Two Jags Named As Sun Belt Players Of The Week

September 17, 2013 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The new secondary Sun Belt Conference logo that will begin being used on July 1, 2013.

The University of South Alabama Jaguar football team had two student-athletes honored as Sun Belt Player of the Week this week. The Jags defeated Western Kentucky 31-24 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium to open Sun Belt Conference play for both schools.

Tyrell Pearson and Aleem Sunanon were chosen as the SBC Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week by the conference office on Monday. This is both first time honors for both of them in their career.

Pearson, a 5’8″, 150 pound Greenville, South Carolina native, intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter while adding two tackles in his first appearance of the season. Pearson started his heroics in the final three minutes of the game with an interception returned 49 yards to set up the game-winning one-yard touchdown run by Trey Fetner. His second interception came in the end zone to preserve the Jaguar win as the Hilltoppers were facing 4th and 10 from the Jaguar 13-yard line.

Sunanon, a 5’7″ 185 pound redshirt freshman from Orlando, Florida, kicked a career best three field goals along with extra points to score in double-figures for the second consecutive week. He hit on kicks of 42, 43 and 27 in the game. The later attempt tied the game at 24 with over 12 minutes to go in the game.

South Alabama has this weekend off and will return to action when they travel to Knoxville to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, September 28.

South Alabama Come From Behind To Defeat Western Kentucky 31-24

September 15, 2013 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 
The Jaguars rally at mid field after they enter the field to just prior to kickoff against Western Kentucky on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

The Jaguars rally at mid field after they enter the field to just prior to kickoff against Western Kentucky on Saturday, September 14, 2013.

The University of South Alabama football team fought back from an 11-point deficit at halftime to tie the game in the fourth quarter and then get the winning touchdown in the last two minutes of the game to defeat conference foe Western Kentucky 31-24. The Jags improve to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in the conference while Western Kentucky falls to 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in Sun Belt play.

Senior cornerback Tyrell Pearson was key to helping the Jaguars defeat the Hilltoppers. He had not seen any playing time in the previous 11 quarters of play until the fourth quarter of the game against Western Kentucky. But he made two key plays in the final stanza to help propel the Jags to the win.

With less than three minutes left in the game, Doughty’s pass is picked off by Pearson with only green turf between him and the endzone to set up the Jaguars go-ahead touchdown. Then with Western Kentucky facing 4th and 10 at the Jaguar 13 needing a touchdown with :05 left in the game, Pearson would pick off Doughty’s pass in the endzone to seal the victory.

The Hilltoppers opened the game with a 5 play, 79 yard drive spanning 2:40 to quickly go ahead 7-0. However the Jaguars would respond with their own drive. Highlighted with passes by Ross Metheny to Jereme Jones for 18 yards, Wes Saxton for 7 yards, Danny Woodson Jr for 9 yards to get down to the Hilltopper 37 yard line. Then Metheny would run for 13 yards before hitting Shavarez Smith for 15 yards for a 1st and Goal at the WKU 9 yard line. Facing 4th and goal inside the 1 yard line and after a time out, Metheny would lean on his offensive line and get the touchdown to cap off the 10 play, 75 yard drive spanning 4:14 to tie the game at seven.

The Hilltoppers would put together another scoring drive of 15 plays, 73 yards taking 7:34 off of the clock to take a 14-7 lead over the Jaguars.

The Jags next possession would begin with :32 left in the first quarter at their own 28 yard line. A rush by Jay Jones for four yards would end the first quarter. Starting the second quarter, Metheny would find Saxton for a 37 yards pass to get down to the ‘topper 31 yard line. The Jags would only be able to get to the 25 yard line before behind held to a 42 yard Aleem Sunanon field goal to cut the Hilltopper lead to 14-10. The drive was 6 plays, 47 yards and took 1:36 off the clock.

The Jaguar defense stiffened and opened the WKU possession with a 12 yard sack of Brandon Doughty by Romelle Jones to put them 2nd and 22 at their own 27 yard line. On 4th and 16, WKU would boom a 52 yard punt and T.J. Glover would lose two yards on the return to be downed at the Jaguar 13 yard line.

After getting a first down on a Trey Fetner run around the right side of the line out to the Jaguar 27 yard line, Metheny would be sacked for a 13 yard loss back to the 14 yard line. The Jags would not be able to get a first down and Scott Garber’s punt would go 42 yards and the returner would lose a yard on the return to the WKU 42. A holding penalty would back them up to the 32 yard line with 9:10 left before halftime.

The Hilltoppers would put together a 6 play, 68 yard drive over 3:23 to score a touchdown on a 20 yard pass for Western Kentucky to take a 21-10 lead with 5:47 left in the second quarter.

The ensuing USA possession would start at their own 25 yard line but on the first play they Metheny would connect with Saxton again for 23 yards out to the 48 yard line. Facing 4th and 1 at the WKU 43, Coach Jones would call a time out after lining up for a punt. After the time out, the snap in the punt formation would go to Trey Fetner and he would roll out to the right and try to connect with Jereme Jones, but the ball would fall incomplete to turn the ball over on downs with 3:20 left before halftime.

