Jags Workout In Shells On Tuesday

September 12, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Wide Receiver Bryant Lavender waits on the ball during Jaguars preseason camp.

South Alabama practiced in shells on Tuesday as they continued to prepare for the Jags road trip to NC State on Saturday. This will be the Jags second trip to Raleigh where they lost last season 35-13. It was the Jags first-ever game against a FBS team and will be their first FBS opponent this season.

Head coach Joey Jones was pleased with what he saw at practice and what they accomplished. “I thought it was really, really good today,” he said. “The kids are preparing the way they are supposed to. There was a little more pep in their step. We had a good physical day and the tempo was really good, I thought. The kids almost went 100 percent without knocking each other to the ground and that’s the perfect type tempo we need.”

NC State returns several starters from last season and coach Jones said that his team must stay focused and work on the details if they exepct to play well on Saturday. “N.C. State is fast and on offense and defense they can do really well and execute very well offensively,” Jones commented. “We’ve got to be sharp this week. I challenged our scout team. They’ve got to do a great job of giving us a look this week because N.C. State, they do things really well, so if the scout team gives us a good luck, we’ve got a good shot on Saturday.”

A year ago NC State quarterback Mike Glennon went 17-of-20 for 274 yards and four touchdowns against the Jaguars defense. The secondary will be tested again this season and they understand that they must be prepared for what the Wolfpack will throw their way. But the defensive front will need to put pressure on Glennon as well.

“First of all, I think we’re better in the secondary this year,” he said. “Our kids are really understanding the concepts back there now and we’ve got some better cover people there, so we feel good about that. As always, you’ve got to be able to play physical up front and that’s what we have challenged our kids to do. I think they understand that and that’s one thing we’re working on this week.”

The Jags played a tough game and kept it close until mistakes allowed NC State to pull away late. “We went up there and played a really good football game,” Jones said. “I thought we went out there and went toe-to-toe with them. Our kids are very competitive and want to be in these type of situations. You want to get into an atmosphere like you see in Raleigh. I’ll never forget walking out onto the field last year and how exciting it was to be in that atmosphere. Our kids are looking forward to it.”

Through two games this season, the Jags defense stacks up pretty well in the Sun Belt. They are tied for first place in red zone defense, kickoff returns, opponents’ third-down conversion rate and fourth-down conversions. They are either solely in second place or tied for second in total defense, sacks, passing defense efficiency and interceptions. But don’t get too excited about those stats just yet. It’s only two games into the season and the offense is not ranking that well.

In the 10 team Sun Belt Conference, the Jags are 9th in scoring offense, 10th in total offense, 10th in rushing offense, 9th in passing offense. But if you contrast that with the defense in similar categories and you see the disparity between the two. The Jags scoring defense is 3rd in the league, 2nd in total defense, 3rd in rushing defense and 3rd in passing defense.

Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews mentioned before the Jaguars game against Nicholls State, that they need to improve their third down efficiency. Heading into their game against NC State the offense has converted 12-of-32 third downs. That’s a mere 38%, which includes a 7-of-19 mark against Nicholls State last Saturday.

However, the defense is holding their opponents to a 4-of-24 third down success rate, which is a mere 17%. Both opponents were 2-of-12 in their games.

Jaguar’s Defense Improves In Second Game Of Season

September 11, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach Bill Clark works with the linebacker corps during pregame warmups prior to the Jags 9-3 win over Nicholls State.

The Jaguar defense played a very stingy game against Nicholls State on Saturday. They produced six sacks and 14 tackles for loss against the Colonels for a total loss of 60 yards. That was more like what head coach Joey Jones and defensive coordinator Bill Clark wanted to see out of the Jaguar defense.

The Jags had problems getting pressure on the quarterback and catching ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage. They only had 15 sacks and 59 tackles for loss all last season. That is only an average of 1.5 sacks per game and 5.9 tackles for loss per game.

They got a slow start against UTSA when they failed to record a sack and only managed five tackles for loss.

While the Jags didn’t have any film to review for the Colonels, they did have a plan that consisted of getting in the backfield, causing problems and making plays. And that’s what they did.

In addition to the stats mentioned above, they forced two interceptions and a fumble recovery while only allowing 118 yards of total offense. Coach Clark summed it up well after the game. “We got after the quarterback. We said that was our goal coming in. We schemed the whole week trying to get four guys coming at all times and the d-line really gave us a great push. It starts with pressure. That sure helps you out a lot.”

