Jags hold on to 33-30 homecoming victory over UT-Martin

October 17, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Kendall Houston run

One of several punishing runs by Kendall Houston vs Tennessee-Martin.

South Alabama held on after a late charge by the UT-Martin Skyhawks to win 33-30. Although, their rally was aided by some questionable calls down the stretch by the officials.

South Alabama again did not play a complete game. They came out with an opening drive score but would continue to play well in the first three quarters. However the fourth quarter would see the Skyhawks put up 17 unanswered points.

The first half was all Jaguars statistically. They rolled up 239 yards to only 64 for the Skyhawks and possession the ball for over 21 minutes.

“Our guys were really physically and mentally ready to play, and I thought we had a great game plan. The coaching staff did a great job offensively, defensively and special teams,” said coach Jones. “We played really good football for three quarters. Had we not done that, we would have lost the ball game. There were a lot of positives in this game, so I was real proud of the way we came out ready to play. When we are ready to play, we’re a good football team.”

Coach Jones continued by talking about the Skyhawks. “That is a really good football team. After the first three quarters, people watching might not have thought so because we were playing so well. But you saw what they could do in the fourth quarter. They are very well-coached and they never quit.”

Stats wise, South Alabama and UT-Martin both had 325 yards of total offense. The Jags picked up 197 yards on the ground while adding 179 yards passing. The Skyhawks rushed for 131 yards and threw for 211 for their total.

The Jags dominated the time of possession statistic with 38:02 of possession time to UT-Martin’s 21:58. The Jags held the ball for 11:48 seconds in the second quarter alone.

Kendall Houston lead all rusher with 85 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns. Demetre Baker added 51 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. While C.J. Bennett went 12-of-19 for 179 yards and a touchdown and zero interceptions.

Corey Besteda had three catches for 64 yards and the one touchdown through the air. Lamontis Gardner added 40 yards on three catches and Kevin Helms added 44 yards on two receptions.

Scott Garber punted seven times for an average of 43.4 yards per punt with one spectacular 64 yard punt. Jordan Means added two field goals of 21 and 32 yards but did have a PAT blocked.

Gabe Loper picked off a pass by Derek Carr from a deflection and returned it 27 yards for the Jags.

South Alabama had two good drives that consumed a fair amount of time off of the clock in the second quarter for points. The first was a nine play, 80 yard drive for a touchdown consuming 5:05 off of the clock. Their next possession was a 12 play 62 yard drive down to the UT-Martin 4 yard line but the Jags would have to settle for a field goal as time expired. It spanned 4:31.

In the third quarter, the Jags would capitalize on a turnover for a touchdown. After Gabe Loper intercepted the ball and returned it 27 yards, Kendall Houston would take the next play 16 yards and into the end zone.

UT-Martin would respond with an 80 yard drive in nine plays for a touchdown to cut the Jaguar lead to 10 points at 23-13 with 6:02 left in the third quarter.

The Jags would respond with a two play 42 yard touchdown drive. The drive would begin with a 40 yard completion from Bennett to Besteda to get to the UT-Martin two yard line. Then two plays later Kendall Houston would pick up the one yard needed for the touchdown to make it 30-13 with 5:07 left in the third quarter.

On UT-Martin’s ensuing possession, Alex Paige would force a fumble by Tevi Barksdale which he would recover at the Skyhawk 22 yard line. However the Jags were not able to put the ball in the end zone, but settled for a 32 yard field goal to extend their lead to 33-13 with 1:22 left in the third quarter.

UT-Martin would go three and out on their next possession as would the Jaguars in their possession after that.

UT-Martin would then begin their rally with a five play 40 yard drive to the South Alabama 21 yard line but would have to settle for a field goal.

The Jags would get the ball with 12:22 left in the game and would only manage one first down and use up 3:49 off of the clock before having to punt.

The Skyhawks would put together a 13 play, 87 yard drive in 4:39 to further cut into the Jaguar lead, 33-23 with 3:54 left in the game.

South Alabama would recover an onsides kick but keeping the ball on the ground with Kendall Houston would only get them six yards in three tries before having to punt. This gave the Skyhawks the ball with 2:07 left in the game.

UT-Martin would put together an 8 play 74 yard drive for a touchdown in 1:45. Another onsides kick would be recovered by the Jaguars effectively sealing the game with 22 seconds left. One kneel from the victory position would put the game to rest with the final score of 33-30.

South Alabama’s next game is their final road game of the 2011 season. The Jags will kick off against Georgia State in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia at 2pm central time with pregame coverage beginning on WNSP 105.5 FM at 1:30pm CT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jags streak end with loss at NC State

September 17, 2011 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 
CJJ with NC State Coach in pre-game warm-ups

Coach Joey Jones speaks with an NC State coach during team warm-ups.

