Coach Jones’ Worry Alleviated With Good Physical Practice On Thursday

August 21, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Defensive huddle during the Jaguars first scrimmage on August 15, 2009. Photo by Doug Roberts.

The weather held off enough that Coach Jones continued with practice on Thursday. With only two days until the teams second full scrimmage, he wanted to make sure the Jags had a good physical practice, and he accomplished what he set out to do.

The staff completely deviated from what has come to be known as the ‘usual schedule.’ They began practice with about 30 minutes of special teams drills, focusing primarily on their hands team for onsides kicks. They about 20 minutes of small group, one-on-one competition at various different positions. Then they were put through about an hours worth of situational work during their two hour practice. and then ended the practice with another 30 minutes of special teams work in punt and kickoff coverage.

In the previous two and a half weeks of preseason camp, they would only work in live 11-on-11 drills for less than half that time. That changed on Thursday.

About an hour into the practice, after the special teams and individual workouts, the offense ran about 10 minutes of first-down plays from midfield. Then they started first-down drills from the defense’s 20 yard line, working on their red-zone offense. On the first possession with third-and-six, Myles Gibbon found Paul Bennett for a seven yard completion to get the first down. The very next play saw Santuan McGee run off the right tackle for a touchdown.

On the next two drives, the defense would turn up the pressure and turn it into their favor. Eddy Cabrera would intercept a pass at the goal line. Then Anthony Taylor would pitch in with two of the defenses three tackles for loss in the ensuing possession. The the final drive saw Marquise Diamond break up a pass at the end zone to force a field goal attempt, which was missed.

The final situation drills of the day had the offense lining up to run third-down plays of distances of nine, five and two yards. Again the defense stepped up with seven straight stops. Justin Dunn and Bryson James recorded key tackles during that run. However Gibbon would finally end the dought by hitting his 6’5″ receiver Courtney Smith to gain a much needed first down. But then the defense would again stop the offense short of first downs on six of the next eight tries.

Coach Jones was quite pleased with the physical workout and had the following to say. “I think we had a great physical day. The kids were ready mentally, and I noticed their legs were a little fresher as well. That’s probably because we’ve had some extra time off the last two days due to the weather. The coaches noticed in the weight room this morning that they were bouncing around, so now we’re thinking as a staff that we ought to plan more often to give them breaks during camp. Sometimes the rain forces you to do that, and I think that in this case it was really a good thing for us.”

Coach Jones had good things to say about the defense. “The guys on defense have been practicing extremely hard, and they are learning where they need to be,” he stated. “They were playing tentative the first couple of weeks because they were constantly asking themselves, ‘Where do I line up?’ Then, ‘What’s my responsibility?’ Then, ‘What is the offense doing?’ It’s hard to decipher all of those things, but now it is starting to become second nature and they are able to just react and run. The defense has definitely gotten more confident in what it is doing.”

Talking about changing up the practice routine, coach Jones had the following to say. “Any time you change the routine up, I think the kids like that. They hate to come out to practice and do the same thing every day. We’re trying to get them to learn about these different situations, and to understand certain things like when you’re inside the 25-yard line the quarterback can’t take a sack. Sometimes in practice you just run plays, but this is a more realistic scenario that they will see in games.”

Coach Jones also went on to explain why the staff, until now, has not had a lot of situational work during camp. “The first weeks we were just putting as much information in their heads as possible,” he said. “With the scrimmage coming up on Saturday and another next weekend, that’s when we really want to prepare them for everything they will see in a game.”

Since Wednesday’s practice was canceled, the Jags will be out on the practice field very early on Friday, at 5:45am. It will be a less physical workout in helmets and pads, but they will be working on passing drills and the special teams kicking game but no tackling. The reason for such an early workout, “We’re going to practice in the morning for two reasons,” Coach Jones stated. “One is because we want to try and avoid the rain, which has been a problem for us this week. And two, it will give the players a full 24 hours to rest before the scrimmage so hopefully their legs will be fresh.”

Also the Jags are scheduled for a 9am scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday.

Jaguars First Fall Scrimmage Was Full Of Big Plays From Both Sides Of The Ball

August 15, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Jones looking over the field at the Jags first fall scrimmage.

Big plays was the name of the game at the University of South Alabama‘s first fall scrimmage. Both offense and defense put on a good show for the crowd who came out for the scrimmage.

The offense collectively had 393 yards and score six touchdowns on the day. The defense posted 15 sacks and 24 tackles for loss as well.

Myles Gibbon lead the first team offense and completed 8-of-11 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Sim went 5-of-7 for 78 yards. The Jags totalled 217 yards through the air for the game. Courtney Smith lead the Jags with three catches for 68 yard and two touchdowns. Corey Besteda also caught three passes. Corey Waldon had two receptions for 61 yards.

Santuan McGee had 74 yards on eight carries to lead the Jaguars rushing attack. Anthony Mostella had 11 carries for 55 yards. Ellis Hill had 10 carries for 34 yards and Eli Smith had 19 yards. Each of the listed rushers reached the endzone.

The defense was led by Justin Dunn who had 10 tackles. Clifton Crews had seven tackles with four of them for a loss and a team high three sacks. Alex Phifer also had seven tackles. Charlie Higgenbotham, Bryson James and Enrique Williams all had six tackles. Josh Chestang, Andy Dalgleish and Anton Graphenreed all had two sacks each. In the second half, Marquise Diamond came away with the only turnover on an interception near the goal line. The defense allowed less than three yards per carry.

