Commentary: Jaguars Winning Ways Similar To National Championship Contender

October 24, 2009 · Filed Under Commentary, Football · Comment 

There is no doubt the Jaguars first season of football has already exceeded many peoples initial vision. They thought that if the Jags could win a couple games, it would be a pretty good season. But with the Jags 4-0 and dominating every opponent in all phases of the game, this was unexpected by many local observers.

South Alabama is starting to get noticed around the state too. UAB and Troy fans are already talking up their programs and talking down to the Jaguars. This started after the first game and again after the second game. Are they already worried about their place in the state’s college football pecking order? If not, then maybe they should.

Looking at the Jaguars and the current #1 team in the state, the University of Alabama, you can see some parallels between the two teams (overlooking the last two or three games by Alabama). The Jags and UA are both led by good defensive play based on stopping the run.

The Jags Justin Dunn would probably be the Jags closest player to parallel the impact of Dont’a Hightower. Hightower played (out for season with a knee injury) inside linebacker and made lots of tackles and stuffed the run. Charlie Higgenbotham would be the closest Alabama’s Rolando McClain. He does a good job helping to stop the run and is able to drop into coverage as well. Although Josh Chestang could also be tagged as a possible McClain parallel too.

In the secondary, Jerron Mitchell is probably the closest cornerback to the skill and ability to match Javier Arenas in coverage and tackling. Althought I haven’t seen him blitz the quarterback like Alabama does with Arenas. While Zach Brownell seems to have the same nose for the football as Alabama’s Mark Barron. They seem to put themselves into the right position to pick off an opponents pass.

Even the Jags and Alabama seem to have somewhat similar strengths and weaknesses on offense. Both teams run the ball very well with a good stable of running backs, but both are somewhat struggling in the passing game. The Jags don’t utilize the ‘pistol’ formation nor do they use the ‘wildcat’ formation either. Coach Jones and Coach Gregory feel that freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon is athletic enough that they do not need to use those formations. So they are too different to be compared to each other beyond the fact they are both starting quarterbacks.

Courtney Smith is big, fast and is a threat to score anytime he gets the ball, which is exactly what you would say about Julio Jones. Its hard to compare the rest of the receiver corps because of how few passes have been thrown and how many receivers have caught passes.

Again, both teams are very strong in the rushing game. Obviously Alabama’s Mark Ingram is quite a spectacular player, but so is Trent Richardson too. There are many traits that are shared by Ingram and Richardson for Alabama and Brandon Ross, Santuan McGee and Anthony Mostella.

I strongly urge you not to misconstrue these comparisons. It’s not meant to further praise Alabama or to proclaim the Jaguars just as good as Alabama. It’s merely meant to go towards showing what a good job coach Jones and his staff are doing here in Mobile. Alabama is currently ranked in the top two spots in all of the polls and rankings. Both teams are winning with fundamentals, strong defenses and a lots of rushing yards.

As mentioned in the Coach Joey Jones Radio Show, the Jags need to work on their passing game to be a more complete team. They are definitely dominating by running the game, but a football team wants and really needs to be able to move the ball by passing or running the ball.

Something else the Jags need to work on lately are their penalties. In the first two games the Jags did not commit many penalties. Against Hargrave they committed 4 for 30 yards and against Army prep they committed 5 for 40 yards. But against Georgia Military they committed 10 for 158 yards and against Louisburg they committed 6 for 52 yards. The Jags improved against Louisburg by reducing their number of penalties and yards but it is still more than the first two games. The Georgia Military game is obviously the low point of the Jags season thus far. If you subtract their penalty yards from their offensive production, they only gained 93 yards.

With this type of play out of such young players the Jaguars have quite a bright future ahead of them. With increasingly better opponents coming in the near future, the Jags will be in the position to play competitively and win.

South Alabama Sports Update 2009-09-28

September 28, 2009 · Filed Under Basketball, Men's, Soccer, Volleyball · Comment 

Basketball

The 2009 Coors Classic schedule was released on Monday. The December 19 matchup will be a doubleheader on CSS the University and the GMAC Bowl announced Monday.

