Jag Defense Plays Better In Second Scrimmage Of 2010

August 21, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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.”

Read more

Two Basketball Players Dismissed; Cotton Joins Football Team

August 4, 2010 · Filed Under Basketball, Football, News · Comment 

Basketball

On Monday, it was announced that South Alabama head basketball coach Ronnie Arrow dismissed Labree Sledge and Kentari Nettles from the basketball program. Both signed National Letter of Intents with South Alabama in November and enrolled in summer school classes but violated team and University rules.

Coach Arrow had this to say about Sledge and Nettles, “Due to recent circumstances we felt like it would be in the best interest of both the program and the individuals involved that we part ways at this time. We wish them the best in their future endeavors.”

Sledge averaged 9.8 points per game while attending Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. Nettles attended LeFlore High School and led them to the 5A semifinals in 2008.

Football

It’s official, Raymond Cotton is joining the Jaguars and is expected to practice with the team when they hit the practice field for the first time on Friday morning. Raymond, a redshirt Freshman received his official release from Ole Miss on Wednesday.

He joins a good stable of quarterback at South Alabama. Brennan Sim, Myles Gibbon, Gabe Graham who were all there last season. Including incoming Freshman C.J. Bennett from Tampa, Florida and Matt Saucier who took snaps at quarterback in the Spring of last year but moved to Safety before the season started. Nick Owens transferred after last season when it became obvious that he was not going to get as much playing time with the Jags.

Cotton was ranked among the top 30 quarterbacks nationally by both ESPN and Scout.com as well as being in the top 15 players in the Mid-Atlantic region. He also participated in the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp last summer after his one season with Fort Meade.

It was also announced on Wednesday that Jarred Williams is transferring from Florida-Atlantic to South Alabama. he will also be able to participate in the teams first practice on Friday morning.

Williams is a 6’3″ 245 pound defensive end originally from Fort Walton Beach, Florida and will have four years of eligibility for South Alabama after redshirting last season with FAU.

Williams marks the fifth student-athlete to join the Jaguars from a NCAA FBS (formerly Division I-A) program.

As stated above, the Jags will begin preparation for their second season of football on Friday. They will be facing a tougher schedule so the coach staff made spring drills more physical and challenging to fit the bill. They also recruited well to fill specific needs and to add depth at certain positions.

The schedule will expand from seven game to ten with all of their opponents being four-year institutions as well as the Jags first three road games. Coach Jones expects 129 Jaguar players to report on Wednesday and will take care of all of their academic preparation on Thursday and probably have meetings to prepare for practice on Friday.

One of the positions that was of major concern was the secondary. Saucier was among the players who were converted from offensive positions to help give the Jags depth in the secondary. Another was Ken Barefield who flourished in the secondary. They added Jonathan Cameron from Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and Darrow Fisher for experience as well as some freshmen who will add to the depth.

Coach Jones also wants more depth on the offensive line. He said only about six players got the majority of the playing time last season and he wants to get more involved. “We need to have at least 10 guys that we feel like we can count on. We’re recruiting to try and get to that point. Playing the schedule we’re playing this year, we’ve got to create some depth there, and competition. Last year, those guys knew it didn’t matter what they did, they were going to start. We didn’t have any depth. Now we’re going to have some guys breathing down their necks and pushing them and that’s always good.”

Another position of interest to Coach Jones is defensive end. “We need to find guys who can come off the edge and sack the quarterback. We feel like we’ve got some big guys on the defensive line, some very good players, but we’ve got to develop some pass rush,” Coach Jones said. “They’ve really gotten bigger, faster and stronger. But most of those guys we’re playing with on the defensive line, they’re freshmen. We don’t have a lot of veterans there to help them out.”

Friday’s practice will go from 7:10-9:45am to begin the first of nine straight days of practice. Friday and Saturday the team will be practicing in T-shirts and shorts. They will then add shells for practice on Sunday and Monday then will practice in full pads beginning on Tuesday.

Jags Sign Two Defensive Back Transfers In As Many Days

December 17, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

In two day the Jags have signed two Junior College transfers to help bolster their defensive secondary. On Wednesday they signed Safety Jonathan Cameron to a National Letter-of-Intent to join the Jaguars.

Cameron played the last two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and will have two season of eligibility left to play for the Jaguars. MGCCC finished in the top 10 in the final NJCAA rankings for 2009.

Cameron is listed at 6’1″ 190-lb and is a native of Puckett, Mississippi. His stats for last season included 39 tackles, two for a loss and one being a sack.

