Southern is coming off an open date but won’t have that as an advantage over Prairie View A&M, which also had an extra week of rest. The teams play at 6 p.m. Saturday at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
The Panthers do have one edge having already played three SWAC games to only one for Southern. The Jaguars (2-3, 1-0 in SWAC play) beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 31-7 in their last outing while Prairie View (2-3, 2-1) defeated Grambling 42-36.
“It gave our guys a chance to rest their bodies and minds and they came back Sunday ready to go,” Southern coach Dawson Odums said during Monday’s SWAC coaches teleconference. “We had a good run session Sunday, a good mindset. They’re eager for the challenge coming up.”
Prairie View has the No. 2 scoring team in the conference, averaging 35.8 per game but the Panthers are allowing the third most in the league at 36.6.
Running back Dawonya Tucker is the league’s leading rusher with 662 yards and seven touchdowns on 81 carries for a gaudy 8.2 yards-per-carry average. He set a school record with 263 yards on 26 carries against Grambling. Last season, he rushed for 1,113 yards and six touchdowns, although Southern held him to 17 yards in a 38-0 Jaguars victory.
Quarterback Jalen Morton is the league's second leading passer with 1,218 yards and has thrown 10 touchdown passes against seven interceptions. He has completed 88 of 143 (61.5 percent).
“They can score,” Odums said. “They’re as explosive as anybody we’ve seen on offense. They have two or three players, especially on offense that are electrifying.
“Defensively, they’re opportunistic. They run to the football and play hard. They’ve had some timely turnovers, a very aggressive bunch.”
After an open date, Southern stayed at No. 6 in the BOXTOROW top 10 HBCU coaches poll but dropped one spot to No. 8 in the media poll released on Monday.
The top three teams — North Carolina A&T, Bethune-Cookman and Alcorn State — remained the same. South Carolina state was No. 4 and Florida A&M No. 5 in the coaches poll, with their positions reversed in the media rankings.
Tucker got Jaguar Nation slightly stirred up on a video tweeted out by HBCU Gameday after the Panthers victory over Grambling. Tucker said, “We’re representing the (SWAC) West (Division); Southern, y’all next.”
When asked about the tweet, Odums downplayed the significance.
“It’s just a guy who is very confident after a big win,” Odums said. “We don’t pay a lot of attention to it. It’s something on social media, it gets blown out of proportion. We tell our guys once you send it you can’t take it back. I tell them to be humble, do the right things. Be careful what you put out there. Everybody is waiting to run with something.”
There will be a familiar face on the opposite sideline at A.W. Mumford Stadium on Saturday. Prairie View head coach Eric Dooley spent 14 seasons coaching running backs and wide receivers at Southern and still has a soft spot in his heart for his past association with the Jaguars, especially former coach Pete Richardson.
Dooley said he had lunch with Richardson before the start of fall practice.
“I was part of a Pete Richardson staff that gave a lot of knowledge to me, a family atmosphere,” Dooley said. “The guys we had came to play for 60 minutes. The values Coach Richardson taught stick with me today. I have tried to follow in his footsteps which are hard footsteps to follow in. He’s a huge part of me being where I am today.”
Prairie View will be without placekicker Zach Elder, who tweeted Saturday that he had received a scholarship offer from Arkansas-Pine Bluff after entering the NCAA transfer portal last month. Prairie View coach Eric Dooley declined to comment.
“We’re going to work with the guys who are here,” Dooley said.
The Blue and Gold Fan Club will sponsor a buss trips to the Southern game against Texas Southern in Dallas. For more information, call Craig Pierre at 225-324-7234.
The Southern Quarterback Club is also sponsoring a Dallas trip. For more information call Reginal Jarvis at 225-939-5906 or Erroll Mencer 225-931-1000.