Jags Fall To FIU After Valiant Rally In Second Half

November 3, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Bryant Lavender hauls in the pass from Ross Metheny at the goal line against FIU, but would be called down inside the one yard line.

South Alabama put up a valiant fight in the second half but just could not erase the first half deficit to fall at home against Florida International 28-20.

Coming into the game the FIU Golden Panthers were chosen to win the Sun Belt Championship in the preseason, but where 1-8 and were 0-5 in the Sun Belt. Head coach Joey Jones told everyone all week that FIU was a better team than what their record said. They definitely were a big team and played well in the first half.

The South Alabama defense held FIU to 31 yards in the second half, a mere 18 yards rushing and 13 yards passing to help the team fight it’s way back into the game.

The Jags scored first but FIU would score 28 consecutive points in the first half to go into halftime with a 28-7 lead. But the Jags would not allow them to score again for the remainder of the game.

“Obviously we dug too big a hole in the game and got behind 28-7 at the half,” coach Jones said. “We made a good comeback but we didn’t score down there in the red zone in the second half. That was the tale-tale sign of the game right there. We dug too big a hole early.”

“They’re very athletic on the defensive front and they just get after you,” Jones said of FIU. “They held Western Kentucky to 14 points and we knew they were good on defense.”

South Alabama’s first score came on their first possession. They drove 53 yards in nine plays after Pat Moore recovered a fumble. T.J. Glover scored on a 15 yard run around the left side, which was his first rushing touchdown since November of the 2010 season, to take a 7-0 lead with 7:36 left in the first quarter.

FIU would answer the Jaguar score with a 76 yard drive on eight plays and capped off by a 26 yard touchdown pass from Jake Medlock to Willis Wright. They would score again with a 27 yard pass before the first quarter ended to take a 14-7 lead.

In the second quarter FIU would score their third touchdown of the game on a 19 yard run by quarterback Medlock with 7:45 left in the second quarter to make the score 21-7 FIU.

Later Kendrick Rhodes would score with on a 2 yard rush to pull ahead 28-7 with 1:07 left in the second quarter.

The Jags would down the second half kickoff for a touchback to start on the 25 yard line. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ross Metheny would find an open Corey Besteda over the middle and he would take it in for a 75 yard touchdown to cut the FIU lead down to two scores, 28-14. That touchdown reception was the longest pass play in school history.

The Jaguar defense would hold FIU to a three and out on their first possession of the second half. Glover would return the punt down to the FIU 19 yard line, but they would not be able to put the ball into the end zone. Michel Chapuseaux would connect on the 39 yard field goal attempt to further cut into the FIU lead, 28-17.

FIU would drive from their own 32 yard line down to the Jaguar 42 before the drive would stall out and force a punt. Glover would call for the fair catch at the Jaguar 9 yard line. On third and seven from their own 30 yard line, Demetre Baker would rush for four yards but would fumble the ball and it would be recovered by FIU at the Jaguar 33 yard line.

Again the Jaguar defense would force a three and out. The FIU punt would fly into the end zone for a touchback.

On first down from their own 20 yard line, Metheny would run for 13 yards out to the 33 yard line. After Terrance Timmons rushed for a five yard gain, Metheny would hit Wes Saxton for a 24 yard gain to the FIU 38 yard line. Metheny would come back and hit Corey Besteda for an 11 yard gain to the FIU 27 yard line. Then the Jags would be forced to call a time out.

After the time out, Metheny would complete another pass to Saxton for five more yards to the FIU 22 yard line. Metheny would run for two yards to set up a third and 3 at the FIU 20 yard line, when FIU would call a time out with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Bryant Lavender for 13 yards to the FIU 7 yard line and the end of the fourth quarter. After the break, Trey Fetner would come in to run the wildcat for a three yard gain to the FIU 4 yard line. The Jags would be forced to call a time out as the play clock was running down.

After the time out, Metheny would complete a pass to Lavender again to inside the one yard line. Fetner would come in again to take a snap from under center, but Demetre Baker, who had lined up at tight end, moved early to draw a false start penalty. Instead of third and less than one, it becomes a third and goal from the five yard line. Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete intended for Lavender again. Chapuseaux’s kick would split the uprights to make the game a one score game at 28-20 with 13:05 left in the game.

Yet again the Jags defense would hold strong and force a three and out. After a 36 yard punt the Jags would start at their own 25 yard line.

After being sacked for five yard, Metheny would run for 20 yards out to the Jaguar 40 yard line. On first down at the FIU 47 yard line, Metheny would hit Saxton again for 25 yards down to the FIU 22 yard line. Terrance Timmons would then run three consecutive times for 2, 8 and 4 yards respectively to put the ball at the FIU 8 yard line. Houston would then run for two yards to set up a third down and four at the FIU 6 yard line. Metheny’s pass intended for Saxton in the end zone would be tipped and fly incomplete for a fourth down. Chapuseaux’s kick would bounce off of the left upright, no good with 5:17 left in the game.

The Jags would force yet another three and out to get the ball back with 4:15 left in the game. After driving from their 33 yard line down to the FIU 43 yard line, Metheny would throw three consecutive incomplete passes to face a fourth down and 10. Demetre Baker would take the pitch and gain seven yards to turn the ball over on downs with 3:00 left in the game.

