The Next Level: Southern steps up against another FBS foe
Southern opens on the road against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for the fourth consecutive season. The other three games didn’t go well. Losses to New Mexico, Houston and Louisiana-Lafayette came by a combined score of 173-40.
Against New Mexico, Southern trailed 7-0 after one quarter, then gave up 38 second-quarter points, spurred by a fumble recovered in the Jaguars’ end zone in a 66-21 rout.
“In that first quarter, guys were getting after it,” running back Lenard Tillery said, “and there’s one turnover, and that’s the turning point.”
Against Houston, Southern trailed 13-6 midway through the second quarter before losing contact in a 62-13 loss.
Against UL-Lafayette, a dropped pass in the red zone and a missed short field goal prevented the Jaguars from cutting into a 10-0 deficit, and SU went on to a 45-6 loss.
“From that point on, it just seemed that things went downhill,” Tillery said.
Southern has a second trip to an FBS school this season: a Sept. 25 matchup at No. 9 Georgia.
Tech has its own recent FBS-FCS matchup that doesn’t bring fond memories. It came in Week 4 last season in Ruston when Northwestern State beat the Bulldogs 30-27.
“That game is something for us to learn from, and for us to know that we can be beat at any time,” Tech defensive end Vontarrius Dora said. “Everyone is going to give us their best shot.”
Les East’s Four Downs
1. Have a take
Tech led the country in takeaways (42) and tied for the most interceptions (26) last season. “You know they’re going to take advantage of every mistake that you make so every turnover could turn into points,” SU running back Lenard Tillery said. “In a game, if the defense scores, that could just kill the morale of the team.”
The Jaguars know what to expect from Tech — sort of. They are assuming the offense under new starting QB Jeff Driskel will be similar to last year’s with former starter Cody Sokol and that new defensive coordinator Blake Baker, promoted from secondary coach, won’t change much of what Manny Diaz did last season.
3. Quick Quinn
Southern’s Willie Quinn averaged 22.2 yards per punt return last season, which Tech coach Skip Holtz called “absolutely unheard of.” Holtz would like to kick away from Quinn, but said “right now, when we kick and punt, I do not know where it is going. We may kick it to the guy in the first row.”
4. Visualize the day
Jaguars LB Daniel Brown has played Saturday’s game in his mind. He visualizes his first sack since he led the team with 5.5 two years ago before being ineligible last season. “When class is finished,” he said, “I stay an extra 15 minutes because I’ll just be lost in my thoughts, thinking about the opportunities.”