Southern at UAPB: Teams have had vastly different quarterback play all season _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University Jaguars quarterback Deonte Shorts (2) carries the ball against Alcorn State, Saturday, October 31, 2015, at Southern University's A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.

THE NEXT LEVEL: Jaguars vs. Lions is a tale of two quarterback rotations

There’s a saying in football to the effect that, if you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback.

Generally speaking, the point is supposed to be that good quarterbacks are hard to find, and if you don’t have one you’ve settled on and you’re using multiple players at the position, then you really don’t have a good one.

But it’s not that simple.

For Exhibit A, see the Ohio State Buckeyes of 2014.

Southern visits Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Saturday afternoon, and both teams have used not two — but three — quarterbacks with some regularity. They are contrasting examples of how teams can wind up using multiple quarterbacks — for better or worse.

The Golden Lions’ season certainly supports the notion that, if you’re playing more than one quarterback, you don’t really have one. All three of their quarterbacks have made at least one start, and the team is 1-7 overall and 0-6 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

UAPB ranks second-to-last in the conference in passing efficiency.

“We’ve had three quarterbacks start over the last eight weeks,” coach Monte Coleman said. “So we’re searching to find that magic ingredient, that chemistry that we need.”

The Lions might be on to something — finally.

Redshirt sophomore Marcus Terrell started the first five games, junior Nolan Sorensen the next two and redshirt freshman Brandon Duncan made his first start last week against Prairie View. Duncan threw for 308 yards, the Lions’ season-high, and three touchdowns in a 54-29 loss.

The Jaguars, on the other hand, have stuck with one starter: sophomore Austin Howard, who leads the conference in passing efficiency — though they have gone to the bullpen fairly regularly.

Redshirt sophomore Deonte Shorts has played in six games to present a running complement to Howard’s passing. Redshirt freshman Jarrad Hayes has played in six games in a mop-up role.

The only game in which Howard went the distance was a 45-34 victory at Alabama State on Oct. 10, but there’s no question who the Jaguars’ quarterback is.

Before this year, there was no question who the Lions quarterback was.

His name was Ben Anderson, and he’s the sixth-leading passer in SWAC history.

Four Downs

1. Back to back

If Lenard Tillery has an average game, he could have his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. He needs 117 yards to reach that milestone and is averaging 122 yards per game in SWAC play. In the past two games, Tillery has averaged 173 yards. Last season, he was SU’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 11 years (1,196 yards).

2. Big dropoff

What a difference a game can make. A week after Southern held Texas Southern to minus-2 yards on 30 rushes, it allowed Alcorn State to gain 484 yards on 45 rushes. So the Jaguars enter this game ranked sixth in the SWAC in run defense (161.7) just a week after ranking first (97.2). UAPB averages 129.7 rushing yards.

3. Seeing red

Southern has struggled in the red zone lately, but this might be the opponent to help it fix that. Five of the Jaguars’ six red-zone failures this season have come in the past three games, three of them coming last week. UAPB ranks second-to-last in red-zone defense, having allowed 24 scores, including 20 touchdowns, in 28 trips.

4. Safe to pass

Don’t expect to see UAPB intercept any Southern passes in this game. The Golden Lions could, of course, but they are last in the SWAC with just one interception in league play, the same number Southern has thrown in league play. In all games, UAPB has just four interceptions, and Southern has thrown just three.