of Florida Schools in 2004″ for the “Biggest Growth for Private Colleges.”
In 2001, the school returned to football after a 34 year absence. In 2004 they joined the newly formed South East Atlantic Conference (SEAC) with two other schools, Webber International University and Concordia College. After Concordia was unable to gain membership into the NAIA, the conference dissolved at the conclusion of the 2008 season. EWC won the conference title in 2004, then shared by EWC and Concordia in 2007 and finally a three way share between all of the schools in 2008.
Edward Waters is currently in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference with Dillard University, Fisk University, Southern University at New Orleans, Tougaloo College and Xavier University of Louisiana.
So the differences between South Alabama and EWC are striking.
As for the game, there was no question who was going to win from the outset of the game at Rip Hewes Stadium. Within the first two minutes the Jags had forced a three and out, returned the punt to the EWC 35 yard line and ran two plays to score a touchdown. A 16 yard rush followed by a 19 yard touchdown pass from Brennan Sim to Courtney Smith. The point after attempt was mishandled by Taylor Noon who picked it up and scrambed to the corner of the end zone for two points to put the Jags up 8-0 with 13:03 left in the first quarter.
The Jags second offensive series was stopped and was forced to punt. But on Edward Waters’ first offensive play, the pass was intercepted by the defense setting up another short field. Brandon Ross would go in from four yards for the second touchdown, capping off a four play 41 yard drive in 1:12. The PAT by Jordan Means put the Jags up 15-0 with 7:53 left in the first quarter.
The next EWC possession ended in a three and out. The punt was returned to the EWC 35 yard line to set up the Jags with a short field once again. This time it took the Jags six plays to cover 35 yards. The drive was capped off by a three yard touchdown pass from Brennan Sim to Lemontis Gardner and the PAT by Jordan Means. This put the Jags up 22-0 with 3:03 left in the first quarter.
On the Tigers ensuing possession, the second play from scrimmage was picked off by senior Justin Dunn and returned 41 yards for a touchdown. The PAT was successful by Jordan Means to put the Jags up 29-0 with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers were picked off again on their ensuing possession. The Jags would cover 62 yards in six plays and using 1:52 off of the clock to score another touchdown. The drive was capped off by Brennan Sim’s third touchdown pass of the game, this one covering 10 yards to Bryant Lavender. Jordan Means added the point after to put the Jags up 36-0 with 14:11 to play in the second quarter.
A three and out by the Tigers was followed by a three and out by the Jags as well. Then after EWC moved the ball some, their drive ended with their fourth interception. With Ray Cotton taking over the quarterbacking duties, the Jags went 58 yards in six plays using 3:31 off of the clock to score for the last time in the first half. The drive was capped off by a 20 yard touchdown run by Cotton with the point after by Lawson McGlon to put South Alabama up 43-0 at halftime.
Coach Jones and his coaches took the pedal off somewhat, in the second half. The Jags did score three more touchdown, a 15 yard run by Ryan Scott, and a pair by Michael Nevels of 12 and 11 yards respectively. All three point after attempts were successfully made by Lawson McGlon.
The Jags ended the game with 30 first downs, 391 yards rushing and 112 yard passing for a total of 503 yards total offense. The Tigers had 5 first downs, 97 yards rushing, 47 yards passing for a total of 144 yards of offense.
South Alabama rushed eight different running backs. Kendall Houston had four carries with 48 yards, Santuan McGee had three touches for 46 yards, Ellis Hill eight carries for 46 yards, T.J. Glover had four carries for 41 yards, Ryan Scott had seven carries for 44 yards, Michael Nevels had six carries for 35 yards, Johnny Lockett had six carries for 33 yards and Brandon Ross had only three carries for 16 yards. The leading rusher for the team was Ray Cotton with seven carries and gaining 78 yards.
Three quarterbacks made it into the game. Brennan Sim started in place of Myles Gibbon and went 6 of 11 for 85 yards and three touchdowns. Ray Cotton went 1 for 3 for 16 yards while Gabe Graham went 1 of 2 for 11 yards.
