1. UNDER CENTER
Southern’s QB position is still a work in progress. Freshman Austin Howard has gone the distance in each of the last four games after relieving Deonte Shorts in the first three before Shorts was injured. Shorts is available after looking sharp in practice this week. “Austin has gotten better every week and he continues to get better throughout practice,” coach Dawson Odums said. “I’ve been impressed with what he’s been doing,” Shorts said of Howard. “He’s made a lot of progress since the start of camp. He’s doing a very good job.”
2. JSU’S AIR ATTACK
There’s no doubt about how the Tigers
will man their quarterback position.
La Monitez Ivy has been the focal point of their offense. He leads the SWAC in passing yards per game (242.9) and is second in passing efficiency (137.0) and total offense (259.7). “He’s completing some passes and you watch him on film and he delivers a good football,” Odums said, “but a lot of teams have been able to get to him and fluster him a little bit.” Southern has 13 of its 18 sacks in the last two games.
3. THIRD DOWN FOR WHAT?
These are the SWAC’s two worst teams at third-down defense. JSU is allowing 42.6 percent of opponents’ third downs to be converted into firsts. Southern is allowing 45.3 percent. The Jaguars had their worst performance three games ago against Alcorn State, allowing 11 of 15. They regrouped and held Arkansas-Pine Bluff to 6 of 16 a week later. Then in their last game at Alabama A&M two weeks ago, they allowed 7 of 11 in the first half but improved to 3 of 11 in the second.
4. TURNOVER TIGERS
Southern might be wise to adhere to the sports adage, “If your opponent is beating himself, stay out of the way.” The Tigers are tied for seventh in the SWAC in turnover margin (minus-4). The Jaguars are even, ranking fifth. In JSU’s last two losses it was penalized 14 times for 161 yards against Mississippi Valley two weeks ago and 11 times for 105 against Prairie View a week earlier. For the season, Southern has the fewest penalties (53) and fewest penalty yards per game (61.7). JSU is sixth in penalty yards 72.3.