Southern University football coach Dawson Odums is looking for growth from his team Saturday. He’s also hoping it retains its health.

The Jaguars will go through their first full dress rehearsal for the 2019 season with the first major scrimmage of fall camp at A.W. Mumford Stadium. The scrimmage is closed to the media and public.

Odums is serious about staying healthy. He’s holding out starting quarterback LaDarius Skelton, who missed practice time this week with what Odums called a “heat-related illness.” Odums said Skelton would return to practice Monday. The team has an off-day Sunday.

The Jaguars have high hopes riding on the strength of a deep and experienced squad that should challenge for the Southwest Athletic Conference championship. The last thing Odums wants is the Jaguars stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re looking for continued growth from the team, a competitive scrimmage, a safe scrimmage,” Odums said earlier this week. “We want to get out of there healthy. We’ll get in and out with some plays, mix in some special teams. (We’re going to have) 11-on-11 live contact in all phases of the game. We can move forward into next week with a team eager to get out of camp and into that first game.”

Southern’s scrimmage marks the start of the second week of fall practice with the opener at McNeese State three weeks away. Odums worked his team hard, doubling up on huddles with the idea to start easing back next week.

The Jaguars had a handful of players who missed work this week along with Skelton. Also missing time were center Jaylon Brinson and tight end Jeremias Houston, both starters. Odums said his focus is on having his team fully healthy for the season opener and that the depth the team has allows him to rest players and rotate reserves into action.

“In the first game, you don’t know what to expect but you know it’s going to be humid and hot,” Odums said. “We haven’t had that luxury (depth) in the past. Hopefully we can rotate some guys, get to halftime healthy and fresh this year. In the past coming out of halftime we had nothing left in the tank.”

Odums said at the start of camp he liked the Jaguars’ offensive and defensive lines, where depth is crucial for big-bodied players.

“The O-line is coming along, the depth is helping them stay out there,” he said. “We’re able to rotate guys and keep them fresh. We’ll start cutting back after today. That’s why we’ve got a lot of guys banged up. Today to be 10-deep on the offensive line in FCS is a blessing. If we can keep those guys healthy I like our chances. We’re very explosive on offense.”

Correction

The departure time for the Southern University Quarterback Club bus trip to the season opener at McNeese State on Aug. 31 is 11 a.m. with kickoff set for 6 p.m. Cost is $100 including the game ticket and snacks. For more information call 225.9395906. or 225.931.1000.