Eight different Jaguar receivers caught passes but none of them caught more than one. Jereme Jones lead the receivers with 21 yards.
The Edward Waters quarterbacks combined to go 2 of 15 with four interceptions against the South Alabama defense.
The kickoff woes continued against the Tigers. Jordan Means kicked four times with two of them going out of bounds. Michel Chapuseaux also kicked four but only one of his went out of bounds. Lawson McGlon kicked twice with none of them going out of bounds.
Umcambre Williams lead the defense with five tackles. Jake Johnson recorded the lone solo sack.
The defensive player of the game came from Edward Waters while the offensive player of the game was Brennan Sim.
Coach Jones spoke after the game saying, “I think they performed very well. The bottom line is we had better players than they did. They really had a class bunch. I thought it was a well-played game.”
He continued, “We got a lot of guys in the game. Our coaches had a plan of who they were going to play if we got up so we could get some good out of this game, and I think we did. Our ones went out there and played well. The two lines stayed in there a good amount of time. They haven’t had a lot of reps, so it was good to get them in the game. We have to have some depth for the end of the year, and we keep trying to develop that. That was the great thing about today, we were able to reward those guys who have been working their tails off all summer long. They deserve it. There’s not many chances when you can do that, and we were glad to be able to get them in.”
The Jags return home to face Kentucky Wesleyan on Saturday, October 2 with kickoff scheduled for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
Myles Gibbon, running the first series with the first-team offense, scores the first touchdown of the scrimmage.
The second scrimmage of the preseason was a bit more even than the first one last week. Less touchdowns but also less turnovers. Which pleased Coach Jones when it was all said and done.
Several players were out due to injury on the defense. None severe, just nagging injuries which the coaching staff decided to sideline for the scrimmage. Randon Carnathan, Justin Dunn, Tim Harvey, Jake Johnson, Romelle Jones and Alex Page all sat out the scrimmage.
The Jags ran about 93 plays, close to their goal of 100. Overall the offense gained 251 yards with the first team defense only allowing 48 in their seven series on the field. The only two turnovers of the day were recovered by Jarred Williams and Montavious Williams, but both were committed by Ellis Hill, but one was a bad exchange from Brennan Sim. Anthony Taylor made back-to-back sacks for the first-team defense while Kendell Bagnerise added one right after Taylor to back the offense up 18 yards in one possession.
With so many playmakers out on defense, Jonathan Cameron and Bryson James led the defense each with four tackles. Zach Rone lead the second team defense with five tackles.
Myles Gibbon led the first team offense 80 yards in seven plays on their first possession to score the first touchdown. Brandon Ross made the big gain on the series with a 39 yard run, including knocking a defensive back flat on his tail, to set up the touchdown. After two runs by Santuan McGee, Gibbon ran to the left and made the corner of the end zone for the score.
C.J. Bennett led the first team offense the second time they were on the field. He would lead the offense down the field but could not get into the end zone and they settled for a 37 yard Michel Chapuseaux field goal.
The second first-team touchdown would be from a combination of Gibbon and Bennett under center. With the offense facing fourth down from the defense’s 43 yard line, Myles would hit Bryant Lavender for a 14 yard gain on the left sideline. Then Bennett would enter the game who would fine Ralph Turner open on the right side of the field for a 29 yard touchdown. The series covered 60 yards in six plays.
The second-team offense would have it’s best drive of the day on their first possession of the game with Bennett at quarterback. He would start the series off with a 14 yard completion to Lamontis Gardner. Then after a handoff for a short gain, he complete a pass to Gardner for eight more yards and a second first down of the series. But the series would come to an end after a fumbled handoff on third down was recovered by the offense and forced them to punt.
Bennett went 5 of 8 passing for 65 yards and a touchdown, Brennan Sim completed three for 27 yards and Gibbon completed one for 14 yards. Corey Besteda, Gardner and Lavender each caught two passes while Ralph Turner led the receivers with a touchdown and 29 yards on one reception.
