South Alabama’s coaching staff stayed busy scouting last week, but it had nothing to do with upcoming opponents. Jaguar head coach Kane Wommack and his staff took some time to look at their own team.
“One of the advantages to a bye week, particularly on the front half of the season or not quite at the halfway point, is what we're able to do in terms of self-scouting reports,” Wommack said. “There are going to be certain tendencies that we've shown, whether it is formation, down-and-distance, field zone, what we do with certain personnel packages on the field that we have to be aware of and have shown through the first five games. We have to make sure we break up some of those tendencies a little bit. It's nice to have a bye week and can help in terms of what you have to do moving forward.”
A lot of good things happened in the first five games of the 2022 season. South Alabama is off to a 4-1 start and is a last-play field goal by unbeaten UCLA of being 5-0. For the most part, quarterback Carter Bradley and running back La’Damian Webb have helped the offense maintain balance. The defense allowed less than 20 points per game and created 13 turnovers.
But, the bye week allows a staff a chance to add some new things, which South Alabama may need with a pair of Sun Belt matchups over a five-day period. The Jaguars celebrate homecoming on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe and play host to rival Troy the following Thursday.
“Inevitably, teams coming off a bye week will have some wrinkles that your next opponent is going to have to deal with, so that's a positive for us,” Wommack said. "As we reflect on what we've been doing, I feel that we have a lot of good answers. If a team does 'x', we do 'y' and/or 'z.' I feel that we've answered pretty well throughout games based on what we're seeing from other teams. Frankly, the only other thing you look at is how are you starting the game? Is the game plan that you had one that works well? I think we're answering those questions with consistency. From a standpoint of how we're calling the game and how we're preparing, and how we are using analytics to be as aggressive as we are in certain areas, we feel like those are moving in the right direction."
South Alabama defensive coordinator Corey Batoon came away pleased but not complacent after the self-evaluation of his group.
“From an improvement standpoint, I would like to see us create more negative plays,” Batoon said. “I think we are doing a good job on third down. I think we are doing an okay job in the red zone, there's more we can do execution-wise. If we get ourselves off the field in a couple of those fourth downs, you're taking points off the board. Those are critical plays where we have a chance to execute and help ourselves and I think we can improve in that regard. From a positive standpoint, we haven't given up many explosive plays. We've made people earn everything they got. There's obviously a ton of room to improve."
The self-evaluation also came from the players. Bradley has done a ton of good things in his first year in the South Alabama system. The transfer from Toledo is 101 of 165 from 1,274 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s also rushed for two touchdowns.
He saw plenty of improvement needed.
“I was just a little fast with my reads,” Bradley said. “I need to slow down on a few things. I'm excited, I was excited to play some ball, but looking back, I think I was going too fast through my reads because I knew my answers and some things popped open that I wasn't expecting. Footwork can always use work and staying in the pocket and being calm. Watching myself and some other guys definitely helped me on this off week to see what I need to do better."
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