MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Southern coach Dawson Odums juggled his defensive line during practice this week, looking for an “attitude adjustment.”
He demoted senior nose guard Gabe Echols and junior tackle Donald Phillips in favor of freshmen Christopher Jones and Javon Johnson.
Apparently, Odums got at least part of what he was looking for. When the Jaguars lined up for the first offensive snap against Alabama State on Saturday night, Echols was back in the starting lineup, but Johnson started in Phillips’ spot.
Phillips entered the game on the third snap and Jones entered the game not long after that.
The line and the defense as a whole reposnded with its best half as Southern led by 17 points after two quarters on its way to a 45-34 victory.
Crockett starts over Tillery
An unexpected change to the starting ineup occurred when Malcolm Crockett played the first series in place of Lenard Tillery, the leading rusher in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
No explanation was given for the change, but Tillery was back in the lineup for Southern’s second possession.
Devon Gales recognized
Saturday marked the first game the Jaguars have played since sophomore receiver Devon Gales suffered a severe spinal injury against Georgia on Sept. 26. But Gales was far from forgotten.
Southern players wore a decal with Gales’ No. 33 on the back of their helmets, and Alabama State coach Brian Jenkins presented Odums with a No. 33 Hornets jersey in honor of Gales before the game.
Alabama State also showed a video asking its fans to support The Devon Gales Fund at https://netcommunity.sus.edu/the-devon-gales-fund.
Gales underwent surgery the day afer the injury and has begun a lengthy rehabilitation process at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Slow start for Hornets
The Hornets drove to the Jaguars’ 27 on the game’s first possession, but wound up punting. That marked just the second time in six games this season that ASU did not score on its first possession.
Still winless at home
ASU, which came into the game having won consecutive road games, dropped to 0-3 at home this season.
This is the third of four games that ASU will play during a 20-day period. The Hornets played at Mississippi Valley State on Sept. 26, visited Houston five days later and will visit Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Thursday.
ASU was held scoreless well into the third quarter before the Jaguars gave them a helping hand.
Southern had just taken a 24-0 lead, and kicker Greg Pittman made a nice tackle on the ensuing kickoff return. But during an exuberant celebration of his hit, Pittman hit a Hornets player after the whistle, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The flag gave the Hornets their best starting field position of the night at their 45. ASU drove 55 yards to a touchdown.