Southern football coach Dawson Odums said Monday the team’s quarterback competition will continue this week but if the Jaguars had to play now, backup Bubba McDaniel would be the starter.
Speaking on the weekly SWAC coaches teleconference, Odums complimented the play of his quarterbacks but did not name a starter for Saturday’s homecoming game against Alabama A&M at 4 p.m. in A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“We’re going to figure it out,” Odums said. “We’ll go with a starter and the other guy will be ready as need be. We’ll decide that as we get closer to Wednesday and Thursday.
“If we had to go today, we’d probably go with McDaniel, but since we don’t it will play itself out in practice.”
McDaniel relieved starter Ladarius Skelton after two possessions in Southern’s 27-13 loss to Alcorn State. McDaniel immediately led Southern on a 20-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a 2-yard scoring run by McDaniel for a 6-3 halftime lead.
Skelton, who has started all eight games this season, returned in the fourth quarter with Alcorn leading 27-6. He guided a fourth-quarter touchdown drive which resulted in a 12-yard scoring pass from Skelton to Hunter Register with 2:18 left.
Skelton was six of 10 for 49 yards on his first two drives and finished with 13 completions in 20 attempts for 114 yards. McDaniel completed 12 of 18 passes for 95 yards.
Southern’s team passing is second-to-worst in the SWAC, averaging 169.4 yards, ahead of only Mississippi Valley State (123.4). Jaguars passers have thrown only 10 touchdown passes, tied for second worst, and have thrown nine interceptions, including two on Saturday.
“We knew it would be a tough football game,” Odums said. “We were prepared. Their team knows how to win. We didn’t make enough plays in the second half.”
Southern failed to force a turnover and committed two against Alcorn and also hurt itself with penalties. The Jaguars were penalized 11 times for 103 yards, including six for 62 yards in the first quarter. Alcorn State converted five of 11 first downs, two of them on penalties after incomplete passes on third down.
“We had 11 penalties, we had three and four the two games before,” Odums said. “A different team showed up. You can’t make penalties and allow teams to stay on the field.”
Southern had a 13-play drive that resulted in an interception on its first possession and held Alcorn to five plays for zero yards in the second quarter while holding a 17:53-12:07 edge in time of possession. The second half was a different story with Alcorn holding the ball 20:20 to Southern’s 9:40.
“When you control the football, it gives you a chance to rest your defense and keep an explosive offense off the field," Odums said. "Those drives are who we are. It’s a testament to the kind of players we have on offense.”
ALABAMA A&M UPDATE
The Bulldogs come to Southern with a sense of urgency. Alabama A&M is still in the East Division race after last week’s 43-41 triple overtime victory against rival Alabama State in the Magic City Classic.
Running back Jordan Bentley rushed for 197 yards on 39 carries and scored four touchdowns as A&M rallied from a 21-0 deficit. The Bulldogs’ defense stopped a two-point conversion in the third overtime to seal the victory.
Bentley is the SWAC’s second leading rusher with 859 yards and has 12 rushing TDs. Quarterback Aqueel Glass is the league’s leading passer with 2,298 yards and 21 touchdown passes.
Southern’s loss to Alcorn State didn’t hurt the Jaguars much in the BOXTOROW HBCU polls released Monday. Southern dropped from No. 5 to No. 6 in the coaches rankings and stayed at No. 7 in the media poll.
Alabama A&M did move up to No. 7 in the coaches top 10 and No. 8 according to the media.
Florida A&M remained No. 1 in both polls and Alcorn State No. 2. The Braves received two first place votes in each poll.