South Alabama may have lost the game if you looked at the scoreboard, but if you watched the game and look at the stats, you will see it wasn’t a total defeat. In only it’s third year of football, the Jags proved that they have come a very long way in a very short time.

Facing their first FBS (Division I-A) team, the Jags performed well. It’s easy to say that NC State now knows who South Alabama is.

The game by the numbers. NC State outgained the Jags through the air 297 – 182 yards. However the Jags outgained the Wolfpack 104 – 95 on the ground. State held the overall yardage gained 392 to 286 yards.

The Jags gained 18 first downs to State’s 19. The Jags averaged 3.2 yards per rush on their 33 attempts while State rushed 37 times and averaged 2.6 yards per rush. The Jags ran 65 offensive plays to 59 for the Wolfpack.

The Jags punted four times for an average of 41.8 yards per punt. The Jags also held the time-of-possession advantage 32:45 to State’s 27:15. South went 7-of-15 on third down conversions while State was 5-of-9.

Unfortunately the Jags were flagged nine times for 50 yards while State was only flagged once for 15 yards.

Kendall Houston rushed 18 times for 117 yards with a long of 24 and averaged 6.5 yards per touch. Demetre Baker added 18 yards on eight carries with the Jags first touchdown against a FBS opponent. CJ Bennett went 17-of-32 for 182 yards and two interceptions.

Corey Waldon lead the Jaguars receivers with 5 catches for 57 yards. Jereme Jones added five catches for 35 yards. Bryant Lavender caught three passes for 39 yards. Besteda, Houston and Gardner all had receptions as well.

Jordan Means made field goals of 46 and 36 yards but missed an attempt from 44 yards.

The Jags defense played very well most of the time. Jake Johnson paced the team with eight total tackles, five solo and a sack. Charles Harris also added eight total tackles, three solo. Romelle Jones sacked Glennon twice for 17 yards. Alex Page also added a sack for the Jags total of four sacks.

With a cleaner game penalty wise and some better coverage on a few big plays, the Jags would have made this a much closer game that it ended up being. Even with those miscues, the Wolfpack did not have an easy game like they first thought.

The Jags have some things to work on this week in preparation for their trip to Kent State. But they have many things that fans and coaches can be proud of. Being outsized and out manned, the Jaguars played with heart, and when they played smart and disciplined, they outplayed the Wolfpack.

South Alabama defeats Lamar 30-8

September 12, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Corey Waldon Touchdown

Corey Waldon makes a leaping touchdown grab.

The Jaguars greatly improved from week one to week two when they hosted Lamar University at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday. This was the first time the Jaguars faced an opponent for the second time in the programs history. But the outcome was similar as they won 30-8 and improved their all-time record to 19-0.

In the Jaguars first game, they had to overcome four turnovers to defeat West Alabama 20-10. After an extra two days between games, the Jaguars returned to the field and played brilliantly against the Cardinals.

The Jags outgained the Cards 349-238 in total yards while rushing for over 200 yards for the second straight game this season. Demetre Baker was the leading rusher with 13 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown, half of his yards came on the opening drive. Kendall Houston added 13 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown. Myles Gibbon added 45 yards in the second half.

Bennett went 9-for-14 for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Bryant Lavender caught three passes for 41 yards. Corey Waldon caught 2 passes for 47 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Helms caught 2 for 36 yards, Lamontis Gardner had one for 10 and Jereme Jones caught one for 10 yards and a touchdown.

Coach Jones summarized the improvement this week by saying, “I thought it was a much better game this week. We played much more soundly and stayed away from the turnover game,” said Coach Jones. “Offensively, we were much more efficient with the football and defensively we played well again. I felt like it was a good game. Lamar is really talented, they are going to win a lot of ballgames. We just played hard tonight and some good things happened by the way we approached the game. Our week of practice was much better, and our backs were against the wall a little. We knew this team could come in here and beat us, and we came out and played really well.”

The Jags will turn their focus towards North Carolina State and their first ever game against a FBS school. Kickoff is scheduled for 5pm Central (6pm Eastern) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN3.com.

West Alabama game notes

September 4, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
Wishbone

Demetre Baker, Paul Bennett and Kendall Houston line up in the wishbone at the goal line.

The Jaguars get the job done, but it wasn’t pretty. The Jags had to shake off four turnovers in the first half to get the 20-10 victory and extend their all-time record to 18-0.

The Jaguars racked up 205 yards on the ground and another 151 yards in the air in the game. The rushing attack was lead by Kendall Houston who ran for 78 yards on 11 touches for two touchdowns after being suspended for the first half with three other players. Ellis Hill added 40 yards on seven carries in the start. Demetre Baker, another player suspended for the first half, added 39 yards on six carries. C.J. Bennett ran for 31 yards on eight runs with a touchdown. Santuan McGee chipped in 17 yards on four carries.