Once more the Jags would force a three and out and get the punt at the Jaguar 31 yard line with 35 seconds left in the game.

Metheny would be flushed out of the pocket and goes down after gaining one yard. They would get up to the line and spike the ball. On third and nine, Metheny’s pass would fall incomplete then the fourth down pass would fly high and be intercepted at the Jaguar 32 yard line. FIU would kneel on the ball once to run the final seconds off the clock.

Overall the Jags led in all offensive categories. The Jags rushed for 188 yards to FIU’s 181, threw for 270 yards to FIU’s 153 for a total yardage of 458 for the Jags to 334 for the Golden Panthers. The Jags had 22 first downs in the game to FIU’s 20 and the Jags held a 30:07 to 29:53 time of possession advantage.

The Jags committed four penalties for 33 yards while FIU committed five penalties for 49 yards in the game.

Unfortunately leading all of those statistical categories does not mean much when you don’t convert that into points on the scoreboard.

Demetre Baker beat out Ross Menthey for the leading rusher for the Jaguars. Baker rushed 15 times for 74 yards while Metheny rushed eight times for 56 yards. Glover also ran four times for 30 yards and Timmons rushed eight times for 27 yards. Fetner and Houston also got carries in the game.

Metheny went 19-of-37 for 270 yards a touchdown and two interceptions. He also took two sacks in the game.

Wes Saxton was Metheny’s favorite target in the game with six receptions for 92 yards. But Corey Besteda had the most receiving yards with 96 on three catches including the 75 yard touchdown catch to open the second half. Lavender caught four passes for 26 yards, Jereme Jones caught three for 34 yards. Waldon, Glover and Baker also caught passes in the game.

FIU’s Kendrick Rhodes rushed 27 times in the game for 149 yards to lead all rushers. Quarterback Jake Medlock was 9-of-19 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Jake Johnson lead all defenders with 15 total tackles, seven of them being solo including one sack and a quarterback hurry. Alex Page, Enrique Williams and B.J. Scott all were next on the team with six total tackles. Enrique Willaims had one pass breakup and two quarterback hurries as well.

Montavious Williams and Will Thompson both recorded sacks in the game.

While some fans were disappointed that the Jags let a win get away from them, it is still amazing to think that in the Jags first season as an FBS transitional team we are disappointed that we should have won a game against a fellow FBS and Sun Belt team.

The Jags will travel to Denton, Texas to take on North Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm according to the schedule on the UNT Football website.

Monday Press Conference

October 23, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.

The University of South Alabama held their Monday press conference. Head coach Joey Jones was joined by defensive lineman and Sun Belt Special teams player of the week Pat Moore and wide receiver Gabe Loper to recap Saturday’s game against Florida Atlantic and to look ahead to this weekend’s match-up with Louisiana-Monroe.

Below are highlights from the press conference.

Coach Jones began with his opening statement. “We’re very excited about our win [over FAU] this past weekend. I can’t tell you enough about our young men and staff for what they’ve done to put this thing together. We not only played well this past weekend, but I also thought we played well the weekend before at Arkansas State. We’re getting better, and we came through in the fourth quarter [last weekend] like we needed to. It was a great win for us and something we’ve been striving for, so my hat’s off to our team.”

Jones then answered a question concerning what he learned about his team after Saturday’s come-from-behind win over FAU. “I told them [the team] after the game that when we were down 14 [points], I didn’t see quit in anybody on the sideline. Once we got the ball and drove down and scored to get within seven, I knew we had a shot. The defense came out and forced a three-and-out, and then we got the ball back and drove 85 yards for a touchdown. What makes me feel good is that these guys have been working their tails off all this time, and to have some rewards on the field for their hard work meant a lot to me for them, and they deserved it. I told them that I don’t know if anybody deserves anything, but I felt like they deserved that win.”

He then addressed a question concerning switching Gabe Loper from defensive back to offense. “Gabe [Loper] was a receiver pretty much most of the years he has played football. He played safety a couple of seasons in junior college, but is probably naturally a receiver. We have a lot of people playing press coverage against us, and we felt like we needed to get another guy over there [on offense] that could make plays against press coverage and he did that [last weekend]. You have to have some big plays when they [opposing defense] are doing that, and he really pulled through for us.”

Jones then previewed Louisiana-Monroe. “If I had to rate a team number one in the league, and I know they are just based on the [conference] standings, they are the best team I have seen in the league overall. They’re great offensively, they present so many problems. What they do is so different. They run a lot of empty, five wide receiver stuff and the quarterback [Kolton Browning] is just uncanny in his ability to make plays. He just has an unbelievable knack for making plays, and he’s a big reason for why they are so successful offensively. And they do a great job scheme-wise too.”

“Defensively, they take a lot of chances and play zero coverage and man coverage. You have to be ready for blitzes. They [ULM] are hard to prepare for both offensively and defensively, because you don’t see that type of scheme pretty much anywhere else in the league. That’s what is so difficult, and you put on top of that that they are playing so confident right now. You can tell they are playing with a lot of confidence.”

