Jags Fall At Home To Cajuns 19-14

November 5, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · 2 Comments 

South Alabama’s offense struggled and was unable to overcome Louisiana-Lafayette’s early lead, falling to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in Sun Belt play.

The Jaguars defense struggled to contain freshman quarterback Levi Lewis, who started his first game in his career after Cajun head coach Mark Hudspeth pulled his redshirt this week due to two quarterbacks nursing injuries.

Lewis went 8-of-15 passing for 110 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 129 yards. Doing most of his damage and scoring all their points in the first half as the Jaguar defense tried to adjust to his unexpected start. But once they made their halftime adjustments, the Jags defense held the Cajuns to a mere 109 total yards in the second half, 81 yards rushing and 28 yards passing.

Unfortunately the Jaguar offense was only a little more productive in the second half than the Cajuns, but the 12 points deficit and the inability to move the ball and score was enough to doom USA.

The offense wasn’t helped by head coach Joey Jones’ announcement on Saturday that senior running back Xavier Johnson had been suspended for the remainder of the season for a violation of team rules. Additionally, Deonta Moore was unavailable for the game either, so the rushing duties were left to Tra Minter, Carlos Robinson and Denzel Foster.

Jag running backs ran for 95 yards on 21 carries. But when you factor in quarterback scrambles and sacks, the Jags only managed 87 yards on 29 carries after losing 42 yards on sacks.

Dallas Davis started the game but appeared to take a couple hard hits and was ineffective in the game. Coaches decided to replace him with Cole Garvin, who went 22-for-35 for 274 yards. But he also had threw two critical interceptions in Cajun territory. The second of which came at the Louisiana-Lafayette 4 yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Jags were set up by an 81-yard pass from Garvin to Jamarius Way, but the interception happened when a Garvin pass was tipped by one of his receivers and was picked off on the bounce.

Again the Jags had some late heroics with a drive taking just under two-and-a-half minutes to draw within five points. However their attempt at an onsides kick did not work this time and they ran out of time and opportunities.

After getting a field goal in the first quarter, the Cajuns scored their first touchdown on a 54 yard pass from Lewis to Jacquet when the defender went to come up for run support thinking Lewis was scrambling and someone had coverage on his guy, but Lewis threw it up and connected with him for the touchdown. The Cajuns missed the extra point to make it 9-0.

On the Cajuns next possession, they drove down to the Jaguar 13 yard line when Lewis, again rolling out to the right side of the field tossed the ball to Chase Rogers when the defender thought he had help over the top and went to go up for run support. Unfortunately he didn’t and that netted them their second touchdown for a 16-0 lead.

The Jags would allow a field goal on the next Cajun possession for a 19-0 lead with 3:10 left before halftime.

Garvin would lead a drive with four consecutive completions to start the drive. He would cap off the drive with a 12 yard touchdown to Malik Stanley on an inside slant with :38 left before halftime.

“We found out today that he was going to play and had no idea about that in our preparation,” Jones said in his post-game press conference. “They changed up their offense a little bit with a little bit more of a quarterback running game. I thought our defense adjusted well once we got to see what they were doing with him in the first half.

“We have to be able to make some of those plays,” Jones continued talking about the bad breaks in the game. “We had a fumble on the ground in the fourth quarter that we had our hands on that would have given us the ball around midfield. I think right now the biggest concentration for us though is to be able to come out of the gates better. We can’t play catch up. The last two games we got behind early and had to play catch up and if you miss a couple of plays here and there you’re going to lose ball games. If you’re up on people, you can afford to make some of those mistakes, but you can’t be behind and make those mistakes.”

“It’s tough,” Jones said on the disappointment of the loss. “We knew it was going to be a big game for us and a big game for them. We didn’t come out of the gate very well only scoring seven points until a minute left in the game on offense; we’ve got to do better than that. I thought we had a good game plan and the kids played hard, but we didn’t make a lot of plays and had a lot of missed opportunities early missing some receivers that were wide open.”

“We just have to work on not breaking our own momentum,” Garvin said after the game. “We had momentum a lot that game, and the offense would mess it up for ourselves and that hurt us. Getting in the red zone and not scoring – we have to stop doing that.”

“He’s more versatile and is better with his feet,” said senior defensive back Jeremy Reaves. “We were prepared for deep balls, but with him being so small he couldn’t see over the line of scrimmage so everything was outside. He gave us a different look; he was a running back, basically, at quarterback.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow when you go out there and fight. There were too many plays left on the field. We just have to get in the film room and in practice, and we have to take that stuff seriously. We have to take mistakes seriously in practice, because it translates to Saturday. I put that on the seniors; we’re the leaders and we’re responsible for that. We have to get that corrected.

