On the first day of Southern University’s full pad, fall camp workouts, the Jaguars had a most conspicuous absence.
Starting quarterback LaDarius Skelton was nowhere to be seen Wednesday and won’t practice again at least until Saturday’s scrimmage because of a “heat-related illness,” coach Dawson Odums said.
“You’ve got to take your time and allow that to clear,” Odums said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back Saturday. We ain’t in no rush. We know what his talents are and what he’s capable of, so we’ll bring him back slowly. If he’s not back Saturday, he’ll be back Monday.”
Odums did not appear concerned and said Skelton had not missed any previous practices. Wednesday was particularly hot and humid, but he said his team “pushed through” the conditions and had a strong first day despite going 120-125 plays.
“The first day you get a chance to see guys being competitive,” he said. “There’s going to be some ups. The offense did really well in the first team period. In the second team period, the defense played a little bit better. You want that competitiveness.
“We saw (energy) from guys we were expecting it from. We’ve got some high energy guys and you don’t have to pull their teeth to get them motivated. Once they get on the lines they’re motivated. Some guys you have to inject something into them to get them going. The guys were really pushing through and fighting the elements.”
Odums cited wide receiver Hunter Register for making a “great catch” for a touchdown on a post pattern. He said John Lampley and Glendon McDaniel ran the offense well in place of Skelton.
The defense had three turnovers. Transfer cornerback O.J. Tucker made a nice play on a fade pattern to prevent a score on a two-point conversion drill, breaking up a pass from McDaniel to Daelon Richardson.
A handful of players sat out but senior right tackle Jodeci Harris said overall it was a good first day.
“It was impressive,” Harris said. “It was pretty hot but the team responded well to the heat and battled through adversity. We had a pretty good day. Practice is harder than in a game but it’s supposed to be like that.”
Senior running back Devon Benn said the seniors set a good examples for younger players who may not have been quite ready.
“We have to keep high energy,” Benn said. “If we go down, we’ll have a bad practice. We’re a full go now, game related situations.”
Odums said Saturday’s scrimmage would be another 120 plays but unlike Wednesday they would all be 11-on-11 with some special teams plays mixed in. He said the staff will continue to play it cautious with injuries and players recovering from surgery.
“We’ve got to get our good guys to the gate,” Odums said. “Most of it is coaches discretion when to pull them out.”
Center Jaylon Brinson and tight end Jeremias Houston, both starters, sat out, along with rover Jakobi Jones, running back Darbbeon Profit and offensive lineman Garrick Breaux. Dallas Black stepped in for Brinson and got high marks from Harris.
“There was no dropoff,” Harris said. “He knows what he’s got to do.”
Odums said Brinson’s issue was heat and Houston was getting some rest after “landing funny” on his shoulder, which was surgically repaired in the off season.
Odums and staff are stepping up the challenge for fall camp. When the defense gets three turnovers, they don’t have to run post practice gassers. Four or more turnovers means the coaches run. On Monday, they produced two fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
“We’ve got to renegotiate,” Odums said with a laugh. “It’s good motivation for them to see us run.”
The Southern Quarterback Club will once again sponsor bus trips to away games beginning with the Jaguars at McNeese State in Lake Charles on Aug. 31. Cost of that trip is $100 and the bus leaves at 1 p.m. for the 6 p.m. kickoff. The price includes the game ticket and snacks. For more information call 225.9395906. or 225.931.1000.