Coach Jones had the following to say after the scrimmage: “We changed things up, but I thought we looked a little sharper. There were a few penalties out there, which we have to get corrected in the next couple of weeks, but I thought it was a good day. It was more like a game, we called all the special teams out there so they had to be alert on the sidelines. My overall feeling is that the offense and defense got better, and special teams were pretty consistent.”
He continued, “We will evaluate this film and go into next week with an idea of who our ones and twos will be. Of course, it’s not over because these kids compete for jobs every day, but we have to find a starting point when we begin next week.”
T.J. Glover running down the sideline on his 79 yard reception.
The defense started the scrimmage by allowing a 70 yard touchdown pass from Myles Gibbon to Lamontis Gardner but the defense would come back stronger after that by not allowing another score for the next seven series.
The defense would intercept two passes and recover a fumble during the seven series, scoreless stretch by the offense. C.J. Bennett would lead the offense to drive from mid field to score. However, the touchdown pass went through the intended receivers hands short of the end zone but Bryant Lavendar would catch it in the end zone for the touchdown.
After a break, the offense came back with something to prove. The offense, lead by Gibbon, would see three holding calls on the opening drive of the second half. However they worked hard and eventually put the ball into the end zone. T.J. Glover made it into the end zone twice but each were called back on holding penalties. Hill eventually got the ball into the end zone.
There would be three more touchdowns by the offense with two of them being keyed off of big plays. Santuan McGee had a 42 yard touchdown and 79 yard reception by T.J. Glover set up the offense for another score.
Myles finished 6 of 8 for 119 yards and two touchdowns. C.J. Bennett went 7 of 13 for 162 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. T.J. Glover had two catches for 106 yards. Corey Besteda, Lemantis Gardner and Ralph Turner all had multiple receptions. Brandon Ross only rushed twice for 23 yards. Cotton and Ellis Hill both had 17 yards rushing.
Enrique Williams lead the team in tackles and added an interception. Bryson James added three stops and an interception as well. Kendell Bagnerise and Rodney Thomas both recorded sacks with Thomas.
Watch the video of Coach Jones’ speaking after the scrimmage in our previous post by clicking here. Plus check out http://local15tv.com/ and http://fox10tv.com/ for coverage of the post scrimmage talk as well.
Full Scrimmage Coverage Read more
South Alabama hit the field early Friday morning for their first day of preseason practice. With more returning players, the Jags have more leadership and more organization in their first practice. Not that last years practice was disorganized by any means. These returning players have a determined focus and knowledge of the South Alabama system that they can help guide the incoming freshman through their initial paces.
In a little over two hours of practice time, it quickly became obvious to both the new transfers and the incoming freshmen that the Jaguars mean business. After coming off of an undefeated inaugural season, it would be easy to begin preseason camp with ease. But that would not make their road to FBS any shorter.
Practice began with about 15 minutes of special teams punt coverage before the offense and defense split to opposing sides of the field. The quarterbacks went through pass plays beginning with wide receivers, then running backs and finally tight ends. While the defense worked on pursuing ball carriers down the sidelines.
After about 35 minutes of split offensive and defensive drills, or about 50 minutes into the practice session, linebackers and defensive backs grouped up and began going through pass play coverage while the offense continued going through passing plays but they also added running plays.
The next 15 minutes had 7-on-7 skeleton passing drills while defensive linemen and outside linebackers faced the offensive line and attempted to pressure the quarterback.
After that session, the offense and defense split again. The offense went back to working on its plays while the defense focused on formations, coverages and rushing the passer.
A 10 minute period had 11-on-11, offense versus defense, drills. The offense was able to complete three of ten passing attempts, including the last two attempts by Brennan Sim. The only other to complete an attempt was Raymond Cotton who found Erling Riis on a screen play.