The defense was strong at first, only allowing one first down in the offense’s first four possesions of the scrimmage. However, the offense adjusted and had four big running plays. Eli Smith started it with a 12 yard run, followed by Gibbon’s scramble for 11 yards, then Smith ran for seven yards and finally McGee broke free on the left sideline for a 30 yard touchdown.

Gibbon took a short break while Sim guided the offense for two series. When Gibbon came back onto the field he immediately made a big play. The safeties bit on a play-action fake and Gibbon took advantage with a strike to Courtney Smith for a 55 yard touchdown pass.

The next two series would see the offense start to threaten but the defense would respond with a big play. The first series the offense had three plays of 12 yards or more to get down to the 15 yard line. But the defense would sack Gibbon which lead to a missed field goal by Jordan Means. The next series saw the offense get down to the 24 yard line before stopping Hill for a four yard loss and another missed field goal.

Gibbon returned to lead the offense after the half-time break. The offense started at midfield with McGee opening with a six yard run. Then Ralph Turner was stopped for a two yard loss on a completed pass. Then Gibbon scampered for 10 yards for the first down. Three consecutive run plays gave the offense another first down at the 24 yard line. However Gibbon was sacked on first down for a six yard loss putting the pressure on the offense with a second-and-16 on the 30 yard line. But Gibbon stepped up and found Corey Waldon for a 29 yard gain and a first-and-goal inside the one yard line. Eli Smith was stopped behind the line for a loss of five yards but would score on the following play.

Nick Owens had his best drive of the day two series later. He completed both of this two pass attempts and ran twice for 14 yards. Again, Eli Smith broke a six yard touchdown run, this time up the middle.

Brennan Sim lead a drive late in the day day. He hit Waldon for 32 yards to set up for a 13 yard scoring run by Ellis Hill. Then on the final drive of the day, Eli Smith had runs of nine and four yards to set up Nick Owens for a two-yard touchdown pass to Courtney Smith, his third of the day.

Key third down stops by the defense lead to four missed field goals on the day. They stopped Mostella short of a first down in the red zone on a pass reception. They forced two three-and-outs and ended another drive by stopping Eli Smith short of a first down on a fourth-and-three on the 13 yard line.

“I thought it was a good day, it was a typical first scrimmage. The guys were a little nervous out there with the crowd,” said Coach Jones. “But that’s the reason you do this, to get them exposed to game situations. We have two more weekends to do this.”

Coach Jones continued, “The effort was there, though we did get a little tired towards the end. The emotional level might not have been as high as it has been this month, but the bottom line is that a lot of the things we need to look at will be on film. The biggest thing the guys need to take from today is to learn from their experiences out there.”

“It went well today, we did a little better than I think we should have because it’s harder for the offense going against a defense that has seen our plays for a couple of weeks now,” said first team quarterback Myles Gibbon. “We had some ups and downs, but overall I thought we did pretty well.”

“You can always get into a rhythm, but all it takes is one bad play to get you out of it,” Gibbon explained. “Once we start moving, we want to stay consistent and keep pounding the ball – we don’t want our heads to get too big. If we get good protection up front a big play is going to happen. Our front five blocked well every time we made a big play today,” he continued. “Any time a quarterback can drop back and not feel pressured by the rush, he’s going to be able to throw the ball up and complete some long passes.”

“We ran the football a little better offensively, and had a couple of big throws as well,” Jones commented. “I was proud of the way that the quarterbacks controlled things on the field, and our running backs are really coming along. I think we can stick any of our running backs on the field and they will make plays.”

But Coach Jones reiterated, “Still, we had too many plays on first down where we lost eight or 10 yards – now you’re stuck with second-and-long, which the offense didn’t realize until they were put in a game situation. When it happens in practice and you lose eight yards it’s no big deal because you’re not driving to score a touchdown. In a scrimmage situation, they realize what a problem it is to overcome second-and-18.”

“Defensively I think our team speed is very good,” said Coach Jones. “We need to find a couple more guys who can play in the secondary and come through for us. The defense is playing real hard, their coaches have them playing at a fast pace. We’ve got to do a better job of preventing big plays – anytime you can keep the offense from breaking a big play you give yourself a chance to win the ball game.”

With a crowd of about 1,000 people turning out for this first scrimmage, it was quite refreshing to see the support from the area. The support really impressed some of the players as well. Myles Gibbon said, “It was interesting, this was bigger than anything I’ve seen back home. It’s nice to have that support and have a lot of people come out. They don’t know what to expect yet, so it’s nice that they were out here rooting for us.” He also said they were tired and a bit beat up from the last two weeks of camp. He also mentioned the pain in his legs when running the ball, but his strength of character, his leadership and the crowd helped him to keep going.

“What I told the kids is that we’ve been on the field for two weeks. We have two more weeks, and then we have a game week, so we’re really just halfway through camp,” said Coach Jones. “We’re not a finished product yet. If we get a little better every day, we’ll be fine in a couple of weeks.”

With classes starting on Monday, August 17th, the Jaguars will begin practicing at 3:30pm.