“We got some turnovers today, some takeaways, and we had a lot of three-and-outs,” Clark continued. “We had a tough penalty near the end and we can’t have any penalties, especially gifts like that. But sometimes when you’re playing hard and you’re running your tail off, you get some of those. We’ve just got to be smart, and for the most part I think we have. But our emotion, our energy, the way we tackled, being physical, that’s everything we preached this week. It kind of got back to being who we are. Sometimes, you have to step up. The offense is going to step up one week and we’ll step up another, but this week it was our turn and that’s what a team game is all about. It was our turn to do it and it will make us better for it.”

Jake Johnson got started early by sacking the Colonel quarterback on their third play from scrimmage. He would end the game with eight tackles , 2.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Also Pat Moore added five tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and a pass break-up in his first start for South Alabama. Two of his sacks came in the second half in the red zone. Anthony Taylor had two tackles for loss and a sack. Terrel Brigham and Bryson James came away with interceptions in the game.

Looking ahead to the next couple games which include away games to NC State and Mississippi State before returning to host their first-ever Sun Belt game against in-state foe Troy University then following a week off they travel to defending Sun Belt champs Arkansas State, Coach Clark had the following to say. “I think this stretch is huge. We’ve got to go in with some confidence. You’re playing people who have got some great skilled athletes and they’re well coached. That’s the elite of the elite, so we have to play. The one we’re going to this week, at the end of the year (last season) they were scoring 50 points a game. I don’t know what they’re doing right now, but we’ve got our work cut out for us. This week we’ll just focus on N.C. State and then we’ll go from there.”

Jags Look To Further Improve This Week Before Travelling To NC State

September 10, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguar cheerleaders leading the team onto the field while Coach Jones greets his team on the sidelines prior to the Jags game against Nicholls State.

Coach Joey Jones and his staff reviewed the video from the Jaguars 9-3 win over Nicholls State on Sunday morning and took part in meetings throughout the day. But, because of a speaking event, Coach Jones was not able to attend the teams practice on Sunday night.

The goals for Saturday’s game was to improve with more consistency, less turnovers and a better punch in the red zone as they head into the tough two game road swing to NC State and Mississippi State.

“Bottom line was the defense played really well,” Coach Jones said to the Press-Register. “I think they came out and played as we thought they would. Offensively, we got in the red zone five times and didn’t turn it into any touchdowns and I think if we had scored a couple of touchdowns there we’re in the mid 20s and we have a good game. But we didn’t execute very well down there.”

“The defense bowed up when they had to and their backs were up against the wall a couple or three times and they really responded. Like I told them today, they made plays when they had to. Any of those passes in the end zone (in the waning moments), if we don’t knock them down they score and probably win the game on any one of those plays. They made plays when they had to. This team is doing that. I think we had a lot of that in the first game but mistakes (turnovers) in the first game hurt us.”

According to Jones, the offense experienced trouble against the Colonel defense due to the lack of video of them from this season prior to their game in Mobile. While coach Jones does not like making excuses, he did point to the postponedment of the Colonels opening game at Oregon State, while they had film of the Jags game against Texas-San Antonio to prepare. “Not having any film to watch on those games made it pretty difficult on us,” he said. “We were just having to kind of shoot in the dark with them. But the bottom line is, once we got the ball into the red zone, we just didn’t punch the ball into the end zone.”

This week the Jags will try to improve further as they face NC State for the second season in a row. If they play like they have the previous two games the Jags may find themselves in trouble against the Wolfpack, who defeated the Jags 35-13 in Raleigh last season in a game much closer than the score appears. It was also the Jags first game against an FBS opponent.

“One thing, you look at them on defense and they are much better up front,” Jones said. “They’ve got some good lineman on defense and they are very athletic. That’s the thing that jumps off the tape at you defensively. Offensively, their quarterback Glennon does a great job throwing the football. He’s 6-6 and has a great arm and will be playing in the NFL one day. He’s a very efficient passer.”

The Wolfpack also has a 1-1 record like the Jags as they lost their season opener in Atlanta to Tennessee 35-21 and won their second game at Connecticut 10-7.

Jags Next Opponent Is A Bit Unknown

September 5, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama will go into it’s second game of the season with some mystery around their opponent. While the Jags opened the season against UTSA, Nicholls State game at Oregon State was postponed due to weather issues caused by Hurricane Isaac.