The Jags received the ball to begin the second half. Glover would return it from the two yard line out to the 27 before being hit and fumbling the ball forward where Desmond LaVelle would recover it for the Jaguars at the 39 yard line. Brandon Bridge would enter the game at quarterback and after back-to-back incompletions, he would find Corey Waldon for a 15 yard first down into Western Kentucky territory at the 46 yard line. He would take a seven yard sack but would connect with Saxton for a 24 yard gain to the ‘topper 29 yard line. After another seven yard loss by Bridge, Dinham would gain 10 yards on a rush to set up Sunanon’s 43 yard field goal that he would put through the uprights. The USA drive went 35 yards over nine plays spanning 3:25 to cut the Hilltopper lead to 21-13 with 11:35 left in the 3rd quarter.

South Alabama’s defense would force a punt on the next WKU possession, only allowing one first down and 24 total yards.

Starting at their own 11 yard line with 8:59 left in the 3rd quarter they would begin a critical drive, both for the team and for the fans in the stands. Brandon Bridge would pull the ball down and run for 23 yards out to the Jaguar 38 on 3rd and 6 for a fresh set of downs and getting the Jaguar offense in gear. Jay Jones would rush for five yards, then Bridge would find Bryant Lavender for six yards out to the Jaguar 49 yard line. After an eight yard sack, Bridge would load up and connect with Jereme Jones for 25 yards and a first down at the WKU 34 yard line.

Facing 3rd down and 4 at the WKU 28, Coach Jones would call his second time out of the half with 5:04 left in the 3rd quarter. Bridge would connect with Jereme Jones again for seven yards and another key first down. on 3rd and 8, Bridge would scramble for 15 yards and slide down at the 4 yard line. Jay Jones would punch it in with 3:23 left in the game to cut the Jaguars deficit to two points. Coach Jones would immediately call for a two-point conversion to try to tie the game. They would use some trickeration with a snap to the running back, a lateral to Jake Howton who would throw to a wide open Ross Metheny in the end zone to tie the game at 21.

Western Kentucky would begin at their own 28 after the kickoff. A few plays later, facing 2nd and 10 at the Jaguar 15 yard line, Romelle Jones and Clifton Crews would combine for a 12 yard sack on Doughty back at the Jaguar 27 yard line to end the 3rd quarter, a quarter in which the Jags held a time of possession advantage of 9:01 to 5:59.

Doughty’s 4th down pass would fall incomplete and they would have to settle for a 44 yard Garrett Schwettman field goal to take a 24-21 lead with 14:47 left in the game.

The ensuing kickoff would go out of bounds at the Jaguar 8 yard line, the penalty would place the ball at the 35 yard line. The Jags would have to call their second time out of the half prior to the first down play after the kickoff as the play clock was running down. On the first down play, Bridge would scramble for a 26 yard gain to the Western Kentucky 39 yard line before getting out of bounds. Jay Jones would then rush for 12 yards to the WKU 27. Bridge’s pass on 3rd and 3 at the WKU 20 intended for Saxton would fall incomplete but Sunanon would drill a 37 yard field goal to tie the game at 24-24 with 12:28 left in the game.

On the ensuing WKU possession, Anthony Wales would return the kickoff 30 yards out to the WKU 45 yard line to begin the drive. A few plays later, facing 4th and 2, Bobby Petrino would decide to go for the first down, but the Jaguar defense would hold as the pass would fall incomplete giving South Alabama the ball at the Jaguar 47 yard line with 10:25 left in the game.

Ross Metheny would return to the game and would connect with Shavarez Smith for a leaping catch for a 50 yard gain at the Western Kentucky 3 yard line. Kendall Houston appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown, but after review, they placed the ball at the one foot line for 3rd and goal. Metheny would be unable to punch it in and Coach Jones decided to kick what seemed like an easy three points. However, Sunanon’s 17 yard kick from the right hashmarks would stay right of the goalpost leaving the game tied at 24-24.

Western Kentucky would take over at their own 20 yard line and drive down to the Jaguar 46 before Doughty’s 3rd down pass was intercepted by Alex Page at the WKU 42 yard line with 4:24 left in the game.

Looking like the Jaguars were going to be able to drive down and set up a game-winning score while milking the clock, Western Kentucky would force a fumble by the sure-handed Jereme Jones to give them the ball at their own 17 yard line with 2:59 left in the game.

On 3rd and 10, Doughty would connect with Norris for 29 yards and a first down at the WKU 46 yard line. But on the very next play, Tyrell Pearson would make a break on the throw and intercept it at midfield for what looked like a pick-six touchdown. However, he would be flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for celebration at the 1 yard line, negating the touchdown. The 15 yard penalty would back it up to the 16 yard line with 2:12 left in the game.

Jay Jones would open the possession with a two yard rush to the WKU 14 and forcing Petrino to use one of his time outs with 2:02 left. Metheny would rush for 12 yards and a first down at the two yard line before getting out of bounds and stopping the clock. Kendall Houston would only manage a one yard gain to around the 1 yard line forcing Petrino to use another time out with 1:46 left in the game. Trey Fetner would finally put the ball in the end zone to give the Jaguars a 31-24 lead with 1:38 left in the game.

