South Alabama held it’s first scrimmage on Saturday in front of some 200-plus visitors. The visitors were high school Juniors who are on the Jaguars recruiting radar for the upcoming class. This was their opporutinity to see campus, tour the facilities and also see the Jaguars in action.
In the scrimmage, Demetre Baker scores two of the four touchdowns on the day while leading the runningbacks with nine carries for 42 yards. On the first scoring drive, C.J. Bennett was 3-of-4, all three completions went to Bryant Lavender for gains of 14, 6 and 25 yards respectively. Lavender’s last reception of the drive moved the Jags inside the 10 yard line and setting Baker up for his touchdown. Terrance Timmons also had a 14-yard rush on the drive.
The second scoring drive saw Bennett connect with Anthony Ingram for an 11-yard catch to begin the drive. On third down and needing one yard to move the chains, Bennett would find Kennedy Helms for a 30-yard completion which would set Baker up for his second touchdown.
C.J. Bennett would end the day going 11-of-17 for 114 yards while adding two runs for nine yards. Trey Fetner would end the day 4-of-7 for 60 yards while working with both the first and second team guys. He would lead the second-team on a 11-play 55-yard drive. He completed two passes to Saxton to move within the ball inside the 30-yard line. Baker would run four consecutive times to get the ball down to the two yard line. A false start penalty would back them up, but Fetner would find Jereme Jones just inside the endzone on the right side for the touchdown. Fetner commented after the scrimmage saying, “Actually, that wasn’t part of my progression. I saw a hole real quick, and I tried to get it in there. It was a mistake, but a good one, so we’ll take it. I did a decent job today, but the line and receivers did a great job. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, though.”
Other scores on the day was a 45-yard field goal by Michel Chapuseaux and a one-yard touchdown run near the end of the scrimmage by Julien Valentin. His touchdown would cap off an 11-play 40-yard drive by the third team offensive unit.
The Jaguar defense gave up 306 yards on 109 plays, which was an average of less than three yards per play. Ben Giles ended the scrimmage with nine total tackles and a pass break-up which was nearly an interception. Charles Harris and Desomnd LaVelle both added six tackles of their own and Randon Carnathan had five tackles. Will Thompson posted five-and-a-half tackles for loss and three sacks while Pat Moore totalled four-and-a-half tackles for loss and four sacks. Ceasare Johnson added five tackles and one-and-a-half sacks. Eddy Cabrera had the only takeaway by recovering a fumble late in the scrimmage.
Bryant Lavender lead the wide receivers with five receptions for 57 yards. While Ingram catching two passes for 39 yards and Wes Saxton also catching two for 25 yards.
“I’m excited about the new offense,” said Demetre Baker after the scrimmage. “I think I’ve still got a lot of things to work on, definitely some reads now that we are not running a lot of power-I. I never will be pleased, though, because I think that every day I can come out here and get a little bit better, run a little harder, make better cuts and read my blocks better.”
Coach Jones commented after the scrimmage by saying, “I thought Demetre had a good day running the ball. He ran real powerful today, he didn’t have any extremely long runs, but he had a lot of five- and 10-yard runs, fighting for tough yards.”
“I believe we are much further along than I thought we would be at this point with the operation of the offense, because the kids have bought in and the staff has done a tremendous job coaching it,” continued Jones. “When they go out on the field they understand what it going on, but it is going so fast they make a mistake or two. But I’m real pleased, because it puts a lot of pressure on the defense when you snap the ball extremely fast.”
Speaking about the depth on both sides of the ball, coach Jones had this following quote. “With the ones on both sides of the ball it was a back-and-forth slugfest. What I see when I look at the offense and defense is a lot more depth on defense. When you put the twos out there there is not a lot of change, but when you put the twos out on offense there is. One of the things we have to work on is our depth offensively.”