Before his stint with MGCCC he played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

He chose South Alabama over an offer from East Carolina.

On Thursday, South Alabama announced the second JC transfer to sign with the Jaguars. Justin Sorrell signed a National Letter-of-Intent to join the Jags program with two years of eligibility to play.

Sorrell played the last two seasons with Blinn Junior College in Texas. They won the National Junior College Athletic Association National Championship this year.

Sorrell is listed as a 5’10” 190-lb defensive back who finished the 2009 season with 77 tackles (second most on the team) and two interceptions in helping the Buccaneers to their 11-1 record and the National Championship. A second experience defensive back in as many days to help the Jags secondary as they will be seeing a marked increase in strength of schedule.

Sorrell chose South Alabama over recruiting efforts by UTEP, McNeese State and Lamar. Lamar is on the Jags schedule for 2010.

The Jags played the 2009 season with some converted players in the secondary. Matt Saucier moved from Quarterback and Ken Barefield moved from receiver to help give more depth at the position after some injuries early thinned out the ranks.

Coach Joey Jones has this to say about Cameron. “We feel great about Jonathan, he’s tall, rangy and has great speed. He is a really good athlete who can play either cornerback or safety. On his visit, you could tell that Jonathan is an individual with great character. We knew that we wanted him here at USA.”

“Justin is a very athletic safety who is a great tackler. He also has the ability to play man coverage as well. Justin is a great combination player, he is exactly what we are looking for in a safety,” Coach Jones said about Sorrell.

Go Jags!

Depth Chart Changes And Secondary Commentary

September 3, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

There have been some shifts in the starting lineup that has been noted this week. Montavious Williams moved from defensive end to inside at defensive tackle and from second team to the first team. Alex Page has also moved from the second team to first team at defensive end replacing Anthony Taylor.

Benefiting from Friday’s situational scrimmage, Lawson McGlon has kicked his way to first-team place-kicker. Wilson was also named as one of the two kick returners with Santuan McGee.

While Santuan McGee was listed number one on the depth chart early in the week, offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said on the Joey Jones Radio Show on Tuesday that Brandon Ross was the starter at running back. As for tight ends, Kevin Helms and Paul Bennett have switched places on the depth chart but are listed as co-starters.

Some other notable changes have taken place as well. Due to some injuries in the secondary, the Jags had to make some changes just to get through fall camp. Ken Barefield started fall practice as a wide receiver but was moved to safety but was convinced to move by defensive backs coach Duwan Walker. Then just a few weeks after making the move, he was marked as a starter.

Zach Brownell, a freshman safety himself, missed most of fall camp recovering from an injury, but had this to say about Barefield, “He works hard watching film, and he’s been paying a lot of attention. I give him some tips here and there, and those might have helped him out, but he’s done a great job of learning the position on his own.” Brownell returned to practice this week and has quickly made his way back to playing on first-team defense.

Coach Walker looks on the positive side of Brownell’s time off due to injury, “It probably worked out well because he got his legs up under him, and now he’s good and healthy and ready to go,” Walker said. “We were in a position where we had to practice some other kids, so to get these other guys back on the field has definitely built in some depth for us. We feel pretty good about going into the season as far as depth is concerned.”

Tony Threatt, another freshman safety, also spent time away due to injury. He has since returned to practice and is expected to help contribute depth at safety along with Matt Saucier and Alex Phifer.

If you are a new reader to this site and happen to recognize Saucier’s name, it was because he was the first team quarterback in spring practice. He has since made the move to safety in fall camp. Coach Walker likes the idea of Saucier playing defense. “We like guys that handle the ball every down, and as a quarterback you’ve got the ball in your hand every down,” Walker said. “After being a quarterback, you have some kind of idea of what the offense is trying to do. He’s a smart kid, and it was easy for him to pick up.”

I’m sure you noticed that that all of the five safeties that will be seeing significant playing time are all freshmen. They will have help in the secondary from four cornerbacks who do have experience playing beyond high school. Junior Michael Wilson and Sophomore Anton Graphenreed are expected to start on Saturday and they will be joined by Sophomores Jerron Mitchell and Steven Pease. However, Coach Walker doesn’t look at Graphenreed and Wilson as starters with Mitchell and Pease playing backup, he sees them collectively as players. “We don’t look at ourselves as having starters at cornerback, we just think of it as having kids that we can roll in,” Walker said. “Steven Pease is going to be a great player for us, and along with Jerron Mitchell, we expect those guys to be able to roll in at the corner position.”

