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

Here are the four keys to Southern's 6 p.m. Saturday game against Miles College. 

No sleeping on the Bears

It’s not Les Miles, it’s Miles College, and anything but a cupcake, schedule-padding buyoff game. The Golden Bears nearly embarrassed Alabama State last week except for a blocked PAT. It can do the same to the Jaguars if their minds aren’t right. Southern players need to come out sharp from the opening whistle and forget about last week’s score. If Miles gets an opening and has early success, it will build confidence as the game goes on. The visitors play a physical style, but so does Southern and the Jaguars need to assert themselves in that respect.

Run hard, run often

The best way to assert dominance is to hammer the opponent with a strong running game. That’s what Miles will try to do but the Jaguars should be able to do it better with a talent and numbers advantage. It would be nice to have hard-running Jerodd Sims back. Even without him, Southern should have an advantage. Ladarius Skelton was checked in the running game last week. He could have a breakout game running the option to then set up the improved passing game. It will start with the running game.

Tackle to the ground

A missed tackle here and there can be deadly. Three times last week, Jaguar players had a chance to make a third-down stop and an inability to get the ball carrier on the ground resulted in a conversion. This is all about angles and leverage. There’s a right way to tackle and a wrong way, and Southern defenders must remember what they’ve learned in tackling drills. First man there should latch on and wait for help. The whole defense needs to think about rallying to the ball. Every yard is vital.

Enjoy the day

College football players love the game, or they wouldn’t put in the work. Saturday is their payoff. Southern will be in front of its fans for the first time without attendance restrictions in some time. There’s no rain in the forecast, there’s no ban on tailgating and Pete Richardson fans get to watch their favorite former Southern coach have the field named after him. It all sets up for a fun day on The Bluff. The team can top it off with exciting plays and the season’s first victory. Play loose and confident and it will come.