Defensive Coordinator Bill Clark commented about the defense after the scrimmage was over. “We saw a lot of good things, and we saw some things we have to get better at,” he said. “sometimes that tempo really shows you some things. A lot of guys did a lot of good things, although you won’t know that exactly until you see the film, but we had some guys on the twos who really looked good. That depth chart may be changing next week.”
New offensive coordinator Robert Matthews commented on what he saw from the offense during the scrimmage. “I saw some good things, though I thought we made too many pre-snap penalty mistakes,” he said. “We had some false starts that are unacceptable. We are getting a lot of guys reps, we had seven quarterbacks take snaps today, which makes it hard sometimes with continuance but at the same time its good for our evaluations.”
The most resounding statement by Coach Jones was, “Today was a very big day regarding our depth chart where those guys could prove themselves. After this Thursday, the bulk of spring training will be over.”
South Alabama only has three more practices prior to spring break with the first being at 4pm on Sunday. The Jags are scheduled to work out in just shorts. Following that, they will return to the field on Tuesday in shells then in full pads on Thursday for their next scrimmage.
The Jaguars backed off some in Wednesday’s practice by hitting the practice fields in shells ahead of Thursday’s scrimmage.
The usual flow of practice continued with special teams focusing on kickoff returns which was followed by individual work, skeleton passing drills and inside drills. Later in practice, the team faced the scout teams for about 30 minutes with the offense running over 30 plays on the turf field while the defense ran plays on the grass field.
A 10 minute segment near the end of practice focused on two-mintue drills. Both the first team and the second team defensive units prevented the offense from putting up any points. The second team had a chance after Trey Fetner completed a long pass to Jake Howton down the left sideline to set up a field goal attempt. However missed in the waning seconds of the drill.
The Jags ended the practice with more special teams work focusing on kickoff coverage.
Coach Jones thought it was a good practice, but he had one concern. “I thought it was a really good practice, though we lost our focus a little bit at the end. Just watching the offense I thought we had some missed assignments late. But other than that, it was a great practice. We have to learn to focus at the end when it’s the fourth quarter and we’re a little tired and it’s hot.”
Coach Jones also previewed the Thursday scrimmage. “We’ll start off with kickoff and bring the defense out,” he said. “We’ll run a few plays and have the punt return team come out, we’ll play it just like a game. Every situation can come up, I have a script that we go through that will include situations that we haven’t been able to cover in practice; special things like taking safeties, kickoff return after a safety and the last play of the game where we take a knee.”
The Jags will return to the Jaguar Practice Facility in full pads on Thursday for the situational scrimmage. No time was announced for the srimmage.
Earlier this month, the Jags signed 22 players for their 2010 class. Their process to get to Football Bowl Subdivision play will continue this week as they return to the practice field for Spring workouts.
On Thursday, they will begin working out for 15 practices which includes four full-contact practices and three scrimmages. Their practice period will end on March 10th when they will conclude their spring drill session with a 6pm scrimmage at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Admission and parking will be free. The other 14 workouts will be held at the Jaguars on-campus practice facility near the Football Fieldhouse. All events are open to the public and free.
Head Coach Joey Jones says things will be different from last year. “I expect the first day to be a really good day, as opposed to waiting three to five days to get things going last spring. Last year, we were starting from scratch. Nobody knew terminology or each other, but now we’ve started to build a team. We’ve gone through a summer program, a year and an offseason, so our kids know each other and what to expect from us as coaches. We should be able to pick up from where we were at the end of the season and progress from there.”
The opening week of spring drills will have the Jags out on the practice field for workouts on Thursday at 7:30am and Friday at 7am in only helmets. Then drills on Saturday at 9am with pads but no tackling. Four other full pads practices without full contact are scheduled for February 22, February 24, March 1, and March 8 all will begin around 7am. Their first full-contact practice is scheduled for Tuesday, February 23 at 7:30am with more scheduled for February 25, March 2 and March 4.
The Jags first scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, February 27 at 9am. Other scrimmages are scheduled on Saturday March 6 at 11am and their final scrimmage on March 10 at 6pm. On Tuesday, March 9 at 9am, the Jags will work out only in pads in preparation for the scrimmage the next day.