“One [of the touchdown passes] was on me; I was trying to do someone else’s job and essentially lost my man. It’s the same thing that hurt me last week too. I can’t make those mistakes; my teammates look to me to make the play and not blow it up. The other was just guys being aggressive and looking to make plays, and we left a guy open.”

“Early on, there were just mental busts that happened and got them [ULL] ahead,” said Darrell Songy. “Just small, basic plays we need to take care of to help take away their momentum at the beginning of the game. As we got into the game, we felt more into position and adjusted to the quarterback. But it was just too little too late.”

South Alabama has one shot to get bowl eligible now. They have three must-win games, starting with the red hot Arkansas State Redwolves next Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

The Jags will most likely be heavy underdogs to ASU, who are 5-0 all-time against the Jags and have won the conference title three of the last four seasons.

“We’ll line up and get ready to play, I promise you,” Jones said. “Arkansas State has got a really good football team, but we still need to get ready to play. … It’s certainly backed up against the wall for us right now.”

Jaguars Hosts Ragin’ Cajuns Today At 3pm

November 4, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

The Jaguar football team looks to shake off last week’s loss in Atlanta when they host Louisiana-Lafayette at Ladd-Peebles Stadium today. The Jags have had nine days to regroup and correct things since Georgia State.

Lafayette (3-4, 2-2 SBC) comes into the game off of a 47-3 drumming by Arkansas State on the road but have had 16 days to rest and regroup themselves. After putting up at least 42 points in three of their first four games, the Cajuns haven’t been able to score over 24 points per game since.

The Cajun defense depends on the teams momentum. If the Cajun offense is moving the ball efficiently, the defense gets some rest and play well.

South Alabama’s offense was unable to get much of anything going against Georgia State after an interception on the second play from scrimmage was returned inside the Jag 10 yard line and led to an early touchdown lead by the Panthers. The Georgia State defense seized on that early momentum in a rivalry game and stymied the Jags all night long.

USA only managed 41 yards rushing against the panthers on 23 carries and Xavier Johnson held to -3 yards on seven carries. It didn’t help that Johnson kept losing footing on the new turf in Atlanta every time he tried to cut. The offense threw for 297 yards, but Davis threw two interceptions in the game while completing 56% of his passes. He didn’t get much help from his receivers as they dropped several catchable passes, including the first interception.

The Cajun offense averages 160 yards per game rushing and 229 yards passing per game. Freshman Trey Ragas is tied for third nationally in rushing touchdowns for freshman with 7 and seventh nationally in total rushing yards with 542. Additionally the Cajun offense has scored on every trip inside the red zone (28-for-28, 25 TDs, 3 FGs).

The Jags need three wins in the next four games to get bowl eligible and cannot afford to get their sixth loss before next week’s game against Arkansas State, where the Red Wolves will probably be heavily favored.

Look for the Jaguar offense to try to establish some momentum early and establish the run. Since Richard Owens has taken over as offensive coordinator, the Jaguar offense have done a better job at limiting negative plays and making 3rd down yardages more manageable.

Punter Corliss Waitman is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award and has helped the Jaguar special teams to be one of the most efficient in the nation.

What do the Jaguars need to do to win:

The same keys from last week apply this week. The Jags cannot come out of the locker room flat. While the series may not have the same level of spirited rivalry as Georgia State or Troy, they cannot let the Cajuns seize the momentum early and get their offense and defense going.

Head coach Joey Jones has preached every day since the Panther loss that they need establish the run. The Jaguar offense cannot be one-dimensional. But the receivers also need to help out their quarterback by looking the ball all the way in and securing the catch before looking to make their move.

The Jaguars defensively had problems both covering Penny Hart and stopping the Panthers running game. The Jaguars secondary depth is thin and they have some nicks and bruises, just like any football player does at this time of year. But the young players have shown they have talent and are getting the experience they need to play at a high level. If the offense can help them get some rest on the sidelines, they will continue to play at a high level as a unit and play their type of Swarm Defense.

South Alabama (3-5, 2-2 SBC) and Lousiana-Lafayette (3-4, 2-2 SBC) will kick off at Ladd-Peebles Stadium at 3pm. You can watch online via ESPN3 or you can hear the play-by-play on 96.1 FM and 99.5 FM The Jag in the Mobile area.

