Southern's 2019 preseason camp is in the books. Coaches know whom they can count on and decisions will be made on starting jobs and which players travel as the Jaguars move toward the Aug. 31 opener at McNeese State.
After watching tape of the team’s final scrimmage Saturday, coach Dawson Odums liked a lot about what he saw but penalties stuck out as much as anything that happened in the approximately 90 plays.
“We moved the ball offensively, we had a couple of good passes,” Odums said. “The defense had a good day. But the glaring thing was the penalties. We had nine penalties, four offsides penalties, which wasn’t good at all.”
The Jaguars had two holding penalties, a delay of game, an encroachment penalty by the offense and a pass interference penalty by the defense. Odums wasn’t that upset about the holding calls and the pass interference.
“The penalties that don’t require effort are the ones I get upset about,” he said.
Players are aware how much more hurtful pre-snap penalties are and know there’s a price to pay.
“We’ve got to watch the ball,” defensive tackle Dakavion Champion said about the offsides calls. “A lot of guys are anxious but in games those penalties are going to matter a lot. We do up-downs for them every time we jump offsides in practice.”
Odums said he did like the pass rush, which produced three sacks and forced some throw aways. Jordan Lewis, who led the SWAC with 12 sacks, had one of the three by the defense Saturday.
“For the most part we got it done, we’ve got guys that can apply pressure,” Odums said. “That’s not an issue. We’ve got to make sure we stay in our pass rush lanes. I like where we are as a team.
Southern is four-deep at defensive end. Jalen Ivy and Joe Davis are alternating at one end opposite Lewis.
“We’ve got great depth,” Ivy said. “We’re 100 percent confident with whoever we’ve got in there.
“Jordan is a dominant force. He’s a football player. This year, opponents are going to slide the protection towards him, so it enables the other end to get a lot of one-on-one blocks. We’ve got to win those to get to the quarterback.”
Another plus was the ability of running backs to catch the ball. Of the 24 receptions in the scrimmage, 12 went to running backs and both of the touchdowns. Darbbeon Profit took a screen pass 45 yards and Craig Nelson caught a 3-yarder.
Odums said it wasn’t necessarily an indication of the offense gearing towards passes to the backs but the proper progression by quarterbacks.
“The quarterbacks were QBs checking down, recognizing good coverage,” Odums said. “It’s good to see them going through their progressions.
“Craig Nelson did a really good job. The key is keeping his confidence going in the right direction and I think he will continue to improve. We’ve got some depth at that position Chris Chaney is doing well at No. 3, he can do it all. He can catch the ball and he has good feet.”
Odums said sophomore quarterback Glendon “Bubba” McDaniel enjoyed a strong camp and is competing with John Lampley for the backup job behind Ladarius Skelton. McDaniel was 15 of 20 passing for 124 yards a a touchdown. He also ran 9 yards for a score.
“John hasn’t played that bad, but Bubba when he’s gotten in there, has done some good things,” Odums said. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out.”
He’s No. 1
Senior linebacker and leading tackler Calvin Lunkins will be wearing a new jersey number in 2019. It has been a tradition for Jaguar players with the highest grade-point average to earn the No. 1 jersey. Odums bestowed that honor on Lunkins, who wore No. 52 last season, after spring grades were in.
“After graduation I had a 4.0,” Lunkins said. “I texted (Odums) and he texted me back asking if I wanted to wear No. 1. I couldn’t pass that up.”