Southern is off to a fast start in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, having won its first two league games and scoring 50 points in each.

Now the Jaguars get a taste of Southeastern Conference play when they visit seventh-ranked Georgia on Saturday.

“Hopefully,” coach Dawson Odums quipped Monday during the weekly SWAC coaches teleconference, “we’ll come back with the same number of guys that we take up there.”

Certainly the Bulldogs present the most physical challenge the Jaguars will face this season, if not ever. But, Odums added, Southern can’t allow that to affect its preparations.

“You’ve got to line up and play,” Odums said. “They’re no different than you, they just play for a bigger school with more resources, but they can’t play more than 11 players at a time. You’ve got to go in there with the right mindset to play your very best just to give yourself a chance.”

Howard Player of Week

Another week, another Jaguar is honored by the SWAC.

Quarterback Austin Howard was named SWAC Offensive Player of the Week after passing for a career-high 395 yards in the 50-13 victory against Jackson State last Saturday.

Howard, a sophomore from West St. John High School, completed 21-of-32 passes, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Willie Quinn. He also ran for a 4-yard touchdown and a 10-yard touchdown, finishing with 29 rushing yards.

“I thought it was the first time this season that he played a complete football game,” Odums said. “He managed the game the way it needed to be managed, and so he was able to move the ball up and down the field.

“I was happy to see him in a comfort zone where he was able to deliver the ball on target to receivers who were able to make plays.”

Other award winners

The SWAC also honored Alabama State linebacker Kourtney Berry (defense), Grambling kicker Marc Orozco (specialist) and Alabama A&M quarterback De’Angelo Ballard (newcomer).

Berry had a game-high 19 tackles in a 34-10 loss to Grambling.

Orozco was 2-for-2 on field-goal attempts and averaged 46.2 yards per punt, twice pinning Alabama State inside its 20-yard line.

Ballard, a junior-college transfer, passed for 352 yards and three scores and rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns in a 53-49 loss at Prairie Views. He completed 14-of-29 passes.

Effective strategy

This is the first time this season that the Specialist of the Week award didn’t go to Quinn, who had three returns for touchdowns in the first two games.

Jackson State was effective in kicking away from Quinn, as Darcy Williamson used squibs on kickoffs and aimed for the sideline on punts. Quinn had 10 yards on two kickoff returns and 4 yards on his only punt return.

“(Williamson) did a great job of not letting Quinn beat us,” Jackson State coach Harold Jackson said. “But they got help from other places.”

Southern outgained the Tigers 675-430, and Quinn caught six passes for 107 yards and a 43-yard touchdown.

West division showdown

While Southern ventures out of conference play this week, Grambling and Prairie View meet in the annual State Fair Classic in Dallas. The winner will have a leg up on becoming the Jaguars’ top challenger in the West.

Prairie View is tied with Southern atop the West, and Grambling is 1-0.

The only other intradivision match-up has Alabama State visiting Mississippi Valley State. Jackson State plays its first home game when it meets Texas Southern, and Alabama State visits Mississippi Valley State.

Alcorn State, like Southern, steps out of SWAC play to host Concordia.

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.