By: Santeria Evans | Sports Editor
The University of South Alabama football team opened up the spring season with a workout Saturday, March 20, the first of 15, leading into the program’s annual spring game next month.
“As you approach spring ball, the excitement level for me is in having a vision in my head of what the culture at South Alabama is going to look like,” said first-year South head coach Kane Wommack.
On April 3, the South Alabama Jaguars Men’s Football team kicked off the Spring with a scrimmage game.
This was South’s first scrimmage under the direction of new head coach Kane Wommack. The Jaguar offense totaled 536 yards while running 93 plays in 90 minutes, including posting 465 of those through the air.
The Jaguars defense recorded a pair of takeaways after sophomore Jaden Voisin and senior Kwameh Lewis intercepted passes. The unit was also credited with six sacks among its ten stops behind the line of scrimmage. Six individuals from the group — junior Dewayne Betts Jr., junior DeShazor, junior Darrell Luter Jr, senior Devin Rockette, sophomore Keon Voisin and senior Tré Young — added a pass defense.
Rockette’s lone tackle of the morning was for a loss as well. The offense had 16 individuals catch at least one pass, with half of that group posting multiple receptions.
Six running backs carried the ball more than once, with sophomore John Tank Miller leading the unit in both rushing and receiving yards on the day. Three of the six sacks recorded by the Jag defense ended possessions, with senior Chris Henderson, junior Nick Mobley, and sophomore Zivaiishe Smith credited with making those plays.
Both of junior Jamie Sheriff’s tackles were behind the line, with one of those sacks. All five of sophomore Jack Brooks’ punts were 42 yards or longer.
On the team’s opening scrimmage of the spring, Head coach Wommack stated, “First and foremost, I was excited about the organization of what we did. We came out here with a certain amount of reps that we were trying to get, a certain amount of third downs and plays in the red zone, and we got those things accomplished.”
The team held a second scrimmage on April 10. The event saw the Jag offense run nearly 150 plays, with the unit posting a total of 714 yards while averaging just over five yards per snap.
The Jaguars quarterbacks combined to account for 523 of those yards through the air — the group connected on 43-of-77 attempts — with 191 yards coming on 65 carries. The defense recorded 15 tackles for loss, including nine sacks, and broke up seven passes to go along with collecting three takeaways.
Freshman Caullin Lacy had a pair of receptions to key the offense’s opening possession of the afternoon, catching a ball in traffic for an 11-yard gain on third down to keep the drive alive and then making a diving grab for 42 more yards on the very next snap.
Not only did sophomore Keon Voisin return his interception for a score, he forced a fumble that junior Gi’Narious Johnson recovered in the end zone to end the offense’s first possession in the red zone while also breaking up a pass and posting two stops.
The second straight scrimmage that junior Jalen Tolbert had recorded over 100 yards and multiple touchdowns received. Tolbert stated, “Overall, it was good on both sides of the ball. We did some great things, and now we’ll be able to go in and watch and evaluate to see what we can improve on.”
Senior Jake Bentley has now thrown for more than 200 yards in each of the team’s scrimmages this spring, totaling seven touchdowns in the process.
Bentley stated, “I thought it was a good day, it was real competitive today. I know some of the guys were disappointed that we couldn’t go in the stadium because of the weather, but we really got after it. It was a lot of fun today.” Junior Terrion Avery was the only individual other than Tolbert to score more than one touchdown after adding a 16-yard catch to cap a red-zone drive.
Wommack stated, “[after this scrimmage] I was pleased with the improvement on each side of the ball from practice one to the point where we are now. Certainly, there are tons of things to clean up, but you can do that if you operate with a growth mindset, as these guys have over these first 11 practices. I saw the things that we wanted to emphasize and clean up from the first scrimmage today, that was exciting.”
The Jaguars will host its annual spring game at The Hancock Whitney Stadium at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 17.