The Hilltoppers would field the kickoff at their 13 and return it 21 yards to their own 34 yard line. Montell Garner would be flagged for pass interference spotting the ball at the 43 yard line with an automatic first down. Andrews would rush for 15 yards to the Jaguar 42 yard line. Another pass interference would be called, this time on Maleki Harris to place the ball at the 41 yard line. The Hilltoppers would get down the Jaguar 13 yard line with a 1st and 10 and time continuing to run. Alex Page would put pressure on Doughty to force and incomplete pass. After another incomplete pass, the Jags would call a time out on 3rd and 10 to set their defense and get a quick breather.

After the time out, Pat Moore would put the pressure on Doughty to for another incomplete pass bring up 4th and 10 at the 13 with :05 left in the game. Bobby Petrino would use his final time out to set up his last chance. This time Doughty would be pressured again and Tyrell Pearson would intercept it in the end zone to seal the Jaguar victor, 31-24.

South Alabama was outgained by Western Kentucky in total yards 427 – 414, passing yards 282 – 270 and rushing yards 145 – 144. WKU had 26 first downs to the Jaguars 18. The Hilltoppers ran 74 offensive plays, while the Jags ran 66. WKU converted 9-of-17 third downs while South Alabama converted 5-of-13.

Jay Jones led the Jags with 49 yards rushing on 11 carries. Bridge added 42 on six carries. Dinham and Metheny both added 22 yards.

Ross Metheny went 11-of15 for 193 yards and was sacked once. Bridge wen 5-of-11 for 77 yards and had two sacks. Fetner went 0-of-1.

Receiving, Wes Saxton had 91 yards on four receptions. Shavarez Smith had 72 yards on three catches. Jereme Jones added 68 yards on four receptions. Woodson, Waldon, Lavender and Dinham all also had catches in the game as well.

Qudarius Ford led the defense with 12 tackles. Enrique Williams was right behind him with 11 and combined with another Jaguar for a tackle for loss. Clifton Crews had six tackles and a half of a sack. Romelle Jones added four stops including 1.5 sacks.

“The game was as exciting as it gets. I can’t take any more of those kind of games,” Jag head coach Joey Jones joked after the game. “That’s three in a row that have come down to the last play. But I’ll take the win.”

“I’m so excited for our guys, they fought through until the end,” he continued. “Last year we weren’t making plays at the end of the game, this year we are.”

Metheny stated after the game, “I think we executed at a higher level tonight, offensively. Going in tonight I think we had a better game plan and to be able to respond to adversity the way we did. We just executed at a high level tonight. We can see what we can do offensively when we do that.”

“That’s a tough loss, we had our opportunities to win the game,” said Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino. “Starting right at the end of the first half, we have control of the game and a chance on a two-minute drive to go score, and we don’t take advantage of the opportunity. They (South Alabama) made some plays in the second half. We had our chances at the end, we dropped a couple of touchdown passes and threw an interception, so we just didn’t get it done. I thought we would come down here and perform well, so I’m pretty disappointed in our performance but you have to take your hat off to South Alabama. They played well.”

“I want to commend coach Petrino and his team. Western Kentucky is a great football team. We knew that coming in,” Jones stated. “They have a first-class organization, they do things right. For us to come out on the winning side against those guys is definitely the biggest win we’ve had since I’ve been here at South Alabama. You saw how big and physical they were, and our guys stood up to the challenge.”

South Alabama will have an off week before returning to action in Knoxville, Tennessee on September 28 when they face the University of Tennessee at Neyland Stadium.

Jags Return To Practice Field

September 3, 2013 · Filed Under Football · Comment 
First year defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer talks with the defense on the sidelines at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the Jaguars season opener against Southern Utah on Thursday night.

First year defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer talks with the defense on the sidelines at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in the Jaguars season opener against Southern Utah on Thursday night.

South Alabama returned to the practice field on Sunday night for the first time since the Jags season opening loss to Southern Utah. Prior to the light workout in shorts and helmets, they had a team meeting that lasted almost two hours.

The two days prior, the coaching staff poured over the game film breaking down the game and grading performances. Head coach Joey Jones told AL.com, “Looking at the film, I feel like we did some really good things. But the thing we didn’t do was obvious – we didn’t finish the game. We were up eight points with eight minutes left and we lose the ball game. We learned a hard lesson from that.”

“Defensively, we’ve got to stop them, and offensively we’ve got to make first downs late to win the ball game. That’s bottom line. But, the positive side, even though we had a couple of special teams breakdowns, special teams was great. Kickoff coverage was probably the best we’ve ever had – it averaged on the 15 yard line. Kickoff return, we averaged 31 yards per return. Punt team was a 42.1 (yard) average and tackling with a less than 1 yard return.”

“We did some good things. When you have a loss you tend to look at things and it seems like everything is gloom and doom. In some ways it is. But we did some positive things. The thing I challenged the guys with today was we’re going to fight and we’re going to get better. We’re a better team. If we had finished out the game the other night we’d feel a lot better, but we just didn’t finish. So we’ve got to learn to win ball games. We’re at a point with our team, we’ve just got to get that taste of it again. We had a chance and we let it slip away.”

