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Jags Run Mini-Scrimmage in First Full-Pad Practice
MOBILE, Ala. - If the reality of college football at the University of South Alabama hadn’t set in yet, it has now. The Jaguars held their first fall practice in full pads Saturday morning, and after nearly an hour of drills, the offense and defense squared off for a full-contact mini-scrimmage.
“We’ll buffer it from day to day, but it just makes you better,” head coach Joey Jones said of the scrimmage. “Any time you’re going against good competition it makes you better. You’ve got to balance that with getting somebody hurt, so it’s always a fine line in coaching where you’re trying to figure out how hard to work them and not go too far and get somebody hurt. We’re just going to judge that from day to day. We have a plan of what we’re going to do, but we’ve got to be smart enough to adjust if things start happening.”
“Everybody is just pumped up with the pads on because we can start hitting,” added freshman quarterback Myles Gibbon. “Usually quarterbacks aren’t live, but they were bumping us around too, and it felt good. I liked that because you can tell that our defense really wants to swarm the ball, and our offense wants to get down the field.”
Gibbon took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense, but Jones said it’s too early to tell who will win the starting quarterback job.
“We’ve got three guys working,” Jones said. “Kyle Stewart would be involved, but he’s injured right now. With the other three it’s close. Some guys do things better than others, but I’m really holding back until we see them for a couple of weeks because you don’t want to make a comment based on one or two practices.”
“We all have different abilities that we excel in, so we’re all just battling for that spot,” Gibbon said. “Every time we make a good throw it boosts us up, or every time we make a good read it boosts us up. Coach is right, it’s really close right now.”
Sophomore running back Brandon Ross scored the lone touchdown on a 12-yard run at the end of practice, but the Jaguar offensive line opened holes to create a handful of long runs.
“Defensively we were pretty good at times, but we just gave up too many big plays - too many big runs,” Jones said. “If we can stop that, stop the 25 or 30-yard run, and make that a seven-yard run, then I’d feel a lot better about what we’re doing, but we can’t give up 25 and 30-yard runs.”
“We’re looking really good, but we have a long way to go,” added junior linebacker Charlie Higgenbotham. “We’re never satisfied and always want to get better, but everybody is working hard, the effort is there, and we’ve just got to clean up on some plays to continue to get better.”
The Jaguars wrapped up practice by letting the kickers determine how many gassers the team would have to run. Each of the four place kickers lined up for 42-yard field goals with the offense and defense forming a tunnel down the hash marks, cheering them on from each side.
After the kickers went 2-for-4, Jones offered the chance for double or nothing, which the team accepted. However, the final kick sailed just outside the right upright, leaving the team with four gassers to close practice.
“We want to continue to do that with our kickers,” Jones said. “We want to constantly put pressure on them, because that’s what it is - they have to run out on the field after standing on the sideline for 30 minutes to kick a game-winning field goal. We’re trying to get them used to that situation. If you apply a lot of pressure on the kids in practice then the games are easy.”
The Jaguars have their first off day of fall camp on Sunday, then return to the practice field Monday at 7 a.m. With just less than a month until the first game, Jones said the real challenge comes in the second week of camp.
“The first game is going to depend on how we do this second week. I’ve been coaching for about 18 years now, and that second week is vitally important for us to get better. It’s like I told the players, we’re in a tunnel right now and there’s not a light at the end of the tunnel. We’ve just got to keep working and working and working until we find some light, and hopefully that’s going to be here in about two or three weeks.”
For more information about South Alabama athletics, check back with www.usajaguars.com. Season tickets for all Jaguar athletic events can be purchased by calling (251) 461-1USA (1872).
USA Media Relations