The first game will tip-off at 5:30pm with South Alabama taking on UAB which will be followed by Kansas State facing the University of Alabama 30 minutes after game one concludes.

Soccer

On Friday night the Lady Jaguar soccer team dropped its first Sun Belt Conference game 4-3 in Jonesboro, Arkansas to Arkansas State in overtime. However Katie Berry, USA’s goalkeeper, broke the teams single-game saves record with 18 saves against Arkansas State.

USA fell to 2-7-0 (0-1-0 in the SBC) after the loss. The Jags took and early 1-0 lead in just the sixth minute of the match on a Landi Wilson goal. But ASU would score two goals before the end of the first half to take a 2-1 lead. The Jags would answer back and tie the game 2-2 with a Wilson assist to Brandi Smith’s goal in the 49th minute.

ASU would score again to regain the lead 3-2 in the 66th minute before a second goal by Smith in the 75th minute to tie the game again at 3-3.

In overtime, ASU would score the game-winner off of a corner kick in the 96th minute.

On Sunday the Jags played the University of Arkansas-Little Rock to a tie in Little Rock, Arkansas. UALR who is 3-6-1 for the season and 0-1-1 in the Sun Belt gained a two goal advantage into halftime leading the Jags 2-0. The first goal happened in the first minute of the game with the second coming in the 36th minute.

However the Jags scored to tie the game in the second half with a goal in the 82nd minute and again in the 84th minute by Liz Clark and Brandi Smith respectively. But neither team could pull out a win and thus the match ended in a tie, 2-2.

The Lady Jags (2-7-1, 0-1-1 in the SBC) will return to Mobile to take on fellow Sun Belt opponent Western Kentucky on October 2nd with kickoff scheduled for 7pm at The Cage.

Volleyball

On Friday, the Jaguars volleyball team also opened their Sun Belt schedule against Florida Atlantic in Jag Gym. However the Jags would fall in straight sets (22-25, 20-25, 24-26).

Then on Sunday hosted Florida International at Jag Gym and fell for the second straight match, again in straight sets (15-25, 15-25, 17-25).

After these two losses, the Jags fell to 9-6 on the season and 0-2 in the Sun Belt after opening conference play.

The Jags will travel to Troy for a 7pm match.

Jaguars Practice Despite Bad Weather

August 17, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Quarterback Myles Gibbon looking for his receiver at Saturday’s scrimmage. He has been listed at the top of the teams first released depth chart on Monday. Photo by Doug Roberts

The Jaguars hit the practice field despite the effects of Claudette on Monday. Heavy rains only delayed the Jaguars practice by about ten minutes as they took the field after a day off for their first post scrimmage practice. They hit the field for just over two hours at around 3:30pm, which is their new practice time now that classes have started on campus.

Their practice schedule was similar to the previous two weeks of camp. Special teams, position drills, skeleton drills and so forth. In the final hour they had their 11-on-11 drills and workouts against the scout teams. In the situation play, the coaching staff had them work on two-minute drills and red zone plays.

While the routine stayed pretty much the same, today did mark another first that will have many peoples attention in the coming days. Coach Jones finally released the team’s first depth chart based on the previous two weeks performance and the scrimmage on Saturday. There is a list of 27 starters on offense and defense due to different formations with six of them true freshmen that did not take part in the spring practice. A total of 22 players from the signing class are on the depth chart and should see action in the coming fall schedule.

Not surprisingly, the offense is the more experienced unit taking the field. Three of the four projected starting receivers have used at least one year of eligibility playing at other schools while four JuCo transfers are listed as potential starters on the offensive line. Both players at the tight end position have experience at the collegient level as well as Brandon Ross, who is also a potential starter in the backfield. While quarterback Myles Gibbon and receiver Corey Waldon are the only true freshmen listed as first in their respective positions.