Thus, little is known about their opponent this weekend. “From their standpoint, I would think it would be somewhat of a disadvantage, but from our standpoint, I’d rather have some film on them and kind of see who they are because they could obviously surprise us with some things that they didn’t show last year,” Head coach Joey Jones said on the Sun Belt Conference teleconference Monday. “So that’s a concern for us. I know from their side they would rather have played a game.”

Typically, the biggest improvement a team will see during the season is between the first and second game. The Jags hope this holds true for them considering the four turnovers the Jaguars committed in their season opening 33-31 loss to UTSA.

Coach Jones, when asked about his own team, said that with the changes on offense and defense that there were some highlights in the game, but they were overshadowed by the mistakes in the loss.  “First of all as to the offense, we scored 31 points and could have easily scored 45,” he said. “We threw an interception at the goal line going in and had two long passes that were wide open that we didn’t hit, so we could have hit on all cylinders and scored in the mid-40s, but we didn’t. But I was real pleased overall offensively. I think we did some good things and I think we’ll get better this week.”

“Defensively, I thought we started a little slow. I think the speed of the game got us a little bit early. Sometimes in the first game that happens. We didn’t play as fast as they were playing probably. Maybe we were thinking a little too much. We made some adjustments on the sideline and once we did I thought we played much better in the second half.”

Michel Chapuseaux, who is taking over the day-to-day placekicking from Jordan Means and continued his kickoff duties. Chapuseaux went 1-for-1 against UTSA as he hit a career best 43 yard field goal in the third quarter. He averaged 60.8 yards per kickoff with three touchbacks.

Jags Return To Practice Field After Off Day On Monday

September 5, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head Coach Joey Jones talking with wide receiver Carr Tigner during preseason practice.

South Alabama had an off day on Monday for the Labor Day holiday and returned to the practice field on Tuesday morning to continue preparation for Nicholls State on Saturday. They continued to work on correcting mistakes that the team made in the 33-31 loss to UTSA.

The first thing the Jaguars have to do is to put the game behind them and move onto the next opponent. Head coach Joey Jones believes that they have done that and are focused on Nicholls State. South Alabama met the Colonels in 2010 but did not face them last season.

“I think we came out and practiced pretty well,” he said about Tuesday’s practice. “I think the approach we have to take is we’ve got to have a great week of practice. Nicholls State, in my opinion, is a much better team than they were two years ago. They’ve improved a lot in watching last year’s film. We’ve got to be locked in this week and I think the kids understand that, but we’ve got to prove it on the field. We challenged them to get ready this week.”

Coach Jones also mentioned that he believes that the lingering feelings from the loss are gone. “I think it’s gone. Sunday they came in a little down, obviously. Any time you lose you’re going to have some of that. But they came out in better spirits (Tuesday).”

Since the Jaguars do not have any game film of the Colonels from this season, the coaching staff has devised a game plan based on what they did last season. Nicholls State went 2-10 last season.

“All we can do is watch last year’s film and the guys they’ve got coming back,” Jones said. “That’s all we can do. They are going to have the advantage of watching our game (against UTSA) and we have the advantage of having already played a game. But you’d much rather have already studied your opponent and have a good gameplan. We have to base our gameplan off what we know from the past, so we’ll probably have to adjust some during the game.”

The Jags will host the Nicholls State Colonels on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 4pm. The game is scheduled to be shown on ESPN3 again.

Jags Returned To Practice Field Sunday

September 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jaguar offense looks to the sideline for play adjustments against UTSA.

The Jags returned to the practice field on Sunday afternoon following their 33-31 loss to Texas-San Antonio the day before.

They held a light practice in shells for a little over an hour as they worked to correct the mistakes that led to four turnovers.

South Alabama had a pass intercepted in the end zone in the first quarter as they tried to take a 14-0 lead early in the game. Later they would have three fumbles; T.J. Glover would fumble on a big kickoff return, C.J. Bennett would fumble the exchange from Center Trey Clark when they went under center for a third and one and another fumble by Bennett at the Jaguar 21 yard line when it appears that Demetre Baker slid beside Bennett and knocked the ball out of his hands.

“We did a lot of good things but had a few mistakes that we’ve got to fix,” coach Jones said. “The turnovers were obvious and we had a couple of mental busts. We didn’t have a ton of penalties, but we had a couple at the wrong time. So really a lot of things that we’ve got to work on is we’ve got to work on us. We’ve got to stop that to win.”

Coach Jones believes that the Jags will bounce back well from the loss and that they will put all of their focus on preparing for Nicholls State. “It’s tough when you lose. They aren’t going to come out here happy,” he said. “But they realize that you (have to look ahead). We always preach next play, the next game, the next day, so bottom line, that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”

One of the things the defense will have to work on is getting more pressure on the quarterback. The defense produced five tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries, but no sacks.