Panthers Snap Jags Two-Game Win Streak 21-13 In Atlanta

October 27, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama (3-5, 2-2 SBC) lost momentum early to Georgia State (4-3, 3-1 SBC) and was unable to get back on solid footing until under three minutes to go as the Jags two-game winning streak came to an end by a score of 21-13 in Atlanta.

On the Jags first possession and the second play of the drive, Dallas Davis’ pass hit Messiah Francis in the hands, but popped up and was intercepted at the 36 yard line and returned to the Jaguar 3 yard line. The Panthers seized momentum at that point and never intended to relinquish it as they played very spirited defense and solid offense.

On the Jaguars second possession, they drove from their own 23 yard line to the Panther 25 before they stalled and settled for a 42 yard field goal attempt by Gavin Patterson. However, Patterson pulled it wide left and the Jags came up empty.

Early in the second quarter the Jags finally got on the board after 38 yard punt and four yard return put them at the Panther 42 yard line. But again, the Jags drive would stall out at the 11 yard line but this time Patterson slid it inside the right upright.

After trading possessions, Corliss Waitman’s punt was downed at the Panther 8 yard line, but an unsportsmanlike penalty backed them up to the 4 yard line with 5:14 left in the opening half. Then they proceeded to drive it 96 yards in 3:31 to take a 14-3 lead over the Jaguars. Which would be the score at halftime.

After both teams opened the second half with three-and-outs, the Panthers started a drive that would span 14 plays, 51 yards and take 7:39 off the clock. Around midway through the drive the Jags thought they had gotten the stop that they needed on 3rd and 9, but two flags would be thrown. One for roughing the passer when Jimmie Gipson low trying to get to Conner Manning and pushed into his legs just as he was throwing the ball. The other was when Nigel Lawrence lowered his shoulder and kocked the ball loose for an incomplete pass. The targeting would be overturned but the roughing the passer moved them to the Jaguar 40 yard line with a first down. Two holding penalties on the Panthers after that and they were forced to eventually attempt a 50 yard field goal, which they missed well right of the upright.

The Jaguar offense would capitalize on the good field position with a 7 play, 32 yard drive to add a 46 yard field goal and cutting the lead to 14-6 with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.

A pass to Penny Hart would spark the Panthers again on the ensuing drive when he took a short pass and turned it into a 45 yard gain to the Jaguar 20 yard line. They would run tempo to take advantage of the Jags to follow up with a 10 yard run. A couple plays later, when a Jag defenisve lineman jumped offsides, Manner tossed a back-shoulder throw towards Hart in the corner of the end zone to score their final touchdown of the game and to take a 21-6 lead with 12:55 left in the game.

On the next possession, the Jags were starting to move the ball and had converted their first 3rd down of the series when Davis threw a pass to the right sideline where Cedric Stone stepped in front of the receiver and intercepted the pass. He finally stepped out of bounds at the Jaguar 26 yard line. But the Jaguar defense held strong and got the ball back on downs in four plays.

The offense would drive from their own 34 yard line to the Panther 7 but three consecutive incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs.

The Jags would get the ball back with 2:45 left in the game. After taking a 5 yard sack on first down, Davis found Jamarius Way behind the defense down the left sideline for a 75 yard touchdown and giving them the shot in the arm they needed, albeit a bit late.

Corliss Waitman teed up and kicked a perfect onsides kick that Blake Worthy was able to recover on a perfect bounce at the Panther 49 yard line with 2:11 left in the game.

Deonta Moore ran on first down for 7 yards but three consecutive incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs. On the final play, Davis tried to get it to Jamarius Way but he was double covered, but it looked like he had another receiver a little more open about five yards deeper on a crossing route but he was unable to see him.

The Jags finished the game with 338 yards of total offense, 297 passing and merely 41 rushing. The Panthers finished with 309 total yards, 195 passing and 114 rushing. The Jags converted 5-of-16 on third down and held a 31:30 to 28:30 time of possession advantage.

Dallas Davis was the teams leading rusher with 11 yards on 7 attempts. Foster also had 11 yards on only one carry. Xavier Johnson, who had problems all night long slipping on the newly installed turf at Georgia State Stadium, the former Turner Field, finished with -3 yards on seven carries.

Jamarius Way finished with 118 yards on 6 catches with the lone touchdown. Sam Harris caught 7 passes for 73 yards. McCray caught three for 35 yards. Seven other Jaguars also caught passes in the game.

