Podcast: Southern continues to win its way to a meaningful Bayou Classic showdown _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Malcom Crockett (3), Austin Howard (7), Devon Gales (33) and Blake Monroe (27) sing the alma mater with the Human Jukebox following the Jaguars' 28-21 win over Alabama State, Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014, at A.W. Mumford Stadium.

FIVE QUESTIONS, FIVE ANSWERS

1. How well will Southern be able to make up for lost time?

The Jaguars can’t get back the time they lost by not having spring practice due to NCAA sanctions. Though the players did conditioning and individual work in the summer, they missed out on 15 team practices in the spring. All Southern can do is put added emphasis on the need to maximize each moment of preseason camp. There are plenty of young players who will need to grow into expanded roles in a short period of time. Perhaps high-quality work can mitigate the loss of work quantity.

2. How quickly will the offensive line develop continuity?

The line has two new starters on the right side, but one is veteran Anthony Mosley, who returns at right guard after sitting out last season because he wasn’t academically certified. There should be time to develop cohesion before the opener, but this unit figures to grow together throughout the early season. Coach Dawson Odums said he’s unconcerned because a key returnee is offensive line coach Chennis Berry. The line had a revolving door last season and generally played at a high level.

3. Will the Jaguars change the offense in Austin Howard’s second season at quarterback?

Southern leaned on the running game more last season with Howard, who was the SWAC Freshman of the Year, and Deonte Shorts, who was the starter last season before getting injured, both being inexperienced. Lenard Tillery responded with a 1,000-yard rushing season, and he’ll be a major part of the offense again, but the coaches have a better handle on a more seasoned Howard’s strengths and will zero in on those as a complement to Tillery.

4. What impact will the changes to the coaching staff have?

The offensive and defensive coordinators are back, so the systems haven’t changed. The three newcomers to the staff — special teams coordinator/secondary coach Steve Adams, assistant secondary coach Chris Scott and tight ends coach LaQuaid Manago — should be able to make a relatively smooth transition. Again, though, the lack of spring practice hindered the new coaches’ ability to get to know the players quickly.

5. Who will be the Jaguars’ punter?

Southern has little experience among its three punters now that veteran Paul Randle Soden is academically ineligible. PK Greg Pittman could wind up doing double duty as he competes with Murphy Nash III, who punted six times as Soden’s backup last season, and freshman Taylor Merritt from Arcadia. With Soden leading the way last season, the Jaguars were third in the SWAC in net punting (36.7 yards) and fourth in gross punting (40.4).

THE JAGUARS ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO ...

The first day of contact drills: The players say they are eager to get back to hitting one another. There’s no contact in summer workouts, and they didn’t have spring practice or the contact drills and scrimmage that come with it.

The month of October: The Jaguars play three of their first four games on the road, including a game at Georgia on Sept. 26. Once October arrives, they play four of their last seven in Louisiana, including three home games.

TV exposure: The second game of the season — at MVSU — and the home opener a week later vs. Jackson State will be on ESPNU, though the JSU game will be on a tape delay. The Bayou Classic returns to NBC.

Reduced APR chatter: Southern is off NCAA probation due to Academic Progress Rate shortcomings, and the lifting of an NCAA postseason ban makes the Jaguars eligible for the first Celebration Bowl against the MEAC champ if they win the SWAC.

POSITION BATTLES WORTH WATCHING

Left tackle: Reginald Redding and Eric Janeau shared this position last season, and both return. Redding enters camp as the starter, but it remains a competition to see who takes the first snap in the opener at Louisiana Tech.

Free safety: Bryan Anderson was expected to be the returning starter as a sophomore, but he’s academically ineligible. Blake Monroe is next in line, although he could be pushed by freshman Andrea Augustine.

Left defensive end: The Jaguars have big shoes to fill here with the graduation of Arthur Miley. Donald Phillips and Christian Allen are both experienced, but neither has stepped forward to grab the starting position just yet.

Left cornerback: Someone has to take over the spot left vacant by the graduation of D’Andre Woodland. Jamar Mitchell enters camp as the heir apparent, but freshman Demerio Houston could push him.

