Coach Jones Pleased With Tuesday’s Practice

November 14, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

2012 South Alabama Football Senior class. – Photo from USAJaguars.com


South Alabama returned to the practice field on Tuesday to continue preparation for Saturday’s game against Middle Tennessee State.

“We had a pretty good day today,” head coach Joey Jones said. “I think we had a good one from the standpoint that they were paying attention and they had a good inside drill today, running the football on both sides of the ball, offense and defense. I thought we had a goods crisp period where they got after it and on Tuesday’s you’ve got to have a good physical practice because you’ve got to carry it over to the game.”

Similar to last week, the Jags practiced in shells and will most likely do it again on Wednesday as well. As they are in the midst of a long stretch of games with three more to go the staff does not want to over extend the players while still working on keeping them sharp and implementing the game plan for their next opponent.

Coach Jones also said in his weekly radio show that Demetre Baker was doubtful for the Jags game this weekend. This will likely put Kendall Houston as the starter against the Blue Raiders on Saturday. Baker missed the second half against North Texas with an ankle sprain suffered in the second quarter.

Houston has 185 yards on 71 carries this season and has made appearances in all 10 games. Baker is the teams leading rusher with 595 yards on the season.

Clifton Crews, who suffered a concussion in the second quarter against North Texas, is probable for this weekends game. He will still have to pass a battery of tests to make sure there are no lingering affects from the concussion before that decision is finalized.

Prior to this Saturday’s game, the University will honor 15 seniors in a pre-game ceremony. Trey Clark, B.J. Scott and Jake Johnson have started all 10 games this season. Cori Barnett and Brandon Ross have not seen the playing field this season due to injuries.

Ryne Baxter, Jonathan Cameron, Michel Chapuseaux, Andy Dalgleish, Kennedy Helms, Ellis Hill, Gabe Loper, Chris Rivers, Tremain Smith and Anthony Taylor will all join the previously mentioned players to be honored as the 2012 senior class.

“I want to thank our seniors for all they have done and committed to this football program, for what they have meant not only to this university but to our team,” said Coach Jones. “They are great leaders and great young men, they care about this team and have done all the right things to build this program from the ground up. Some of the guys have been here the whole time, some have transferred in, but the bottom line is that they have all contributed in great ways. They will be forever missed because they have done a good job here, they have created an atmosphere of hard work and character. We will be indebted to them forever.”

“I think this is a special day, it really is, because you almost treat it a little differently since it is your last day to play at home,” he continued. “Not that you are going to go out and play any harder, because those guys are going to play hard anyway, but you look at it with a little different perspective because you realize this is your last one. There are not many things in life that you know are going to end, maybe retirement.”

The parking lot at Ladd-Peebles Stadium will open at 8am for tailgating and gates to the stadium will open at 12:30pm. The Jaguar Prowl will take place around 12:10pm in the South parking lot. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm.

South Alabama Is More Experienced Than Many Think

August 28, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Offensive line gets set while Coach Clark directs the defense during a practice early preseason camp.

You may already know the cliche “defense wins championships.” Over the last three college football seasons you can see that a stifling defense does win championships. While South Alabama is far from that level, they do have a very experienced defense.

The team was unclassified by the NCAA in their first two years of competition so the players who joined the team were allowed to participate in games during their redshirt season. This allows them to play in all five of their seasons of eligibility.

The defense is the more experienced side of the ball. Four seniors, six juniors and a sophomore on the first team defense. The senior starters are Anthony Taylor at Jack linebacker, Jake Johnson at Mike linebacker, B.J. Scott at safety and Andy Dalgleish at nose tackle.

Junior defensive starters include Montavious Williams at tackle, Alex Page at end, Clifton Crews at Sam linebacker, Enrique William at Will linebacker, Darrius Marrow at cornerback and Tyrell Pearson at cornerback. Alonzo Long is the only sophomore starting on the defense at strong safety. Long and Pearson are both JuCo transfers.

There are five sophomore starters on the offense with five of them entering into their third season of play. They are joined by one senior, two juniors and one redshirt freshman. Trey Clark at Center is the only Senior slated in as a starter with Tremain Smith listed as a possible starter at right tackle. Junior starters are Bryant Lavender with Greg Hollinger and Corey Waldon both listed as optional starters. Sophomore starters are Drew Dearman at left guard, Shaun Artz at right guard, C.J. Bennett at quarterback and Demetre Baker at running back with Wes Saxton at tight end, Ucambre Williams at left tackle, Melvin Meggs, Jereme Jones at receiver are all optional starters.

So when the Jags hit the field on *Thursday, they will be an experienced team ready for competition. While they are not eligible for the Sun Belt Conference championship hopefully the experience on the defense, and on offense for that matter, will translate into a very competitive season.

The size and experience is what worries UTSA defensive coordinator Neal Neathery. He mentioned that Baker and Kendall Houston took turns exploiting holes opened up by the offensive line in the Jaguars 30-27 win in the Alamodome. “Both of the (backs) they played were physical, strong, in between the tackles runners. I thought it was a game where we didn’t feel great about ourselves when it was over when it comes to who was the tougher team,” Neathery said.

“Just as a unit last year they were probably the toughest, most physical offensive line we played,” Neathery said. “They were really good, and their running backs had a lot to do with that.”

* Currently the Jaguars are set to kickoff on Thursday, August 30th against Texas-San Antonio but Tropical Storm Isaac could postpone the game.

Coach Matthews Speaks About Offense

August 10, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Offensive lineman running position drills in preseason camp.

One of South Alabama’s most daunting tasks this preseason is to solidify the offensive line. Three starters have graduated from last year’s squad. Gone are veterans Chris Brunson, Jon Griffin and Brian Krauskopf.

