Southern matched up against Troy for the season opener in Troy, Alabama Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Troy defeated the Jaguars 55-5.

The fall weather hasn’t caught up to the beginning of college football season. Let the festival begin anyway.

That kind of atmosphere can be expected Saturday when Southern opens its six-game home football schedule against Division II Miles College at A.W. Mumford Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

Tailgating will return to The Bluff after the pandemic-abbreviated spring season that offered only one home game and limited attendance. Fans will be required to mask before entering and when inside the stadium, but other restrictions have loosened.

Before the game, recognition of the school naming the field after former coach Pete Richardson will be made. Most of all, fans are expected to flood in to celebrate football again. It’s something interim coach Jason Rollins is counting on as he goes for his first victory.

“Jag Nation is excited, the community of Baton Rouge is excited to play a home game, get back to what it was like,” Rollins said. “Tailgating and a great game day atmosphere ... we’re really excited for the players to play in front of their family, classmates, coaches and teammates.

“Moving forward is exciting. We only had one home game in the spring. It’s going to be new for a lot of guys playing in Mumford Stadium with all the bells and whistles.”

Rollins would like to quickly put last week’s 55-3 loss to Troy in the past and move forward with his team that returns 21 of 22 starters from the spring season.

“We want to get back to who we are and play up to our standards,” Rollins said. “We have to look at the tape, look in the mirror and see exactly who we are and what we want to be.”

Rollins said quarterback Ladarius Skelton is “good to go” after being shaken up last week. He threw two interceptions and completed only seven of 11 passes for 85 yards with two interceptions. But Rollins said overall Skelton played well and looks for more from his senior quarterback.

Southern will rely on its strong running game behind a veteran offensive line to set the tone. The defense also must prepare for an opponent that plays a tough, physical style, and tries to play ball control on offense to limit its opponents’ opportunities.

“They’re very well-coached, very disciplined,” Rollins said of the Golden Bears, who won back-to-back SIAC titles under coach Reginald Ruffin. “You don’t win the conference by just rolling the ball out. They know what they’re doing and why they are doing it. We are very well aware of who Miles College is. We respect them.”

Miles nearly upset Alabama State last week before falling 14-13 in overtime.

Rollins said Southern struggled last week because it lost the four main battles: turnovers, third down offense, third down defense and the running game. The Jaguars, the Southwestern Athletic Conference's leading rushing team the past two seasons, had only 81 yards and struggled to stay on the field.

Southern quarterbacks threw four interceptions, giving the Troy offense short fields.

“We have to protect the ball, the ball is the game,” Rollins said. “We’re going to work this week to get back in position to win those categories. I was overall pleased with the defensive line. We have to tighten up our coverage in the secondary a little more.”

“Miles is a traditional powerhouse in their conference, a very fundamentally sound and aggressive football team. It’s going to be a great game for us.”