Southern opens SWAC game seeking to correct errors | From South



A bitter loss may linger as a bad taste in the mouth. Fortunately for southern football, there is a lot to look forward to.

The season enters the SWAC phase with the Jaguars facing Mississippi Valley State on Sunday for the first time in five years. The game kicks off at 2 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson as part of the city’s Soul Filled Weekend celebration.

Southern lost a 21-10 halftime lead at home in a 31-24 loss to McNeese State last week. The Jaguars want to prove they’ve learned something about the finish as they advance against the Delta Devils.

“The non-conference games have prepared us well to show us where we are, what kinds of things we need to work on before we play in conference,” said south linebacker Ray Anderson. “We know we have things to tweak and tidy up before we get started. That’s when the second season, the fun season, begins. We want to show that we are a smart, physical and fast team, (hitting) on ​​every cylinder in attack, defense and special teams.

Southern spoiled a strong first half in which quarterback Ladarius Skelton threw three touchdown passes. But Skelton made two turnovers that led McNeese to 10 points in the second half as Southern was outscored 21-3.

The Jaguars also committed eight penalties, which is their three-game average, and performed poorly on special teams. McNeese returned a kickoff for a touchdown, blocked a punt and tackled Jaguars kickoff returner Chandler Whitfield on their 10-yard line.

“What I like least (so far this season) are our penalties,” said coach Jason Rollins. “When you clean them up, it’ll take over a lot of those momentum-changing games. We cannot play behind the sticks. We’ve lost the revenue battle and a kickoff return for a touchdown is like another revenue.

One thing Rollins wants to avoid this week is the pity of his team, who play the perennial wine merchant of the SWAC East Division. Valley (0-2) is 6-45 in conference over the past seven seasons and has lost six straight league games on the field.

A note of caution that Rollins will likely serve his team is that the Devils always manage to beat at least one foe in the conference. The Devils have beaten Arkansas-Pine Bluff three times in a row and have beaten defending league champion Alabama A&M twice in three years.

Valley scored a touchdown losing to Murray State (35-0) and Stephen F. Austin (58-13). Coach Vincent Dancy has promised close scrutiny of which players get the most shots with the arrival of the conference game.

“We are looking at a lot of staff changes,” Dancy said. “It starts with me. I have to prepare our team. When you give up touchdowns in all three phases of the game, you have to look at yourself in the mirror and say the best I can do.

“I think we have a good football team and these things will happen. We have guys who need to play, top guys who need to play to be better at the game. ”

Southern could see new faces and renewed vigor. Valley had an open date between defeats and Dancy admitted how much it hurt his team.

The Jaguars will surely rely on a rushing game averaging 184 yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. Starting running back Devon Benn will miss the first half because he was ejected on a targeting call while making a tackle on an interception return. Craig Nelson, the team’s first rusher, will start in his place.

Rollins is hoping for fewer mistakes from Skelton, who completed 21 of 32 passes for 292 yards but had three interceptions. Skelton also had a stray fullback recovered by McNeese.

Skelton and defensive end Jordan Lewis are expected to be on top. The two missed a few snaps last week but finished last week’s game.

“Ladarius came out on fire, three big plays in the first half,” said Rollins. “He took a bullet in the leg which caused him problems.

“Lewis will get everyone’s attention. He did a good job freeing himself up for sacks and plenty of quarterback presses. “

Southern will focus on Valley running back Caleb Johnson, who ran for 133 yards on 27 carries.

“It’s a physical football team,” Dancy said. “They want to establish the run regardless of which quarterback you see. We have to stop the race and get them to throw the ball.



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