Southern coach Dawson Odums had several areas in which he wanted the Jaguars to show improvement from last week’s scrimmage to the one Saturday morning.
He wanted to see more energy from the whole team, the defense getting faster to the football and creating turnovers, and improvement from the run game.
The players seemed to fulfill each request during a 100-play scrimmage at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.
“I thought the energy was where it needed to be in order to have a successful scrimmage,” Odums said. “I thought we competed. I thought both sides did some good things.”
The biggest improvement came from the defense, which allowed eight touchdowns and didn’t get a turnover a week earlier. On Saturday, it allowed four touchdowns, created four turnovers, produced two touchdowns and a safety, and made a goal-line stand.
“We got after it pretty good today,” said end Aaron Tiller, who got the safety when he sacked Deonte Shorts. “We picked it up a lot in practice, and it really carried over. Obviously we produced better.”
The scrimmage featured mostly the No. 1 units and against the No. 2s, though the lower parts of the depth chart got work toward the end. It began with the No. 1 offense trying to duplicate the 99-yard touchdown pass it produced on the first play in last week’s scrimmage.
“It worked last week,” cornerback Jamar Mitchell said. “Why wouldn’t they do it again?”
This time, the defense was better prepared when Austin Howard looked up-field for a sprinting Mike Jones, who was double covered. That forced Howard to check down, and his pass to running back Lenard Tillery was incomplete.
On the next series, Mitchell caught a Shorts pass that safety Dionte McDuffy had tipped and ran 10 yards for a touchdown.
“Coach Odums said he definitely wanted to get more turnovers because he said when you’re running 80-some plays you need to get some turnovers,” said Mitchell, who missed last week’s scrimmage because of a hamstring strain. “He was talking the whole week about running to the ball. You make more plays when you run to the ball.”
Gabe Echols recovered a fumble by Herb Edwards, and Loren Todemy recovered a fumble by Malcolm Crockett. Arvin Huff made a diving interception. And on the final play of the scrimmage, Jason Dykes grabbed a tipped pass from fourth-string quarterback Micah Zanders and ran 99 yards for a touchdown.
“I thought the turnovers were something we improved on,” Odums said. ““I thought the energy and the effort were a lot better, and when you bring those two things into the game, you can overcome mistakes. You should see significant improvement from scrimmage to scrimmage, and I thought we did that on defense.”
Although the defense played much better overall and took the ball away, the offense still had its moments.
Tillery had 116 yards on six carries, including a 59-yard touchdown. Crockett took a swing pass from Shorts and ran 68 yards for a touchdown on third-and-9.
In red-zone work, on third-and-10, Shorts threw a 19-yard completion to Tyler Walker at the 1, setting up John West’s touchdown run.
“We’ve got to be more disciplined on third down and know it’s time to get off the field,” Tiller said.
The defense’s goal-line stand came when freshman linebacker Calvin Lunkins led a group that stopped West for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“Last scrimmage, we came out a little sluggish, and the defense was a little behind,” Tillery said. “In practice, we were just tapping up. Tackling is an entirely different thing. Whenever you get the live drills like we did in the last scrimmage, you know they’re going to come out a little sluggish. But today, they were attacking a lot better.
“They were closing the gaps. That just comes with playing at full speed and tackling live.”
Three players sat out because of injury: linebacker Demetrius Carter (toe), offensive lineman Allen Spry (undisclosed) and wide receiver Nico Talbert (back). All should be back soon. Carter kept himself busy by working with the chain gang. … Two players needed medical attention during the scrimmage: defensive back Dontrell Brown (heat) and linebacker Jordan Williams (hand). Neither issue was considered serious. … Place-kicker Greg Pittman was 2-for-2 on field goals (both from 35 yards) and 2-for-2 on extra points. He also had a punt downed at the 1-yard line. … Howard was 2-for-5 for 75 yards and a touchdown, Shorts was 4-for-5 for 69 yards with an interception, and Hayes was 8-for-16 for 49 yards with a 1-yard touchdown to Randall Menard and an interception.
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.