Southern began the season believing running back might be the deepest position on the team.
That depth is coming in handy.
The Jaguars were missing their top four running backs by the end of their 34-24 victory at Prairie View last week, and they’ll be short-handed there again when they play at Alcorn State on Saturday.
Tyre Bracken, who started last week but was lost for the game after injuring a shoulder on the first series, will miss this week’s game, coach Dawson Odums said Tuesday. Malcolm Crockett, whose ankle injury thrust Bracken into the starting lineup, is scheduled to test his injury in practice this week but appears doubtful for Saturday.
Jamarcus Jarvis, who has sat out the last two games because of an ankle injury, appears to have a better chance of returning this week.
So Lenard Tillery, the team’s leading rusher last season who had 135 yards and a touchdown despite leaving twice in the fourth quarter because of cramps last week, figures to be the featured back. John West and Herbert Edwards have climbed the depth chart as well.
West carried 10 times for 28 yards and was mostly responsible for milking the clock as the Jaguars nursed their lead in the fourth quarter Saturday.
“When Tyre went out with an injury, I knew that I had to step up,” West said. “When Tillery needed a blow or whenever it was my time to go in, I knew I had to protect the football and help get the job done.”
Tillery said West had an outstanding preseason camp, and the former Brother Martin standout appears ready for his expanded role.
“John is moving up on the depth chart,” Odums said. “We’ve got guys down. The good thing about it is, he came in at a crucial point in time in the game and was very productive for us. The one thing he did that I told him I was most proud about is, he protected the football. He hasn’t had a lot of reps, but going down the stretch he’s going to be one of those guys that we’re going to have to lean on until some of those other guys get healthy.”
Kicker Greg Pittman got quite a workout last Saturday in his first game action since undergoing knee surgery during preseason camp. He was 2-for-3 on field goals, made all four of his PATs and handled all seven kickoffs.
“That was the most he had kicked in five weeks,” special teams coach Marty Biagi said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m pretty tight.’ You don’t normally think of kickers cramping, but he was having to stay loose. It was a long ballgame.”
Southern had a net average of just 25.7 yards on kickoffs and ranks ninth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference with an average of 27.6.
“He’s a very good kicker,” Odums said of Pittman. “He hit some balls in the game that weren’t to my liking, but that’s knocking the rust off. At the end of the day I think he’ll be much better this week. He’s getting better every day. He has a very strong leg, and we’re happy that he’s healthy and back playing again.”
Curtis, not Carter
Ki-Jana Curtis’ name is being called more frequently in the Jaguars rebuilt secondary. Perhaps that will lead to more people getting his name right.
It’s not unusual for Curtis to be confused with Ki-Jana Carter, who was a standout running back at Penn State and with the Cincinnati Bengals before finishing his career with the New Orleans Saints in 2003 and 2004.
“When I first got here, a lot of the coaches called me that,” Curtis said. “They just call me K-J now.”
On the road again
Three groups are offering bus trips to Southern’s game at Alcorn State as well as later road games.
All three groups are offering Alcorn packages for $80 person that include, food, refreshments and game tickets.
For information on the LW Express trips, call Lisa White at (225) 408-9928. For information on The Blue & Gold Fan Club trips, contact Craig Pierre at (225) 324-7234 or Robert Square at (225) 931-4052. For information on the SU Quarterback Club trips, visit southernuniversityqbclub.com or call Jonathan Dearbone at (225) 572-5878, Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906 or Robert Brown at (225) 287-8385.