He then talked about ULM quarterback Kolton Browning. “He’s what I call football-savvy. He understands the game and has an innate ability to make plays on the field. His pocket-presence is unbelievable. It seems like if someone is coming behind him, he knows they’re coming without seeing them and he will step up and make a play or run the ball. There’s so many times where defensive linemen get there, and they can’t tackle him. He must be really strong to break tackles. And with all that, he’s aware of the pocket and what’s going on downfield. That’s a very rare thing to have. When he scrambles he has his eyes downfield, and he can make plays on the move. He’s the toughest one [quarterback] that I think we’re going to go against, from the standpoint of what all he can do because he can do so many things. He just makes plays all over the field, and makes great decisions.”

He then spoke about the ULM defense itself. “Our offensive line and [running] backs are going to have to do a great job of picking up the blitz. We have to be able to throw and catch it. We’re pretty balanced. We like to run the football and we’re going to have to run it some against them but we’re also going to have to complete passes to have a chance to move the ball.”

Coach Jones then answered a question about moving forward after the program’s first FBS and SBC win. “It’s a great opportunity for us to play against the best in the league, and that excites our players. We’re going to go out there ready to go. They [ULM] have a great football team, and they’ll let us know where we are as far as competing against the top in the league.”

Defensive lineman Pat Moore first spoke about the importance of getting the win over FAU on Saturday. “It was a big win for us. We’ve been looking forward to getting a win and turning it around. Hopefully we can win again and make it contagious and keep it going. We’re trying to keep pushing and get more wins for our team.”

He then spoke about his two blocked field goals against FAU. “It wasn’t something that was designed, I was just feeling the moment. I had to do something. I had to make a play. I just happened to be in the right position. I got my hands up and I made sure I could block it.”

Moore then spoke about the mood on the sideline during the FAU game. “We’re not going to quit in any game we play. We’ll always finish all the way through. We were down but we were trying to get our team up. We said ‘We’re going to finish this. We want to make history for our team.’ We had to rally up and turn it around.”

Wide receiver Gabe Loper also spoke about the importance of getting the win over FAU. “It was a huge win for our team. To take on a team like Florida Atlantic, a very aggressive team in our conference, and win in double overtime was a morale builder. We have to take that confidence with us when we play Louisiana-Monroe. They’re a powerhouse in the Sun Belt, they’re right up there with Arkansas State, who won the conference last year. To get the FAU win before we go on the road this week is going to be huge for us. This could be a pivotal point in our season.”

He then spoke about making the switch from defense to offense. “This was something that I pushed for. I’ve been longing for it for a long time and I never thought it would really happen. It was something that I wanted and something that I had the ability to do, I played receiver in high school. I’ve always wanted to work myself back toward that position. I would joke with the coaches, saying, ‘Throw me over there, I can make plays for you.’ But for them to have faith in me to learn the system and to throw me in a game as big as FAU, it was a big role for me and I had big shoes to fill.”

He filled those shoes well and gave extra spark to the Jaguar offense.

Moore Named Sun Belt Special Teams Player Of The Week

October 22, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.


For the second week in a row a Jaguar has been named the special teams player of the week in the Sun Belt Conference.

Pat Moore, a 6’3″ 235-pound junior defensive end who transfered into the program from Northeast Mississippi Community College, was credited with two blocked field goals in the Jaguars first-ever FBS victory and their first Sun Belt victory as well. He blocked a 32 yard attempt with 12 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime where he would also block a 44 yard attempt in FAU’s possession of the second overtime period.

He also made three tackles in the game, all three were tackles for loss with one being a sack.

Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning was named the Sun Belt offensive player of the week for his performance against Western Kentucky where they erased a 28-7 deficit to win in overtime. Browning went 22-for-41 for 308 yards and four touchdowns.

North Texas linebacker Zach Orr was named Sun Belt defensive player of the week for his effort against Louisiana-Lafayette where he had nine tackles and an interception. He ranks second in the conference in tackles and is tied for sixth in interceptions.

South Alabama Post First FBS, Sun Belt Victory

October 21, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

The South Alabama Jaguars celebrate their double-overtime win against Florida Atlantic on Saturday. The win was the program’s first against an FBS opponent and also the first against a Sun Belt Conference team.

Lead by defense in the fourth quarter, the Jaguars fight their way back from a 14 point deficit in order to win it’s first ever game against a FBS opponent and also their first ever Sun Belt Conference.

Florida Atlantic would go up by 14 points early in the fourth quarter on a six yard rush on 3rd and goal. On the ensuing possession the Jags would start at their own 15 yard line but would move the ball down to the Owl 41 yards linbe before turning the ball over on downs.

The Jaguar defense would hold strong and force a three and out. The Owl punt would bounce into the end zone for a touchback.

Starting at their own 20, Metheny would come out firing by completing back to back catches to Jereme Jones for 14 and Greg Hollinger for 15 to quickly move the ball out to the Jaguar 49 yard line. After a rush for no gain by Terrance Timmons, a pass interference penalty would move the ball to the FAU 40 yard line. Then Metheny would complete a 27 yard pass to Gabe Loper to the FAU 13 yard line.