C.J. Bennett was 12-of-21 for 151 yards and three touchdowns with one sack. Bryant Lavender lead the receivers with three catches for 55 yards. Corey Waldon also had three catches for 21 yards. Jereme Jones added 27 yards with his two catches. Four other receivers had receptions in the game, highlighted by Lamontis Gardner with a 28 yard reception.

South Alabama gained one more first down than West Alabama with 18 to their 17. Both teams gained 10 first downs on the ground. The Jaguars rushed for 205 yards on 36 carries to UWA’s 167 yards on 47 carries. USA averaged 5.7 yards per rush to UWA’s 3.6 yards per rush. Also the Jags only lost 10 yards while running the ball compared to UWA’s 49 yards lost rushing.

USA was 12-for-21 passing with three interceptions for 151 yards while averaging 7.2 yards per attempt and 12.6 yards per completion. UWA went 10-for-22 passing with two interceptions. They averaged 4.6 yards per play and 10.1 yards per completion.

South Alabama gained 356 yards on 57 offensive plays with an average of 6.2 yards per play. USA fumbled three times and lost one, both of the recovered fumbles were by Baker. West Alabama ran 69 plays while gaining 268 yards while averaging 3.9 yards per play. They fumbled twice and recovered both of them.

UWA won the time of possession battle 32:39 to 27:21 and also possessing the ball for 10:18 in the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Gary Johnston was the Tigers leading rusher with 72 yards on 22 runs and a touchdown. He also threw for 101 yards while going 10-for-22. His favorite receiver was Gerald Worsham with five receptions for 44 yards. Ken may added 48 yards on three catches. Two other players had receptions as well.

UWA’s Gabe Poe lead all players with 12 total stops. Enrique Williams lead the Jags with 11 total stops, five solo. B.J. Scott  added 10 more stops, 8 of them solo. Ken Barefield was credited with a sack for 12 yards and Clifton Crews with Enrique Willams both credited with half a sack.

After the game Coach Jones commented on the game. “Not having Kendall and Demetre the first half didn’t help, but they are great running backs,” he said. “Those two guys are probably the core of our offense running the football. We’re a very good football team with those two guys running it.”

“Obviously it wasn’t a great ball game; we didn’t play extremely well though I thought West Alabama played really hard,” Coach Jones continued.  “When you have four turnovers in the first half, it’s not a good thing — we have to learn to protect the football. We had some penalties and untimely things happen, so we have to go back to work and see how we can get better.”

“But I think that was a great second half. We pounded the ball at them and ran it really well, we got Kendall and Demetre in there and controlled the ball,” he continued. “I thought we played better in the second half, but we have to play four quarters to beat good teams and we just didn’t do that tonight; we didn’t play extremely well the whole game.”

West Alabama coach Will Hall commented after the game as well. “I thought they wore us down a little bit. It’s a credit to them and their defense as well. We came out offensively in the second half and went three-and-out, and USA got it and went down and scored. There were some good adjustments by USA at halftime.”

“We spilled our guts out on the field. I expected our kids to do that, but I’m so proud of how they did. Credit to coach Jones and coach [Bill] Clarlk. They do a great job and have a great thing going here at South Alabama. I think these are the two most up-and-coming programs in the state of Alabama. I can’t say enough though about what they do at South Alabama and I can’t say enough about our kids’ effort tonight. I really think we have a chance to have a good D-II football team.”

Tremain Smith went off in the first half with the trainers looking at his hand, plus Melvin Meggs had to come off the field but redshirt Drew Dearmon came in and performed well on the line. Meggs should be back next week and hopefully Smith’s re-aggravated injury isn’t serious.

South Alabama will host Lamar on September 10th with kickoff slated for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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Tuesday and Wedensday practice coverage

August 10, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Jersey and Pads

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

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

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

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

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

March 5, 2011 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones observing his team as they warm up in Dothan for the Wiregrass Classic last season.

South Alabama completed it’s second week of spring practice and will now have four days off while students are on spring break.

On Monday, the first day of the second week of practice, started at 7:00AM and went for about two hours. The practice was split into two overall periods which focused on individual and team practice. Coach Jones said he is more interested in the individual portion in the spring, rather than the team portion. “I like to see how much better each guy is getting, and to evaluate talent. I think we have some individuals who are, and we’re challenging the ones who aren’t so that by the end of the spring every player will get better, that’s the whole goal.”

The Jags focused on first downs and third down plays in the red-zone on the first day of the week. Jereme Jones made a nice diving catch in the back corner of the end zone to score a touchdown. Also, Kendall Houston caught a screen pass for a score from CJ Bennett. Coach Jones remarked that he thought the final segment was pretty even, but that he would have to watch the game film to determine for certain.