With the schools first-ever game fast approaching, there is little worry about the inexperience at safety. They may be freshmen in status, but many have offensive instincts which can translate to on-field experience.

As of Thursday morning, 15,818 tickets remain for Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium according to the usagameday.com website.

Defense Stiffens Up In Second Preseason Scrimmage

August 23, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Saturday morning was beautiful day for South Alabama to have their scrimmage. It was completely opposite of how the weather had been all week when it force practices to be cut short or canceled. It was also very different for the defense from last weeks performance when they gave up six touchdowns and nearly four hundred yards.

The defense came out with something to prove on Saturday and did they prove it to the offense. They only gave up one touchdown and two field goals outside of the red zone and goal line situational drills. Justin Dunn lead the defense with five tackles and one assist behind the line of scrimmage. Five players, Chris Cooke, Clifton Crews, Bryson James, Matt Saucier and Enrique Williams all had four tackles with Cooke and Williams both having two tackles for loss. Charlie Higgenbotham added three tackles while Josh Chestang had two tackles, both being sacks on quarterback Myles Gibbon. Zach Rone recovered a fumble and Brett Hancock came away with an interception to accound for the two first-half turnovers.

The scrimmage began with the Jaguar offense starting deep in their own territory at the two yard-line. In four plays the offense picked up two first downs. Brandon Ross gained six yards on a run for one of the first downs and Gibbon hitting Kevin Helms on the left sideline for 21 yards for the other first down. On the offenses second series, Enrique Williams tackled Eli Smith for a safety on the second-team’s first snap. However they regrouped and picked up a pair of first downs. Brennan Sim found Corey Besteda for 11 yards for one. Then three plays later Sim found Bryant Lavender for 17 yards for the other first down.

On Saturday, Kim Shugart posted an article on al.com for the Mobile Press-Register about the place-kickers. It covered their troubles in last weeks scrimmage and continued struggles to become consistent. You can read the article here. But it was Michel Chapuseaux who scored the first points for the offense on Saturday with a 38 yard field goal. A key play setting up the field goal attempt was a 35 yard completion from Gibbon to Ralph Turner. On the very next series, Chapuseaux had a 48 yard attempt hit the left upright and bounce off. That attempt was set up by a 19 yard completion to Lemontis Gardner by Gibbon on a third and nine from their own 41 yard line. While Lawson McGlon hit both PAT attempts and Jordan Means hit a PAT as well.

The next series the first-team drove inside the 15 yard line but the second sack of the day by Chestang, eventually led to a fourth and four situation from the 11 yard line. Gibbon then ran a quarterback draw but was stopped one yard shy by Anthony Taylor.

On the second-teams second drive, they drove to the defense’s 38 yard line but Nick Owens was sacked by Alex Tamariz for an eight yard loss on third down to end the series. However, Owens would lead the offense to the events first touchdown the next time on the field, capping off a five play 50 yard drive with an Eli Smith rush off right tackle for 27 yards.

The second possession by the third-team offense crossed midfield as well, but was ended by a fumble recovered by Rone.

After a short break, the defense came back and prevented the offense from scoring on both series following the break. On the first of two red zone possession drills starting at the defense’s 20 yard line, Chapuseaux hit a 39 yard field goal. The scrimmage ended with two touchdowns on goal line drives starting at the 5 yard line. Ross found the end zone on the first team’s first play. Then on third and goal from the six, Owens rolled left and hit Nick Brunson in the corver of the end zone for the other touchdown.

Myles Gibbon went 8-for-13 for 105 yard in the air and 21 yards rushing on six carries. Nick Owens went 6-for8 for 45 yards and a touchdown. Brennan Sim went 2-for-7 for 28 yards and an interception. Gabe Graham went 3-for-4 adding 28 yards also. Each quarterback was sacked once. Combined all four South Alabama quarterbacks went 19-of-32 for 206 yards. Ross had 10 rushes for 47 yards, Eli Smith had four for 30 yards and Anthony Mostella had 3 rushes for 20 yards. Combined the offense rushed 43 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. The offense combined for 310 yards for the scrimmage. The complete stats can be found here.

