Southern lost the football five times in its loss to Northwestern State last week.

Quarterbacks committed four of the five turnovers: Austin Howard threw three interceptions and Deonte Shorts fumbled.

“It’s just hard to win the ballgame when you turn the football over,” coach Dawson Odums said. “One of the No. 1 things you have to do in order to win games is win the turnover battle, and we didn’t do a very good job of that.”

The turnovers played a role in the loss, but the bigger issue may have been the field position the Jaguars were in when then they gave the ball away.

Northwestern State went up 17-0 after JeMarcus Marshall returned Shorts’ fumble at Southern’s 9-yard line for a touchdown. Howard’s first two interceptions were at the Southern 14-yard line and in the end zone, and Northwestern State scored on its following possessions.

“It’s just bad play, and it puts (the defense) in bad predicaments, and they weren’t able to get out of those predicaments,” Shorts said. “We’ll get better.”

Shorts said the goal is to always come out of the game without having “negative plays” and turnovers — but he acknowledged mistakes happen. He tries not to dwell on those mistakes but to move forward and make better plays.

“Turnovers are going to happen in the middle of the game; it’s a part of it,” Shorts said. “You just have to bounce back from it, recover and put the last play behind you and focus on the next play.”

In the first three games, Southern has fumbled four times and thrown four interceptions, so the coaching staff has put more focus and attention on educating the offensive players about how ball security impacts the game to limit turnovers, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Chad Germany said.

Southern also didn’t force any turnovers Saturday — unlike its first two games against UL-Lafayette and Central Methodist — and the Jaguars finished with a minus-5 turnover ratio.

Defensive back Blake Monroe said overall, the team came out flat against the Demons.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference opener at Prairie View, he said, gives Southern a chance to do better.

The Jaguars and Panthers kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday.

“We just want to put this game behind us, start over and do our job on defense, which is stopping the run, letting no big plays happen, playing more physical and knowing our assignments,” Monroe said.

Shorts agreed, saying he’s going to have more focus and a better mindset in practice this week to produce a better result against Prairie View.

Germany said he believes in the skills of both of his QBs, and doesn’t believe their youth has contributed to the interceptions and fumbles. “They’re not freshman quarterbacks, they’re quarterbacks,” Germnay said. “If they think of themselves as freshman quarterbacks, that gives them an excuse to make mistakes. They just have to continue to build their confidence and continue to think of themselves as quarterbacks that can lead this team, make the right decisions and reads to do the right things to help Southern University be successful on offense and as a football team.”

Notes

Starting middle linebacker Javon Allen underwent surgery Wednesday to repair a broken bone in his hand and will miss a couple of weeks, Odums said. ... Wide receiver Mike Jones (ankle) was on crutches at practice and is unlikely to play Saturday. ... Running back Jamarcus Jarvis (ankle) returned to practice.

Les East contributed to this report.