Southern homecoming gameday: Can Prairie View put the Jaguars in a tough spot? _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern University defensive tackle Gabe Echols (90) and Southern University linebacker Darez Joseph (96) celebrate after sacking Jackson State quarterback LaMontiez Ivy (9) in the third quarter, Saturday, September 19, 2015, at Southern University's A.W. Mumford Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Top storyline

Southern has yet to trail in a Southwestern Athletic Conference game this season.

Prairie View will try to do something the three previous opponents have failed to do. Southern has won easily against Mississippi Valley State (50-13), Jackson State (50-31) and Alabama State (45-34).

The Jaguars held a lead for all but 17 minutes and 13 seconds of the 180 minutes in those games. In each game, they took the lead in the first quarter and played from ahead the rest of the way.

Against Valley, Southern took the lead after 4:04, against JSU it took the lead after 1:27 and last week against ASU it took longer — 11:42.

So even though the Jaguars have clearly been the better team in each of the three games, there’s no evidence of how they will respond when they inevitably face a deficit, whether it’s against the Panthers or someone else down the road.

Southern, though, does know how its first three SWAC opponents have felt because it was on the other end of a similar equation in losing two nonconference games.

In the season opener at Louisiana Tech, the Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead after 5:44 and led 24-0 after 13:42 before the Jaguars scored. Tech rolled to a 62-15 rout.

Three weeks ago at Georgia, Southern was more competitive in the early going. Though the Bulldogs grabbed a 3-0 lead after 5:18 and built it to 17-0 after one quarter, the Jaguars got within 17-6 late in the second quarter. Georgia kicked a field goal late in the second quarter and outscored Southern 28-0 in the third quarter and coasted to a 48-6 win.

So the Jaguars know the advantages of playing with a lead.

Four downs

1. Dynamic duo Prairie View’s Johnta’ Hebert was the first-team All-SWAC return specialist last season and Southern’s Willie Quinn was the second-team pick, spots they kept on this year’s preseason team. “They’re probably the two most dynamic players in this league,” Panthers coach Willie Simmons said.

2. SWAC shootout? Hebert is also a dynamic running back and Quinn is also a dynamic wide receiver, and they’re two reasons this game could turn into a shootout. The Jaguars average 48.3 points in SWAC play and the Panthers average 47.5. “If you like SWAC football, this is what you want to see,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said.

3. Different paces Though these are two of the highest-scoring teams in the SWAC, they have gone about it in different ways. The Jaguars haven’t held the ball as long as the Panthers, possessing it less than their SWAC opponents have. They rank eighth in time of possession (28:19) while the Panthers rank first (33:16).

4. 7s, not 3s If this game is as high scoring as the statistics suggest, settling for field goals in the red zone could be a problem. Southern is tied for first in the SWAC in red-zone scoring (94.4 percent) and Prairie View is fourth (84.6). Among the Jaguars’ red-zone scores, 73 percent have been touchdowns compared to 60 percent for the Panthers.