After the scrimmage, Coach Jones commented on the defense by saying, “Defensively, they did a great job of bracing themselves in the red zone. They bent between the 20-yard lines, but toughened up. Offensively, we need to learn how to punch the ball in the end zone. That’s where most offenses have problems early in the year, and some of that is not allowing cut blocks because we don’t want to do that to our own guys. When you’re in the red zone, it’s hard to overcome a loss on first or second down, because the defense really has you where they want you.”

“One thing that the defense needs to work on is coming off the goal line,” Coach Jones observed. “One of my pet peeves is when we can’t keep teams pinned deep in their own territory. If we have them on the 2-yard line, let’s keep them down there, make them punt and get the ball around the 50. Then you have a greater percentage chance of scoring a touchdown.”

Jones continued speaking about the offense, “Nick had one of his better practices, he really did well this morning. I thought Myles had a good day too, he didn’t make any glaring mistakes that I saw. He was real poised out there, and he’s not getting flustered running our offense, which I like to see from a young quarterback. Brandon was tough running the ball. He’s not in shape yet because he’s been out a good deal with an injury, so he is not totatlly ready for a ball game. But, he is very tough on the inside.”

Gibbon spoke after the scrimmage saying, “We need to become more effective inside the red zone, because the most important part of an offense is being able to score when you get there. We had some big plays, but when we get down the field we need to execute better. Hopefully we can run the ball better in the red zone because when you’re passing there is so little space to throw to.”

Overall Coach Jones was happy with how the team responded and performed in their second preseason scrimmage. “Overall, I’m very pleased with both sides of the ball,” he said. “I thought we were a little more organized today, especially on the sidelines. One of the things we were trying to do was get them in the types of situations they’ll see in games as best we could, I think they learned a lot from that today. This was a real successful scrimmage.”

However, this team is quite different from the team that showed up for the spring scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium back in April. Coach Jones knew they would react differently because of that and he was right too. “It’s not that they were tight, but you could sense a little difference,” he said. “That’s why we brought them out here. We’ll do it again one more time before the first game to get them used to these surroundings.”

Myles Gibbon spoke about his visit to the stadium after the scrimmage by saying, “It felt good to finally come to where our home will be this fall and be in this atmosphere. When we walked out on the field, I just tried to imagine what it is going to be like having loads of people in here cheering and the stands filled from top to bottom. We’ll see what happens, but it’s exciting thinking about it.”

The Jags will have Sunday off and will return to the practice field for their 3:30pm practice time on Monday.

Jaguars Wrap Up Week One And Begin The Critical Week Two Of Practice

August 11, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Saturday August 8, 2009

Saturday morning the Jaguars hit the field for their fifth consecutive day of fall practice. But this day the Jaguars took the field in full pads for the first time this fall.

They started the practice with about an hour of drills then the offensive and defensive units played against each other in a full-contact ‘mini’ scrimmage.

Myles Gibbon took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense, however Coach Jones was quick to say that its still too early to name a starting quarterback. “We’ve got three guys working,” he said. “Kyle Stewart would be involved, but he’s injured right now. With the other three it’s close. Some guys do things better than others, but I’m really holding back until we see them for a couple of weeks because you don’t want to make a comment based on one or two practices.”

Gibbon was quoted after practice saying, “We all have different abilities that we excel in, so we’re all just battling for that spot. Every time we make a good throw it boosts us up, or every time we make a good read it boosts us up. Coach is right, it’s really close right now.”

The Jaguars offensive line opened some holes to help create a couple long runs and also helped Sophomore running back Brandon Ross score a 12-yard touchdown (an the only touchdown) at the end of practice.

Coach Jones thought the defensive unit was pretty good at times but also mentioned they gave up too many big runs. He continued, “If we can stop that, stop the 25 or 30-yard run, and make that a seven-yard run, then I’d feel a lot better about what we’re doing. But we can’t give up 25 and 30-yard runs.”

The practice ended with a bit of competition for the kickers. Each of the four place kickers lined up for 42-yard field goals to determine how many gassers the team would have to run. The offensive and defensive units formed a tunnel down the hash marks to cheer them on, and also to give them some pressure. combined they went 2-for-4 but Coach Jones gave them a double or nothing opportunity, which the team accepted. However the final attempt was just a little wide right, thus the team had four gassers to end practice.

Coach Jones commented about the end of practice competition by saying, “We want to continue to do that with our kickers. We want to constantly put pressure on them, because that’s what it is – they have to run out on the field after standing on the sideline for 30 minutes to kick a game-winning field goal. We’re trying to get them used to that situation. If you apply a lot of pressure on the kids in practice then the games are easy.”