After an incomplete pass by Metheny to Jereme Jones, the Owls would be flagged for a personal foul to place the ball at the 5 yard line. Houston would go down for a loss of 3 yards back to the 8 yard line. A couple plays later the Jags are facing 4th down and goal from the FAU 7 yard line. The fourth down pass would fall incomplete but the FAU defender would be flagged for pass interference. Due to the penalty occurring in the end zone, the ball would be placed on the 1 yard line with an automatic first down.

Trey Fetner would run for a loss of one followed by Metheny rushing for no gain. After a time out, Metheny would hand the ball all to Demetre Baker who would plunge into the end zone for the touchdown to cut the Owl lead down to 31-24 with 5:45 left in the game.

The Jaguar defense would only allow four yards as they forced FAU to a three and out. The punt from their own 32 yard line would go 51 yards and T.J. Glover would lose two yards on the return to put the Jaguars first and 10 at their own 15 yard line with 3:54 left in the game.

The drive would start with a Baker rush for 18 yards before being force out of bounds at the Jaguar 33. Baker would run for another three yards on the next first down play. But back to back incomplete passes from Metheny to Jereme Jones and Gabe Loper would have the Jags facing fourth and 7 from their own 36 yard line.

The fourth down play would be another pass from Metheny to Gabe Loper down the left side, but it fell incomplete however FAU would have two flags thrown on them for pass interference. One would be declined and the other accepted to give the Jags 14 yards and an automatic first down at the midfield stripe.

Baker would rush for back-to-back gains of 8 and 4 yards for a first down at the Owls 38 yard line. Then Terrance Timmons would rush for four yards. On second and 6 at the FAU 34 yard line, Ross Metheny would find an opening and scamper 18 yards for a first and 10 at the FAU 16 yard line with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter.

After the time out, Ross Metheny would find Gabe Loper in the end zone for the 16 yard touchdown pass. Michel Chapuseaux would tack on the PAT and the Jags would have a tie game with 1:09 left in the fourth quarter.

The squib kick would be picked up and returned 11 yards to the FAU 39 yard line with 1:05 left in regulation. Graham Wilbert’s first two passing attempts would fall incomplete. But the third down pass would be caught for 19 yards to the Jaguar 42 yard line before stepping out of bounds. On the next play he would find the same receiver for another 16 yard completion to the Jaguar 26 yard line.

After an incomplete pass on first down, Pat Moore would sack Wilbert for a five yard loss back to the Jaguar 31 yard line forcing FAU to take a time out with 21 seconds remaining in regulation. After the time out, the Jags would let FAU line up before calling their final time out of the game to set up a defense for the play. After the Jaguar time out, on 3rd and 15, Wilbert would complete his pass to William Dukes, for the third time on the drive, for 16 yards and a first down at the Jaguar 15 yard line before getting out of bounds with about 15 seconds left in regulation.

Florida Atlantic head coach Carl Pelini sends out his field goal unit with Mitch Anderson, who is playing in his first game, to attempt the game winning field goal. Anderson, who already had one attempt blocked earlier in the game, would kick it low from the hashmarks and Pat Moore would get his hands up and block it with time expiring.

To begin overtime, FAU would win the toss and elect to go on defense first. The Jags, with the ball first, would start at the 25 yard line heading into the north end zone. On first down, Metheny would run for five yards to the 20 yard line. But back to back incompletions to Bryant Lavender and Greg Hollinger would force the Jags to kick a field goal from 37 yards to take a 34-31 lead, their first of the game.

FAU would then start their rebuttal possession with a four yard pass completion to the Jaguar 21 before being forced out of bounds. A run would only net two yards on second down. Then the quarterback keeper would lose one yard to the 20 yard line. Anderson would convert on the 37 yard field goal to force a second overtime.

In the second overtime, FAU would go on offense first again going into the north end zone. A two yard loss on the first down run would put the ball back at the Jaguar 27 yard line. Another rush for no gain on second down would set up third and 12 at the Jaguar 27 yard line. The third down pass would fall incomplete to force another field goal attempt from 44 yards. Kicking from the right hashmark the kick would be low again and Pat Moore would block it for the second time in the game.

South Alabama would then have the ball with the outcome of the game in their hands. Baker would run on first down for no gain. Baker would run again on second down for 7 yards. Then on third down, he would run again for no gain. After allowing the Jags to line up for the field goal attempt, Carl Pelini would call a time out to try to ice Chapuseaux.

After the time out, Chapuseaux’s 35 yard kick would never be in doubt. It flew right between the uprights and the crowd that had stayed went into complete pandemonium. The Jaguar players rushed the team on the field, coach Jones would get doused on the sidelines while FAU were quick to exit the stadium to get out from between the team and the students and band.

It was an amazing sight to behold as the Jaguars realized they broke their four game losing streak, won their first FBS game and also won their first Sun Belt Conference game.

FAU held edges in a couple key categories. They led in total yardage 461-359, passing yardage 303-179 and first downs 25-24. However the Jags did lead in rushing yardage 180-158 and time of possession 30:28 – 29:32. Penalties were down too with the Jags only being flagged four times for 50 yards while FAU was flagged 10 times for 80 yards. Neither side threw an interception. FAU fumbled once but recovered it themselves, while South Alabama fumbled twice but only lost one of them.