On a positive note, there were no injuries for South Alabama according to director of sports medicine Jinni Frisbey. Defensive back Gabe Loper was assisted off the field, but was suffering from leg cramps. Offensive lineman Melvin Meggs also suffered from cramps.

South Alabama Downs Nicholls State 39-21

September 19, 2010 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones paces the sideline vs Nicholls State on Saturday.

The Jags saw many firsts on Saturday. Their first Division I-AA (FCS) opponent and their first deficit were cheif among them. However, the one first that Coach Jones and the Jaguar faithful were most proud and grateful to see what the teams reaction was going to be to those two firsts. I will definitely be among the first to say, I was pleased.

Last seasons finale saw the closest any team had come to leading the Jaguars and they fell about two or three yards short. The Jags then responded to them with a 98 yard drive to open up the scoring against Huntingdon. On Saturday, Coach Charlie Stubbs and the Nicholls State Colonels succeded in being the first team to lead the Jags.

The Jags received the ball to begin the game, but only gained 19 yards in four plays before being forced to punt. Nicholls State started their possession on their own 21 yard line. After getting down to the Jaguar 33 yard line, Nicholls State faced a fourth and one situation. The Colonels would score on a 33 yard run by Jesse Turner on that fourth down play, to put the Jags in their first deficit of the football programs’ short history. The drive covered 79 yard over five plays and 2:26 off of the game clock.

T.J. Glover received the ensuing kickoff, returning it for 69 yards before a touchdown saving horsecollar tackle by the Colonels. After enforcing the half-the-distance penalty, the Jaguars were in buisness at the Nicholls 11 yard line. The second play from scrimmage saw T.J. Glover go in for South Alabama’s answering score, tieing the game at 7.

On the next drive by Nicholls, the Jaguar defense only allowed four yards and forced them to punt. However the Jags next offensive series would yeild more yards, but would end with a punt that would pin the Colonels deep in their own territory.

Nicholls, starting at their own ten, would throw and incomplete pass and be assessed a penalty putting them just inside their own five yard line. But Nicholls quarterback LaQuintin Caston would find Turner in the flat and he would outrun the chasing Ken Barefield for a 95 yard touchdown to give Nicholls the lead again at 14-7 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.

South Alabama would answer right back. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Jags would start at their own 20 yard line but would cover the 80 yards in just six plays. Myles Gibbon would rush for 16 yards for a firs down. Then on the next play, he was tackled and was forced to leave the game with an injury to his right knee. Gibbon would not return to the game after that point. Brennan Sim would step in for Myles and would run for nine more yards before the first quarter ended. On the first play of the second quarter, Sim would connect with Richard Ross on a 47 yard completion down the missle of the field for the touchdown. This would begin South Alabama’s 20-0 run.

Nicholls would get take possession of the ball after the kickoff by Michel Chapuseaux went out of bounds and was placed on the Nicholls 40 yard line. Five plays and 24 yards later the Jags defense would face two big defensive plays. On third and one at the Jaguar 36, Justin Dunn and Alex Page would combine to stop Caston for no gain. Then on fourth and one, Jonathan Cameron and Anthony Taylor would stop Jesse Taylor for no gain. So the defense would hold and take possession of the ball on downs.

The Jaguar offense would then gash the Colonel defense for big gains on their possession starting with a screen pass from Sim to Brandon Ross for 30 yards. Then a 24 yard run by Kendall Houston would set up Santuan McGee for the eight yard, go ahead score. The Jordan Means extra point attempt was blocked, leaving the Jags with a 20-14 lead with 11:11 left until halftime.

Nicholls would take the kickoff and begin their possession at their own 19 yard line. But after beginning to move the ball again, their drive would end with a Jaguar fumble recovery at midfield.

South Alabama would take the short field and score again on a Kendall Houston 5 yard touchdown run to cap off a 20 point second quarter and take a 27-14 lead into halftime.

Nicholls would get the ball, and good field position, to start the second half. With another kickoff sailing out of bounds, Nicholls would start at their own 40 yard line. The Colonels would drive down to the Jaguar 12 yard line but would turn the ball over on downs. The Jags would begin there and drive 75 yards in eight plays but would fumble the ball away at the Nicholls 13 yard line.

Nicholls would run four plays before Caston found Andrew Wynn down the middle of the field for a 62 yard touchdown to cut their deficit down to six points, 27-21.

