It’s back to the football field for the Southern football team.
The Jaguars (2-2 and 2-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) had the first of two open dates last week and now they travel to Montgomery, Ala., to play Alabama State at 6 p.m. Saturday.
It’s Southern’s first game since wide receiver Devon Gales suffered a severe spinal injury in a 48-6 loss at Georgia on Sept. 26. Gales underwent surgery in Athens, Ga., a day after the injury and he has begun a lengthy rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Jaguars players talked this week about the open date, Alabama State, Gales and other stuff. Here are some excerpts.
WR Randall Menard on Gales: “It gives us something to play for. We’re going to play for him. We’re dedicating this game to him.”
Menard on the last five Southern-Alabama State games being decided by seven or fewer points: “It’s two great teams playing against each other. Somehow it always comes down to the wire.”
Menard on the timing of the open date: “It was in a good place because it was after a big game, but if it was up to me I wouldn’t even have a bye week.”
Menard on lining up in practice against fellow WR Justin Morgan, who’s also playing cornerback: “He has to turn around so he won’t see our play because he knows them all.”
DL Gabe Echols on the line being the most stable area of the defense in the first four games: “The defensive line is the most experienced group of guys. Daniel Brown and Aaron Tiller coming off the edge and me and Donald Phillips being in the middle we really just took it upon ourselves to put it on our backs and get on our horse and go play football and everything else will work out.”
Echols on being moved to the second team by head coach Dawson Odums: “He didn’t talk to us, but he made a change. The motto for us is the next man steps up, so he’s getting everybody ready. He’s switching it up to see what he has.”
Echols on whether Odums got his attention with the demotion: “Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
Echols on what the defense worked on during the open date: “We had some bad plays and we had some good plays. We have to play our assignments and stay in our gaps. We definitely have to improve with our tackling. We can’t tackle guys up high because they bounce off and they continue to run. Most (big) plays come from missed tackles That’s the biggest thing worked on during the open date.”
Echols on being able to handle the rest of the opposing running backs on the schedule after facing Georgia star Nick Chubb: “We had a chance to go up against the top so the rest should be easy.”
Echols on Gales: “We all know Devon Gales is a positive dude, a strong dude. He’s going to get through it. His attitude really uplifts our attitude. By him being positive it allows us to be positive. It gives you something to play for.”
DL Donald Phillips on where the team is coming out of the bye: “I think we’re right where we need to be. I think we’re in a good position right now.”
Phillips on the defensive line as leaders: “It’s the experience and the type of leadership that we need so I think we took the initiative to be the force where the defense could look to us. It starts with the d line.”
Phillips on being demoted along with Echols: “(Odums) probably watches more film than us so I think it did it for a reason. I trust the coaching staff and whatever decision they made I feel is the right decision. You can’t take anything for granted.”
Phillips on Gales: “He drives us. I just think that his situation just makes us want to play harder and play for him and win for him. That just adds more fuel to our fire.”
WR Justin Morgan on Gales: “Devon is one of the most upbeat people you will ever meet, a hard-working kid.”
Morgan on the tight games against ASU: “It’s the competition and the atmosphere. They’ve been such a good team over the years and us coming up after having a couple of off years, just having the big competition is always fun.”
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