The returning players came out and were definitely bigger and stronger. Coach Jones attributed their first day effort to their weight and conditioning training over the summer. During the summer, only the strength and conditioning staff are allowed to work directly with the student-athletes. Coach Jones commented, “One thing I noticed in walking around with the other coaches is that we look a lot better than we did last year physically on the field. Now, we have to translate that into playing well. Just because we look good doesn’t mean we’re going to play good. The challenge for the guys is that they have to transfer some of that weight they’ve gained into being great players.”
Linebacker Justin Dunn, one of ten returning defensive starters, was quoted saying, “The talent level has improved, and so has our depth.” Not only are more players are on the team in the way of freshmen, but five transfers from FBS (formerly Division I-A) should make an immediate impact for the Jaguars.
Raymond Cotton, one of the latest and definitely biggest press garnering transfers to the South Alabama program was quite impressed with his first practice. “They bring it out here, harder than I thought they would,” he was quoted saying.
Jake Johnson, linebacker transfer from Virginia Tech, was also impressed with his first practice with the Jaguars. “It was intense, especially compared to what I was used to at Virginia Tech. This is the hardest practice I have been a part of since high school two-a-days. It was non-stop, which made it tough, but it was a fun practice.”
Coach Joey Jones can see improvements in the size, strength and depth of his team as they hit the field in preparation for their second season. But one of his goals since the end of last season was to make sure that he and his staff take time to thoroughly examine the program to see where they could improve as well. Coach Jones said, “We spent the whole off-season trying to get better. The staff has done a great job of looking at what we did last year, seeing what people are doing around the country and trying to learn. We’re not going to make wholesale changes, but would like to add things that fit with us.”
With the unfortunate passing of Jaguar running back Anthony Mostella, Coach Jones announced that his memory was to be honored by having a distinguished senior wear his jersey in his honor. The team took a vote on Wednesday when the players reported to campus and Coach Jones announced that Justin Dunn would wear the number 5 jersey. “I’m excited about it,” Dunn said about the honor. “Mo was a close friend of mine, my next-door neighbor actually, and we played together at Birmingham-Southern for three years. It’s an honor, because he’s one of the best people I know, a great athlete, a great student and a good person. More people like him would make the world a better place.”
The Jaguars will return to the field at 7:10am Saturday morning for another two hour practice in shorts and helmets. On Sunday and Monday mornings, the Jags are scheduled to hit the field in shells before donning full pads on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, South Alabama announced that three players were transferring from other programs and joining the Jaguars this season. Among these three is the Jaguars highest profile player to date, former starting linebacker Jake Johnson from Virginia Tech.
Johnson is listed at 6’2″ and 232lbs. He was highly recruited by Virginia Tech, Maryland and Virginia out of high school and has a reputation as being a monster in the weight room. Johnson started the first eight games of the 2009 season and lead the team with tackles against Alabama. For the season he finished tied for fifth on the team with 55 tackles and 4.5 of them for a loss with two sacks.
However, at the end of the season Johnson lost his starting job and Beamer and Company moved him to defensive end in the spring. He asked and was granted his release back in May. Once the Jags heard he had his release from the Hokies, South Alabama make phone calls to see if he would be interested in the Jaguars. “It means the world to us to have a guy like him who has experience in big games and can provide that experience to our team,” Coach Jones remarked. “He’s going to bring a lot to the table. He’s a hard worker and a leader and we hope that’s going to rub off on our younger players.”
Johnson commented on South Alabama’s facilities by saying, “The main thing that attracted me is it’s going to be a Division I program in a couple of years and we’ll be playing against Division I schools. I’ll have three years of football, three years of school here and playing Division I teams, and you can’t beat that. I couldn’t get that from some other schools. All the facilities are brand-new and the technology is the latest stuff. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here, but everything is great from the fieldhouse to the meeting rooms and weight room. I was really impressed. I can’t wait to strap the pads back on and start hitting again. I just love the game and I can’t wait to get started in August again.”