On Tuesday, the Jags hit the field at 7:45AM for another two-hour workout. Coach Gregory, the offensive coordinator, echoed Coach Jones’ words about spring practice being about individual from Monday when he stated, “We’re not anywhere close to where we want to be as an offensive football team, but that’s really not our goal in the spring.  Our goal has been to focus on individuals.”

Coach Gregory then continued along this line of talk when he used a couple Jaguar players as an example, such as returning receiver Corey Besteda and the new player Greg Hollinger. “For instance, are Corey Besteda and Greg Hollinger going to become big-time receivers, or are they just going to look like big-time receivers? Is Tremain Smith going to become a big-time offensive tackle or look like one? I’m using those guys as examples, but how good is each individual player going to be? That’s what it is really all about.”

Another interesting insight from Coach Gregory on Tuesday was when he spoke about scheming in the spring. “As far as scheming, we try to do enough to have a chance to move the ball but we don’t game plan. We’ll come back and do that in the fall. I never want to look at a situation in the spring thinking we have to win this drill, because I don’t want to do something now that we will not do next season.”

Another group of positions that is receiving lots of focus this spring is the offensive line. The offensive staff is working hard on individual fundamentals. Coach Gregory mentioned that he is looking at their ability to block, their footwork and their hand placement.

Offensive line coach John Turner said that they are working to improve everything they do. “We start with our split and stance, then we look at our first step, hat placement and our hands. We go back and try to break down every play to see if we are accomplishing those things. And we try to harp on effort. One thing that we know is that we are going to play hard — I don’t care if they are 190 pounds, we are going to play hard by God. So we go back and grade that every day to make sure that we are challenging ourselves to give a great effort.”

What helps the Jaguars on the line is that they will be returning all five players who started the 2010 season finale against Arkansas-Monticello. Center Trey Clark, guards Jon Griffin and Melvin Meggs and tackles Brian Krauskopf and Levi Slaydon. Additionally, Chris Brunson who started four games for the Jaguars last season before a season ending injury will also return. However, four of the five will exhaust their eligibility at the end of the 2011 season. Meggs is the only underclassman.

However that has allowed several of the Jaguars underclassmen from the second recruiting class to work in and become integral contributors to the unit. Coach Turner named Ucambre Williams, Drew Dearman, Shane Doty and Chris May as some of the integral members of the group.

Coach Turner’s commented on these younger players by saying, “I tell you what, we’re finding some players. We are looking at some younger guys who are getting better. Obviously, they still have a long way to go, we’re not there yet. But I am proud of them, they have improved every day. You can see them compete, you can see them fight. They are not backing down. They are working very hard to try and get their assignments and learn where they are supposed to be.”

Injuries have affected the offense this spring. Brunson and Shaun Artz have been unable to participate in drills. While Brandon Ross is continuing to recover from knee surgery. TJ Glover is being moved from running back to wide receiver.

Coach Gregory mentioned the injuries when he spoke. “T.J.’s absence has hurt us the most. We know Brandon can play, but we’re moving T.J. and there were some things we wanted to do with him at receiver that we wanted to look at in the spring but have junked. I think the big loss is Chris and Shaun. They are two big bodies, and we need to get bigger up front. Shaun is 290 and Chris is almost 300 pounds, we need them in there as starters or top back-ups who are going to play a lot.”

Thursday, the Jags hit the practice field behind the fieldhouse for the eighth time, marking the halfway point of spring practice. In addition to their individual drills, the team period focused on third and goal situations in the red zone. Then both first and second team offensive units had one chance to score during a two-minute drill.

CJ Bennett guiding the first team from their own 40 yard line into the red zone with three consecutive completions to Bryant Lavender, Kevin Helms and Jereme Jones. But the group had to settle for a 28 yard Jordan Means field goal.

The second team offense lead by Myles Gibbon crossed midfield on their second play when Gibbon found Taylor Noon for a gain of 24 yards. Three consecutive incomplete passes forced a 4th and 10. Gibbon found Greg Hollinger in the back corner of the end zone for a 36 yard touchdown on the last play of the team session.

Just like the offense, the defense has been working on the basics at each position. They begin each practice with tackling. As Coach Bill Clark, the defensive coordinator, says they are trying to be expert tacklers because that is what defense is all about. It’s about proper technique and angles.

Another facet that the Jaguars are working on is take-aways. In the course of winning all 17 of the schools games thus far, they have totaled 48 turnovers. They had 23 in the first season and 25 in the second season. Coach Clark wants to increase that number again in order to help give the team an even better chance to win.

