Southern’s offense has scored 145 points on its way to a perfect Southwestern Conference record through three games this season.
But the Jaguars haven’t shown their full hand just yet.
At his weekly luncheon conference, Southern coach Dawson Odums said the offense has a few tricks left up its sleeve and he expects to show off more of its abilities at Southern’s homecoming game against Prairie View A&M this weekend.
“The good thing here is that we have offensive weapons,” Odums said. “If you try to load the box and stop the run game, we throw the ball. If you try to stop the passing game, we run the ball. If you try to do both, we add tight ends to create a longer perimeter and we try to run and pass the ball.
“We’re very creative, and who knows, we got some other stuff we could do that we haven’t had to do.”
Southern had a 45-point showing last weekend at Alabama State that resulted in quarterback Austin Howard earning SWAC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his six total touchdowns against the Hornets, but it’ll need to bring out its full arsenal this weekend as the Panthers bring with them one of the conference’s most potent attacks.
Prairie View A&M leads the conference with 489.8 yards per game and is second only to Grambling in scoring offense, posting 42.8 points per outing.
Southern’s offensive numbers leave them closer to the middle of the conference pack thanks in part to games against Louisiana Tech and Georgia, while the Panthers’ only nonconference match-ups so far have been at Texas State and an exhibition against University of Faith.
Odums said he was unsure if the game would develop into a shootout, but is confident Howard and the rest of the offense can handle it if it does.
“We’re prepared to play whatever style of football we need to play to try to win,” Odums said. “I think we’re explosive enough on offense to put some points up. We’ll be ready to play.”
That confidence in Howard has allowed the Jaguars to open up the variety in their offensive scheme by taking what defenders give them. Odums said he’s always been confident in Howard’s abilities as a player, but his recent performances have provided an opportunity to spread out touches among the offense.
“It’s just a matter of, we don’t have to rely on him to win every game,” Odums said. “We can hand the ball off, we can throw the ball, we can play action, we can boot, we can do a lot of things and get the ball to a lot of different people in order to win ball games.”
But even with Howard’s ability to spread the ball around the field, the Jaguars have struggled to maintain a balanced attack through the first half of the season with the only consistent success being against Jackson State in the home opener when the Jaguars ran for 272 yards and passed for another 403.
They may need to find that balanced dynamic this weekend again, though, to stay up with a Panthers offense that has scored 15 touchdowns both running and passing this season, while averaging 188.6 yards on the ground and 301.2 yard through the air, both of which are second in the conference.
Southern running back Lenard Tillery — who contributed a season-low 55 yards rushing during Howard’s explosive performance against Alabama State — said the day the Jaguars get both attacks clicking together, they’ll “be a team to be reckoned with.”
“If we ever get it together where both are clicking at the same time and we can just stay clicking consistently throughout the game it’s going to be trouble for whatever team we’re up against,” he said.