But FAU’s Anderson was 2-of-5 in field goals in his first ever game for the Owls, with all three misses being blocked. Michel Chapuseaux was a perfect 3-for-3 in route to the win.

FAU’s J. Wallace rushed 21 times for 101 yards to lead all in rushing. Demetre Baker, back from his suspension, rushed 16 times for 73 yards to lead the Jaguars running game. Timmons carried 11 times for 36 yards, Metheny had 13 carries for 34 yards and Glover carried 6 times for 29 yards. Jereme Jones, Trey Fetner and Kendall Houston also got carries in the game.

FAU’s Graham Wilbert was 27-of-41 for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Ross Metheny was 13-of-27 for 179 yards and one touchdown.

The game was definitely Gabe Loper’s coming out party. Loper caught four passes for 91 yards and a touchdown while also adding a blocked field goal and drawing a couple pass interference calls at key times for the Jaguars.

Jereme Jones had three catches for 19 yards and Greg Hollinger caught two passes for 34 yards. Lavender, Desmond Jones, Corey Besteda and Jared Palmer all caught a pass as well.

FAU’s William Dukes caught five passes for 119 yards and a 50 yard touchdown pass. Two other Owls had over 50 yards receiving as well.

Four Jaguars ended the game with double-digit tackles for the game, a first in school history. Terrell Brigham, B.J. Scott and Enrique Williams all recording 11 tackles and Alex Page adding 10 tackles as well. Clifton Crews and Jake Johnson both had eight tackles each as well. Darrius Morrow had four tackles and two passes defended. Pat Moore had three solo tackles all for loss to go with his two field goal blocks he was credited with.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of these young men and my [coaching] staff for what they’ve done — for hanging in there,” head coach Joey Jones said in the post game press conference. “They fought every day at practice, and the main reason we won the football game is because of character. These guys were down 14 points in the fourth quarter, and I didn’t see quit in anybody’s eyes. They kept fighting and all of a sudden we had a play or two go our way, and we were in the ballgame. We got into overtime, and Michel Chapuseaux did a great job kicking field goals at the end. I don’t know how many plays we made in the fourth quarter, but it was a bunch of them. My hat’s off to this team and the coaching staff for what they’ve done.”

Loper spoke after the game about the touchdown pass from Metheny to tie the game and give the Jags a chance to go into overtime. “All credit goes to Ross. He made a perfect pass. I leaned on the defensive back like the coaches taught me to. He had my hand hooked. It was a similar play to Arkansas State last week, and I just remembered that I had to redeem myself. The coaches have been preaching all week that if the officials don’t call it, take it out of their hands and make the play. That’s all I could think about. I was just blessed to have the ball thrown so perfectly.”

Ross Metheny spoke after the game giving praise to Loper. “Talk about a playmaker. We have been trying to get Gabe on the offensive side of the ball since week one, and he definitely has a special talent and the things he can do in the air to go get the ball are special,” Metheny said. “He’s only been working as a receiver for a couple of weeks, and he already has the offense down, knows which way to line up and runs his routes really well. He’s definitely a guy we can count on, and I’m fortunate that he’s my teammate.”

Michel Chapuseaux spoke about the game winning kick after the game. “When the time had come, my heart was pounding and I was nervous. I had to settle in because I’ve practiced so long for this,” he explained. “When I start taking my steps over, I zone out everything and I tell myself to be ready for it. When I kicked it, I made sure it was between the posts and then I just turned around. I didn’t even look at it. I just let the crowd tell me if it went in, and then I had a swarm of teammates just hitting me. We definitely needed this win. We wanted it more. We didn’t give up, and this is definitely going to help us throughout the rest of the season.”

Senior Linebacker Jake Johnson spoke after the game about how the defense played. “The game is never over until it’s over. Anybody can win, anything can happen. We came back and got that touchdown. We had three blocked field goals. Chap had three kicks that he made.  We played well in all facets.”

“Defensively we had a good game plan, we just weren’t communicating as well as we should have in the first half,” Johnson continued. “We communicated better and stopped them a lot more in the second half. We just never gave up. That’s one thing you can’t ever do is give up.”

No one could say it better than Ross Metheny though. “All I can say is wow, what a game. Talk about a monkey off your back, getting the first Division I [FBS] win. We needed the signature win to propel us. We’re definitely going to embrace this win and cherish it, but we’re still hungry. We want more and we want to win more, so we’re going to come on Monday ready to work toward our next opponent.”

South Alabama will travel to face Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 6pm according to the ULL website. The game is not scheduled to be broadcast on television, however ULL does have a online video stream available.

South Alabama blocks the overtime field goal attempt by FAU’s Mitch Anderson in the second overtime possession by the Owls.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-09-25

September 28, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones and Lee Shirvanian was joined by former offensive line coach and current tight ends coach John Turner at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard on Tuesday.

Lloyd Meyers first mentioned that the students are very excited. In the first two hours of student parking pass availability, all 250 were gone. There will be lots to do for kids and the first 10,000 through the gates into the stadium will get red rally towels.