Coach Clark comments, “We always say that a turnover is a gift that the offense gives us. We’re not looking for gifts, but we’ll take them. “We know that we have to physically take the ball away, and there’s a science to that — punching it out, stripping it, scooping and scoring.  There are a ton of techniques to it, and we want to create that mentality that we will get the ball back to our offense.”

Another technical aspect that is being worked on this spring is how the defenders pursue the opposition. Coach Clark explains by saying, “Our goal, when you look at our defense, is to have people say they’ve never seen anyone run that fast to the ball. But there’s a way to do that. There’s leverage, which shoulder to keep the ball on. That’s how you keep from having big plays against you. So that’s where we start, putting those three things — pursuit, tackling and takeaways — together. Then you go to individual fundamentals. And so far we’ve been pleased, it’s been a real good spring up to this point.”

Coach Clark looked to shore up the secondary in the offseason. With transfers from four-year schools and junior colleges added to the roster, everything was looking pretty good. However only two players, Spanish Fort’s Ameriol Finley and Damond Smith have been able to participate in drills these first two weeks.

Coach Clark talked about the secondary. “The future is bright, but we’re a little frustrated. There are different reasons why guys aren’t here, and though we see them coming they’re not here yet. A lot of the guys who are out there now people have seen before, and they have improved. They have another year of experience and are another year older, so we’re excited about them. A lot of these guys have been with us and are going into their third season. That in and of itself is exciting. When we add these guys on the way, we feel like it’s going to be a good situation.”

While the Jags continue to run a 3-4 defense, Coach Clark and Coach Jones have created a hybrid position which combines the responsibilities of defensive end and outside linebacker. So far, the individuals who have made the move into this hybrid position have been Anthony Taylor, Logan Bennett, Clifton Crews and Alex Page.

Coach Clark elaborates on this new position. “For us, the position has fit real well. We think it fits our personnel probably a little bit better. “You can see from watching us that it is a little bit different, and I think it’s going to help us for what we’re seeing being done offensively.

He continues, “Defensively, it’s all about stopping what offenses are doing. You look at your schedule and identify who our opponents are, because we have to look ahead to those teams and what they do. We always say that we are reactors on defense, we counter the trends in offensive football. You can see from the national championship game the spread formations used and the speed of the game, and that’s what we have to get ready for.”

Then to wrap up the week, the Jaguars moved their Saturday scrimmage to Friday morning at 7:30AM due to weather concerns. The team took part in a full scrimmage when it ran through about 100 snaps.

The Jaguar defense held the offense to less than 300 total yards while giving up two touchdowns and three field goals. The scrimmage lasted almost two hours.

The offense started quick with Myles Gibbon moving the team 70 yards in 14 plays which was capped off by Ellis Hill scoring the touchdown on a 2-yard run. The third and four play back on the offense’s 37 yard line was one of the highlights on the drive. Gibbon connected with Greg Hollinger for 34 yards to move the chains. On another third down play later in the drive. When the offense needed 14 yards, Gibbon found Richard Ross for 15 for another first down.

Gibbon would finish the scrimmage 5-of-6 for 57 yards to lead the stable of quarterbacks.

CJ Bennett lead the offense on it’s ensuing drive. Bennett found Lamontis Gardner for 12 yards then Jereme Jones for nine more yards to move the offense across midfield. Kendall Houston reeled off a 16 yard run on third and one to move the chains and get into field goal range. However, an attempt at a 50 yard field goal would fly wide right. Bennett would complete five passes for 50 yards in the scrimmage.

The defense would strengthen and limited the offense to only two field goals on the next nine possessions. Both field goals came on drives led by Ray Cotton. But the defense also forced two turnovers during that stretch.

Bryson James both forced and recovered a fumble on the defense’s 27 yard line. Jonathan Cameron intercepted a pass at the goal line on the first play of a drive that started on the 30 yard line.

Another drive that started at the defense’s 30 yard line resulted in a touchdown. Demetre Baker ran on the first four plays of the possession for a total of 20 yards. Then Bennett found Ross for an eight yard completion. Then Baker ran again for a one yard gain. Then Kendall Houston capped it off with a one yard run.

James and Justin Harris both recorded four stops tieing for team best. Jake Johnson led a group of four players who made three tackles.

Richard Ross and Greg Hollinger were the lone players to record multiple receptions with Hollinger leading all with four catches for 55 yards. Julien Valentin led the ground game with eight carries for 41 yards. Baker and Santuan McGee each added 24 yards.

Coach Jones spoke after the scrimmage saying, “I think we have some guys who have gotten fundamentally better, especially the freshmen who joined us at the beginning of last season. They have really jumped. Each coach was taking their guys trying to get everyone involved in the scrimmage. I told them not to even worry about trying to group guys together. We ran about 100 plays including the kicking game, which was what we wanted to do. And I don’t think anybody got hurt, which is always a positive.”