The real challenge is coming in the second week of practice according to Coach Jones. “The first game is going to depend on how we do this second week. I’ve been coaching for about 18 years now, and that second week is vitally important for us to get better. It’s like I told the players, we’re in a tunnel right now and there’s not a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to keep working and working and working until we find some light, and hopefully that’s going to be here in about two or three weeks.”

Sunday was the teams first day off of fall camp but they returned to the field on Monday at 7am.

Monday August 10, 2009

The Jaguars are entering the second and most critical week of practice according to Coach Jones. This week ushers in the first two-a-day practices and their first fall scrimmage. “We’ve challenged the team,” Coach Jones said. “This second week has to be the best week of practice we’re going to have. “What we do this week is going to determine our identity. This is not a fun week – there’s no game coming up, they’re tired, we have two-a-days; all reasons for them to quit and give up – so if we can do it this week we will be able to do it throughout the year. If we can fight through that this week I know that we will get better as a football team during the rest of the season.”

The staff has several goals this week according to Coach Jones. They need to develop a depth chart, make progress with the playbook and focus on a segment of special teams that did not receive a lot of work in the first five practices. Coach Jones wants to hone the Jaguar kicking game. He said, “We’ve worked on parts of it so far, but we need to start putting that together so we have our base packages in by the end of the week. We also need to find out who our special teams players are going to be, and that goes back to the depth chart. We want to find guys who are backups, but good athletes who want to play – I’d rather have those guys on special teams in the game if they can earn the spot.” Coach Jones continued, “In an ideal world you want every special teams guy to be a backup player, but we are going to put our best players out there on special teams because we want to win. This just opens a door for backups to get on the field.”

Improvement was the running theme after practice from several players. Redshirt freshman linebacker Josh Chestang commented that the depth chart can change every day, so they have to continue to improve every day and not give up. Also redshirt freshman offensive lineman Trey Clark said, “Despite the heat and the two-a-days, we need to get better every day.”

Monday’s practice went from 7am until about 9am but starting on Tuesday, they will begin two-a-days with the first starting at 7am and the second starting at 3:30pm with each expecting to last about two hours.

After five straight days of practice last week, Sunday was a good day of rest for the team. Defensive coordinator Bill Clark said, “It was nice. We went to church and had a nice lunch before coming back for some meetings,” It gave us a chance to get our legs back underneath us, so it was good to have the day off. We needed it, especially after three days of hitting and getting after it.”

After five grueling days of practice, Coach Jones knew that the team needed a break. “Any time you go through a long week of practice, your body and your mind get worn down,” said Coach Jones. He also followed that up with a good compliment about Monday mornings practice by saying, “But, they responded great this morning.” Furthermore, he gave the team some high praise to begin this critical and challenging week by saying, “This is one of the best groups I have ever been around as far as coming out prepared mentally and physically for practice. I haven’t been around a group like this in a long time.”

The practice started with about 15 minutes of kickoff coverage adn return drills. Then this was followed by about 25 minutes of position drills. Next the offense and defense broke off into two units to square off in the next drill. Offensive line and running backs against the defensive front seven and safeties while the quarterbacks and receivers worked against defensive backs.

Around mid way through practice, the offense ran 7-on-7 skeleton passing drills against linebackers and db’s for about 15 minutes. The final 50 minutes of practice was situational work. About 20 minutes was devoted to running plays against scout teams.

The offense had three downs to get the first. On its first three attempts, they were successful. It was started with an eight yard run by Brandon Ross on the first snap. Nick Owens hit Corey Besteda on third down to get a first down. Then Gibbon hit Ralph Turner with a pass for another first down. But then the defense responded with three stops in a row, which included with two possessions ending with fumble recoveries. The second fumble was forced by Matt Saucier and recovered by Alex Page.

The day ended with about 10 minutes of third down situational drills.

Jaguars Hit The Practice Field Early To Begin Their First Ever Fall Camp

August 4, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Coach Jones looking on during the Jaguars first practice of fall camp. Photo by Doug Roberts.

The Jaguars had two firsts today for the program. This marked their first preseason football camp for their first season. But it was also the first time the Jags used their new field turf practice field on campus near the new fieldhouse.

Everyone was so excited that more than 150 people, including graduate and student assistants, managers and training staff were on the field before the 6:30am schedule and were ready for the day. The Jags practices for over two hours and worked through team and individual drills dressed in helmets and shorts.

