Southern offensive line coach Chennis Berry refers to his group as “the nickel” — a unit of five.
In the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette last Saturday, that unit included two new pieces, but the changes didn’t seem to weaken the continuity.
Left tackle Reginald Redding was sidelined by a concussion, and guards Anthony Mosley and Terrell Lee, who would have moved into the lineup in Redding’s absence, were withheld because they haven’t been academically certified.
Left guard Zach Brown, center Brandon Thibodeaux and right tackle Dewayne Houston started in their customary spots. Neako Jones started at left tackle, and Jamal Boulden started at right guard. Jones and Boulden are walk-ons.
The loss of Mosley, a first-team preseason All-Southwestern Athletic Conference pick, was especially challenging.
“Those five guys worked so hard together, and when you lose one of them, you might as well lose all five of them,” head coach Dawson Odums said Tuesday. “(Mosley) is the one guy on that line that brings energy.
“It took a while for them to realize, ‘You know what? We’ve got to still play even though he’s not here.’ But he’s the emotional leader of that group. He’s one of our captains, so when it’s fourth-and-one, your captain is in the huddle saying, ‘Let’s go get it.’ He’s that kind of guy, and I’m sure not having him, the morale was down. But at the end of the day, I was still proud of Jones and Boulden.”
The patchwork line did not allow a sack.
“Of course you’re going to miss Anthony,” fullback Brian McCain said, “but Neako and Bolden stepped up and showed they could get the job done. That shows how much talent and depth we have. If we need to put those guys in, they can make plays.”
Southern was penalized just five times for 35 yards Saturday, which was a dramatic improvement from early last season.
The Jaguars averaged 14 penalties for 124 yards in its first three games last season, including 14 for 126 in the season opener at Houston.
“It shows the discipline,” Odums said. “It shows the attention to detail. We had a focused group. If you had a chance to sit in our team room Friday night, you would have seen a group that was mentally locked into what was going on. They were making their calls, making their checks so they were ready to play.”
Tight ends have impact
Southern’s tight ends sometimes get overshadowed by the team’s deep group of talented wide receivers.
But against the Ragin’ Cajuns, three of the eight Jaguars who caught passes were tight ends. Bradley Coleman caught four passes for 41 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown; Dillon Beard caught one pass for 9 yards and Montrell Jones one for 5 yards.
“We’re deep at tight end,” Odums said. “All these guys are big guys that can work the middle of the field. That’s going to be an added weapon that opens up the outside. We’re excited about their production. We’ve just got to keep getting better.”
Odums said place-kickers Kyle Yonke and Matt Hill will compete in practice this week to determine who will kick Saturday. Yonke did the kicking last week and missed both kicks — a 29-yard field goal and an extra point — in his debut in an organized football game.
“He didn’t kick the football bad,” Odums said. “You have to understand that’s his first time. He probably had some nerves, but he’ll get better. One thing about this football team, if you’ve been following it since I’ve been here, the No. 1 thing we take pride in is getting better every week, correcting our mistakes.
“We don’t get down on guys because they do this or they do that. They’re all we’ve got. So it’s our job to keep being positive, keep motivating them and it’s their job to rise to the challenge, and we feel like we’ve got that kind of young men in this program.”
Menard awaits MRI results
Receiver Randall Menard missed practice Tuesday night because of an injury to his left foot he suffered Saturday.
Menard’s cleats got caught in the turf. He hurt the big toe on his left foot in the first quarter and did not return. Odums said he’s awaiting results of an MRI on the toe.
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