1. LOSS LINGERS Alabama A&M celebrated what it thought was a 17-14 win last season when Southern QB Dray Joseph was called for grounding from the Bulldogs 10-yard line and the officials called for the requisite 10-second runoff, which ended the game. But Jaguars coach Dawson Odums pointed out that Southern had a timeout it wished to use to prevent the run-off and the officials reversed themselves. Matt Hill kicked a tying field goal and he kicked a game-winner in double overtime. “I know that’s a feeling they’ll never forget,” Southern RB Lenard Tillery said. “I know emotions are going to be very high and they’re going to be using that as motivation.”
2. LINE SETTLES IN Odums refers to his offensive line as “makeshift” because of several lineup adjustments that have been made due to ineligibility and injury. But the line has stabilized and played one of its best games of the season last week against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Southern has allowed just four sacks this season, second-fewest in the SWAC. Alabama A&M, on the other hand, is last, having allowed 21 sacks. The Jaguars defense had a season-high eight sacks last week, bringing its season total to 14, sixth most in the conference. AAMU is third with 18 sacks.
3. MANY HAPPY RETURNS Southern has had several long kickoff returns this season, including two 98-yarders for touchdowns, one by Willie Quinn and one by Danny Johnson. The Jaguars might have an opportunity for long returns in this game as well. They lead the Southwestern Athletic Conference with an average of 27.9 yards per return. Alabama A&M ranks last in the SWAC in net kickoff average (29.3). The Bulldogs, though, have had success with punt returns, ranking second in the SWAC with an average of 19.0 yards per return.
4. RECEIVERS WANTED Alabama A&M is looking for balance from its receiving corps similar to that of Southern’s. The Bulldogs’ Montaurius Smith is second in the SWAC in yards per catch (17.8) and tied with the Jaguars’ Willie Quinn for sixth in receptions per game (4.2). Last week against Grambling, Smith had seven catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, but Tevin McKenzie (three) was the only other receiver to catch a pass. “It makes a big difference when the defense can concentrate on just one guy,” Bulldogs coach James Spady said. Last week, the Jaguars spread the ball around as Reggie Travis had five catches, Quinn four, Justin Morgan three and Sam Altman two.