Additionally, the Jags will be wearing their traditional home red uniforms. They are encouraging fans to wear Red to support the team.

Also a point of concern that Lee asked about was concessions. The University spoke with the concessions group and they will have extra water and drinks on hand for the larger crowd. There will be trucks standing by with extra drinks just in case.

Lee said he tried to find Coach Jones on the bus after the game, but could not find him. He reiterated that he does not want to congratulate him after a loss, but to him how competitive the team was and how well they played despite losing. Coach Jones said it was very gratifying to walk across the field and have the Mississippi State coaches compliment them on their heart and their effort in the game despite being out-manned in the game. But Coach Jones said he was hurting just as he would be after any other game and like his players.

Lee asked some questions about the two Jaguar quarterbacks, Ross Metheny and C.J. Bennett. Lee said that Bennett had the better game statistically, but asked that, after watching the video, who did well, who did better and who would start on Saturday against Troy. Coach Jones said, in a joking tone, that he would not answer Lee’s question about who is going to start and if they were going to rotate quarterbacks still. Jones did say that that probably both quarterbacks did certain things better than the other, but they are both getting their “bad things” out and improving. Bennett made some great throws, but they both threw some bad interceptions. Metheny towards the end of the first half that was returned to set up a field goal at the end of the half. Bennett threw an interception inside the 10 yard line, but it was a good throw where the guy just went over Jereme Jones and took it away from him.

After the first break, Lee mentioned how the Jags would love to set to attendance record for a Sun Belt game this week. Coach Jones agreed, but he just wants it to be “an electric atmosphere.” He mentioned that the Jags are playing real football now, they are starting their Sun Belt Conference schedule. Coach Jones then mentioned that when someone thinks about the Sun Belt they think about the success Troy has had over the years. They have won the Sun Belt Championship five out of the last six years. The Troy players know how to play against big time football programs, they have played at Tennessee, Mississippi State and many other places over the last several years. Really, they have set the standard for a school like South Alabama who has just started. He finished saying that it would be great to have 33,000 to 35,000 in Mobile for a game.

Coach Jones and Lee then introduced the guest assistant coach for the show, Coach John Turner. Coach Turner, like his brother Brian Turner, has been with the program since the beginning. He began coaching the offensive line, but this season he has made the move to tight ends.

Lee first asked Coach Turner a question about the two big tight ends, Greg Hollinger and Wes Saxton, if there were any plans to get them both on the field. Coach Turner answered by saying they do have some packages where both of them may be on the field at the same time.

Coach Turner then was asked a question by Lee about the offensive line and how he thought they did against the larger Mississippi State team. Turner said that Coach Robert Matthews does a great job tih the linemen, and that he thought they did very well against the Bulldogs. They weren’t intimidated and should be proud of what they did in Starkville.

Lee then asked Coach Jones a question about the Jags rushing game against the Bulldogs. He mentioned how they did not rush that well in the first half but did better in the second half and asked if it were adjustments or what caused them to do better in the second half. Coach Jones answered by saying that some of it was adjustments, but their gameplan was to try to get them tired early by throwing perimeter screens and passes to the edge by making them rush. They wanted to try to tire them out before they started running at them because of their size and speed.

Coach Jones then mentioned how the offensive line did a good job in protection because the Bulldogs were so big. It was hard for the linemen to knock them off the ball, but they only gave up one sack in the game which is a testament to how well the line played against an SEC defense.

Lee then asked about where Mississippi State fits into the order of the SEC. Coach Jones said that they would be in the second level of the SEC, they are not on the same level as Alabama or LSU, but that they could beat LSU.

Coach Turner then jumped in and started talking about a conversation after the game he had with his friend who happens to be the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. He said he was told that their team is made to compete with LSU and Alabama. They recruit size and structure their defense to be able to handle the running game of those two schools. He mentioned that, if you are a spread team, you have a chance just like Troy did the week before the Jags played the Bulldogs.

The Orthopaedic Group Injury report started by mentioning how the defense started so well and forced a three and out on the Bulldogs first drive, but then they lost Anthony Taylor with a broken leg and will miss the remainder of his senior season. Coach Jones mentioned that he was very sad for him because he was a good football player but he was becoming a great football player, but now his college career is over.

Others that Coach Jones was asked about was Ceasare Johnson. Coach Jones said he would not be able to play this year due to a blood clot issue. Doctors will not allow him to play. Quadarius Ford is still healing up from knee surgery, it’s still bothering him some but he is still working out and hope to be back soon. Anthony Harris had a shoulder injury and had surgery to correct it and will be redshirted this season. Even though he was a transfer, he was what coach Jones referred to as a 3-for-2 so he had three years of eligibility left to play two years of football. Lee mentioned Montavious Williams was limping but Coach Jones assured him that he was okay and would be ready to go this weekend.

Later in the show Lee mentioned that he did not see Corey Besteda in the game against Mississippi State. Coach Jones said that he did not play because of an ankle injury but that he is good and will be ready to play on Saturday.