Coach Jones continues with comments about both sides of the ball starting with defense. “Defensively we had a good day, they got after it; they played with a lot of effort and intensity.”

Then he commented about the offense by saying, “All three quarterbacks came out and played well today. They were calm in the huddle and did a good job running the team. We also got a little better blocking on the offensive line today. I know I keep saying this, but it’s not about who won the scrimmage. I don’t even care. It’s about who is getting better fundamentally. That’s what we keep looking at and the way we set practices up.”

In addition to the offensive versus defensive plays, the Jaguars also worked on special teams play throughout the scrimmage. One period was devoted to kickoff returns while another was devoted to kickoff coverage. All three kickers on the roster attempted a minimum of three field goals during and after the scrimmage.

The Jags will have four days off with the next practice scheduled for Wednesday at 7:45AM.

South Alabama’s First Scrimmage of 2010 Preseason Coverage

August 14, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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

Jaguars Process Continues: Red White Game 2010

March 11, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head Coach Joey Jones watches as Myles Gibbon leads the White team offense as they try to score in the second Red-White Game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The University of South Alabama Spring Football Game showcased alot of talent on both sides of the ball, but it also showed that there is improvement still yet to be had. The defense on both sides really stepped up when needed and the offenses showed flashes of brilliance, however neither side showed any all-around dominance.

On the first drive of the game, the white offense lead by Myles Gibbon, drove 70 yards in 13 plays to put the first points on the board. With the drive facing a fourth-and-one near midfield, it was actually gut-check time. Do they play it safe and punt or do they roll the dice?

Well, the white team rolled the dice and and it payed off. Gibbon completed a pass to Paul Bennett for 13 yards for the first down and to cross the midfield stripe. This play got the offense in gear. Myles carred the ball for six yards, then Santuan McGee rushed twice for 13 more yards. Then Brandon Ross followed with a 17 yard gain to the one yard line on a sweep to the left. Gibbon would cap off the drive with a one yard dive into the end zone to give the White team an early 7-0 lead.

On the second drive of the game, the Red team would drive 55 yards down to the White team’s 25 yard line before getting stopped on a fourth-and-five play.

The White team would take the ball and drive 69 yards in just six plays. The majority of the yards were picked up on a 52 yard strike from Myles Gibbon to Courtney Smith on a post route. However an incomplete pass into the end zone on fourth down from the one yard line would end their drive.

Brennan Sim would lead the Red teams drive from the one yard line and go 99 yards to even the game with less than three minutes until halftime. After trying to run for a few yards of breathing room in the shadow of their endzone, Sim would find Donte Rome for a 14 yard completion on third down to keep the drive alive. Sim would go back to Rome for a 16 yard completion.

On the next play, Brandon Norton would record a sack on Sim costing the Red team eight yards. But he came back with a fake option run which the defensive back bit on and found Kelly Vail on a post pattern which he turned into a 73 yard touchdown.

The second half was a defensive showing with only one score in the second half to show for it.

The drive began when Zach Brownell intercepted a pass and returned it eight yards to the 38 yard line. Gibbon then found Courtney Smith for a first down play to get the ball to midfield. McGee, two plays later, would find a seam and go for 12 yards and another White first down at the Red teams 34 yard line.

Then on third-and-ten, Paul Bennett caught another Gibbon pass in the right flat for 22 yards just as time expired in the third quarter. But the Red team defense would not give up. They would cause three consecutive plays for a loss, including back to back sacks by Clifton Crews and Josh Chestang. This placed the ball on the 36 yard line. With fourth-and-24, the coaches options were limited.

Gambling for a win and some game pressure experience, the White team ran on Jordan Means to attempt a 53 yard field goal. The snap and hold were good and when Means put foot to ball and sent it sailing, everyone watched holding their breath. As the ball barely cleared the cross bar, everyone was wondering if it made it. Then when the referees hands went up in the air, the onlookers gave their loudest cheer of the night as the White team celebrated as well.

The drive and kick covered 13:52 and left about 11:30 for the Red team to try to match them and the White defense did not let the Red team get a drive going of any substance and held on for the victory.

Myles Gibbon went 8-for-9 passing for 131 yards with four of them to Courtney Smith for 83 yards. Paul Bennett had two receptions for 35 yards while Lamontis Gardner also added two receptions. Santuan McGee lead the team rushing with 10 carries for 43 yards and Brandon Ross carried the ball five times for 33 more yards.

The White defense was lead by Romelle Jones with five tackles, 1.5 of them for a loss. Richard Courtney and Logan Bennett each added four tackles while Bryson James had three. In total, the White defense only allowed 207 yards.

