1. DOUBLE DEBUT AT QB
Deonte Shorts is Southern’s new starting quarterback, but he isn’t expected to be the only Jaguars signal-caller to make his college debut Saturday. True freshman Austin Howard of West St. John claimed the No. 2 spot with a strong preseason camp, and coach Dawson Odums said he’d like to get Howard a couple of series in the opener. Howard is a dual-threat as is Shorts, so the coaches shouldn’t be limited in how they use him, though that doesn’t mean they won’t have a specific package designed for Howard.
2. DON’T FORGET THE TIGHT ENDS
The Jaguars depth chart doesn’t list the tight end position, even though they have five of them on the roster. Their absence is a result of the offense featuring two-back and three-receiver sets more often than formations featuring a tight end. But the tight ends — most notably Bradley Coleman and Montrell Jones — will be used. Coleman tied for the fourth-most receptions on the team last season (17), and Jones is a transfer from Rochester (Minn.) Community College.
3. KICKING COMPETITION
A knee injury to starting kicker Greg Pittman leaves senior Matt Hill and recent enrollee Kyle Yonke battling to handle the job. Hill has kicked in each of the last three seasons and has made 9 of 15 field goals, including 2 of 3 last season. Yonke left Colorado State, where he arrived too late to walk on as a kicker, to enroll at Southern after Pittman’s injury three weeks ago. Yonke, a standout prep soccer player, has never kicked in an organized football game.
4. THE BOTTOM LINE
Southern will receive $250,000 for playing this game. FCS schools such as Southern often try to schedule an FBS school such as UL-Lafayette to bring in a bigger payday than they can get from other nonconference options. The Jaguars made $350,000 by opening at Houston last season, but the shorter trip to Lafayette enables the school to avoid paying for hotel rooms, which is a savings of about $25,000.