Coach Jones Continues To Prepare For FIU Despite Birthday

October 30, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Monday was head coach Joey Jones’ 50th birthday, but instead of a big birthday blow-out his mind was elsewhere. With Florida International due to visit Mobile on Saturday, he was busy studying film, overseeing practice and helping plan for the game.

But it wasn’t completely forgotten as reminders were there throughout the day. During practice, at the weekly press conference and even at the 1st & 10 club.

“We just had an hour and 10 minute practice (Monday afternoon), reviewing the special teams and installing the special teams gameplan for this week,” Jones said. “Then we had about a 40-minute segment with the offense and defense, what we wanted to install. It was really a light practice, more of a mental practice today.”

Special teams play was not at it’s normal level against ULM as Coach Jones also pointed out. “That shows you you’ve got to bring you’re a game every week,” Jones said. “I don’t know that we were satisfied with where we were, we just had a bad game on special teams. It shows you, I think that was a major factor in that game with field position and the blocked punt, they really whipped us on kickoff team and they stopped us deep in our territory except for once.”

“That makes a big difference on defense when they are starting their drives on the 30 or 35 as opposed to the 18 or 20.”

Senior linebacker Jake Johnson leads the Sun Belt Conference in tackles per game with 9.6. He has 77 total tackles in the teams eight games including 40 solo tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, three quarterback hurries, one sack and a fumble recovery.

Enrique Williams is close behind Johnson in third place with an average of 9.4 per game. He has 75 total tackles in eight games with 31 solo, 5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

The Jags and FIU kickoff at 2:30pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. FIU is set to leave the conference after this season to join Conference-USA along with North Texas.

Despite Loss Jags Continue To Improve

October 29, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones chats with Ross Metheny on the sidelines just before the second half began against Florida Atlantic.

Head coach Joey Jones is proud of the way the Jags played against Louisiana-Monroe over the weekend. He sees them continuing to get better despite the score on the scoreboard. But he will quickly tell you that, despite that, he will quickly tell you that he saw mistakes that probably cost them a chance at winning, not just keeping the game close.

As coach Jones said after the game, “We played pretty good football for three quarters and we played tough. ULM is a very good football team. I’m proud of the way we played for three quarters, but they took the game under control a little bit in the fourth quarter. Their quarterback (Kolton Browning) and receivers made some great plays.”

“Overall, I’m proud of the team,” Jones continued. “There were some things we could have done better, but I’m proud of where we are and what we accomplished today. But we have to be honest with ourselves. The negative things that happened, if we fix them, we’re probably in the game even more. But the positive side of it is we’re pretty close to a team that is really good in the conference.”

“We just have to work on us,” he said in conclusion. “We’ll start fixing some things here and there, and we’re going to be there.”

ULM improved to 6-2 on the season, 4-0 in the Sun Belt, with only losses to Auburn in overtime and Baylor.

South Alabama’s record fell to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the Sun Belt. But they will be hosting Florida International this weekend who enters with a record of 1-8 on the season, 0-5 in Sun Belt play after a 14-6 loss at home to Western Kentucky.

Dropped passes helped to stall the offense as they only went 3-of-13 on third down conversions against ULM. Also big plays continued to be problematic for big third or fourth down conversions or just long plays down the field.

Quarterback Ross Metheny has emerged as a good leader for the offense while his confidence continues to grow. He threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jereme Jones. He was adept at avoiding sacks and moving around to find an open receiver or finding some room to scramble if needed.

Including his two touchdown catches, Jereme Jones caught seven passes with Bryant Lavender catching six passes and Gabe Loper with three.

And for the first time this season, a Jaguar running back rushed for over 100 yards in a game. Demetre Baker ran 14 times for 115 yards including a 61 yarder that set up the Jags first score. This was the first 100 yard rusher since Baker’s performance against Henderson State last season.

The Jags had two sacks in the game to break their tie with last season’s number of 15 for a total of 17 this season.

The Jags and FIU kick off at 2:30 pm on Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Know Your Stadiums: Malone Stadium Monroe Louisiana

October 27, 2012 · Filed Under Football · 1 Comment 

Aerial view of Malone Stadium in Monroe, Louisiana Home of the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks.

The University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks football team plays at Malone Stadium on their campus.

The stadium was named for James L. Malone who won the most games in school history.

The stadium opened on September 16, 1978 with a capacity of 20,000. At the time they were known as Northeast Louisiana Indians and they defeated Arkansas State 21-13. It is located across the street from the main campus.

In 1983 seating on both sides were extended into each end zone and increased the capacity to 23,277. In 1991 the press box was enlarged and decreased the capacity to 22,077.

Then in 1993 they added 8,350 seats which increased capacity to 30,427 which is the current capacity. The record capacity is 31,175 which was set on September 21, 2012 when they hosted the Baylor Bears in the 2012 home opener.

The stadium uses a ProPlay monofiliment fiber “grass” with a shock and drain pad and envirofill clear coated sand infill. Installed in 2007, it looks more like natural grass but has measures in place to help prevent injuries. It can drain water at a rate of 10 inches per hour as well.

Supposedly the clear-coated sand that is used has benefits over it’s predecessory technology, which used ground-up black rubber, by not absorbing as much heat, it does not compact over time and it does not migrate during use or fly up during use to become an eye irritant during play.

View of the home stands at Malone Stadium with the press box from the field level.

Another aerial view of Malone Stadium from above and behind the press box with the away grandstands in view.

Jags Look To See Where They Stand Against Conference Leader

October 26, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

The Jags practiced for the final time in preparation for their trip to Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday. The practice lasted over two hours in full pads and was spirited.

“We got better each day,” said head coach Joey Jones. “I thought the first day on Tuesday was pretty day, yesterday was much better and I thought today was even better. We finally got our legs back under and we’re not feeling as bumped and bruised as we were.”

Later in the day they had more position meetings ahead of their scheduled departure Friday morning for the trip to Monroe, Louisiana.

Coach Jones has mentioned a few times this week that this game will truly be measuring stick. It will be an opportunity for the team to compare where they are in year one of Sun Belt play against the top team in the Sun Belt.

“We’re going to find out Saturday where we are,” Jones said. “We’re playing a great team. We’ll find out where we are as far as the top of the conference because there’s no doubt that they’re the top team in the league. Our kids are kind of eager to go see how we match up.”

ULM is 5-2 overall, 3-0 in the Sun Belt, with their only two losses against Auburn and Baylor by total of 8 points.

Jags Practice On Wednesday Was “Much Better”

October 25, 2012 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

South Alabama’s practice on Wednesday was more spirited and energetic than on Tuesday. They practiced for over two hours and worked to prepare for Louisiana-Monroe’s tendencies while honing their offensive and defensive gameplans.

Coach Jones said that the practice was “much better” than the one on Tuesday. He compared Wednesday’s practice to Tuesday’s practice. “We didn’t have a great one yesterday and I thought we played good today, practiced good today. We came focused. I’m not making excuses, but we were kind of beat up and banged up and tired (Tuesday). But they came back today and that shows you what they’re all about.”

Coach Jones said he was most concerned with his opponent this week. “The greatest concern about our team is the team that we’re playing,” he said. “We’ve got a real good football team and we’ve got to do a lot of things well to be successful against this ball team.”

“I asked the team today what’s it going to take and there were several ideas from them and you could tell there was a maturity about them and they understand some of the things we’ve got to do to play with Monroe. They’re playing extremely well right now. Our biggest focus is doing what we have to do so we can be successful.”

The Jags and the Warhawks kick off in Monroe, Louisiana at 6pm on Saturday. The game can be heard on 105.5 WNSP.

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.