Bryan Sherrer went down with a knee injury early in the February 11th game against Florida International. It was announced yesterday by Coach Ronnie Arrow that he tore his lateral meniscus and will miss 2-4 weeks.
Bryan has started the first 26 games of the season and averages just over 10 points per game, which is third best on the team. He also ranks eighth in the nation in free-throw percentage at 90.8%.
This will be a big loss for the Jags as the Sun Belt Conference tournament begins in just about two and a half weeks in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The tournament is the only hope the Jags have to make the NCAA Tournament this season after losing two key players for the rest of the season back in January.
Martino Brock, a freshman, was named the Sun Belt Conference’s Men’s Basketball Player of the Week on Monday. This was his first honor of his collegiant career.
His contributions over the last week lead the Jags to two wins by averaging 18.5 points and 12.5 rebounds. He also recorded two double-doubles. He ranks second on the team in two categories, with a season average of 12.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game.
After starting off strong (9-0) in the Sun Belt, the Lady Jags have cooled off with two 3 game losing streaks recently. They are now sitting at 4th place (of six) with a 9-6 record in the Sun Belt eastern division and in 6th place overall in the SBC.
Arkansas-Little Rock and Middle Tennessee State are leading their divisions, both with 13-1 records in the Sun Belt. UALR has the overall edge for the season with a record of 20-5 to MTSU’s 18-5.
However, it just came to our attention that Tashley Gaines has been dismissed from the team. She was the Jags leading rebounder and their third leading scorer. It is unknown why she was dismissed from the team at this time as no official announcement has surfaced.
The Jaguars hit the practice field twice on Thursday, their last day of practice before their scrimmage on Saturday ends their fall camp.
The morning session of the two-a-day saw the team take the field at 7am in shells. Practice began with special teams work on field goals. After that, they went into position drills for a while. Next they broke into separate groups with recievers and defensive backs working one-on-one while the offensive and defensive lines worked practiced against each other. Following that, they had a period of 7-on-7 practice which was followed up by full squad passing plays.
Next the offense and defense separated to different ends of the field and worked against scout teams. Then, to end the practice, the first and second teams each got a shot to run a two-minute drill.
The first run saw freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon leading the offense. Gibbon hit the freshmen receiver Corey Besteda down the left sideline for a 45 yard gain. However, time ran out with the team inside the 10-yard line.
The second run at the two-minute drill saw junior Brennan Sim and freshman Nick Owens both taking snaps at quarterback. Their result was a field goal.
The afternoon session was less physical and saw the team focusing on plays for the scrimmage on Saturday without pads. They worked mostly in position groups but they did have some time in 7-on-7 passing drills and 11-on-11 running drills with some focus on receivers working on blocking.
Coach Jones said that the scrimmage on Saturday help the coaches in making decisions towards who will start and who will be second string. “Number one is that it’s a great evaluation process for the kids,” Jones said. “They’re under the gun so to speak, and they’re out there in a live situation. They know the pressure is on them, so we’ll so how they react in a game-type situation. It’s more of an evaluation time. We’ve been teaching fundamentals all week long, and we’re going to treat it like a game and see how they perform when the lights are on.”
However, Coach Jones was quick to say that the scrimmage will not necessarily determine who starts. Just because a player has a good scrimmage, he might be way behind another guy. But several positions have players that are pretty even so a good showing at the scrimmage will definitely move them up on the chart.
Coach Jones had this to say about positions that he was worried about, “We have depth at a lot of positions. I’m worried about the secondary, and I’m worried about the tight end situation. In those two areas we don’t have as much depth, but the other positions I feel good about. We’ve got players that can fill in.”
Running backs coach Tommy Perry indicated that he was looking for more than one running back to step up and win the starting job. “You’ve got to have at least two, and if you’ve got three that really helps. That third guy has got to be able to do a little of everything. Ideally we’d like to have three. Everybody kind of has their strengths, and you’ve just got to know as a coach, feel the offense and know when to have that guy in there. The guy that’s going to be playing the most is the guy that can do everything the best.”