Dallas Davis finished 27-of-48 for 297 yards, a touchdown but also two interceptions and one sack.

Conner Manning finished 17-of-31 for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Penny Hart led the Panthers with six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. Glenn Smith had two catches for 36 yards and the other touchdown. The other five receivers who caught passes had 19 or fewer yards.

Glenn Smith rushed 17 times for 73 yards, Kyler Neal had 10 carries for 32 yards and Manning had three carries for 8 yards.

Coliss Waitman continued his great season with five punts averaging 46.4 yards per punt, a long of 51 with four of his punts being downed inside the 20 yard line.

Head coach Joey Jones summed it up like this, “It was a case of Georgia State grabbing the momentum early on with the first interception and turning that into a touchdown. We never got the momentum back after that. We never really did anything to flip it back our way, except late in the game when we got the long touchdown pass and recovered the onside kick. We had a chance to drive the ball down and score, but didn’t get that done. It just felt like we were climbing out of a hole the whole game. We would drive the ball a little bit on offense, but then stall out. We have to learn from this game, because over the last two weeks, we’ve been able to take the momentum away from teams and held it, but we didn’t do anything to turn the momentum in our favor tonight.”

While not billed as such, the Jags and Panthers game has turned into a bit of a rivalry as they both started football within a couple years of each other and have played very spirited games against each other. When you give momentum to a rival early in the game like that, it’s very hard to get it back. See the Troy game for a good example.

Dallas Davis took the blame offensively, “Offensively, we just didn’t execute. The offensive line did a good job and gave me all the time in the world to throw but we just didn’t execute out on the perimeter, and we have to be able to do that to win games. I feel like we came out flat today, and that’s on me; I have to get the offense going, so I take the blame for it.”

Jeremy Reaves summed it up well too, “We have to bury this game and put it behind us. Sunday starts a new week for us when we get back on the practice field. You just have to learn that you can’t come out flat. Every team you play is going to give you their best every week; you can’t expect to just show up and beat someone. We have some good ball clubs in the Sun Belt. You have to bring your energy and your ‘A’ game every week or you’re going to get beat.”

The Jaguars will start a two-game home-stand on Saturday, November 4 when they host Louisiana-Lafayette. The game is scheduled to kick off at 3pm. The Jags will need to win three of the next four games (Louisiana-Lafayette, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern and New Mexico State) to get bowl eligible.

Strong home support over the next two home games will be a must. Especially against Arkansas State, who is probably one of the top teams in the conference. If the Jags can win out, including a win over ASU, they will be in a very good position win out.

Jags Travel To Face Georgia State On Thursday In Nationally Televised Game

October 25, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama (3-4, 2-1 SBC) and Georgia State (3-3, 2-1 SBC) both have short preparation times to get ready for their Thursday night game in Atlanta.

The Jags come into the game with back-to-back wins and look to even their overall record for the season while Georgia State looks go back over .500 on the season after their three-game win streak was broken at home by Troy on Saturday by a score of 34-10.

USA had their best offensive performance of the season with 549 yards of total offense and an average of 8.1 yards per play. Xavier Johnson broke the career rushing record as he rushed for 99 yards to help the team rush for 242 yards.

Possibly more importantly, the Jags converted 7-of-12 3rd down attempts.

It wasn’t only the offense who had a big game. Jeremy Reaves tied for top spot on the career interception list, returned a fumble 92 yards to set up the offense for a touchdown, and had eight tackles in the game to earn Sun Belt Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Georgia State has wins over Louisiana-Monroe (3-4), Coastal Carolina (1-6), and Charlotte (1-7) this season. Their losses were to Tennessee State (3-4 FCS), Penn State and Troy.

This is head coach Shawn Elliot’s first year at the helm, previously he was co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at South Carolina where he had served for the last seven seasons under both coach Will Muschamp and Steve Spurrier. He served as interim head coach after Spurrier retired midway through the 2015 season. Previous to South Carolina, Elliot served 13 seasons as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, including during their three-consecutive NCAA title run 2005-07 and during the Mountaineers’ historic upset at Michigan in 2007.

The Panthers offensive coordinator is Travis Trickett. He served as offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic and Samford before joining Elliot’s staff. FAU set school records for rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2016.

GSU’s defensive coordinator is Nate Fugua, who came to the Panthers from FCS Wofford where he had served 12 season, the last three as defensive coordinator. Under his oversight, the defense helped the team to a 10-4 record and finished 5th in the natino in totoal defense, 6th in scoring defense, and 12th in rushing defense.