Practice began with about 15 minutes of special teams work. Players not involved with this were working with position coaches around the perimeter of the field. Next they had about 25 minutes of individual drills for all players. Then the majority of the remaining practice time was focused on team drills with the offensive and defensive units separated on either end of the field. About midway through this portion of the practice, there was about 15 mintues of skeleton passing drills which was 7-on-7 drills. Then there was about a 10 minute session of 11-on-11 practice which included running plays.

Probably one of the biggest questions coming into practice is who will be the Jaguars’ starting quarterback. With Saucier, the most experienced quarterback in the Jaguars system, making the move to safety leaving that question without a definite answer right now. It wasn’t decided on the first day of practice, but coach Jones has said that the staff has a definite timeline in mind for deciding who will be where on the depth chart. Coach Jones reiterated, “By the end of week two we would like to have our ones and our twos picked. That doesn’t mean it will be over for the other players, but at some point we do have to make decisions.”

Coach Jones continued about the quarterback position, “Quarterbacks need a lot more reps than other players, it’s much more of a mental game at the position. Receivers and running backs need a lot less reps to get ready to play a game.”

Kyle Stewart, freshman from Tallahassee, FL, was quoted saying, “We’re all new to this, we don’t know the playbook very well but are learning. We’re equally talented, whoever picks it up the quickest and makes the biggest plays during camp is probably going to get the first shot.”

Myles Gibbon, freshman from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, also spoke about the quarterback position, “I think the coaches want to see someone who has some experience and can make the right reads. We have some great competition here between guys who have come from all over the place. It’s friendly and we’re having fun, but you want to make sure when you get in there you make the throw. I’m going to do my best and see what happens from there.”

Probably the player that somewhat has a leg up on the competition is Junior transfer Brennan Sim. His time spent at Oregon State has potentially given him two years of collegiant experience and maturity over his freshman counterparts. He has had two years to learn and understand the rigors of collegiant football.

Both Gibbon and Stewart spoke about the challenges they face in their transition from high school to college level football.

“It’s pretty big, so it was overwhelming when we were first given the book,” said Gibbon. “But, we’ve been working all through the summer in 7-on-7 drills so I’m used to the passing plays even though there’s a lot of concepts and many plays with receivers in different spots.”

“It’s a lot different than high school. The playbook is much bigger with a lot more formations and motions,” Stewart observed. “Plus, you have to read defenses a lot better than you need to in high school, and you need to learn many more signals. With all of this coming at you, you just have to keep working and studying the best you can.”

Coach Jones was quick to caution everyone about how much information one is able to get out of a single workout in helmets and shorts. “We’ll know more when we get into pads. You can tell a little bit about receivers and quarterbacks, and maybe defensive backs, but you can’t evaluate linemen and linebackers without pads on. Some of them may have looked great today but won’t when they start hitting, and others may not be as good in shorts as they are with their shoulder pads on.”

Coach Jones noted that, in addition to the heat and rain factors, two other factor were behind the early practice time. “I want some discipline in this program, and I think that waking up early and going to meetings before an early practice helps with that,” coach Jones said. “Plus, I had to do it when I was playing.”

Otherwise, Coach Jones was very upbeat and pleasant about their first practice. “The kids know it’s for real right now, so you could feel a heightened excitement on the field,” Coach Jones said. “They know that we have a game right around the corner, it’s always more exciting when you are looking forward to that.”

Gibbon said he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep Monday night. “We had to wake up a five, and I didn’t get to bed until 2:30 a.m. It’s great just to be out here, it’s been so long since I finished last season.”

The biggest difference for Coach Jones and his staff, when comparing the first day of spring practice to the first day of fall camp is personnel. He said “I saw a lot of better athletes out there. There are some quick guys out there who also have some size.”

Probably one of the most resonate and exciting statements was from recently announced transfer from Alabama, Charlie Higgenbotham. He said, “It was extremely exciting, I am thrilled to be here. I know a lot of these coaches know what they are talking about, and a lot of the players are great guys — everyone is working hard. Things are being run here the right way, which is really exciting.”

Having a player who has been under Nick Saban for two years say that Coach Jones and his staff are running things the right way is indeed something to be excited about.