Kendall Houston, who was a high school standout at running back at Vigor. He helped them win the 2008 Class 5A title by running for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns as an all-state selection. He transferred from Arkansas State and is listed at 5’10″ and weighting 180lbs. He participated in spring drills at ASU but never played in a regular season game. So he comes to South Alabama with five seasons of eligibility since the NCAA has South Alabama listed as an “unclassified” program, he is able to participate in games during what will amount to be his redshirt season in 2010.
The third transfer is Ben Giles from Pace, Florida. Another high school standout who transferred from Louisiana-Monroe to South Alabama. He is listed at 6’0″ and 235lbs. He sat out last season at ULM and comes to South Alabama with four years of eligibility. Coach Jones remembers recruiting Giles and said, “He’s a tough inside linebacker-type player. He plays tough and he’s a good addition to the team.”
With the addition of Johnson and Giles to the Higgenbotham and Dunn tandem, the Jags have firmly solidified the linebacker positions with even more depth and talent. Look for good things out of these four in the coming season.
Coach Jones and his staff oversee the second scrimmage of the spring at the Jaguar Practice Facility on the South Alabama Campus on Saturday.
The Jaguar defense had another impressive outing in Saturday’s scrimmage at the Jaguar Practice Facility on campus. The first and second teams both combined to only allow a single touchdown prior to red zone drills.
Ken Barefield lead the defense with 12 tackles and an interception with Justin Dunn and Tim Harvey adding six more tackles each. Romelle Jones added five tackles and a group of six others added four tackles each.
The defensive unit had 18 tackles for loss, six of those being sacks and three of them being credited to Tony Threatt.
Brennan Sim lead the first team offense and went 7-for-17 for 80 yards and lead them to their first points on the third drive my their team. Four of the first five plays were rushes by Eli Smith, who gained 31 yards. A Sim pass to Kelly Vail put them on the 16 yard line before Vail was caught for a loss of 12 yards on a reverse. Michel Chapuseaux capped off the drive with a 42 yard field goal.
The first team offense finally found the end-zone on its last drive after Sim completed three straight passes. The final of the three consecutive passes came on fourth-and-two when he found Kevin Helms for a 28 yard touchdown.
The third team offense was the only other team to put the ball into the end zone for the day. It was the third teams’ first drive and Gabe Graham was facing a third-and-six from their own 39 yard line. Graham would find Bryant Lavender near the left hashmark and he would break a tackle for the 61 yard touchdown.
During the red zone drill, the offense would score on all three possessions. Smith would score on a rush up the middle for five yards. Myles Gibbon would connect with Andrew Martin for an eight yard touchdown. Then Ellis Hill would pound it into the end zone on a fourth-and-one play.
Bryant Lavendar would lead the Jags with 74 yards receiving on two receptions. Jereme Jones had a team high of four catches for 39 yards. While Courtney Smith would add three catches for 20 yards and Ralph Turner would catch two for 37 yards.
Eli Smith would lead the ground game with 13 rushes for 39 yards, while Ryan Scott would add 36 and Santuan McGee would add 31.
As mentioned before, Brennan Sim would complete 7-of-17 passes for 80 yards while Myles Gibbon would go 6-of-9 for 89 yards and the only interception of the day. Gabe Graham completed 4-of-5 passes for 97 yards.
The totals was 266 yards passing, 169 yards rushing for a total oof 435 total yards.
Coach Jones commented on the performance by the defense after the scrimmage. “That’s pretty much what we’ve seen all spring,” he said. “The defense did a good job of stopping the run, they really played well early in the scrimmage. I’m proud of those guys.”
Coach Jones then continued to speak about the offenses performance. “Offensively I thought we got a little better as the scrimmage went on. I told the team afterwards that we’ve just gotten better. When you watch film, I’m not so much worried about the results or how many touchdowns there were. We’re looking at individual plays and the fundamentals, we’ll worry about the scoreboard in the fall. The bottom line is that I’m real proud of the team, we’ve had a great spring thus far. We have achieved our goals.”