South Alabama started the game by moving the ball quickly with two first downs in their first three offensive plays of the game, however their drive stalled and forced them to punt. Southern Utah was able to capitalize on their drives and went up 10-0 on their first two drives of the game. The Jags would cut the lead to 10-7 prior to halftime.

SU would add a field goal in the second half before the Jags took the lead 14-13 then extended their lead to 21-13 early in the fourth quarter.

Unlike last season, the Jags took care of the ball with only one turnover, however that turnover proved to be costly as Southern Utah turned that turnover into six points but failed on the two-point conversion in an attempt to tie the game.

Besides not finishing the game, the Jags allowed too many big plays. Yet, the Jags could have won the game late with a couple first downs or two field goals in the first half.

It was evident that the Jaguar offense has improved from last season. Shavarez Smith and Danny Woodson gives Metheny and Bridge more options to throw to. Jay Jones showed his speed with a 57 yard run. Brandon Bridge also showed his ability with his 40 yard touchdown run in the first half.

The defense began the game fairly shakey, but in-game adjustments held SU to only three points through the second and third quarters. The Jaguars defensive line had problems getting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run as SU running backs picked up some big gains. The secondary did not come up with any turnovers, but did break up five passes. However when the game was on the line, they gave up a huge first down on 2nd and 12 and a 13-yard first down on a 3rd and 5.

The Jags will look to correct these areas this week before they travel to New Orleans to face an improved Tulane team on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30pm.

Coach Jones did say that defensive back Tyrell Pearson and tight end Ben Giles will return from suspension for violations of team rules. Cornerback Akeem Appleton will serve one more game suspension after sitting out the Thursday night game as well.

Replay Official Reprimanded By Conference Officials For Blown Call In USA – UNT Game

November 14, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 


South Alabama received some news on Tuesday from the Sun Belt Conference office concerning the Jaguars game against North Texas last weekend. The Sun Belt Conference issued a formal reprimand of two of the Conference’s replay officials, including the replay official working the South Alabama vs North Texas game.

With the Jags trailing North Texas 24-14, Jaguar defensive back Tyrell Pearson picked off a pass and returned it down the left sideline. He was then knocked out of bounds near the goal line and officials on the field ruled that he had fumbled the ball and it had hit the pylon before going out of bounds. That ruling meant that the ball was a touchback, giving the Mean Green the ball back at their own 20 yard line.

It went to a review and the play was upheld.

However, the video clearly shows the fumble going out of bound around the 1 yard line and that the ball did not the pylon. The correct ruling should have been that it was the Jaguars ball with a first and goal at the 1 yard line.

In the press release the Conference recognized the blown call in announcing the reprimand. Additionally the replay officials involved have been placed on probation and will be removed from consideration to work a post-season bowl game.

Another replay official working the Arkansas State vs Louisiana-Monroe game from last Thursday night were also reprimanded, placed on probation and will not be considered for a postseason bowl game.

“Instant replay was established to ‘get calls right’ that are questionable on the field,” said Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson. “Our coaches, student athletes and fans deserve quality performance in the instant replay booth just like they do from the officials on the field. South Alabama and ULM have received apologies and the two instant replay officials are hereby reprimanded.”

As mentioned above, the Jags were trailing 24-14 with 2:40 left in the third quarter. If the Jags had retained possession they were poised to score a touchdown from the one yard line to cut the Mean Green lead to three points heading into the fourth quarter.

“It is unfortunate, but it definitely had a major impact on the game,” head coach Joey Jones said. “It would have made it a three-point game and it would have changed our whole offense philosophy in the fourth quarter. But I admire the Sun Belt Conference and the commissioner for admitting to (the mistake) and being completely honest about it.”

South Alabama Athletics Director Joel Erdmann told the Press Register that he appreciates what the Conference did in this instance. “I’d like to commend the commissioner and the conference’s actions in our specific instance,” Erdmann said. “It reinforces the stakes that are at play within the game of FBS football. Often times, a game’s outcome hangs in the balance of a hand full of plays. Thus, the increased importance on accuracy.”

“We deeply appreciate the conference and the officials and the coordinator of officials because we know that they work hard every day to prepare themselves to make the best decisions and call the best games that they can.”

Phil Steele’s Midseason All-Sun Belt Team Announced

October 18, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Defensive coordinator Bill Clark working with Jake Johnson and the linebackers during individual drills during camp.

American sportswriter and analyst Phil Steele who produces an annual preseason magazine that carries his name published his 2012 Midseason All-Sun Belt Team.

There are a couple South Alabama names on the list. There are only two first team selections for the Jaguars which are defensive linemen Alex Page and senior linebacker Jake Johnson.

The lone second-team selection is T.J. Glover for special teams. While Tyrell Pearson is the lone third-team selection at defensive back. No Jaguars were selected for any of the three teams from the offense.

There are a number of selections that the Jaguars have already faced this season.

Coach Joey Jones Show Recap 2012-10-16

October 17, 2012 · Filed Under Football, Joey Jones Radio Show · Comment 
Coach Jones

Head coach Joey Jones working with the field goal unit during South Alabama’s Scrimmage on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

Head Coach Joey Jones and host Lee Shirvanian was joined by defensive backs coach Duwan Walker at Baumhower’s Restaurant on Airport Boulevard for the Joey Jones Radio Show this week.