The Jaguars will be on the practice field again on Wednesday at 7am to continue their preparation for the programs first ever game against Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy at 4pm on Saturday, September 5th at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

South Alabama Sports Round-Up 2009-07-06

July 6, 2009 · Filed Under Football, News · 1 Comment 

Summer is that time of year when college sports really slows down. Baseball season has ended, football camp is about a month away and most people are trying to find some way to beat the heat. But now that there is some news to write about and its a mere 60 days until kickoff of the inaugural South Alabama football season, we have another South Alabama Sports Round-Up to get out.

Athletic Director

With less than a month until Joe Gottfried hangs up his AD hat for retirement, South Alabama has not been forthcoming about potential replacements as of yet. However I would expect that to start to ramp up very soon with the committee set to reconvene sometime early this month to review candidates. President Moulton has gave the committee a target date of September 1st to have the job filled.

The Mobile Press-Register wrote not too long ago about some candidates that were interested in the position, two of them with previous ties to the university and Mobile itself. John Hartwell, who is the executive associate athletic director for Ole Miss and Joel Erdmann who is the Athletic Director at Southeastern Louisiana have both confirmed that they are interested in the position.

But Erdmann and Hartwell are not the only ones expressing interest in the position. Johnny Williams, former AD at Troy University, has expressed interest in the job. Plus people close to Birmingham-Southern AD Joe Dean Jr. has indicated that he might be interested in the position as well.

Dr. John Smith, vice president for student affairs and faculty athletics representative, is chairing the search committee and has stated that as of late June, there have been 23 applications received for the position with more expected to be received.

Erdmann and Hartwell speak highly of the potential that USA has since the addition of football to its sports program and likening the potential of South Alabama’s success to the quick rise of South Florida since the inception of football at their school.

Football

Speaking of football, coach Jones said that about 95% of USA’s scholarship players were on campus for the first summer session which started in May. Now with the second summer session starting in late June, Coach Jones now has 100% of his scholarship kids on campus as well as most of their walk-ons as well.

Most of the kids have already qualified with the exception of a couple kids they are waiting to see how well they do in summer classes. Matt Autry is expected to enroll in Jones County JC and hopefully will rejoin the Jaguars once he has gained eligibility.

In order to get down to the 30 scholarship limit for the 2009 class, there will be several players grayshirted. So far the grayshirts for this year will be Linebacker Mytez Madden, Saftey Zach Brownell, Defensive Lineman Will Thompson and ATH Mardavian Martin. Jared Palmer, WR from Tuscaloosa, will either be grayshirted or will attend JC depending on his academics. QB Early James and OL Chris Payne, who were mid-semester JC signees, have left the program.

August 2nd will be the first official team meetings and will becing practice on August 4th. Coach Jones anticipates a healthy roster to being practice with only a few players involved in minor rehab at this time. Receiver Christopher Pugh has a torn meniscus, but is currently working out and going to rehab and hopes to be ready once practice starts. Also it was overheard that Coach Turner (one of the brothers) had a staph infection on his hand. I don’t have any details about what type of infection he might have had, but its probably the a simple infection due to a cut.

Staph Infection from WebMD: “About 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, and anal area. The foot is also very prone to pick up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria. These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is how deep and how fast the infection spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics. The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of our overuse of antibiotics. The type of staph infection that involves skin is called cellulitis and affects the skin’s deeper layers. It is treatable with antibiotics. This type of infection is very common in the general population — and more common and more severe in people with weak immune systems. People who have diabetes or weakened immunity are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.”

Obviously lots of interest will be on the quarterback position starting in August. With the #1 guy in the spring, Matt Saucier, moving to safety, the position is really up for grabs. The most experienced should be Oregan State transfer Brennan Sim. But Nic Owens, Myles Gibbon and Kyle Stewart will definitely be battling for the starting position.

Coach Jones was quoted saying, “We have four good candidates coming in. The he hard part of that is that we’re going to have to give reps to someone and get them ready. People don’t realize that when you are starting a new program you have to make a decision on a quarterback fairly quick because if you fool around for two weeks and give four people all the reps than they won’t know many of the plays. We’re going to have to do a great job of evaluating those kids in the first week. I think at the end of the first week we need to decide who is one, two and three, not that it will be etched in stone.”

Like I have been saying, what is probably the best situation for the Jags is to have Brennan Sim (JR) to win the starting job with one of the freshmen as his backup. Then giving the other two a redshirt to give them an extra year of maturity and understanding of Coach Gregory’s system.

Season tickets sales are around 6.000 so far and USA has a goal of selling 10,000. With that many season ticket holders, the Jaguars would lead the Sun Belt before even playing their first season. If you haven’t purchased your season tickets yet, what are you waiting for? Saturday afternoons in Mobile will be a great answer to ‘what are we doing this weekend?’ and for $85 for seven games, you’re not going to get off that cheap anywhere else.

