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Football Ready for Challenges

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South Alabama JaguarsAn optimistic and confident South Alabama football program took center stage at the athletic field house for media day on Aug. 11. They appeared all but ready for the upcoming season.

The 2011 schedule includes road contests against Division-1 North Carolina State and Kent State but the Jaguar coaching staff insists they take their season one game at a time.

“We try to go 1-0 every week,” offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said. “If you go 1-0 enough times over the course of a year, you’ll have a pretty good season.”

The Jags will be tested by West Alabama and Lamar University before getting the opportunity to tame their D-1 opponents. The focus has to stay on the next game, according to defensive coordinator Bill Clark. Currently, that foe is West Alabama who will visit Ladd Peebles Stadium on Thursday Sep. 1.

More importantly, the Jaguars must focus on themselves.

“On offense, we worry far more about ourselves than the opponent,” Gregory said. “We’re going to know our opponent, but we work on polishing our own game.”

North Carolina is likely the toughest opponent the Jaguars will face in 2011. The Wolfpack football squad finished the season ranking 25th in the nation after a 9-4 (5-3 ACC) football campaign. Marquee wins came against ranked Virginia Tech, Clemson and Maryland. They were invited to the Champ Sports Bowl where they defeated West Virginia, 23-7.“If we do things right in the first two games, that third game could be a lot of fun,” Clark said.

Head coach Joey Jones is doing his part by creating a positive atmosphere for his team and staff. The word “optimism” came up several times and he hopes that becomes the young program’s identity.

“I do believe in being positive, Jones said. “There are times where you have to get on them, so it’s not like we’re positive 100 percent of the time, but I do think that if you’re positive 90 percent of the time a kid will respond better to you.

“I’ve learned that kids respond to people, not to goals — we’ve got goals and that’s a motivating factor, but the most driving motivating factor in a person is to not let those around you down. If I think that you care about me, then I am going to respond to you in a positive way, and I think that’s our goal.”

Jones attributes the mindset to his formative years, citing his mother and college coaches as chief inspirations.

This year’s team has character but they also have increased speed and size.


Written by Matt Weaver | Senior Reporter

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