Second-year Southern coach Stump Mitchell said that on certain downs, he’d sometimes like to call more daring plays and go for broke.
But right now, Mitchell said, he can’t afford to.
“The second-and-1, as you well know - that’s usually a situation where coaches say, 'This is the time we can go for it,’” said Mitchell, who elected to keep throwing the ball with a fourth-quarter lead Saturday against Jackson State.
“Well, on second-and-1, I simply try to pick up the first down so I wouldn’t get a third-and-1 situation. We are not able to get it at that particular point in time.”
That’s because the Southern run game has been almost nonexistent so far.
After three games, the Jaguars have 82 rushing yards on 65 attempts, an average of 1.3 yards per carry. Their leading rusher in each game has been a quarterback. J.P. Douglas had 17 yards in the season opener, and Dray Joseph had a combined 50 yards in the past two games.
Because the running game was largely punchless Saturday, the Jaguars kept throwing in the fourth quarter. Because they couldn’t kill the clock, JSU had time to rally for a 28-24 win at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
The reason for Southern’s struggling ground game is simple, Mitchell said.
While the offensive line has typically excelled in pass protection, it hasn’t been a great run-blocking unit.
“We’ve just got to continue to work on it,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully, for this next game, we’ll be much better than we’ve been the first three games.”
The Jaguars (1-2) face Florida A&M (1-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Could’ve done more?
SU linebacker Jamie Payton had a whale of a game Saturday: 11 tackles, one sack, two hurries, one interception and one fumble recovery.
Yet after the game, the senior said he wished his defense could’ve done more. The unit, which was on the field for 35:01, gave up the game-winning touchdown with 4:36 remaining.
“All the turnovers we caused is a good part of the defense. But as a whole, we missed some tackles, missed assignments,” Payton said. “We had penalties. ... Those little things could’ve made a difference in the football game.”
Praise for JSU coach
Mitchell, who has now lost back-to-back heartbreakers against Jackson State and its coach, Rick Comegy, gave his adversary high marks Monday morning, adding that JSU should give its sixth-year coach a new deal.
“I don’t think coach Comegy is going to have a problem finding a job if they don’t sign him to a contract (extension),” Mitchell said. “I think they probably need to go ahead and do it, because he’s a fantastic coach, and he’s been successful every place that he’s been.”
Comegy is in the final year of a contract that pays him $186,000 annually. He is 35-24 at Jackson State and 3-0 this season - but like Mitchell’s team, the Tigers are ineligible to play in the SWAC Championship Game because of their substandard score in the Academic Progress Rate.
The Blue & Gold Club is sponsoring a bus trip to Atlanta for Saturday’s game. The cost is $150 per person and includes a game ticket and refreshments. The hotel cost is $79, payable directly to the hotel. For information, call Craig Pierre at (225) 324-7234, Robert Square at (225) 931-4052, Eddie Braxton at (225) 654-7245, or Arthur Jack at (225) 315-8682.