MOBILE, AL (USAJaguars.com) – University of South Alabama football head coach Joey Jones sat down with the media Monday to discuss this week's contest at Arkansas State, following the Jaguars' open date last weekend.
A few highlights from Monday's press conference are below.
"Arkansas State is a very good football team. I watched them play last Thursday at FIU [Florida International]. They went down there on the road and beat a very good FIU team. Their losses have come to the likes of Oregon and Nebraska, so they are a very good football team. They're very good on offense, and have a lot of juniors and seniors starting in their offensive and defensive lineups. They are a veteran team, and we expect them to be a great football team when we walk into the stadium."
On how the team benefited from the open week:
"It couldn't have come at a better time. We were beat up. Being nine-and-a-half weeks into it, counting fall camp, it came at a great time for our players and coaches after an emotional three games of playing N.C. State, Mississippi State and Troy."
On the offense since announcing a starting quarterback:
"When we play one quarterback, he's going to get more reps in practice. Before [naming a starter], we were splitting the reps 50-50 because they were going to play in the game 50-50. We're going to give our starter [Ross Metheny] probably 70 percent of the reps, and C.J. [Bennett] will get about 30. It should make him [Bennett] sharper in the games, so we'll see. We just felt like it was a move we needed to make for the offense. We're trying to find that identity in where we are, so I think that will help us with him getting more reps in practice. We think it's going to help us [to name a starter]. We tried to let it pan out over the last five games, but I think it will help us just from the standpoint that they [offense] know that he [Metheny] is going to be the guy right now."
On improvement from offense:
"We have not put a complete game together. We have to be balanced. We've had too many three-and-outs, and that's not really any one person's fault. We have a young offense; we started the season with two freshmen and five sophomores on the offensive unit. We have to get better, but it isn't easy to get better when you're playing the teams we are playing. We're a better team than we were last year, but we're playing much better competition right now and it just isn't showing. We have to be able to stick the ball into the end zone. Defense and special teams are playing good enough to win, so if we can get that part going on offense then we're going to get this thing rolling. But we have to get out there and get it done."
On things Arkansas State does well:
"They are pretty good on both sides of the football. They're averaging about 500 yards a game offensively, and are playing really good defense. They're just playing with a lot of confidence. Any time you win a championship the year before – you can just tell they're playing with a lot of confidence."
On how the open week was beneficial to preparing for Arkansas State's offense:
"I would hate to have known that we would have to have gotten ready in one week for what they're doing. [Head coach] Gus [Malzahn] does a great job of changing things up and scouting himself. You can tell that he scouts himself well with their personnel groupings. They give you fits all over the field, both horizontally and vertically. They really make you play the whole field on defense; that's probably the most difficult thing."