One of the notable staff members is cornerbacks coach Sam Shade. Shade, who some may remember from his time at the University of Alabama and the 1992 National Championship team, played eight years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins. Prior to joining GSU, Shade coached the last eight years at Samford by coaching cornerbacks and the last seasons also as the passing game coordinator. Samford’s defense led the nation in passing yards allowed (139.1 yards per game), and ranked seventh in pass efficiency defense in 2014. In 2015, Samford led their conference with 16 interceptions (17th in FCS). They finished either first or second in their conference in pass efficiency defense each of the last four seasons.

Georgia State is committed to running the ball. Against Troy, the Panthers ran the ball 33 times for 52 yards. In each of the previous four games the Panther ran the ball at least 40 times. They did not have much production against Charlotte (124) and Coastal Carolina (91), but ran for 224 yards against the ULM in Louisiana.

The Panthers rely on their passing game to get it done though. Against Troy they managed 335 yards through the air in the loss. In their three wins, the Panthers threw for 250 yards or more, including 446 against ULM as they rolled up 670 yards of total offense.

The Panthers offense leans on senior quarterback Conner Manning who is averaging 252.7 yards per game with seven touchdowns on the season with a 66.5% completion percentage. One of his favorite targets is Sophomore Penny Hart, who leads the Sun Belt with an average of 7.8 receptions per game (6th in FBS) and 97.8 yards per game (15th in FBS).

The Jaguar defense allowed an uncharacteristic 307 yards rushing to the Warhawks. The Panthers are going to run the ball, as shown by their rushing attempts in previous games. GSU may not run for lots of yards, but they attempt it enough that you have to play it honest which lets them throw the ball. Which, they are pretty good at averaging 269.7 yards per game. But they also have six interceptions and have had eight fumbles, losing five of them. They also convert 57% of their 3rd down attempts. They also convert 61% of their red-zone trips into points, 44% of them into touchdowns.

What do the Jags need to do to win:

The Jags defense will have to play solid, both against the run and the pass to win. Hopefully last Saturday’s run defense is just an anomaly based on the ULM match-up. But even so, the defense held the Warhawks to 23 points, which was a little over half what they averaged coming into the game. The secondary, led by Reaves, are starting to gel more and play more mature as well.

Offensively, the Jags are playing better. Head coach Joey Jones and offensive coordinator Richard Owens have them taking what the defense will give them, playing patiently and reducing negative plays which puts you in position to convert 3rd downs easier and move the ball. If they continue building on that again this week, then they will have a good chance to notch their third win in a row.

Don’t come out flat against Georgia State. The Panthers and Jaguars have a fairly spirited rivalry that has grown since both started football within a few years of each other. Last year the Jags eeked out a 13-10 win for homecoming, but the Panthers stunned the Jags in Atlanta in 2015 by a score of 24-10. They would love nothing more than to rain on the Jaguar parade again, especially to break a two-game win streak and make up for their loss to Troy last week. But they also need to keep their wits about them. Don’t let the Panthers bait them into needless penalties. Just go out and play their assignment, play to win each and every play, and play fundamentally sound, something they’ve been able to do lately.

South Alabama and Georgia State will kick off in Atlanta at the new Georgia State Stadium on the grounds of the former home of the Atlanta Braves, Turner Field. For the Tennessee State game, the Panthers played in front of an announced sell-out crowd of 24,333, however that does not look like actual capacity of the stadium but more of a self-limited number.

The game is scheduled for a 6:30PM Central kickoff and will be aired on ESPNU nationally. Radio in the Mobile area will start their coverage at 4:30pm on 99.5FM The Jag and 95.1 FM in the Mobile area.

South Alabama Win Homecoming Match Up Against Louisiana-Monroe

October 21, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

Offensive line and tight ends coach Chase Smith talks with the Jaguar offensive line with the rest of the offense seated along with them during the Jags 33-23 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

South Alabama (3-4, 2-1 SBC) defeats Louisiana-Monroe (3-4, 3-2 SBC) 33-23 in a game that saw a number career highs being broken, a career record being tied, and another career record being broken.

It all began with Xavier Johnson breaking the career rushing record on his second carry of the game, when he broke a 33 yard run on the opening drive of the game. Johnson would end the game with 99 yards on 11 carries.