Lee then mentioned that Montavious considered Troy but decided to play for the Jags. Then asked about recruiting and if the Jags recruited against other Sun Belt teams and if games like this weekend are big factors in recruiting. Coach Jones said that they recruit against Troy, Southern Miss, Memphis and sometimes Central Florida. He also mentioned that playing well always helps recruiting, especially a game like this that is going to be televised. So you certainly want to play well under those conditions.

Lee talked about having Troy head coach Larry Blakeney on the WNSP morning show and how they ran around 100 plays on offense against against Lousiana-Lafayette. Lee then mentioned the Jaguar offense as being a “quick” tempo offense. But that the Jags are not that quick on offense. Troy tends to aim to get between 90 and 100 plays in a game, so when the ball is ready they are usually snapping the ball.

Coach Jones indicated that the Jaguar defense should be ready for that type of tempo because, in the summer, they practiced against the offense as they were really going up tempo. The defense has adapted and worked on communication and signals so they can get ready for the next play.

Lee then asked Coach Turner if there offense was like ours at least when the line up. Coach Turner said that some of their formations and pass concepts are similar to what the Jags use. They will not be a mirror of each other, but there will be plenty of similarities between the two offenses.

It was mentioned that South recruited the record breaking Troy running back very hard, but he ended up going to Troy instead.

Coach Jones was asked to break down the Jaguar defense versus the Troy offense. Jones said that Troy can throw the ball and run the ball well. So if you condense to stop one or the other then they have a chance to hurt you with the opposite. So the defense has to play smart and do well against a balanced team.

Coach Jones was then asked to break down the Troy defense. He mentioned that Troy has been known for a while to play tough defense and they are well coached. He did mention that they don’t seem to be blitzing as much as they have in the past, but seem to have backed off some this season and seem to be playing better because of that.

Lee asked Coach Turner about the players that Troy recruits because they have the most players in the NFL of any of the Sun Belt teams. Coach Turner said that the players that they had had that goes to the NFL are players that the coaching staff have done a great job in their evaluations. They players they get they do a great job evaluating them and then, when they get them on campus, they do a great job developing them. Coach Turner said that they are doing the same thing at South Alabama. They really work hard to evaluate players and then work really hard to develop those players that come to South Alabama. Coach Jones further mentioned that having championship rings on their fingers really helps in recruiting good talent as well.

Coach Jones pointed to the Dallas Cowboy defensive end DeMarcus Ware from Troy. He said that in high school he was 6’4″ and weighted 190-pounds. No one would have thought of him as a defensive end, but Troy thought he would be a great defensive end after putting on more weight, and sure enough he is now in the NFL and a six-time pro-bowler.

Lee flipped back to asking about the Jaguar offense and it’s tempo. He asked if the Jags were going to do something similar to Troy and try to get around 90 or more snaps in the game. Coach Jones said that they are definitely going to go with more of their offense, but would not try to go for that many plays. He said that the Jags goal is between 70 and 80 plays in a game. Lee mentioned that snapping the ball that much usually means you are possessing the ball more than your opponent, which is typically a good thing.

Coach Jones said that something he and Coach Turner spoke about on the way to the radio show was that they do not want to do in the game is to have lots of three-and-outs. He said that three-and-outs puts your defense in a bind and fatgues them. They need to sustain some drives and put the ball in the end zone.

Lee asked about what the defensive line does without Anthony Taylor. Jones said that the rest of the players just have to play. They were rotating in and out anyway, but the other guys have to step up. No one else steps into the rotation, but they have some players that can play on the inside and on the outside. They will cross train them more.

Coach Jones indicated that Pat Moore will get more playing time. Lee said that he is a junior college transfer that has not been talked about much. But he is very well noted for his pass rushing ability. Coach Jones thinks he is going to be a tremendous player and that he grew up a lot against Mississippi State with some big hits. Even gave him the big hit of the game, even on offensive linemen who were trying to block him.

A caller mentioned that people talk about quickly trying to get the defense off the field for fatigue factors. But doesn’t the offense get fatigued as well? Coach Jones said that they do, but when you have the ball on offense, you are keeping it away from the other team and not giving them a chance to score while giving yourself a chance to score.

Lee asked for Coach Jones to mention things to note for the game this weekend. Jones answered by saying that Troy has 14 senior starters returning so they are a senior dominated team and that he thought those starters were spread evenly between both sides of the ball. The offense is explosive with fast guys at receiver. They have a quarterback that can throw the ball well. The defense plays well and with a good level of confidence. Jones mentioned he was hoping they would have an average special teams, but that they are good with a single guy who punts and kicks.

Their offense puts lots of points on the board and puts pressure on you to also score lots of points, which the Jags have had trouble doing since the first game of the season.

Lee mentioned that some out-of-town people have asked him if they would be able to view South Alabama’s facilities because they have heard so much about them. Coach Jones was very hesitant, but said that they would have someone there that would be able to show people around. Lee further mentioned it as a recruiting tool, which Coach Jones agreed with. Jones further said that, without that facility, they would be further behind as a new program than what they are now. It really makes a difference in everything they do.

