Although Southern’s pass defense has been relatively solid through two games - opposing quarterbacks have completed only 45 percent of their throws - second-year coach Stump Mitchell said he’s still looking for more big plays from his secondary.
More to the point: When the Jaguars (1-1, 1-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference) face Jackson State (2-0, 0-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in A.W. Mumford Stadium, Mitchell would love to see some interceptions.
During a 21-6 victory over Alabama A&M last week, SU had 11 pass breakups, but no interceptions.
The Jaguars are, in fact, still searching for their first takeaway this season.
They also remember last year’s game at Jackson State. In that game, star quarterback Casey Therriault threw for 317 yards and five touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 2 seconds left in a 49-45 thriller.
And although SU had one interception, defensive backs remember dropping a few more.
Mitchell said Monday that JSU has “the best passing game in the SWAC,” but also noted, “We got our hands on some passes and we did not hold on to them. We have to take some of those opportunities capitalize on them by (getting) interceptions or forcing turnovers to give our offense a short field to work on.”
SU cornerback Virgil Williams added: “Last year against Jackson State, we had the big plays there. We just didn’t make them. That gave them second chances. ... This week, we’ve got to make those plays. We can’t give a team like Jackson State, with their kind of quarterback, second chances.”
If recent history is a good indicator, Southern might have a few chances to force a turnover.
In a 35-29 win over Tennessee State last week, JSU had five turnovers, including four fumbles.
“We just had too many turnovers to really get the point spread the way we wanted to get it,” JSU coach Rick Comegy said.
Same foe, different game?
In an ugly Sept. 3 season opener, Southern was pounded in a 33-7 loss to Tennessee State.
Last week, on the other hand, JSU piled up 477 yards of offense and defeated Tennessee State 35-29, despite its five turnovers.
What, then, to make of the difference? Does that mean Jackson State is a heavy favorite Saturday against Southern?
Maybe not, Comegy said.
“I think it’s a game of emotions and how people play you, and I don’t think we’ll see the same team that played Tennessee State,” he said. “I think we’ll see a team that’s going to come out with a different attitude in their own ballpark.”
LSWA honors Joseph
The Louisiana Sportswriters Association named quarterback Dray Joseph its offensive player of the week Monday.
Joseph completed 18 of 27 passes for 308 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Jaguars’ 21-6 win over Alabama A&M last week.
It was Joseph’s second career 300-yard passing game. As a freshman last season, he threw for 394 yards in a loss at Alcorn State.
Southern is asking fans to wear Columbia blue for Saturday’s game - one of four color-themed home games this season. ... Saturday’s game will stream live on the SWAC website, www.swac.org. ... Anthony Balancier had six tackles in his return to linebacker Saturday, his natural position. Balancier worked out as a safety during the preseason. “I’m back home now,” he said.