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Quarterback Ladarius Skelton (8) throws the ball during the Southern football team's first practice of preseason camp under new head coach Jason Rollins Friday August 6, 2021, in Baton Rouge, La. The offensive coordinator is Zach Grossi and the defensive coordinator is Lionel Washington.

Pocket presence

Southern’s offensive coaching staff is hoping to get quarterback Ladarius Skelton to be more patient in the pocket so he takes fewer hits, and that’s wise against an aggressive defense like the Trojans. Skelton’s decision-making will be put to the test. It needs to be more instinctive instead of thinking too much about the throw and delivering it a fraction too late. Skelton will also have to know where the pressure is coming from through pre-snap reads. He can hurt the Trojans with scrambles but has to limit those and run the offense. He’s got multiple weapons at his disposal and will need to use all of them.

Summer memories

Southern defenders are going to think back to summer conditioning when Troy unleashes its Air Raid offense that will attack relentlessly. It’s not just conditioning, the Jaguars' reserves who will have to step up and play like starters. There are plenty of experienced players on the Southern roster and being mentally tough in the situation will be vital. Troy quarterback Taylor Powell is an unknown and won the starting job as a transfer. Even though he hasn’t played in more than a year, he’s an Southeastern Conference level recruit and beat out returning starter Gunnar Watson who threw for 2,141 yards and 16 TDs last year.

Special questions

With numerous experienced players, Southern coverage teams should be in good shape. But the kickers will certainly have some butterflies as first-time starters, with two of them freshmen. Junior Martell Fontenot will handle the punting and doesn’t have a lot of snaps in that role but he’s older. Place-kicker Luke Jackson gets a chance to solidify his place under fire. Joshua Griffin’s strong leg helped him win the kickoff job but it isn’t as easy as it might look from the stands. All three will be trying to keep their cool in a part of the game that most coaches say doesn’t get enough work.

Poise at the top

Jason Rollins is no newbie. He’s got 25 years of experience as an assistant, but this is different and even he doesn’t know how me might react. He’s saying all the right things but what will happen when the Jaguars get some adversity? How will an official’s blown call affect him? How will he handle a fourth-down decision? How will the team respond to him and the top guy? One of the best things he has going for him is a competent, experienced staff, and a program with great tradition. It’s going to be hard to leave Troy with a victory. Rollins more importantly needs to win some hearts and minds.