Spring Scrimmage A Resounding Success For South Alabama

April 11, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

 

players, managers, trainers and staff have been involved. To come to a game like this, where I was expecting 1,500 people to be out there, to see 8,000 fans is a great testament to the city of Mobile and how they are going to support this program. I think that this town is ready for football, and they are excited about Sept. 5 coming soon.”

 

The first team offense dominated their second team opponents in the defense on Friday. Richard Ross and Matt Saucier both scored twice as the first team offense scored points on all five of its possessions. Similarly, the first team defense dominated its opponents in the second team offense by only allowing six total yards and no first downs.

The first team offense did not waste any time getting on the scoreboard. They drove 70 yards on four plays in 1:47 with Ross bouncing off two tackles to finish a 25 yard run for a touchdown. Turner sparked the possession with a 36 yard gain on a reverse to open the series.

With just over four minutes remaining in the opening quarter, Ross scored again on a one yard pludge into the endzone to cap off an eight play, 59 yard drive. On third down, Saucier found Lim Windham for a 14 yard strike to keep the series going. Later, Saucier set up the Ross score with a 12 yard scamper.

On the first units’ next drive Saucier accounted for most of the yards running the ball. He had a 14 yard run early in the series. Then one play after Saucier ran for 33 yards down the sideline, he hit Kevin Helms for an eight yard touchdown pass. The 2:13 drive spanned 60 yards on five plays.

The first team offense also put together a long drive that ended with a field goal. The drive lasted for more than eight minutes with Saucier keeping the drive alive with two big plays on third down. First was a scramble for a first down and the second was a key thrid down completion to Paul Bennett for another first down. Lawson McGlon capped off the drive with a 42 yard field goal.

Saucier would score the final points of the game with a one-yard quarterback sneak with 4:08 left in the ending quarter. In all on the final drive, Saucier ran four times. The drive covered 47 yards on eight plays including a 27 yard pass to Anthony Mostella.

The only first down the second team offense saw was on a pass interference call on its first play from scrimmage. Then two plays later they came the closest they would all game to gaining a first down when they faced a third-and-one at their own 44 yard line. Dunn hit Marquis Chapel and dropped him for a two yard loss forcing them to punt.

In total, USA gained 278 yards of offense on 43 plays with an average of 6.5 yards per snap. However, the first team offense accounted for 272 of those yards. Saucier was the leading rusher with 76 yards on 10 rushes including a touchdown. He was also 7-13 for 78 yards and a touchdown through the air.

Santuan McGee gained 41 yards on three attempts and Ross had 29 yards on three rushes while scoring twice. Ralph Turner gained 52 all-purpose yards, running for 35 and catching two passes for 17 yards. Turner was the only Jaguar player to have more than one reception.

Justin Dunn and Eric Dalgleish each had four stops, both accounted for two tackles behind the line of scrimmage, in leading the first team defense. With Dunn and Dalgleish leading them, the first team defense forced five three-and-outs with the last one seeing Richard Courtney score on a fumble return of 21 yards, which was forced by Dalgleish.

Following the scrimmage, Coach Jones announced the winners of the program’s first ever spring awards as voted on by the coaches. Trey Clark (offensive line), Andy Dalgleish (defensive line), Justin Dunn (linebacker), Tim Harvey (defensive backs), Kevin Helms (tight ends), Santuan McGee (running backs) and Courtney Smith (wide receiver) were presented with the Outstanding Performance Award at their position with Michel Chapuseaux, Eric Dangleish, Jordan Means, Anthony Mostella and Ralph Turner sharing the honor on special teams.

Paul Bennett (tight end), Josh Chestang (linebacker), Chris Cooke (linebacker), Lamontis Gardner (wide receiver), Anton Graphenreed (defensive back), Cory Pittman (offensive line), Richard Ross (running back), Matt Saucier (quarterback), Anthony Taylor (defensive line) and Lim Windham (wide receiver) were named the most improved players at their position.

The Jaguar Leadership Award was given to Bennett on offense and Harvey on defense. Dunn, Brian Krauskopf, Jerron Mitchell and Erling Riis earned the Jaguar Strength Award. Bennett and Clark were also given Outstanding Academic Awards.

Jaguars Continue To Improve Through Spring Practice

April 4, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment