Classes have started at Southern, and the Jaguars first assignment is Louisiana Tech.
Southern finished preseason camp Saturday, started classes Monday, and held its first post-preseason camp practice Tuesday night. It’s still two weeks until game week, but it’s not too early for Southern to start phasing in preparation for the Bulldogs.
The Jaguars open the season against Tech on Sept. 5 in Ruston.
“Now that camp is over, we’re starting to get more into focusing on our opponent,” wide receiver Nico Talbert said before practice Tuesday.
“We’ve been looking at that film for a while,” running back Lenard Tilery said.
Southern’s primary focus Tuesday was working on sloppiness from its camp-ending scrimmage.
“Three weeks preparing for a team, you can really get lost in the shuffle,” coach Dawson Odums said. “We’ll clean up some of the mistakes we made and then introduce some of the stuff that we think La. Tech is going to do.”
The Jaguars can expect the Bulldogs, who won the Conference USA West division last season and beat Illinois in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, to present challenges on both sides of the ball.
Former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel takes over the offense and has a running dimension as well as a strong arm. He has plenty of talented targets in former LSU receiver Paul Turner, Trent Taylor and Carlos Henderson.
Kenneth Dixon is the Bulldogs all-time leading rusher, and coach Skip Holtz wants to get him more involved in the passing game. Last season, Dixon rushed for 1,299 yards and had 1,684 total yards and 28 touchdowns.
The Jaguars always emphasize ball security on offense, and that will be especially important against the Bulldogs. Tech led the nation in takeaways (42) last season, and they return three starters in the secondary after getting 26 interceptions a year ago, tied for most in the country.
Additionally, the Bulldogs were 17th in the country against the run, allowing 118.2 yards per game on the ground.
Even as Southern begins implementing what Tech does, it’s still honing what it’s going to do. Odums said the end of camp provided an opportunity to evaluate what the Jaguars did best and zero in on that while discarding what they didn’t do well.
There wasn’t much for the offense to discard after it scored eight touchdowns Saturday. But, quarterback Austin Howard said, there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“That was just a little taste of what you’re going to get during the season,” Howard said with a smile.
Linebacker Demetrius Carter said the opportunity to start preparing for the Bulldogs is a welcome relief from the monotony of camp.
“I’m tired of going against our offense, Tillery and those guys,” Carter said. “I’m ready for La. Tech right now.”
It’s still too early to implement a game plan, but the coaches have done enough homework to start spoon-feeding what the Bulldogs do to lay the foundation for the upcoming game preparation.
“The coaches have already done their job,” cornerback Danny Johnson said. “So now, it’s on us to do our job.”
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.