Southern is having fumble problems ... in all kinds of weather _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern tailback Lenard Tillery splashes into the mud as Alcorn State defensive back Warren Gatewood closes in during Saturday's game at A.W. Mumford Stadium. Tilery held on to the ball, but the Jaguars lost five fumbles in their 48-7 loss.

Southern was having trouble holding on to the football even before it ran into heavy rain the past two weekends.

In its past three games, the Jaguars have fumbled 20 times, losing 12.

“Ball security has been a problem,” quarterback Austin Howard said Tuesday, “but we’ve just got to keep working on it in practice. We can’t beat ourselves up over it, we’ve just got to get better.”

The problems started when Southern fumbled six times and lost four under normal weather conditions during a 47-42 loss to Prairie View on Oct. 17.

The next week, they played amid heavy rain in Houston and lost three of five fumbles in a 40-21 victory against Texas Southern.

Then last Saturday, driving, day-long rain created wet, muddy conditions in a 48-7 loss to Alcorn State at A.W. Mumford Stadium. Southern lost five of nine fumbles.

“We were playing in a lake,” RB Malcolm Crockett said.

“We just played in a rainstorm the week before,” coach Dawson Odums said, “but it wasn’t like that. There were several times that the center tried to snap the ball and it did not move.”

Five of the Jaguars’ fumbles came on snaps, and the Braves recovered four of them.

“There were puddles in some of the spots where we had the ball,” Howard said. “I could see when the ball was placed, the bottom of the ball was covered with water. You really had half a ball to snap. You can’t blame the centers for that.”

Crockett said the weather had “a partial effect” on the ball-handling, but it wasn’t “an excuse.”

“When it rains,” he said, “we have to keep two hands on the ball.”

Howard said the team practiced last week with footballs dipped in buckets of water to prepare for the wet conditions.

Record-setting performance

Southern was the victim of a remarkable performance by Alcorn backup quarterback Lenorris Footman.

On Tuesday, the Southwestern Athletic Conference pointed out just how remarkable Footman was in rushing for 274 yards and four touchdowns and passing for two touchdowns.

The rushing yards were the most ever by a SWAC quarterback and were just 42 yards fewer than the FCS record set by Ryan Fuqua of Portland State in 2001. The SWAC also noted that Footman did his damage on 16 carries, and Fuqua did his on 42 carries.

Footman was thrust into the game unexpectedly when starter John Gibbs Jr. suffered a lower leg injury on Alcorn’s second offensive play.

Lee, Brown hobbled

Odums said Southern could be without two injured starters when it visits Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday.

Center Terrell Lee and linebacker Daniel Brown both suffered foot injuries against Alcorn.

“We’ve got some guys walking around in those boots,” Odums said.

On the road again

The Southern bus brigade is gassing up for another road trip this week.

The Southern University Quarterback Club, The Southern Blue and Gold Fan Club, The Southern University 6th Man Club and the Strong United Unification Organization are all offering trips to the game at Pine Bluff.

For information on the Quarterback Club trip, contact Jonathan Dearbone at (225) 572-5878 or jdearbone@yahoo.com; or Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906 or rjarvis79@yahoo.com.

For information on the Blue and Gold trip, contact Craig Pierre at (225) 324-7234) or Robert Square at (225) 931-4052.

For information on the 6th Man Club trips, contact Gail Ray at (225) 356-5252; Anna Jones at (225) 387-1982, (225) 907-7212 or amjones9@cox.net; Freddie Green Sr. at (225) 388-9403 or (225) 421-6637 or Elijah Wilkinson Jr. at (225) 355-9249.

For information on the SUUO trips, call (225) 355-6886, (225) 357-3833 or (225) 774-7617.

Alcorn gives to Gales Fund

Odums said Braves coach Jay Hopson presented him with a donation on behalf of Alcorn State to the Devon Gales Fund.

“We really appreciate that,” Odums said.

Gales, a sophomore receiver from Baton Rouge, is rehabbing in Atlanta after spinal surgery related to an injury suffered against Georgia on Sept. 26.

Donations to the fund can be made through a link at the Southern athletics website: gojagsports.com.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.