Sam Harris had career high with eight catches and 141 yards. Dallas Davis threw for a career-high 3 touchdowns in the game and for 317 yards, the most by a Jaguar quarterback this season.

Jeremy Reaves moved into a tie for interceptions in a career with Tyrell Pearson, with his sixth.

The South Alabama offense, led by Dallas Davis, rolled up 549 total yards, 317 through the air and 232 on the ground. Most of the rushing yardage came in the second half as the Warhawk defense held the Jags to 97 yards in the first half.

The Jag defense had problems stopping the Warhawks in the first half. They allowed 312 total yards in the first half, including 239 on the ground. But defensive coordinator Kane Wommack made some great halftime adjustments and held Louisiana-Monroe to only 68 yards rushing and 106 yards passing in the second half.

The Jags only trailed once in the game after Marcus Green took a reverse 74 yards to the Jaguar 1 yard line, followed by a touchdown run by Ben Luckett put ULM ahead 20-17 at the 6:00 mark of the second quarter.

The Jags were driving but Davis threw into triple coverage, the ball was tipped and then intercepted. The Jaguar defense forced a three-and-out to give the ball back to the offense with 1:33 left in the half.

Davis drove the Jags 80 yards to regain the lead behind his arm and the Jaguar receiving corps. The drive culminated with a beautiful catch in the end zone by Sam Harris on 3rd and goal at the 5 yard line.

“Our kids came out and played well tonight, we really grew up as a football team,” said head coach Joey Jones in his post game press conference. “Our offense was able to put up over 500 yards and was 7-of-12 on third downs, so there were a lot of improvements. Our kids played their guts out, I’m excited about the way they played. I’ve known we had a good football team this whole time. We’re looking forward to our next ball game.

“We played a tough schedule early and I knew we had a good football team. We’ve won the last two and our guys want to win a conference championship, and the only way you can do that is win them one game at a time. We can’t look ahead. We’re not a dominant type of team where we are going to beat everyone 55-0, but we are going to have to play good, solid football and win the fourth quarter; that’s what we’ve got done the last couple of weeks.”

Jones commented on Harris’ play in the game, “I don’t believe anyone offered him a scholarship out of high school. He’s probably the most competitive young man I’ve ever coached. He doesn’t say a lot but when the lights are on, he’s going to play and compete. That’s why he’s a great player.”

South Alabama will travel to Atlanta for a Thursday night game against Georgia State that’ll be aired by ESPNU starting at 6:30pm and radio pregame will start at 4:3pm locally on 99.5FM The Jag and 96.1 FM. Both teams will have a short week going into the game

Jags Host Warhawks In Homecoming Match Up

October 17, 2017 · Filed Under Football, Sun Belt Conference · Comment 

South Alabama had their 24 hours to enjoy the win over Troy, but they quickly got back to work. They are set to host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, October 21 for homecoming.

In the second half of the Jaguars game in Troy, the offense converted over 50% of their 3rd down attempts, a drastic improvement over the first half when they converted zero of their seven 3rd down attempts.

The Jags offense ranks 120th in total offense with 311.5 yards per game and 109th in yards per play at just under five yards per play. Pair that with the Warhawks defense that ranks 125th out of 129 FBS teams in total defense by allowing an average of 495.5 yards per game and 6.6 yards per play.

Add to it that the Jaguars lost a heart breaker of a game in Monroe last season in overtime 42-35. ULM also leads the all-time series 2-1 over the Jags. USA gained 516 yards of offense, but were flagged 12 times for 83 yards in penalties.

The Jaguar defense also has a chip on their shoulder from last season. They allowed the Warhawks to go 4-of-4 on fourth down attempts.

Head coach Joey Jones and offensive coordinator Richard Owens has a decision to make. Cole Garvin started the season as the starting quarterback, but was injured in the first series against Oklahoma State in the second game of the season. From there, Dallas Davis took over the starting job until he, too, was recovering from an injury suffered in the Jags game against Idaho. Garvin started under center against Louisiana Tech and again against Troy. But he was replaced late in the first half against the Trojans in favor of Davis to give the offense a spark.

The offensive output in the second half happened despite losing Xavier Johnson in the first half with what was reported as a sprained ankle. It concerned fans seeing him taken to the locker room on a cart without his shoe. But it seems like the extra rest between games may allow him to suit up for the game.

During the Monday press conference, Zach Beford said “Every one [game] is a big one. We want to win every single one for the rest of the year. The fact that it’s homecoming, hopefully we just get some more support from our fans and around the city. But it should be a fun environment with homecoming and hopefully we can get a W.”