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 Ready To Embark On Toughest Season Yet

August 31, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

On the eve of South Alabama’s season opener against Texas-San Antonio it’s a good time to look at what this season means to the program. After three seasons, the first two undefeated, and a 23-4 record the Jaguars are about to embark on their most challenging quest yet.

Last season they stepped up and faced two FBS teams, the first in the programs history. This season, they will face their first full Division I schedule. The only non FBS school on the schedule is FCS Nicholls State. Additionally, with the Hawaii rule, the Jags will play 13 games in 14 weeks this season including a full eight game Sun Belt schedule.

This is what the Jaguars have been working towards for the last several years. When they take the field, they will be a transitional FBS member.

Coach Jones can finally guage where his team stands in the FBS pecking order. “I think the biggest challenge for us, especially early, will be the depth on our team,” he Jones. “We’ve been recruiting to Division I really just this year. Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have any Division I football players, we do. But do we have the depth that everybody else has because they’ve been recruiting for a while and have 85 scholarships and D-1 players? I would think that will probably be the biggest issue, depth, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.”

What about this season’s schedule? “The most difficult thing is playing 13 games in 14 weeks for us and playing pretty much all Division I opponents,” Jones said. “Whereas in past years we’ve played seven, 10 and 10 (games per season), we had some off weeks and some time to get ready for games. You’re going to get your three or four days of practice and that’s going to be it, then you’re going to have to move on to your next game.”

Gone is offensive coordinator Greg Gregory and in is Robert Matthews brining the spread to South Alabama. Matthews, who learned the spread at Oklahoma State and Southern Miss, will bring a completely different attitude to the offensive side of the ball. The offense will run as quickly as possible with a no-huddle tempo that is designed to keep the defense off guard and guessing what is coming next. Plus it is designed to take advantage of the depth South Alabama has at the skill positions.

The offensive line is where the biggest unknown is located coming into this season. Gone are three starters from the previous two seasons. However back is senior Trey Clark and sophomore Melvin Meggs. In steps Drew Dearman, Chris May and Shaun Artz. Also a second string, Ucambre Williams and possibly Kentucky transfer James Elliott if he receives a hardship waiver from the NCAA. But this is the biggest offensive line the Jaguars have had in it’s short history.

Behind the line, there is plenty of talent on the roster. C.J. Bennett returns as the starter with Virginia transfer Ross Metheny as his backup and redshirt freshman Trey Fetner as the third quarterback. The South Alabama backfield is also stocked with talent. Back are Demetre Baker, Kendall Houston and Ellis Hill from last season along with Brandon Ross returning from a knee injury and redshirt freshman Terrance Timmons among others ready to contribute. At wide receiver back are Jereme Jones, Bryant Lavender, T.J. Glover, Corey Besteda and Tyrome Bivins with true freshman Cameron Broadnax who showed plenty of skill in preseason camp. With two tight ends graduating, Greg Hollinger moved over from wide receiver joining JuCo transfer Wes Saxton to fill their positions.

The defense is arguably the strength of the team. Led by Jake Johnson, the linebackers are the heart of the defense, with Clifton Crews, Enrique Williams, Maleki Harris, Bryson James, Ben Giles and Cordivido Grice to help him out.

The defensive front will need to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks than in past seasons. Returning ends Anthony Taylor, Romelle Jones, Alex Page and Will Thompson will be joined by JuCo transfer Pat Moore to help towards that goal. At nose and tackle positions they return Randon Carnathan and Andy Dalgleish, who lead the group last season, with help from Montavious Williams, Rodney Thomas and Shane Doty (who moved from offensive line).

In the secondary, Alabama transfer B.J. Scott has stepped up as a leader. The staff focused their recruiting efforts to find more help there too. Darrius Morrow and Tyrell Pearson both come in and are expected to start. Alonzo Long will suit up next to Scott at free safety. Gabe Loper should get playing time as he is the returning secondary player with the most interceptions last season.

Michel Chapuseaux takes over the placekicking duties with Scott Garber also returning to handle punts.

“We want to be competitive. We want to win every game that we play,” head coach Joey Jones said. “That’s our goal. Now, is that going to be tough to do? Sure. I understand that it will be. The bottom line is I don’t want to cut our kids short in what we’re doing. We’re going to prepare and we’re going to go out there and prepare to win. But we also know there’s a difficult schedule ahead of us and we’ve got to step up each week. I think that our kids probably will play with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder this year. Bottom line, every week that we play we’ve got to prove something. Anybody that we beat will be a big deal. We’re representing a lot of people, not just our football program but the university.”

The schedule will be tough. After UTSA and Nicholls State, the Jags travel to N.C. State again and Mississippi State before returning home for their first-ever Sun Belt Conference game against Troy. Troy, whom most expect will quickly develop into one of the leagues best rivalries, will mark the first part of the season. After their one and only off week, the Jags then visit the SBC defending champion Arkansas State. Then the downhill stretch of FAU (home), ULM (away), FIU (home), North Texas (away), MTSU (home), ULL (away) and their “bowl game” of the season at Hawaii.

If you only count wins and losses as the measuring stick for a season, it could be a difficult season. But if you expand your criteria for this team that will be completing it’s two year FBS transition at the conclusion of this season, you may be surprised.