The Southern football team kicked things up a notch Tuesday with its hardest and most physical practice of preseason camp.
With a heat index of more than 100 degrees by the end of the day, Southern coach Dawson Odums had his team run high-tempo drills to start practice before moving to full-speed, 11-on-11 drills to finish the day.
“As soon as we put pads on, we’re going to move a little bit faster,” Odums said. “There’s a slowdown as soon as we get into two-a-days (Wednesday). It’ll slow down.”
Odums said he was pleased with the way his team performed, particularly with the level of effort and communication the Jaguars have shown thus far.
“Tonight will all be about mindset,” he said. “We know we have to get better. We have to fight through. We can’t complain. We have to accept the elements.”
The temperature wasn’t the only thing heating up.
Several scuffles broke out between offensive and defensive players during 11-on-11 drills, with several more less-than-friendly hits doled out.
“Guys have been talking all camp, but when you put the pads on, your fighters are going to fight,” Odums said. “It’s just that eagerness and anxiety of that first day in pads. … I don’t know any football team that’s going to go to camp and won’t have a scuffle.”
The first altercation broke out between freshman linebacker LeMar Martin and senior fullback Brian McCain. The second came on the next play when sophomore linebacker Roshaud Turner and junior offensive lineman Anthony Mosley had to be separated.
Odums said he isn’t worried about the altercations since players are protected with pads and helmets, but he does punish them by making the combatants stay in for a few extra plays — to show them how much energy they’re wasting.
“That’s football,” junior defensive back Dionte McDuffy said. “It’s a physical sport, and you have scuffles every now and then. But we never take it into the locker room. Everything stays on the field.”
Odums said he thinks this is the deepest team he has seen during his time at Southern, which is fortunate if preseason camp is a sign of things to come. Several more Jaguars found themselves on the sideline for Tuesday’s practice.
Senior defensive back De’Andre Woodland came up limping during warm-ups. A team spokesman confirmed he had a strained hamstring from Monday’s practice but is expected return to action in the next few days.
Sophomore receiver Randall Menard also spent Tuesday in shorts after injuring his ankle Monday. No timeline was given for his return; he caught balls during quarterback warmups.
Junior receiver Willie Quinn is expected to return to practice by next week at the latest after injuring his jaw during a pickup basketball game before the start of camp. Quinn said he will get the final wires taken out Wednesday, so hopes to be back by the weekend.
Senior nose tackle Jaylen Jordan spent another day in street clothes despite Odums saying he was expected to receive clearance Monday for injuries suffered in a car wreck on his way to camp.
Quick read: Three observations from Tuesday’s practice session
1. The defense dominated Tuesday’s practice, creating several turnovers and effectively collapsing the pocket.
2. Quarterbacks received an increased opportunity to show off their arm strength during practice as the Jaguars focused on the passing game more than they did in previous days.
3. Senior fullback Brian McCain appears to be back to full strength after a foot injury kept him out all of last season. He has been one of the most physical players on the field.