Brennan Sim went 13-for-22 with 184 yards. Kelly Vail caught four passes for a game high of 94 yards. Ralph Turner also had four receptions for 39 yards. The Red team offense could only muster 13 yards on 14 attempts, but Eli Smith lead the way with six rushes for 18 yards.

Ken Barefield lead all players with nine tackles, two of them for a loss. Michael Wilson added seven. Clifton Crews and Enrique Williams added four each as well. The Red defense only allowed 12 more yards than the White defense for 219 yards.

Head Coach Joey Jones was on the field observing the play the entire evening. Coach Jones had this to say about the game, “I think the kids had some fun out there. It was a good-spirited night, they’ve been at each other the last couple of days and had a good time. It was a good way to end a long spring training.”

“That was great,” added Coach Jones when asked about the Jordan Means’ field goal attempt. “I was over there and they were ready to run a fourth-down play to try and at least gain some yardage. I reminded them the wind was behind them, though I wasn’t trying to be a head coach. Jordan has a good leg, I knew if he got it going straight he had it. It was a great kick.”

All in all, the players had a great time. There were good spirited ribbing and text messages going back and forth all week according to Romelle Jones. Myles Gibbon added that it was like playing with a completely new team since both teams only had one practice in order to prepare for the game.

At halftime, Mobile businessman David Gwin who is a strong supporter of South Alabama Athletics along with his wife Lynn were recognized for their $100,000 donation for a football sculpture. The sculpture, as stated by President Gordon Moulton, will stand about 20 feet tall and 20 feet wide in the front circle of the entranceway to the Jaguar Football Field House and will be made entirely out of stainless steel.

Coach Jones and his staff honored several players for their efforts in spring practice. Each position received a Most Improved award with the winners being: Quarterback Brennan Sim, Running Back Eli Smith, Wide Receivers Bryant Lavender, Tight End Robby Stoner, Offensive Lineman Levi Slaydon, Defensive Lineman Kendell Bagnerise, Inside Linebacker Brett Hancock, Outside Linebacker Josh Chestang and Defensive Back Michael Wilson.  Other special honors went to Corey Walden on Offense and Ken Barefield on Defense. Charlie Higgenbotham received the “I Like To Practice” award and Brennan Sim earned the High Academic Honors award.

The process to join Division-I football continues on Saturday, September 4 when Pikeville (Kentucky) travels to Ladd-Peebles Stadium to open the 2010 Football season.

Jags Continue Their March Towards An Undefeated Season With Win Over Fork Union

November 1, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jags continued their march towards an undefeated inaugural season with a big victory over Fork Union on Saturday with a spectacular display of passing. Coach Jones said over the last two weeks that they wanted to be able to pass the ball more effectively and be a more balanced team and it showed.

After stopping the Blue Devils on their first possession, the Jags did not hesitate to put on a display. The first Jaguar play from scrimmage saw freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon find Courtney Smith open for a 64 yard touchdown pass. Then the Jaguar defense stopped the Blue Devils on their ensuing possession forcing a second three and out punt. Again Gibbon threw to Smith who would take it 60 yards for a second touchdown and putting Courtney Smith in the record books as the first Jaguar to have over 100 yards receiving in only two plays.

The Jags defense would hold the Blue Devils to a third consecutive three and out punt. With the offense moving the ball again, covering 36 yards on two plays, the Jags would lose a fumble at the Blue Devil 19 yard line. But the Blue Devils would not have the ball long after being force to punt for the fourth consecutive possession of the first quarter.

The Jags would score their third touchdown of the opening quarter when Brandon Ross took it in from two yards out. Michel Chapuseaux would miss the PAT attempt so the Jags lead would be 20 with about four and a half minutes left in the first quarter. Ross’ run was set up by the previous play when Brennan Sim found Lamontis Gardner for a 40 yard gain.

Even with a 20 point lead in the first quarter, the Jaguar defense could smell blood. On the ensuing Blue Devil possession, Zach Brownell pounced on an interception and returned it 30 yards. This set up a field goal by Michel Chapuseaux of 24 yards to extend the Jags lead to 23.

But the defense wasn’t done yet. Just two plays later the Jags forced a fumble which Montavious Williams scooped up and returned for a 24 yard touchdown to round out the Jaguar scoring in the first quarter. The Jags would outgain the Blue Devils 217-8 on their way to the 30-0 first quarter score.

The Jaguar defense would forst another three and out on the next Blue Devil possession. After getting the ball on the Blue Devil 15, the Jags only took three plays to punch it into the endzone with Santuan McGee’s 2 yard touchdown running capping off the short drive for a 37-0 score.

The Blue Devils would finally get get a first down and move the ball on their eighth possession going 31 yards in seven plays before turning the ball over on downs at the jaguar 34 yard line. Sim would then lead the Jags on an 8 play 66 yard scoring drive which saw Brennan Sim throw his first career touchdown pass to Anthony Mostella for a 44-0 lead with 6:57 left until halftime.