South Alabama and Nicholls next offensive possessions would be three and outs. South Alabama would then get in gear once more and put together a five play 67 yard drive which would be capped off with another Kendall Houston touchdown run, this time for 20 yards putting the Jags up 34-21. This would be the beginning of a 12 point fourth quarter to end the game.

The Jaguar defense would then begin to pour it on. On the first play by Nicholls after the Jaguar touchdown, Tim Harvey would pick off a Caston pass at the South Alabama 40 yard line. The Jaguar offense would go three and out, but the punt would pin the Colonels at their own nine yard line. A sack on third down would put the ball on the three yard line for the punt. Erling Riis would come around the left side to block the punt, which would go out of the back of the end zone for a safety, putting the Jags up 36-21 with 11:04 left in the game.

South Alabama would field the free kick and start at their own 39 yard line. Brennan Sim would lead the offense on an 11 play 50 yard drive, burning 6:52 off of the play clock. Jordan Means would then cap off the game with a 28 yard field goal for the final score of 39-21.

Coach Jones commented after the victory, “I thought it was a great win for our football program, they gave the other two teams they have played fits in the first half. “We needed to have a game like that where we’re challenged.”

He continued, “It speaks to the character of our kids and our coaching staff with the way they coach them. We try to work on that in practice where they don’t feel pressure in games. I thought that was a great way to respond. Had we not responded like that and they scored another touchdown, then the ball starts to roll their way. This is our second year and ninth football game, and we beat a [Division] I-AA program that has been around for a long time. They are very well-coached and have great athletes. I don’t know what that means for the future, but my hat’s off to our players and coaching staff for the job they have done in that short amount of time.”

Coach Stubbs said, “I thought it was about who handled adversity best. When we were prospering, we couldn’t keep the momentum and while they were able to make plays, they capitalized on the momentum. I believe that was the difference in the game.”

USA has 21 first downs while Nicholls had 10 for the game. The Jaguar defense only allowed 99 yards on the ground, but gave up 319 through the air for a total of 418 with an average of 24.5 per completion.

South Alabama had a total of 490 yard of offense on 64 plays for an average of almost 7.6 yards per play. The Jaguar offensive attack was quite balanced with over 200 yards each in the air and on the ground.

Kendall Houston rushed 12 times for 116 yards while Brandon Ross added 115 on 19 carries. Richard Ross, 4 catches and 80 yards, was the only receiver with multiple catches and the only TD reception. Corey Besteda added 37 yards, Brandon Ross 30, Courtney Smith 20 and five others had receptions as well.

Myles Gibbon left early with an injury to his knee, but went 1-of-3 for 20 yards. C.J. Bennett lead one drive in the first quarter, also going 1-of-3 for 3 yards. Brennan Sim who got the most action went 10-of-12 for 185 yards and the only touchdown, but also the only sack.

Scott Garber punted six times, averaging just under 43 yards per kick with a long of 53 yards. With half of his punts being downed inside the opponents 20 yard line.

T.J. Glover returned three kickoffs for 116 yards, averaging over 38.5 for the game.

This is definitely a good test for the young Jaguar team. The learned that they were able to trade punches with a good opponent without blinking. They kept doing what they do best and won the game in an impressive fashion. No, not by 40 or more points, but by three scores against a team with an equal number of scholarships.

While Nicholls State would hardly be considered a top tier FCS team, they did pose a significant increase in competition from what the Jags have faced. It was enough of a challenged to show the coaches and players what they need to work on.

The secondary faced a big challenge and gave up lots of yards. But this was to be expected from a Charlie Stubbs coached team. The secondary stepped up several times and did well, but they also gave up several big plays. The secondary is also the thinnest area of this team, so being overly critical right now is not necessary. First step is consistency though.

Jordan Means took over the place kicking duties this week and did well. One point after was blocked, but none were outright misses. Plus he did make his only field goal attempt. However, Means’ kickoff’s are shorter than Chapuseaux. Chapuseaux kicked deep on kickoff’s but he did give them excellent field position twice with two kicks out of bounds.

The offensive line looked really good after the first series even though Brian Krauskopf was injured and did not play for most of the game. Melvin Meggs stepped in nicely and did a great job.

The Jags go on the road for their first away game when they travel to Dothan, Alabama for the Wiregrass Football Classic. They face Edward Waters from Jacksonville, Florida with kickoff at 3pm and the Jaguar Prowl being scheduled for about 1:30pm.