So far this preseason, offensive line coach and Offensive coordinator Robert Matthews, is currently rotating 13 different players on the offensive line. Trey Clark at center is the anchor to the line as he has started all 27 games in South Alabama’s history. Tremain Smith has earned playing time as a reserve in the previous two seasons.

“We do have some young guys, a lot who are getting reps, including some who have been here but have not been starters,” Coach Matthews said. “We have been rotating 13 different guys on the line right now, They have been changing positions because we are trying to find the best five. For the first week-and-a-half of practice there have been a lot of good things, and there have been some things we need to clean up. I think we are headed in the right direction.”

“Tremain and Trey have been tremendous leaders, they are vocal leaders and they lead by example, and a huge help to us,” Matthews continued. “They have been real good telling the young guys that it is going to be OK. It’s a big transition coming from high school, but our young guys have done a good job getting through that.”

On the right side of the line, Melvin Meggs is expected to continue solidify that side of the line. Meggs has started 19 games through two seasons. But coach Matthews doesn’t want Meggs to only settle for playing time, he wants him to keep getting better.

“Melvin’s biggest challenge is being the best Melvin he can be,” Matthews explained. “Everyone knows he is a good football player, he’s been a starter on the line. Any time you are that guy on a team, you have to push yourself to be better than just that. He’s been working hard on that. Melvin knows he is going to play, let’s be honest, everyone knows that. But he needs to play at a level he is capable of being at. Our challenge, and his challenge, is to continue to push himself to where he can be more than just a player. We want Melvin to be a great player.”

Drew Dearman and Shaun Artz entered camp with a golden opportunity to earn the starting left guard and right tackle positions respectively. Shane Doty and Ucambre Williams both could provide help as well. Chris May, who was redshirted last season, should be another contributor this season. Coach Matthews likes his footwork and also says that he has worked hard to study how the offense works and to discipline himself within the system. “He is very athletic, he was a state championship wrestler coming out of high school,” Matthews said. “I’ve been extremely happy with the progress of Chris, he is only a redshirt freshman so he has four years left to play. Certainly we want him to be game-ready in a couple of weeks, but his long-term future is really good.”

Four incoming freshman from the 2012 class have also been receiving reps on the line. Daniel Aust and Clay Machen have been working at outside positions on the line while Steven Foster and Joseph Scelfo have been working at interior positions on the line.

This is a fresh start for the offensive line. With no seniors and only two juniors, the line is stocked with young talent. With eight players weighing in at 300-pound or more, they also have size. What they lack is experience in the new system. In the spring, the Jags began the transition to a spread offense, while the players that were already in the program were accustomed to the pro-style offense that the team used in it’s first three seasons.

The fundamentals are the same, but the semantics and certain aspects of the position is different.  “We play a lot faster than they used to play, but some of the schemes are very similar. Football is football, pass protection is pass protection and run blocking is run blocking,” Matthews said. “Our terminology is a little different, but I would say there is about a 50-percent carryover from a skill set and things of that nature. We’ll see how it goes. I think they are headed in the right direction, but we have a way to go before we are any good. This is coaching cliché, but we have to come out to work every day. It’s the truth. We’re not great, but we’re not bad and we have to get better.”

As they head into the first scrimmage of the preseason, the offensive line get the most attention. “We’re going to find our best five,” Matthews said. “A guy that played guard today might be playing center tomorrow… We’ll start to narrow that down in the next week or so. … Saturday will be a big day for those guys to show what they’ve got and how they’ve progressed so far.”

Coach Matthews not only plays faster, but in practice he is constantly in motion and he keeps the players in almost constant motion. Like he is doing with the offensive line by rotating in lots of players and moving them around to see where they fit. He is doing that on a larger scale with the whole offense. “The thing I like is we’re moving a lot of guys around right now trying to see where everybody fits,” he said. “Nobody is backing away or turning away from that. Guys are learning two, sometimes three positions, and they are embracing it, so I really like the attitude of how they’re doing that. I think there’s no question we’re a lot better right now than we were in the spring. We’ll continue to be a work in progress and every day is important for us.”

Coach Matthews brings a thorough knowledge of the spread offense with him and a thick playbook to go along with it. Matthews came to South Alabama from Southern Miss through Oklahoma State. He is well steeped and is ready to unleash it’s potential at South Alabama. And the key is pace. Action needs to swift and constant and decisions need to be made quickly and correctly.

Matthews also spoke about other positions.

“People don’t realize how much you run in this offense as a wide receiver. They’re changing sides of the field, they’re running routes. We might throw a 6-yard route, but someone else may have had to run 30 yards to get that route open and he didn’t get the ball. He has to run back and get lined up. They have worked extremely hard and I’m proud of their progress.”

“It’s good to see Kendall (Houston) healthy again. We’ve been working about five [running] backs back there, and I think that’s good for competition.”

“We’ve been going two groups at once and we have five quarterbacks right now getting reps. Obviously, we’ve got to find out who our starter is, but even some of the younger guys on the roster, the reps they are getting right now are invaluable to them as they continue to learn the playbook.”

“I think they’re [tight ends] getting better every day, and we’ve got about two or three guys who hopefully will help us win on Saturdays.”

Trey Fetner returned to the field on Thursday after missing a day and a half with an illness. Senior linebacker Jake Johnson missed much of Thursday’s practice with a mild ankle injury but is expected to be ready for Saturday’s scrimmage. Tight end Wes Saxton missed part of yesterday’s morning scrimmage but should be ready for Saturday as well.

Saturday’s scrimmage is closed to public and the team will be off Sunday.