To start off the show Lee asked “What was your feeling like when you left the field in Jonesboro?” “I felt good deep down, but hurting just because we lost and because you never want to lose,” Jones answered. But he felt they made lots of progress on offense with making first downs, moved the ball and converting on third down. All the things they have been talking about over the last few weeks.

He commended the defense on playing well as well as special teams with a blocked punt, good kickoff returns and good kickoff coverage.

Coach Jones said that when he saw that they were down by six points in the fourth quarter he thought they could pull out the win, but ended up losing by seven points. He was very proud that they took a good football team down to the wire. Deep down he feels really good about how they did, but as a competitor he never wants to lose.

Bo Bishop from Baumhower’s Restaurant asked about taking something positive away from a loss. Coach Jones said that if you look at Arkansas State, they won the Sun Belt Conference Championship last year, they have a quarterback who was the player of the year last year as well as returning several seniors. The South Alabama players walked out onto the field and were ready to play, they didn’t let that phase them and that makes Coach Jones really proud of them.

Lee pointed out the the Jags ran over 80 plays in the game while Arkansas State was limited to around 60. He further mentioned that the Jags led in just about every stat except the points on the scoreboard. Coach Jones pointed out that the big thing was that the offense went out and controlled the ball, something they haven’t really done until this game.

Lee said that Ross Metheny did a great job for the Jags. Coach Jones said that he has great leadership skills and the players really listen to him. He goes out there with lots of confidence. Another thing he did was he did a great job of extending the play. If the throw downfield wasn’t there then he checked down and found an open running back or ran with it and go positive yardage. He didn’t force it downfield which helped them get first downs.

Lee pointed out the penalties. Coach Jones acknowledged them and said that they jumped offsides a number of times while trying to blitz or get to the line. Lee mentioned how Rick Cleveland mentioned during the game that the quarterback was using an odd cadence to draw them offsides. But Jones said that that was not a reason and that the defensive linemen need to watch the ball instead of listening to the quarterbacks cadence.

But Coach Jones said that if they cut down penalties they will have a chance to win.

When asked how Coach Walker thought the secondary played, he answered by saying he thought they played well. They could have done better, but their number one thing is to prevent big plays and they did a good job at limiting them.

Orthopedic Group Injury Report: Ucambre Williams will probably be out with a knee injury which didn’t look good. Shaun Artz hurt his back, waiting to hear more about that. Everyone else fared well.

Lee mentioned that both of them are offensive linemen and that they may not have good depth at there. Coach Jones said they have decent depth but you worry about having others step up and be ready as well.

Jones said that Chris May moved into Williams’ position and played most of the game since Ucambre was hurt on the second play of the game. Drew Dearman could come back into the lineup to fill in for Shaun Artz. When Lee asked about backups, Coach Jones said that they actually pulled a couple players from the scout team to get ready and play some with the other guys.

Coach Jones was pretty quick to answer Lee’s question about the status of Demetre Baker for this weeks game. Jones said he thought he would be alright, but that “the ball is in his court” and that was all he wanted to say on that subject.

Lee further mentioned that it was due to a violation of team rules. Lee further pressed if he might suit up again for the Jags and Coach Jones went back to his previous statement saying “it’s up to him”. He did acknowledge that Baker was not on the depth chart as of now for the Florida Atlantic game.

Lee then turned the focus to Coach Walker and the secondary. What did they do to rectify the problems they had in the secondary from last season. They hit the Junior College’s well looking for players. Tyrell Pearson is short, but is a mature, good player. Same with Darrius Morrow, he plays very well and came from the junior college ranks.

Walker also mentioned B.J. Scott as someone that has sparked the secondary. He said that it was unfortunate he wasn’t able to go through spring workouts, but he is now hitting his prime during the season.

What are the ingredients for good defensive back. Walker said that is always changing. This week the Jags will be playing receivers who are 6’4″ or so and size will play a part. But they are looking for players who are electric, can make plays and play smart. Speed and size are something they have to go after.

Lee mentioned that South Alabama is playing teams with receivers that are 6’3″ or 6’4″ and asked how do the shorter defensive backs compensate for that? Coach Jones said that they have to have great technique. Ideally you want guys who are tall and fast, normally smaller guys can be faster. But they try to get guys who are 5’10 up to 6′ tall with speed who can cover. Defensive backs can make it up by coming up between the receivers hands and knocking the ball away if they play with good technique and play smart. Just because they are small does not mean that they will have the deep ball thrown over them.

Lee asked Coach Walker how they grade defensive backs. Coach Walker said that mental errors and technique are big keys in grading the defensive backs.

Lee asked that if the coaches can tell immediately if a defensive back missed an assignment or if they have to wait to see video to determine who it was. Coach Walker immediately said that they know who it is and who has coverage responsibility to whom and where.

Lee mentioned that high school coaches always mention that homecoming is such a big distraction at that level. He then asked Coach Jones if homecoming is a distraction on the college level. Coach Jones indicated that it’s not a big distraction on the college level. In high school they have so many events going on in the whole school. College is not as intense as high school.