The Jags will practice on Monday and Tuesday morning at the Jaguar Practice Facilities on campus. Then Spring Practice will conclude with an intrasquad game on Wednesday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 6pm. Which Coach Jones had this to say about it. “The players are really excited [about Wednesday's game]. They have already went through a player draft and formed two teams. I look at it that those guys will go out and have fun, because the bottom line is that evaluations are pretty much done. The teams will be split, which usually leads to things being a little out of synch. I’m not going to worry about that.”.
This will definitely make for an interesting end to the spring session.
Saturday was the Jaguars first scrimmage of Spring practice and their focus was the passing game. Brennan Sim and Myles Gibbon each threw two touchdowns as the Jaguars offense racked up 286 yards through the air.
Sims was 11-of-21 with 172 yards with his two touchdowns while Gibbon went 6-of-9 for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Gabe Graham completed all four of his passing attempts for 22 yards as well. The Jags had 11 different receivers catching passes on the day with Kelly Vail catching four passes for 111 yards. Courtney Smith caught three for 38 yards as well.
While the defense allowed more than eight yards per passing play, they only allowed 66 yards on 58 carries. Linebacker Justin Dunn and Defensive Lineman Darrius McMullin both lead the defense with seven tackles. Enrique Williams had five tackles including 1.5 for loss. Several others had four tackles. Defensive Back Jonathan Cameron had three tackles to go along with his three pass break-ups. Ken Barefield and Zach Brownell both forced fumbles.
Additionally, the defense was credited with 18 tackles behind the line of scrimmage with 10 of them being quarterback sacks.
The first and second team defenses both held the offenses to three-and-outs on the possessions of the days. It was Gabe Graham, the third team quarterback, who would get the offense in gear when he completed a 10 yard pass to Courtney Smith to get the initial first down of the scrimmage.
The first team offense’s next series saw Sim find Kelly Vail inside the five yard line in stride but Brownell caught him from behind and forced a fumble that would roll out of the back of the end zone.
Two possessions later the offense would finally put the first points on the board. Ross would get a first down on his first carry, which would be followed up by Gibbon hitting Corey Besteda on the left sideline for a 49 yard touchdown.
The defense would answer with two consecutive three-and-outs with three sacks in those six plays. Then they ended the third possession when Eddie Cabrera hauled in an interception which he ran back 17 yards.
The first half of the scrimmage would see the offense getting five first downs but unable to score.
The second half of the scrimmage saw the defense open up with four three-and-outs before Brandon Ross would get two first downs for the offense. But no one was able to score.
It wasn’t until offensive possessions started at the defense’s 40 yard line was the final points of the day put on the board.
Sims found Kelly Vail for a 36 yard completion to move the offense inside the five yard line. Then three plays later Sim would find Ryne Baxter in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Gibbon would helm the next drive which began with an 18 yard pass to Richard Ross but it would only lead to a 30 yard field goal by Jordan Means.
The final four drives of the day were first-and-goal from the nine yard line. The first ended with a 23 yard field goal by Michel Chapuseaux. The next saw Sim find Smith on a fourth down slant pattern for the eight yard score. The final possession had a nine yard touchdown pass to Robby Stoner from Myles Gibbon.
After the scrimmage, Coach Jones commented on how the Jags played. “Offensively, I think we are throwing the ball a little bit better. That has been an area that we have been looking to improve on. Our defense has just gotten tougher against the run, which is what you want to see. Last fall, it was a little bit porous at times against the offense, but they have done a great job of improving. Sure there are things that still need to be corrected, but I have been pleased with their efforts to stop the running game.”
“We’ve made some improvements in the last week-and-a-half, but we have got to have a great week this week,” Coach Jones continued. “The next four practices we have need to be great because when we get to Monday the week of the spring game we are basically going to be done at that point as far as trying to get better. I think the kids will respond to that challenge.”
The Jags will practice in pads on Monday with limited contact beginning at 7am then on Tuesday the team will resume tackling when they hit the field at 7:30am. The second of the three scrimmages this spring will be on Saturday, March 6. Practices this week and Saturday’s scrimmage will all be held at the Jaguar Practice Facility near the Jaguar Football Field house.