USA had a great group of fans travel to Troy who were very loud and provided lots of excitement for the team. The team gave a big thanks to the Jaguar fans who made the environment electric for the team.

The Warhawks come off a 47-37 loss to Georgia State at home. Since 2014, they are 4-10 in conference games away from home, but are 2-0 this season.

South Alabama’s kickoff coverage was much better against Troy. They’ll need to keep it up though, ULM’s Marcus Green had a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter against Georgia State. Later Green scored on an 80-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.

What do the Jags need to do to win:

The offense can’t play down to their competition. They need to continue to improve. In the second half, the Jags converted 3rd downs which helped them keep possession of the ball and give the defense some rest. The ULM defense has not performed well all season, but they’ll look to play better coming off of their first conference loss of the season.

Special teams forced a fumble and recovered a muffed punt. They also covered kickoffs the best they have all season. Corliss Waitman can boom the ball a mile and has been a great weapon to help flip the field and give the defense a big advantage. Finally, Gavin Patterson nailed a career-long of 47-yards.

The defense played lights-out in Troy, except for the one scoring series for Troy. The secondary played strong and will need to keep improving with players like Marcus Green lining up looking to take advantage of the more inexperienced players on the field because of injuries.

The messageboard fans would like to see Coach Jones show more emotion on the sidelines. Some of them will not be happy no matter what, but winning will make fans out of just about anyone.

Kickoff is set for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game can be seen on online on ESPN3 and heard on 99.5 The Jag FM and 96.1 FM in the Mobile area in addition to streamed online by iHeartRadio via 99.5 The Jag.

Jaguars Travel To Troy And Stun The Trojans 19-8

October 14, 2017 · Filed Under Battle For The Belt, Football · Comment 

Head coach Joey Jones lifts the ‘Battle for the Belt’ championship belt for the third time in the last four years. | Photo Credit: Brad Puckett usajaguars.com

South Alabama went to Troy Wednesday night on a mission, and they accomplished their mission in commanding fashion with a 19-8 win to return the rivalry belt to Mobile.

The Jaguars went into the game a 16.5 point underdog with only the die hard of Jaguar fan base thinking they even had a shot to win the game. If you listened to online message boards, it was going to be a blowout and the head coach would need to be fired on the sidelines after the game and should pull a Southern Cal by letting the coach find his own way home.

But none of that came to pass, instead the defense and set the tone for the game. Six pass breakups, seven tackles for loss, two sacks, three turnovers on downs, three fumble recoveries and an interception.

That’s textbook definition of what defensive coordinator Kane Wommack calls ‘Swarm D’.

Head coach Joey Jones and his staff put together a great game plan and the players executed well. The offense struggled some in the first half outside of their one touchdown drive.

The offense came out in the second half with a commanding drive to extend their lead while converting over half of the third-downs they faced in the second half.

The entire team was spurred on by a large contingent of South Alabama fans who made the trip for the game. They were loud, proud, and full of energy. They were another textbook example of what the Jaguars need at home week-in and week-out.

The Jags first score was set up by a 57 yard punt by Corliss Waitman when Carlos Robinson forced Marcus Jones to cough up the ball which Collier Smith recovered at the Troy 46. Starting quarterback Cole Garvin connected with Tra Minter on a screen pass for 37 yards to set eventually set up Xavier Johnson to cap off the drive with a one yard leap into the end zone, giving USA a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Waitman would again be huge for the Jags. He booted away a 54 yard punt to the Troy 4 yard line, but a block in the back would put the line of scrimmage at the 2 yard line. On 2nd and 11, Troy’s star running back Jordan Chunn could be bottled up and taken down for a safety extending the Jaguars lead to 9-0. Which would be the score at halftime.

The Jaguars offense came out early in the second half, led by Dallas Davis off the bench, with intentions of making a statement. They were 0-for-7 on 3rd down conversions in the first half, but converted all three of their first possession of the second half. Two of them were pass completions to Sam Harris and the other was a touchdown pass over the middle to Malik Stanley to cap off an 11 play, 64 yard drive to go up 16-0.

“Cole struggled a little bit and I felt like I needed to get Dallas in the game,” Jaguar head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “He directed us down the field for a score. He played a good half.”

Gavin Patterson would add a career long 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give South Alabama a 19-0 lead and sent the Trojan faithful to the exits.

