The Southern football team gets a rare treat this weekend.
The players have Friday and Saturday to themselves as they take a brief break during the first of their two open dates this season.
The Jaguars (2-2 and 2-0 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) have another open date Nov. 21 as they usually do a week ahead of the regular-season finale against Grambling in the Bayou Classic.
When asked what he would do with his free time, wide receiver/cornerback Justin Morgan gave a succinct version of a reply offered by several players after going on the road for three of their first four games: “Sleep!”
Running back Lenard Tillery said he plans to attend Homecoming for his alma mater — McKinley High School — Friday night against Central High.
“It’s just perfect planning by somebody, I guess, to have it on Southern’s open date,” Tillery said. “I’m just happy I get to go.”
Running back Malcolm Crockett said he might find time to watch some college football Saturday, but he has a bigger priority.
“I’m probably going to work out and stay in shape and get ready for Alabama State,” he said.
The Jaguars visit Alabama State next Saturday.
The Jaguars said they earned some respect by the way they played against Georgia last week. Though they lost 48-6, they trailed the No. 7 FBS team just 20-6 at halftime.
“(After the game) the Georgia players were like, “We didn’t expect ya’ll to come out and really try to hit us in the mouth like that,” Morgan said. “I guess they’re used to (outmanned) teams just laying down and I guess they were pretty shocked.”
Southern fell behind 17-0 in the first quarter before cutting the deficit to 17-6 and had the ball at midfield before stalling.
“In the first half we at least forced their coaches to have to get on them at halftime and challenge their football team because we came out and competed really well,” Jaguars coach Dawson Odums said.
Morgan was moved from wide receiver to cornerback three games ago and hasn’t played an offensive snap in either of the past two games.
He’s still practicing at wide receiver and he’s a stalwart on special teams, which keeps him busy during practice.
“Practice for me is sort of like a game,” Morgan said. “I never come off the field. It’s fun.”
Morgan used to have to change from a blue jersey to a white jersey when he switched from offense to defense in practice, but not any more.
“They just give me a little cap to put on my head,” Morgan said. “They got tired of how long it took me to switch jerseys.”
Turner turning heads
Roshaud Turner has started the last two games at nickelback after being moved from linebacker a week earlier. Last week he had a game-high eight tackles.
Turner has to play in space more and do more pass coverage as a nickelback. He said he’s lost four pounds since making the move as he tries to get lighter and faster.
“I want to be more of a complete player and be able to do everything,” Turner said, “move around better and if I have to cover I need be able to do that.”
Jamal Jenkins is the third-down nickelback.
Taking care of business
So far, so good with Greg Pittman handling all of the kicking duties, Odums said.
Pittman, the place-kicker for most of the last three seasons is now punting in addition to handling kickoffs, extra points and field goals.
“I think Greg Pittman has done an outstanding job in the first games of handling all of our kicking,” Odums said.
In Southwestern Athletic Conference play, Southern is second in net punting (37.8) and seventh in net kickoffs (31.2).
Time to shave
Odums showed up on the sideline Saturday, clean shaven for the first time since the start of preseason camp.
When asked why he shaved off his beard, Odums blamed it on the on-again, off-again rain that fell before and during the game.
“That stuff itches when it gets wet,” Odums said.
When it was pointed out that Baton Rouge hasn’t exactly been in a drought since the beginning of August, Odums elaborated.
“My wife has been on me too,” Odums said, “and I couldn’t take any more.”