Lee then turns the focus to Florida Atlantic and mentioned their record is the same as the Jags at 1-5. But he cautioned that they have played some good teams in Alabama and Georgia. Lee then asked if Coach Jones thought this may be a very winnable game for South Alabama. Coach Jones was quick to say that they cannot overlook anyone, but that they feel good about their chances. They just have to go out and work hard to make the plays to win the game.

A caller asked that if the Jags might give the next game ball after Florida Atlantic to coach Kurt Crain’s family. Coach Jones said they have not thought about, but they just put up a plaque in the football fieldhouse dedicated to his memory and they have a “KC” sticker on the helmets as well.

Lee asked what kind of problems FAU may present to the Jaguar secondary. Coach Walker said that they are very athletic and, from the film, they look alot like South Alabama’s receivers. Coach Walker also mentioned that they ran the ball and threw the ball well against Georgia.

Lee asked if this was another team that runs a spread offense. Coach Jones said yes, but that they are not quite like they have seen in the last two games with Troy and Arkansas State.

Coach Jones likened the stature of the FAU quarterback to NC State’s Mike Glennon, he is about 6’6″ tall and are similar type quarterback who can deliver the ball well. He knows he has tall receivers so he can hang the ball high and let his receivers go up to get it.

Lee mentioned the Jags ranking in the BCS. He said that the Jags are 111 in the list while FAU is 110, but that both are above teams like UNLV, Colorado, Colorado State and Akron among others. Coach Jones said that the football in the Sun Belt Conference is really good and that the Jags are getting better, but that they are not there yet.

Coach Jones answered a question posed by Lee asking about why couldn’t it be South Alabama traveling to play Alabama next season instead of Georgia State. Coach Jones said he doesn’t know, he’s not the one who makes that decision at Alabama. He did indicated that they have talked to them about it, but that was all.

After a break, Lee told coach Jones that when Coach Jones started at South Alabama, one of his assistants said that he would have no problem going head-to-head recruiting against Alabama and Auburn. Lee then asked if they have gone head-to-head against them for any recruits. Coach Jones said that they have but that they cannot mention any names of recruits.

Email question asked what it would take for the school to call this season a success and how are they defining success for the program today? Coach Jones said that he normally sets goals for wins in a season, but this year is different in that they do not have as many players as most of the teams they are facing this season. But they are approaching it on a week-to-week basis to see if they are improving. They don’t really know how to measure this season, but at the end of the season they will know where they stand in the conference.

Lee then turned to coach Walker for his input on the question. He said that it’s progress. They have to work hard every week to get better and earn respect from their opponents.

Jags Fall In Starkville 30-10

September 23, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 

C.J. Bennett reads the defense while head coach Joey Jones looks on from the sidelines in Starkville Mississippi.

South Alabama (1-3) played a tough game against Mississippi State (4-0) on Saturday evening, though they came up short on the scoreboard as they lost 30-10. The difference in the game was big plays, but the Jags led or were very close in several stats.

Mississippi State scored first on a 44-yard run and had five pass completions for over 20 yards, two kickoff returns that went for over 40 yards and two interceptions that were returned over 40 yards in the game.

However statistically the Jags held their own. The Jags had more first downs than the Bulldogs (21-15), more passing yards (224-200) and led the time-of-possession (30:35-29:25) and dominated the time of possession in the fourth quarter 9:07 to 5:53. The Jags were within ten yards of matching the Bulldogs overall offensive production 356-347 total yards.

The Jags improves on last weeks 0-for-11 third down performance. They converted 5-of-15 this week. They Jaguar defense held the Bulldogs to 5-of-14 on third down themselves. While that third down conversion stat isn’t what they would like to see, it is an improvement and it was against an SEC defense.

Demetre Baker lead the Jags rushing with 12 carries for 49 yards. C.J. Bennett ran three times for 29 yards including a stunning hurdle of a Mississippi State player to gain a first down in the red zone. Unfortunately on the next play he would throw an interception inside the five yard line. Kendall Houston would rush eight times for 21 yards.

C.J. Bennett would go 14-of-26 for 154 yards with the one interception and one touchdown. Ross Metheny, the starter of the game, would go 8-of-17 for 70 yards with an interception.

Bryant Lavender led all receivers in both receptions, with six, and yards with 80. Jereme Jones and T.J. Glover both caught four passes for 49 and 12 yards respectively. Greg Hollinger had three catches for 49 yards and the only receiving touchdown of the game. Corey Walden added three catches and 17 yards. Three other Jaguars caught passes as well.

Defensively, the Jags would finish with three players racking up double-digit tackles for the first time in school history. Enrique Williams had a career best 12 tackles including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Jake Johnson and B.J. Scott both had 10 stops. Johnson had 1.5 tackles-for-loss and Scott had one TFL.

“We have some things we need to work on for sure, but I saw a lot of heart on that football field tonight,” said Jaguar head coach Joey Jones. “You’re talking about a top-23 team, and we’re a new program. We fought our rear-ends off. I’m just proud of the team as a whole, and I told them in the locker room that I could live with that. We have to get better, we’re a young team and have a long way to go, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of them tonight.”

