Last week against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southern deployed a completely healthy version of its 1-2 punch at running back in a full game for the first time since the season opener.
The effect of having both Herb Edwards and Devon Benn operating at full speed was evident.
The two backs combined to churn out 211 rushing yards on 31 carries, and Benn’s 46-yard touchdown run — the longest run by a Southern running back this season — was the difference in Southern’s 47-40 win.
“It’s a double threat in the backfield, so the more weapons we have on the field, the more opportunities we have to score,” said Edwards. “I love to see great athletes play the game, and (Benn is) one of those.
The distribution in carries between the two is interesting.
Benn looked like he’d emerged as the lead horse when he ran for 134 yards against Alcorn State earlier this season, but when he sustained a knee injury against Fort Valley State, Edwards was thrust into a significant role.
Edwards, who dealt with a hamstring injury earlier this season that caused him to miss the UT-San Antonio game, has shined since Benn’s injury, averaging 21.3 carries and 137.5 yards per game in Southern’s four-game win streak.
He did see a fairly significant drop in usage with Benn back in the fold, however. After averaging 24 carries per game in the two games Benn missed entirely, Edwards received 18 carries in Arkansas.
However Southern decides to proceed with the timeshare moving forward — coach Dawson Odums said when one is “rolling, we play with that one guy” — Southern’s rush offense will be tested Saturday.
Prairie View enters Saturday’s game with the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s No. 2 rushing defense, giving up just 116 yards per game on the ground.
1: WHICH PV WILL WE SEE?
Prairie View ranks No. 2 in the SWAC in rush offense, averaging 163.1 yards per game, but that figure is largely held up by the first four games, when the Panthers averaged 184.8 yards on 42 attempts per game. The past three games, those numbers have dipped to 90 yards and 23.3 attempts per game.
2: ANOTHER STEP FORWARD?
Since Southern made the decision to put three freshman wide receivers in its starting lineup, the youngsters have steadily progressed as playmakers, culminating in the first 100-yard receiving day by a Southern receiver (Jamar Washington) last week.
3: WATCH OUT!
Southern’s coverage units have done a nice job neutralizing the opposing return game this season, but the Jaguars could be tested by Prairie View. Panthers receiver Darius Floyd is averaging 33.6 yards per return to lead the SWAC, nearly 8 yards more on average than the man behind him.
4: STAY RED HOT
During its four-game win streak, Southern is averaging 37 points per game. The key statistic? The Jaguars have made 17 trips to the red zone and have scored a touchdown on 15 of them. That compares favorably to the first four games of the season, when Southern scored just two TDs in six trips.
Numbers to know
550 — Herb Edwards' rushing yards in the past four games. He is No. 2 in the SWAC in rushing.
1 — Touchdown pass needed by Austin Howard to break Dray Joseph’s career school record (73).
7-0 — Southern’s record at A.W. Mumford Stadium since installing the artificial turf field before last season.