Each week, Southern’s first 12 offensive plays are planned out ahead of time.
It isn’t uncommon for coordinators to script an opening drive, but Chennis Berry, director of the Jaguars offense, always does exactly 12 plays.
Why 12 plays?
Because it was a good album.
In a nod to the R. Kelly album “12 Play,” Berry scripts a dozen calls to start the game. He tries to spread the ball to his best playmakers.
Quarterback Austin Howard gets some plays. Running back Herb Edwards is in there, too. Wide receiver Randall Menard is supposed to get at least five touches during the drive every week.
But through the first two weeks of the season, Southern has struggled to get the ball into the hands of its biggest playmakers.
Menard had four catches in Week 1 and none in Week 2. Howard has been out with an injury since the fourth quarter of the season opener against South Carolina State.
And Edwards has 85 net yards and no touchdowns.
Even tight end Dillon Beard, the most experienced and consistent pass-catcher on the roster, has four receptions for 54 yards this season.
Part of the slowdown is because of the Jaguars' opponents. Southern only has 437 total yards of offense, two-thirds of which came against South Carolina State alone.
The other part is the absence of Howard, who will miss his second straight game this weekend at UT-San Antonio.
But whatever the reasons may be, Southern needs to find a way to put the ball in the hands of its best players.
“Dillon Beard has got to continue to get better. Menard has got to raise his level,” coach Dawson Odums said. “But these guys are raising their level. It’s a matter of us finding them a trigger that can get them the football.”
As Odums put it, Menard and Beard can’t throw the ball to themselves. That job rests solely on the quarterback.
But no matter who starts at quarterback this weekend, it’s guaranteed to be a freshman. Odums said he hasn't decided from among true freshman Glendon McDaniel, who started last Saturday; John Lampley; or redshirt freshman Darquez Lee.
McDaniel and Lee have been the only quarterbacks to throw a pass this season other than Howard, but neither was consistent.
As a result, even when plays are designed to go to Menard or Beard, the ball doesn’t always reach its target.
“I can talk to them all I want, but at the end of the day, it’s progressions,” Beard said. “What (the quarterback) goes through, what he sees and he makes his decision.”
The slow start is particularly frustrating for Menard, who led the team with 530 yards in 2015 but was injured early last year and never got into a rhythm.
So far, Menard has four catches for 31 yards and no scores.
“I’m 100 percent,” Menard said. “My body feels great, better than I ever felt before. I wish we could get off to a better start, get the ball more, but everything happens for a reason.”
The bus leaves early
The SU Quarterback Club is organizing a bus trip for San Antonio that is leaving at 4 a.m. Friday and returning Sunday morning.
The trip includes two nights in the Riverwalk Courtyard Marriott, a ticket to the game and tailgating food. For information, contact Reginald Jarvis at (225) 939-5906 or Lillian Jones at (225-247-1437).