The Jags came out inspired in the first quarter and played lights-out defensively holding Mississippi State to only 27 total yards and zero yards rushing while gaining 67 yards offensively.

After marching down the field late in the first quarter, the Jags drive stalled at the Bulldog 30 where Michel Chapuseaux attempted a 47 yard field goad which would sail wide left. The Bulldogs would respond by driving 70 yards in three plays to score the games first touchdown.

With the Bulldogs leading 17-0 just before halftime, the Jags Tyrell Pearson would intercept a Tyler Russell pass and return it 25 yards. However two snaps later the Bulldogs would intercept the Ross Metheny pass and return it 66 yards to set up a field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

Both of the Jags scoring drives would come in the second half, both drives marching over 70 yards and spanning at least five minutes each. Metheny would lead the first scoring drive that covered 71 yards in 13 plays, but the Jags would not be able to punch the ball into the end zone from inside the five yard line and would settle for a 22-yard field goal.

Around midway through the fourth quarter Bennett would guide the offense on a 12 play 78 yard scoring drive that would be capped off by an 18 yard touchdown pass to Greg Hollinger.

Jereme Jones broke the record previously held by Courtney Smith by catching a pass in his 18th consecutive game. Jereme was quoted after the game saying, “It’s special because it puts me up there with one of the best receivers [in school history], but I’m more focused on the win-loss record. We took a huge step forward, playing with a nationally-ranked SEC team. We fought with them.  It’s disappointing we couldn’t come out with the win, but we’re a work in progress.”

“We have to grow from this,” coach Jones stated. “We have to get better. We’re brand new and we’re trying to learn and find our way through it, but I was proud of what we did. We learned some things offensively. We moved the ball pretty good, but we threw a couple of interceptions in the red zone and we have to find a way to run the football down in the red zone. We have to get that done. Defensively, I thought we fought hard the whole game. Special teams weren’t as good tonight as it has been. Our coverage wasn’t that great. We gave them good field position a couple of times on kickoffs.”

The Jags return home to host their first Sun Belt game when they face the Troy Trojans at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 2:30pm.

On the third down play on Mississippi State’s first possession, defensive end Anthony Taylor went down in extreme pain. Trainers from both teams cared for him and appeared to place an air splint on his right leg. We were not able to get any information about his status.

South Alabama Completes Final Practice Prior To MSU

September 21, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Romelle Jones along with Melvin Meggs, Trey Clark, Jake Johnson and Tyrell Pearson were selected as team captains for the Jaguars road game against Mississippi State.

South Alabama held its final practice before the Jags travel to Starkville, Mississippi to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The coaching staff continued to stress improvements to its third-down conversions.

During the practice that spanned around two hours, the Jags continued to prepare on both sides of the ball for the Bulldog players. They also continued to work on the teams mindset prior to this weekends game.

“We had good preparation I thought,” head coach Joey Jones said. “The coaches came out and did a good job. The players came out and had a good day and they were concentrating on what they were doing. We’ve got a great task at hand and they understand that. So I think they’re focused on what they were doing.”

“We’re a young football program, so the biggest thing we’ve got to do is stay the course,” he continued. “We can’t get frustrated when things go wrong and we have to become a better team each week. We know where we are, we’re young and we’re trying to prove ourselves, and the biggest thing I want to do is gain respect from our opponents in how we play. That’s one of my main goals each week when we go out is to gain respect and that’s not different when we’re playing a team like Mississippi State.”

According to the Press-Register, defensive lineman Romelle Jones will not play in Saturday’s game. Jones, a 6’2″ 275-pound junior from New Orleans had an MRI on his shoulder Tuesday which indicated he had a partial dislocation. He is expected to miss two to three weeks. However it was mentioned that Jones had a non-season ending knee injury earlier this week.

Jesse Kelley is expected to start in his place against Mississippi State. Jones had played in all three previous games this season and had earned his first start of the season against NC State.

Jags Monday Press Conference

September 11, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

On Monday, South Alabama sat down with the press to recap Saturday’s win over Nicholls State and preview their upcoming game at N.C. State on Saturday. Here is some highlights from the press conference.

“We’re glad for the win this past weekend,” said Jaguar head coach Joey Jones in his opening statement. “I thought we played extremely well on defense, and kind of played conservative offensively. But a win is a win, it’s a team win whether offense, defense or special teams does well. I think our kids were glad to get it, and we were excited to get the win.”

Coach Jones then turned his focus towards NC State. “We look forward to ballgames like this. Last year, N.C. State was our first [Football Bowl Subdivision] game. We went up there and played a really good football game. They are very good opponent, obviously well-coached and have good players. 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 [N.C.]. 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.”

“I think they are better defensively this year,” Coach Jones continued. “Their defensive front seems more active. They lost a couple of NFL guys at linebacker, but they replaced them with a couple of good ones. They are very well-coached and do a good job with their schemes. Offensively, it starts with their quarterback Mike Glennon. He’s 6-foot-6 and will probably be in the NFL next year. He’s a very efficient quarterback, and they do a good job moving the ball down the field and are patient with their play calls. Our defense is looking forward to the challenge of playing them. They do a good job with the run-pass balance. They can throw the ball underneath and downfield, and they can run the football. They put some pressure on you defensively to make sure you cover all parts of the field.”