THREE NEWCOMERS TO WATCH

OL Jodeci Harris: Harris has yet to put on pads for a college practice, so he enters camp No. 3 at left guard. But at 6-foot-7 and 315 pounds, this former Plaquemine standout has the size to contribute right away.

LB/FB Jordan Williams: Williams’ versatility could provide an early playing opportunity for him. Like Harris, he has yet to put on pads, so he’s listed fourth at middle linebacker entering camp.

S Nicholas McDonald: McDonald, a junior-college transfer, is listed No. 2 at free safety behind Dionte McDuffy. He isn’t likely to unseat MCDuffy, but he’s in position to earn playing time as a backup right away.

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Wide receiver (X)

87 Randall Menard 6-3 190 Jr.

9 Justin Morgan 5-10 172 Sr.

Wide receiver (H)

25 Willie Quinn 5-5 145 Sr.

6 Nico Talbert 5-6 161 RJr.

Left tackle

78 Reginald Redding 6-4 300 Sr.

64 Eric Janeau 6-4 290 RSr.

Left guard

67 Jamal Boulden 6-2 266 RJr.

62 Allan Spry 6-0 303 RSr.

Center

65 Terrell Lee 6-2 301 RJr.

53 Alex McKee 6-2 283 So.

Right guard

75 Anthony Mosley 6-2 282 Sr.

71 Collin Legarde 6-3 305 Fr.

Right tackle

76 Skyler Prol 6-6 300 RSo.

Thaddeus Hoffer 6-6 235 Fr.

Tight end

88 Montrell Jones 6-4 240 RSr.

42 Dillon Teard 6-3 235 RJr.

Wide receiver (Z)

89 Mike Jones 6-0 189 RSr.

84 Bradley Coleman 6-5 220 RSr.

Quarterback

7 Austin Howard 6-0 190 So.

2 Deonte Shorts 6-2 180 RSo.

Running back

21 Leonard Tillery 5-10 186 RJr.

3 Malcom Crockett 5-10 201 Sr.

Defense

Defensive end

94 Aaron Tiller 6-1 237 So.

50 John McCain 6-0 260 RJr.

Nose tackle

90 Gabe Echols 6-2 244 Sr.

92 Audry Thompson 6-3 287 Sr.

Defensive end

56 Donald Phillips 6-2 265 RJr.

70 Christian Allen 6-4 258 RSr.

Outside linebacker

98 Daniel Brown 6-2 244 Sr.

96 Darez Joseph 5-11 228 RSr.

Outside linebacker

32 Martin Henry 5-11 230 Jr.

57 Javon Allen 5-11 218 Sr.

Middle linebacker

39 Demetrius Carter 6-0 225 RSr.

55 Kentavious Preston 6-0 240 So.

Nickelback

20 Rhaheim Ledbetter 5-10 206 RSr.

35 Jamal Jenkins 5-9 180 RSr.

Cornerback

29 Jamar Mitchell 5-11 168 RSo.

14 Demerio Houston 5-11 155 Fr.

Free safety

27 Blake Monroe 5-8 175 Jr.

17 Andrea Augustine 6-3 190 Fr.

Strong safety

23 Dionte McDuffy 6-1 205 RSr.

36 Nichols McDonald 5-11 196 Jr.

Cornerback

10 Danny Johnson 5-10 175 So.

19 Elijah Allen 6-1 175 Fr.

Special teams

Kicker/kickoff specialist

18 Greg Pittman 5-11 179 Sr.

60 Taylor Merritt 6-2 190 Fr.

Punter

60 Taylor Merritt 6-2 190 Fr.

30 Murphy Nash III 6-4 200 Jr.

Kick returner

25 Willie Quinn 5-5 145 Sr.

10 Danny Johnson 5-10 175 So.

Punt returner

25 Willie Quinn 5-5 145 Sr.

10 Danny Johnson 5-10 175 So.

Holder

9 Justin Morgan 5-10 172 Sr.

89 Mike Jones 6-0 189 RSr.

Long snapper

58 David-Michael Carrell 6-0 240 Fr.

57 Javon Allen 5-11 218 Sr.