WHAT WE LEARNED
Start with the positive: Austin Howard not only looks completely healthy for the first time since the opener, but also appears to have developed a strong rapport with his young receivers. The timing was excellent Saturday. Now the negative: That was a concerning performance from the Southern defense, which had looked like it turned a corner the previous two weeks.
His name won’t shine brightly on the box score, but Southern may not have won that game had it not been for the fourth-quarter heroics of defensive back Demerio Houston. Houston knifed through a block to make a tackle for loss on one key fourth down, then deflected a pass that resulted in an interception. Those plays loom large on a night Southern won by a tighter-than-expected margin.
What do we make of Southern after this game? Arkansas-Pine Bluff is a lower-echelon SWAC team, and has been for a few years, but it hung 40 points on Southern and was right there in the game. But the team was also playing a day after the unexpected death of Dr. Debra Fountain, who several players on the team were close to. It was a strange game with an unfortunate set of circumstances surrounding it.