ARLINGTON, Texas — College football teams coming out of an open date sometimes have a tendency to start slow in their next game.
Southern goes into such a game against Texas Southern with an eye on the accelerator.
“The key this week is starting fast and finishing faster,” said Jaguars quarterback Bubba McDaniel, who will make his second consecutive start and third this season when the teams clash at 4 p.m. Saturday at Globe Life Park in the Arlington Football Showdown.
“They’re not the same Texas Southern team. They are coming off a win, so we know we’ll get their best. We have to be prepared and focus on us. We know what time it is.”
McDaniel also knows how easy it might be to overlook a team carrying an 18-game Southwestern Athletic Conference losing streak into a Western Division game. Getting off to a fast start needs to be coupled with a stronger finish than the Jaguars (2-2, 1-0) had in beating Mississippi Valley State two weeks ago.
The Tigers (1-3, 0-1) are reveling in their first on field victory since 2018, a 69-0 pasting of North American University. Knocking off Southern would be another big step forward.
“Southern is upper echelon of the SWAC, so we have our work cut out for us,” Texas Southern coach Clarence McKinney said. “It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is; they’re a solid team offensively. We know they want to run the ball. If they are able to run, it creates play-action passes and deep balls for them. We have to focus on stopping the run. Offensively, we’ve got to keep the ball and when we’ve got our opportunities, we have to score points.”
McDaniel, who has taken over for Ladarius Skelton, has a history against the Tigers. Two years ago, he came off the bench to throw for 252 yards and three touchdowns as the Jaguars held off TSU 28-21. The Jaguars’ run-first offense will need to continue to thrive, giving McDaniel balance.
Southern is the SWAC’s top rushing offense, averaging 197.5 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. Running back Jerodd Sims is expected to miss his fifth game, but the Jaguars are well-stocked with Devon Benn, Craig Nelson and emerging freshman Kobe Dillon.
“At our core, we are a run-first team, led by our front five on the offensive line,” Rollins said. “We can’t be one-dimensional. We want mix it up and keep the defense on its heels with multiple formations and use play-action passes to stretch the ball downfield vertically.”
It has worked well — especially with McDaniel at quarterback. Her threw five TD passes against Valley without an interception. He is 28 of 43 for 379 yards and six TDs with zero interceptions.
Rollins said he would like to see a cleaner game from his defense, which gave up huge chunks of yardage in the second half against Valley. TSU has apparently found its quarterback in freshman Andrew Body, who threw for 205 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Wide receiver Ke’Lenn Davis has five catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Body is a dual-threat quarterback who leads the Tigers with 129 yards rushing and two TDs.
“We have to eliminate explosive plays,” Rollins said. “They have explosive players. We have to find a way to contain Body, stop the run. Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and take shots when they give us those opportunities. They have explosive players on special teams, so we have to be fundamentally sound in all those different phases of the game.”