South Alabama football head coach Joey Jones and several Jaguars players spoke with the media this week to preview Saturday's game at South Carolina.
The Jaguars are 6-4 overall, 5-3 in the Sun Belt conference and bowl-eligible after a 24-20 win last week over Texas State. They lead the conference in scoring defense (21.3 points per game) but are 10th of 11 teams in scoring offense (21.3 average points).
Head coach Joey Jones is 37-25 overall in his sixth season at USA and was the Sun Belt coach of the year in 2013.
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On playing South Carolina this week
"They are a very talented football team — it will be a great challenge for us to go to Columbia, but one that our kids look forward to. It's a typical SEC team, they've lost a lot of close games and could very easily be a lot better from a record standpoint. I always look at players and teams rather than records, and their team is certainly has a bunch of talent and they are very well coached.
"Our kids like that kind of environment, they like the fact that we will be playing against a team that can score a lot of points. We're looking forward to this opportunity."
On the South Carolina offense
"I don't know that it's what they do that concerns me as much as who they are doing it with. They've got a great running back — in my opinion Mike Davis is going to be picked very high in the NFL Draft — who will be the best running back we've faced by far this year. They have great receivers, and real big, athletic linemen."
On the expected atmosphere at South Carolina and how it will affect USA offensively
"We have so much loud music at practice anyway, we've always done it for that reason not only because the kids like it but so they concentrate with all that noise. It will probably be louder than what we're playing, we'll have to get used to that and make sure that we can handle that with our snap count offensively. You have to focus as much as you can during practice so that when you get to the game you focus in the same way, and I don't think our kids will have a problem with that. Nowadays you don't call plays in the huddle anymore, it's all signals so you don't have to listen to as many things."
On how USA is handling the excitement of playing a second SEC school
"To be honest with you — and I said this after the game — but I haven't thought about South Carolina until Saturday night. Normally you look ahead at times, but the enormity of this past week with Texas State was so big that we threw everything we had into that game to achieve our goal. The hype for this game might not be as big as in the past for our games at Mississippi State and Tennessee, but now that it's here it's obviously exciting for our players, we're looking forward to it."
On the USA defense and what it faces this week:
"We do what we do, we're not going to change; [defensive coordinator] Coach [Travis] Pearson has drilled that into their heads, we believe we can play good defense. When you start playing against better athletes, you have to be a little sharper because one misstep can cost you; against these guys, you better fill your gap, if you leave the gap open that running back is gone. We have to be sharp about what we do, but that's what we preach anyway, it's not any different than what we've always done."
Linebacker Maleki Harris
On South Carolina
"It's just another team, another set of players who put their pants on one leg at a time. We're never going to back down or shy away from a challenge. Hopefully, we'll all rise to the occasion and give them a run for their money."
On the USC offense
"They do a lot of different things. One thing I know just from watching film is their offensive linemen get big splits. They have a big offensive line and a good running back. Their quarterback is solid and they have playmakers. But if we play our game, I feel like we can play with them. I have total confidence in the way our defense matches up, but we have to go out there and not let the big stage or hype take away from our focus. If we go out there and focus on the X's and O's then we'll be alright."
Running back Terrance Timmons
On South Carolina
"I know they probably don't look at us as a challenge. We're going to bring it to them, and try to catch them off guard. I kind of like going into a game being the underdog, because it makes us feel like we have something to prove. No one is going to go up there thinking we can't win the game. We can win any game we play. There's no doubt in my mind we will go up there prepared to knock them off."