Southern matched up against Troy for the season opener in Troy, Alabama Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. Troy defeated the Jaguars 55-5.

What’s at stake

The best way to fully forget last week is to win by any margin or means. Early victories build confidence and Southern is capable of winning out from this point on. The focus is for the team to win but this game is also important for interim coach Jason Rollins, who needs to start earning credibility with the Jaguar Nation as soon as possible. This is a seasoned and deep Jaguar team. The right hand at the helm should at least bring home a winning season. For Rollins, that needs to start Saturday. It’s too early for a Stump Mitchell moment.

Key matchup

Southern LB Ray Anderson vs. Miles RB Donte Edwards: These two brutes — both are 6-feet and 225 pounds — will collide early and often as the visitors try to establish an offense behind a tough, seasoned offensive line. Edwards was a workhorse last week with 20 carries for 107 yards. Anderson was in the middle of the action all night against Troy with a team-leading eight tackles. Southern’s defensive line has to keep blockers off Anderson so he can get a clean shot. It’s going to be old school football in the trenches.

Players to watch

Jaguars: Freshman TE Ethan Howard was out last week but should return to give another dimension to the Jaguar offense. He was the team’s leading receiver in the spring and offensive coordinator Zach Grossi was just scratching the surface of his potential. DE Jordan Lewis was quiet last week, but could have a breakout game. Miles coach Reginald Ruffin said Lewis reminds him of himself, a three-time All American defender at North Alabama. Troy went to a two-tight end set to neutralize Lewis’ rush ability.

Trojans: QB Jalen Parker, a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham, didn’t play last season but showed some moxie in the opener, driving his team to a tying score with 3:44 left. Miles might stick to the ground game like it did last week, although that was dictated by Alabama State. The Bears would like to throw more than nine times. LB Andrew Gaylor is an active player who had 11 tackles last week. He’s just one of several aggressive defenders who combined for seven tackles for loss, including two sacks, last week.

Facts and figures

Pete Richardson, in whose honor the field at Mumford Stadium will officially be named Saturday, won 134 games in 17 years, second all-time at Southern. . . Today is the first of six home games for Southern. . . Reserve DE Lyston Barber will sit out the first half because of a second-half targeting penalty last week. . . Southern’s loss to UAPB last year snapped a streak of seven consecutive victories in home openers. Prior to that, the last home opening loss was 6-0 to Mississippi Valley State in 2012, Stump Mitchell’s final game.

Numbers worth knowing

0 – Turnovers by Miles last week

81 – Southern yards rushing last week

464 – Yards allowed Jaguar defense last week

Prediction and why

Southern 31, Miles 10: The visitors can sneak up on teams but won’t face a quarterback like Ladarius Skelton, who should shake off last week’s performance. The Jaguars should also have their missing starters back and with a good look at last week’s mistakes, make a big leap of improvement. Southern has a manpower edge and will use it. As a non-conference game, look for a vanilla passing game. The Jaguars should be able to move the ball on the ground with a rotation of backs and mix in enough passes with some deep shots, to win comfortably. It won’t mean Miles didn’t make them work for it.