The defense is a different story all together, with six of the nine linemen and five of nine secondary players are all true freshmen. The players with experience are Andy Dalgleish who took part in spring practice and John Mark Patrick who played at Troy last fall. While cornerbacks Anton Graphenreed (Lenoir-Rhyne University) and Jerron Mitchell (Birmingham-Southern), both sophmore transfers will likely be starters. Also Justin Dunn (Birmingham-Southern) and Charlie Higgenbotham (University of Alabama) are set to be starters at the inside linebacker slots.

Coach Jones spoke about the evaluation process after Mondays practice. He had this to say, “We were just looking for guys who wanted to compete. Saturday’s scrimmage provided game situations, so we were able to see how they reacted. We discounted the first few plays since a lot of the kids were nervous when we first got out there, but once they got into it we could see how they play in front of a crowd. Some guys practice well but play even better in game situations. Other guys practice better than they play in games. That’s something we’re trying to evaluate as well. It’s still a long process, there’s two weeks before we have a game week. There are guys who are listed second and third who could end up as ones, and there are listed starters who could end up third at their position. They know that, so until we get to game week we won’t make a final depth chart.”

He also spoke about the practice itself and unlike previous practices, he did not have the best things to say about his team. “I don’t think we had a great practice, I thought it was average. I told the guys they can control two things – their effort and their intensity. Balls were wet and we were dropping passes, but that’s to be understood since this was really the first time we practiced in weather like this. That doesn’t worry me. But, the mindset that we came out with today is what bothered me. We have to come out with a different attitude this week or we will just be average. We are going to play like we practice, and I think they understand that.”

Coach Jones went on to speak about the change in routine and how it affected the players. He said, “I think the change in routine affected a lot of the guys today, but as a coach I tell them there are no excuses for that. I expect them to come on the field and be ready. Sure we were in class today and it was raining, and we can’t control that. We can control how we come out and practice, so hopefully we will learn from this. We’re still in camp even though school has started. Some of the practices may be a little longer, but we are trying to get as much work done as we can.”

The Jaguars will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 3:30pm.

For the full South Alabama depth chart, click here.

Coach Jones Announces Higgenbotham From Alabama As Transfer

August 2, 2009 · Filed Under Football · Comment 

Coach Joey Jones got a transfer from a BCS school this past week. He announced on Wednesday that Charlie Higgenbotham has transferred from the University of Alabama to the University of South Alabama and will be eligible to play immediately.

He has spent the past three years at Alabama, one of them as a redshirt, and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining for the Jaguars.

Higgenbotham is listed as a 6′ 220lb linebacker from Birmingham, AL. He played under Coach Jones at Mountain Brook HS prior to enrollment at Alabama. As a member of the Crimson Tide he had 16 tackles, one sack in 24 appearances the last two years.

Off the field he has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll twice.

While at Mountain Brook, he averaged 10 tackles per game for three years. His final year there he was ranked 38th among linebackers by Rivals.com, chosen first-team all-metro by The Birmingham News and honorable mention all-state selection by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.

The Jaguars begin preseason practice on Tuesday, August 4th with their first-ever game in school history scheduled to kickoff at 4pm Saturday, September 5th (34 days away) at Ladd-Peebles Stadium against Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy.

South Alabama Sports Round-Up 2009-05-18

May 18, 2009 · Filed Under Baseball, Football, Soccer · Comment 

Baseball

The Jaguars got into the Sun Belt Championship by taking two of three against Troy at Stanky Field. Winning the first two 6-5 and 13-6 but losing the third 7-12.

The Championship begins on Wednesday in Troy, Alabama. The first day will see #4 FIU take on #5 ULL at 9am, #1 MTSU vs #8 FAU at 12:30pm, #2 WKU vs #7 ULM at 4:00pm and a fourth consecutive matchup between #3 Troy and #6 USA at 6:30pm.

Soccer

The Jaguars Soccer team has released their 2009 schedule with notable matchups against University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Florida State, Auburn and the University of Alabama lined up. Their season will start August 22nd in Hattiesburg against USM. You can see their full schedule here.

Football

We have 109 days until kickoff of the University of South Alabama Jaguar Football’s inaugural season at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on September 5th.

Go Jags!