Coach Jones then spoke about how it helps to have experienced the atmosphere last season in Raleigh. “I think it will help, the fact that we did play there last year. But I always say that it doesn’t matter where you play, you play between the lines. Our kids will be ready to play no matter what, and that’s one thing we pride ourselves on. One thing we can control is ourselves, how hard and how well we play. I thought we walked out last year as confident as a team could be. It wasn’t a deal where we were star struck by the lights or the fact that it was our first FBS opponent. Our kids came to play, that’s what I like about our team, and I expect them to play well this year.”

Finally, he spoke about the Jaguars offensive production in the red zone. “We have to do a better job, and I do as well, of adjusting at halftime to something new. They [Nicholls State] ran a new defensive front that we weren’t expecting, and we did a good job and played hard. We got a little conservative in the second half. The defense was playing so well that we didn’t want to make a mistake, but we have to punch it in down in the red zone. That’s one thing we talked about as a staff.”

Running back Demetre Baker then spoke with the media beginning with his performance so far and his expectations for the NC State game. “At this point in the season, I have done OK. I’m not where I want to be. There are things that I can work on. There’s more time I can put in the fieldhouse watching more film. Our first two opponents were tough teams, they weren’t pushovers. They came out and were ready to play. I look forward to doing more studying and practicing harder this week and can give it all I can for N.C. State.”

Baker then spoke about playing a team from the ACC and how that environment increases the excitement level. “It is, one reason is because of the crowd, being in that atmosphere when it’s loud with 40,000-plus people. I’m wishing and hoping we can get that here one day, so we can get used to it. I don’t think it’ll be a problem for us, it motivates us and gets us really pumped up for the game.”

Finally, Baker spoke about the offensive performance against Nicholls State and bouncing back from the opening game loss to UTSA. “I’m not disappointed at all. I think we just have to put everything together. We have what it takes, we have the offense and we certainly have the plays to do what it takes to get in the red zone. We just have to finish up, do a little more polishing and practice harder and put one in. When we score that touchdown it will be exciting for us because we know we did everything we could to get in the red zone and score.”

Defensive back Tyrell Pearson then spoke with the media. He spoke about his performance so far this season and his expectations for the NC State game. “I feel that on the defensive side of the ball, as a unit we’re tough. The first game we didn’t come out fast in the first half, but in the second half we came out with fire and intensity. That carried over to the second game against Nicholls State. As you can see, we did very well with that. I’m not sure what we held them to in total yardage, but we did pretty well. Going in to North Carolina State, I feel like we’re going to do the same. I feel we’ll step up to the challenge on defense, especially in the secondary.”

He also spoke about facing NC State quarterback Mike Glennon. “Darrius Morrow and I have been talking about this the whole week. It’s going to be a big game for both of us. Playing at junior college, we expect to be playing against big competition and big-time quarterbacks. Our slogan is ‘Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.’”

USA’s New Offense Produces Big Play Potential

September 7, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

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

South Alabama’s new spread offense, mistakes aside, produced 31 points and some explosive plays. The Jags had eight plays of 20 or more yards against UTSA with half of those from the offense. Most of them came in the first quarter.

A 3rd-and-5 pass from C.J. Bennett to Corey Besteda sent for 25 yards, a 3rd-and-10 pass from Bennett to Greg Hollinger went for 23 yards and a 28 yard rush by Demetre Baker went for 28 yards, all in the first quarter alone.

In the fourth quarter, Tyrell Pearson picked off a UTSA pass and returned it 28 yards to the UTSA 7 yard line on the first play of the fourth quarter.

The special teams got into the action as well. T.J. Glover had a kickoff return of 48 yards before fumbling the ball away in UTSA territory. Glover also added a 34 yard punt return later in the fourth quarter to set up a 34 yard touchdown pass from Bennett to Jereme Jones with less than three minutes left in the game.

The Colonels was the Jaguars first Division I win as they are an FCS school. They were also the first team to ever take the lead on the Jaguars during a game.

Charlie Stubbs, the Colonels head football coach, has over 32 years of coaching experience. He came to Nicholls from Central Missouri where he was the offensive coordinator. Previous to Central Missouri, he was offensive coordinator at Louisville as they were #4 nationally in passing offense and featured two future NFL players.

Prior to Louisville, he spent four seasons at Tulsa where they were ranked among the top 25 each season. From 1998-2000 Stubbs was the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at the University of Alabama where they went to the Music City Bowl in 1998 then won the SEC title and the 2000 Orange Bowl. He also won the SEC Offensive coordinator of the year award in 2000. He also spent time at Nevada-Las Vegas, Tennesee-Martin and Memphis. His first full-time position was at Oregon State.

In 1984 he was a graduate assistant for BYU under coach LaVell Edwards. They went 13-0 to win the national championship. They were the last non-BCS school to earn the title.

Look for the Jags to be focused on correcting the turnovers that plagued them last week. Also look for the defense to be prepared and ready to show last week was also atypical for them.

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