Southern has been the least-penalized team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference virtually all season.
But it isn’t anymore.
The Jaguars were penalized a season-high 14 times for a season-worst 108 yards at Jackson State last week.
That dropped them behind Mississippi Valley State, which has 63 penalties and an average of 66.8 yards per game. Southern has been penalized 67 times for 67.5 yards per game, both second to the Delta Devils.
“It’s those self-imposed penalties that really got me concerned as a coach – the false starts, the 15-yard penalties where it’s not physical penalties,” coach Dawson Odums said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. “You’re going to have some clippings, you’re going to have some holdings. Those are physical penalties.
“But those mindset penalties are the ones we really harp on as a staff. We don’t like those 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties.”
The Jaguars committed six false starts and four personal-foul penalties last week.
“This program is built on discipline, and that’s why it really upsets me when we create all these penalties,” Odums said. “If you’re going to play for us, you’re going to be disciplined. That’s the bottom line.
“It’s been about discipline and accountability since Day 1, and Year 3, it’s not gong to change. If we just start winning the penalty battle, we could really become a special football team.”
Southern hopes to get cornerback D’Andre Woodland (groin) and defensive end Christian Allen (ankle) back after both missed last week’s game.
Allen’s return would come after that of nose tackle Jaylen Jordan, who made his season debut last Saturday, and fellow lineman Justin Woods, who recently returned from injury.
Suddenly, the Jaguars have plenty of depth on a defensive line that featured just five players earlier in the season.
“Christian has played a lot of football, and he’s started some games for us,” Odums said. “We’re starting to get the strength of the defensive line back. We’ve got a good rotation, so we’re able to keep fresh guys in the game. We’ve come a long way from traveling five guys up to 10 now, so we like the depth of that defensive line.”
Odums said he doesn’t expect the Jaguars to repeat the place-kicking problems they had at Jackson State.
Greg Pittman made his first three PATs, but his next two were blocked as was his 29-yard field goal attempt. Kyle Yonke replaced him and missed an extra point before making a 29-yard field goal.
Odums and special teams coach Marty Biagi attributed the problems partly to unusually high grass inside Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium — especially compared to Southern’s barren practice field.
“The grass was really, really high and this was really our first time kicking on grass,” Biagi said.
Fortunately for Southern, its next three games are in A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“They’ll kick pretty good at home,” Odums said.
Jaguars in HD
Southern has installed a new HD scoreboard that will make its debut this weekend.
The Jaguars’ soccer match against Jackson State at 6 p.m. Friday — and the football game against Alabama State 24 hours later — will both be streamed via the new technology on to the Southern athletics website, gojagssports.com.
Basketball tickets on sale
Southern has put basketball season tickets on sale.
A reserved seat costs $125, and a general admission package costs $100. Football season ticket holders can find information on their discount for basketball season tickets on the website.