Southern coach Dawson Odums said his staff hasn’t considered making a change at starting quarterback, but the subject may be broached this week after Ladarius Skelton’s slow start contributed to a 27-21 loss at Florida A&M on Saturday.
“We haven’t considered a change but we’re 1-3 and we’re at the table for discussion,” Odums said during Monday’s SWAC football coaches teleconference. “We’re trying to figure out who is going to give us the best chance to win by playing to our expectations.”
Skelton was replaced in the second quarter after the first four series when he completed two of six passes for 24 yards and was sacked twice, once for a safety. Skelton appeared hesitant on his throws and had trouble finding his receivers. One incompletion was badly overthrown, and another was almost intercepted.
Backup Bubba McDaniel entered the game and capped a touchdown drive with a 1-yard scoring run. He also struggled, throwing two interceptions. Skelton re-entered the game in the third quarter and threw a TD pass to Jamar Washington and then ran 9 yards for another to put Southern ahead, 21-19.
Southern managed only two first downs and 14 yards after Skelton’s touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“It’s not the difference in the two, it’s the preparation,” Odums said. “You’ve got to prepare yourself to be a consistent quarterback. If you don’t, you make it hard on everybody. We have to figure out who is going to be the best guy. As of today, no changes but we have to sit down as a staff and continue to evaluate our program and figure out who gives us the best chance to win.”
Skelton went nine of 12 for 90 yards in the second half but struggled with timing and delivering the ball. Odums said the Jaguars had opportunities for completions and that receivers were open.
Odums also said Skelton was far from the only culprit. The Jaguars defense surrendered 474 yards, including 355 passing, to FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley. The Jaguars had only one sack and zero quarterback hurries.
“We weren’t able to get a lot of pressure and (FAMU) had receivers that made good catches,” he said. “A couple times we had coverage there and they were still able to get the ball in. The biggest thing is we’ve got to be competitive. We’ve got to challenge receivers. If not, you’re going to see the same thing this week.
“We’ve got to figure it out. Our guys are not starting games fast. It’s been a trend for seven years. It’s not like we’re not accustomed to it but we’ve got to figure it out with this group, how we can play well from start to finish.”
It doesn’t get easier for the Jaguars. Southern travels to take on Arkansas-Pine Bluff Saturday in a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Golden Lions (3-1) have won three consecutive games after losing the opener to TCU, 39-7.
In Saturday’s 37-31 victory against Tennessee State, quarterback Shannon Patrick completed 14 of 21 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Taeyler Porter, who led the SWAC in rushing last season, had 113 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
Harry Ballard caught seven passes for 112 yards and also scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run. UAPB outgained Tennessee State 519-439. The Lions defense collected two sacks among their five tackles for loss and one interception.
“They have a recipe where their players are buying in and you can see it on the field,” Odums said. “They execute at a high rate, and they fly around on defense. They’re playing two quarterbacks. Both have a good understanding their packages. Their receiving corps is one of the best in the conference.”
The Jaguars dropped five spots in the BOXTOROW HBCU media rankings from No. 5 to No. 10, and three spots in the coaches top 10 poll, No. 4 to No. 7, after Saturday’s 27-21 loss at Florida A&M.
The Jaguars’ opponent Saturday, Arkansas-Pine Bluff went from No. 7 to No. 6 in the media poll and No. 10 to No. 5 in the coaches’ rankings.
The top three teams in both polls remained the same: North Carolina A&T, Bethune-Cookman and Alcorn State.
The Southern Quarterback Club is also sponsoring a bus trip for the game. For more information call, 225-939-5906 or 225-931-1000.
Southern’s Blue and Gold Fan Club is sponsoring a bus trip to Pine Bluff for Saturday’s game. For more information, call 225-324-7234.