Perry also mentioned that he has some specific things he will be watching for on Saturday. “I’m going to look for running after contact,” he said. “We’ve got something we call Jag yards, and those offensive linemen do a great job of opening holes, but some of those five and six-foot holes I can run through and look pretty good. That doesn’t take a lot of talent. I’m looking for the guys that get the extra yards. After contact how many yards are we picking up, and how sharp and crisp are we in pass protection. Those are the two big things I’m looking for.”
Coach Jones said they are looking at about 120 plays and will try to get every player into the scrimmage with the ones and twos having more time than the threes and fours will.
The Jags will have a day to rest on Friday before hitting the practice field for their scrimmage starting at 9am which will be followed by “Family Fan Day” to end their fall camp.
Donor Appreciation Day was a very good event, but if you ask about the practice itself, you might get a slightly different answer. In coach Gregory’s opinion, Wednesday was one of the worst offensive days since the beginning of practice. They were plagued with interceptions and fumbles throughout the afternoon.
However, it was not all bad. Courtney Smith made several good catches and the running backs showed that they could make some nice cuts and make the defense miss.
It was clear that the defense had a pretty good day causing fumbles and falling on the ball and defensive backs intercepting passes. Tim Harvey was guarding a slant pattern when the quarterback overthrew his receiver. Harvey, with his hands outstretched, managed to haul in the pass one handed much to the jubilation of the defense.
But the defensive backs have definitely been tested over the course of spring practice. They show their competitiveness when they have a bad play or get beat one-on-one, it clearly bothers them. But they realize that it was just one play and they are able to move on.
It also helps that they are physical and can hit too. With Coach Clark’s aggressive defensive schemes, they can’t sit around and only be cover guys. They have to be able to come up and make a play too. The safeties have to be able to come up to the line of scrimmage and be able to fill holes around the defensive line and linebackers.
But Coach Walker admits they have to work on defending the pass better, in particular deep passes. With so many teams running the spread offense similar to what USA will be running, completions will happen and occasionally a big play is going to occur. But as Coach Walker said, they will have to learn how to let it roll off their back and get focused on the next play.
All of the coaches like how well the players have progressed this spring. Some are more impressed that they are as farther along then they anticipated. But each coach was also very excited about the incoming players this fall. Implying that if you like what you see now, just wait to see what they have in store in the near future.
The Jags will have Thursday off from the practice field to gear up for the scrimmage on Friday evening. Gates will open at 4:30 and the scrimmage begins at 5:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. They will start with drills and end with a half of play, offense vs defense. They don’t have enough players in several spots to have a team on team scrimmage like you would you will see from Alabama or Auburn. So the scoring will be different with the defense getting points for turnovers and such.
So make plans to join the Jaguar Nation at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Friday evening for this historic event. Wear red to show your support and to give the players and coaches a taste of what is to come from the Jaguar Nation. Also they will finally introduce the Jaguar uniform for the first time to the public.
This is the last week of Spring practice for the South Alabama Jaguars and this week will culminate with a big scrimmage similar to what you would see with Alabama and Auburn. It is free to the public and the gates will open at 4:30pm.
Students will be tailgating starting at 3:30pm with the gates opening at 4:30pm. The scrimmage will begin at 5:30pm. However, the scrimmage is not the only exciting thing going on at this event. At 7:00pm the new uniforms will be unveiled to the public for the very first time. Then around 7:15pm you can go onto the field for a meet, greet and autograph session with the coaches and players.
The USA Athletic Department will have season tickets available for purchase on-site during this event. Also, the USA Bookstore will be there with new merchandise and souvenirs for purchase.
So set your calendars today, make whatever excuse you need to get off work early or out of work for the night to come out and see the Jaguars in a game like environment and to be present when they unveil the uniforms the Jaguars will be wearing on the field come this fall.