Southern didn’t do much wrong in its 56-14 victory against Central Methodist last Saturday.
The Jaguars accumulated 651 yards on offense and allowed just seven points on defense.
But the other Eagles touchdown came on an 88-yard kickoff return, and the coverage on eight kickoffs wasn’t what coach Dawson Odums would prefer.
“Special teams is where we’ve really got to get better,” Odums said. “We’ve been shifting guys in and out. We’ve got to get some of our starters to play special teams and hope that we don’t wear them down.”
The Jaguars have had nearly a dozen players, many of whom play special teams, miss time because they haven’t been academically certified. They used more backups on special teams last week because they dressed more players at home and wanted to give young players experience.
CMU averaged 28 yards on kickoff returns, though slightly less than 20 outside of the touchdown return.
“We want to be able to give all the guys who work hard an opportunity,” special teams coordinator Marty Biagi said. “But if they’re not making plays, you’ve got to put the next guy in.”
Southern has looked at numerous key offensive and defensive players on the kickoff team in the first two days of practice this week.
Malcolm Crockett, who rushed for 108 yards last week, was working on the kickoff team, as were key defensive backs Rhaheim Ledbetter, Kevin King and Danny Johnson. Running back Lenard Tillery got his first chance on kickoffs last week after pestering the coaches for two years, and made a tackle.
“We had a chance to look at the film and see that we had to make some changes,” Odums said. “We got some new personnel out there, and then it starts with our kickers kicking the ball where we want it and get it out of the middle of the field. We’re adjusting some things and studying that unit, and we’ll be better this time out.”
The Jaguars’ next opponent, Northwestern State, averages 24.2 yards per kickoff return, 23rd in the FCS.
“I’m lucky in that I have a head coach who wants to put starters in,” Biagi said. “You go to some places and they say they don’t want to use starters because it wears them out. But here if you have to sit out a play or two because you’re tired you sit out on offense or defense. We have to find a happy medium where you don’t wear them out too much.”
TWO MORE INELIGIBLE
The special teams have lost two players to academic ineligibility that hadn’t been previously identified.
Athletic director William Broussard confirmed Tuesday that senior DB Jeremy Coleman, a fixture on special teams, and reserve PK Matt Hill are not eligible.
The Jaguars learned Tuesday night that LT Reginald Redding had been certified a second time and will be available Saturday. After his original certification, another red flag was discovered last Saturday, but clarified Tuesday.
Southern is still awaiting a resolution of DB Jaleel Richardson’s status. Five players — OL Anthony Mosley, WR Nico Talbert, LB Daniel Brown, LB Detrane Lindsey and DB Renaldo Thomas — are expected to miss the season.
C Brandon Thibodeaux will not play Saturday because of an ankle injury sustained against Central Methodist. DL Justin Woods suffered a leg injury last week and he’s questionable for this week.
WR Randall Menard (toe) remains sidelined and isn’t expected back until October. PK Greg Pittman had the brace on his surgically repaired kicking knee replaced by a sleeve, but he’s still weeks from returning.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live on Cox Sports Television. Like all Jaguars games it can be heard on Downtown radio 97.7. Kickoff is 6:07 p.m.