The Blue Devils would then see their longest possession of the game get cut short just before halftime when the Jags Jerron Mitchell intercepted a pass and returned it 36 yards with 1:07 left until halftime. The Jags would run two plays and go into halftime with a 44-0 lead.

The Jags would open the second half with another first in Jaguar history. Ralph Turner would open up the scoring in the second half with an 85 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to put the Jags up 51-0 when Lawson McGlon tacked on the PAT.

However the Jaguars shutout would be disrupted on the ensuing Blue Devil drive. Fork Union would go 76 yards in 5 plays to score their only points of the game. They attempted a 2 point conversion which fell incomplete to leave the score 51-6 with 12:49 left in the third quarter.

The Blue Devil defense would finally find a way to stop the Jaguar defense on their next possession by holding them to three yards and forcing a punt. Fork Union, forced to start deep in their own territory, had a fumble on a bad snap that Clifton Crews fell on in the end zone for a touchdown with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter for a score of 57-6.

Again the Blue Devils were forced to punt on their next possession. Then the Blue Devil defense forced the Jags to a three and out and a punt. Fork Union then moved the ball 34 yards in nine plays before turning the ball over on downs at the Jaguar 47 yard line.

On the Jags first offensive play, Nick Owens found an open Kelly Vail for a 53 yard touchdown pass to end the scoring at 64-6.

The Jags would end the game with 60 yards rushing and 321 yard passing and 13 first downs. while Fork Union finished the game with -22 yards rushing and 213 passing.

Santuan McGee and Ryan Scott were the only Jaguar running backs to have double digit yards with 39 and 25 respectively on five carries each. Myles Gibbon would go 2-for-4 in the game for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns while Brennan Sim went 9-for-9 for 130 yards and a touchdown and Nick Owens went 3-for-4 for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Courtney Smith was the first Jaguar receiver to go over 100 yards in a game with 131 on 3 receptions with two of them for touchdowns. Lamontis Gardner would catch 2 for 73 yards and Kelly Vail would have one reception for 53 yards. Six other Jaguars caught passes as well.

Erling Riis would return 4 punts for 50 yards, one going 44 yards to set up a Jaguar score. Ralph Turner would return one punt for 23 yards as well as his 85 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Scott Garber would only punt twice with a 40 yard average and both punts ended up inside the Blue Devil 20 yard line.

Ken Barefield led the defense in tackles with five. Romelle Jones and Bryson James were credited with forcing a fumble each.

Coach Jones spoke after the game about the Jaguars performance. He said, “We came out and executed very well. The protection got better, and that’s where it all starts in the passing game. We had some wide open guys down the field on the first two passes, and Myles did a good job hitting Courtney. We just executed well.”

Courtney Smith commented about the offensive production, “We practiced it all week and I knew the first play was going to be to me, so I expected the ball and Myles threw a good one. After the first one they told me they were going to throw it to me again, so I expected it again.”

Myles added the following after the game as well, “Coach stressed to us that he wanted to open up the passing game. On the first two plays, I knew they wanted to hit something deep. They played the perfect defense for it, and it worked out. It’s one of those things where you drop back and everything just slows down. Although it was wide open, those are the passes quarterbacks hate throwing because you don’t want to overthrow them.”

Ralph Turner had this to say when asked about his kickoff return, “It’s been a stressful last four games for me because I haven’t really been touching the ball,” he said. “Once I got the ball the hole was wide open and I just ran.”

Again the Jaguars received high praise from the opposing teams coach after the game. Fork Union head coach John Shuman had this to say, “We had seen in the paper that South Alabama was working on its passing game. As we got here and watched the pregame warm-up, we knew that they would try to take advantage of the long ball early, and they did. They came back out and did it again. Once you get down 14 points, you become one dimensional – we couldn’t run the ball. South Alabama did a great job on the defensive side, they called some great blitzes and used a good scheme against us. On offense, it was obviously men against boys here. It just didn’t go our way today.”

Coach Jones commented about the Jaguars overall performance and Fork Union’s team by saying, “I’m proud of the guys today. After the last two games, we’ve really stressed coming to work every day. We’re trying to teach these kids a life lesson, and if they’ll approach their work the right way then good things happen. We probably out-manned the team we played, and we know that, but we played well – we didn’t play sloppy. The other team came in here and had a 15-hour bus ride, which I’m sure was a tough thing to do, so my hat is off to them for that. They had some really good athletes and good coaching. I think it was just a matter that our kids played well.”

The Jaguars will host Milford Academy next Saturday, November 7 for homecoming. Kickoff is set for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

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