After forcing a three and out, the Jaguars started at their own 43. On 2nd and 6, Davis connected with Minter for a 49 yard gain on another screen pass. Facing 4th and goal at the 4, the Jaguar coaching staff pulled out a trick play attempting to put another dagger in the Trojans, but the defense snuffed it and sacked Davis for a 15 yard loss on an intentional grounding call when he tried the fling the ball away.

This breathed some life back into the Trojans, who promptly put together their best drive of the game going 81 yards in 9 plays for their only score of the game to make it 19-8 after they converted the two-point conversion.

Troy attempted an on-sides kick, which hit and bounced off of a Jaguar but was recovered by David Gardner at the Troy 48. But three plays late, on 4th and 1, Denzel Foster was dropped for a loss of two yards giving Troy great field position with 4:30 left in the game.

The Jaguar defense bent but did not break. The secondary, which has been ravaged by injuries, helped force three-consecutive incomplete passes from the Jaguar 13 yard line. Needing two scores, Trojan head coach Neal Brown opted to attempt a 30 yard field goal by Evan Legassey, which he missed wide left, just like he did a 27-yard attempt in the first half.

From there, the Jags kept the ball on the ground and ran the clock out for the win.

The USA offense ended the game with 224 yards of total offense, only 48 of them on the ground with the other 176 yards coming through the air. Troy gained 299 yards, only 30 of them through the air.

Cole Garvin started the game for USA and went 4-of-10 for 56 yards and an interception. Dallas Davis came in late in the first half and went 7-of-10 for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Malik Stanley led the Jaguar receivers with four catches for 53 yards an the lone touchdown. Tra Minter caught three passes for 83 yards setting up both touchdowns. Sam Harris had two catches for 25 yards, both were to convert 3rd downs. Foster and Jahmmir Taylor both caught a pass also.

Denzel Foster was the Jaguars leading rusher with 30 yards on nine carries. Minter added 21 yards on 12 carries. Deonta Moore had 10 yards on six carries. Xavier Johnson, who left the game in the first half with a sprained ankle, had 4 yards on seven carries with the Jaguars lone rushing touchdown.

Troy’s star running back Jordan Chunn left the game early with an injury finished with 28 yards on 10 carries. Josh Anderson added 10 yards on three carries and Henderson had 9 yards on two carries.

Brandon Silvers went 24-of-46 for 263 yards and an interception. Kaleb Barker completed his only pass attempt for 6 yards. Emanual Thompson led the Trojans with six catches for 67 yards. Eight other receivers caught passes as well.

“I know we’ve got a good football team,” head coach Joey Jones said after the game. “I never doubted them, I love them. We know we have a bunch of conference games coming up and we are going to get after our preparation for the game next week with ULM, but right now we are going to enjoy this one. I’s a huge win for our program and puts us with one more win in the conference. That’s our goal to win the [Sun Belt] Conference championship and it’s still out there for us.

“It’s a huge, huge win for our program. That’s three out of the last four we’ve beaten these guys, and two out of three with the Belt. I’m so proud of the way our guys played. They fought their guts out tonight. It was a joy to watch.”

“They outcoached us,” Troy head coach Neal Brown said in his postgame press conference. “Our guys were not ready to play and that’s on me; that’s disappointing. We didn’t take advantage of a great opportunity. It’s an extremely disappointing evening.”

“The challenge of this defense has been, can we finish a game?,” USA defensive coordinator Kane Wommack said. “I think when you play the way that we did in the second half, to take the momentum from the get-go, that was the difference.”

“This win is huge for us,” said quarterback Dallas Davis. “We came in 1-4, which I don’t even like saying that record, and Troy is a good team; they beat LSU. We practiced hard all week and it’s a big rivalry game for us, so we knew we had to bring it, and we did both offensively and defensively.”

“I just wanted to make sure that I did my job and make sure there wasn’t a drop from his type of performance to mine,” said defensive back Khalil McDonald, who started in place of Malcolm Buggs when he was unable to play. “I did my job and played my heart out and wanted to do it for the team.”

“We had been talking about this game all week,” said Jeremy Reaves when talking about what this win means to the seniors on the team. “This win wasn’t only for us, but also for recruiting and the years to come for our program. Getting this win benefits me a lot [personally] because I get to say that I was able to get another win at Troy; I’m 2-0 here. We’ve been through so much adversity and we dedicated this season to turning the program around. To be able to come out on top in this big game is huge.”

South Alabama will have another long week to prepare for their next game. The Jags will return home to host Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, October 21 for their annual homecoming game. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.