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Southern secondary likely to be primary target

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern cornerback Danny Johnson celebrates after the Jaguars' 52-45 win over Grambling in the Bayou Classic last season. Johnson, a second-team All-SWAC player as a freshman last season, heads up a young secondary that includes three new starters.

The bull’s-eye that’s figuratively attached to Southern’s defensive backfield has gotten more eye-catching. Any Jaguars opponent, especially the first one — Louisiana Tech on Saturday night in Ruston, La. — figures to look at the relative experience of the players in the three layers of Southern’s defense and decide the secondary is the one to take aim… Continue reading →

Report: Louisiana Tech expecting near-sellout crowd Saturday, including healthy showing from Southern fans

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern fans help cheer on the Jaguars to a 52-45 victory over Grambling in the 41st annual Bayou Classic, Saturday, Nov. 29, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Jaguar Nation, represent! Louisiana Tech is expecting one of the largest crowds ever in Joe Aillet Stadium when Tech plays host to Southern at 6 p.m. in Saturday’s season opener, according to The News-Star newspaper. Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland told The News-Star that a max capacity of crowd of 28,019 is possible at the recently… Continue reading →

Southern loses nickelback Rhaheim Ledbetter for opener

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Rhaheim Ledbetter stretches on the field before kickoff against Alcorn State in the SWAC Championship Game on Dec. 6, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Southern won’t have starting nickelback Rhaheim Ledbetter for its season opener at Louisiana Tech on Saturday. Coach Dawson Odums said Tuesday that Ledbetter, a senior who became a starter after transferring from Florida before last season, is academically ineligible. “We’re going into this week planning to be without him,” Odums said at… Continue reading →

Mailbag: The late-night practices of the Southern football team are unusual

We’re trying something new this football season by soliciting questions via Twitter for an online mailbag about Southern athletics. I’ll tweet out a weekly series of requests for questions via Twitter, then post them and my answers at a predetermined date and time. Today is our first mailbag: Les East @EastAdvocate Tweet your #Southern Jaguars football questions to me and we’ll post… Continue reading →

Dawson Odums hopes for smoother ride

During the first Southwestern Athletic Conference coaches teleconference of the season Monday, Southern’s Dawson Odums was asked about the Jaguars’ infamous bus ride to their season opener last year. The bus’ departure was delayed while university officials tried to academically certify several players, and eventually five starters were left behind. The team arrived… Continue reading →

Southern kicks off first game week

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern head coach Dawson Odums reacts on the sidelines after the Jaguars intercepted the ball against Alabama State, Saturday, Nov. 1, at A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Southern kicked off its first game week of the football season with a two-hour practice Sunday afternoon at the Louisiana Leadership Institute. But the Jaguars will become night owls for most of their on-field preparation for the season opener at Louisiana Tech on Saturday. After taking off Monday, Southern will practice at 9 p.m. on Tuesday and… Continue reading →

Southern has options at tight end

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Montrell Jones is part of Southern's deep pool of tight-end talent.

It’s easy to overlook Southern’s tight ends because the Jaguars have so many playmakers elsewhere on offense. And that’s just what Southern hopes opponents will do. Even with senior Bradley Coleman working more at wide receiver this preseason, the Jaguars still have viable threats in senior Montrell Jones and junior Dillon Beard.… Continue reading →

Southern linebacker Kentavious Preston waiting for his opportunity

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Kentavious Preston

Southern linebacker Kentavious Preston has to be ready to play at a moment’s notice. Preston, a backup, doesn’t have much experience, but his week practicing with the first-team defense after starter Demetrius Carter was sidelined with a mild case of turf toe has prepared the sophomore for the possibility of starting. “It allowed me a chance to see… Continue reading →

Southern getting game ready

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Austin Howard: 'Right now I’m the starter, but I know the two guys that are behind me are working to get my spot. I’m just working to keep my spot but we don’t look at it like that.'

Southern is getting its game face on. The Jaguars simulated a game format in practice Thursday, its final workout before entering its first game-week routine. Coach Dawson Odums had the team walk through its pregame routine in addition to continuing preparing for Louisiana Tech, its season-opening opponent Sept. 5 in Ruston. Though the purpose of Thursday’s mock game… Continue reading →

Southern’s Greg Pittman gets a kick out of extra duties

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Greg Pittman (18) celebrates with Jamal Jenkins (35) and Ki-Jana Curtis (8) after tackling Alcorn State's Jarvis Turner (8) on the opening drive of the SWAC Championship game.

Greg Pittman keeps telling Southern coach Dawson Odums he can do more than just place-kick. Adding punting duties might not be everything Pittman has in mind, but it’s a start, and Pittman is expected to handle place-kicks, kickoffs and punts for the Jaguars when they open the season Sept. 5 at Louisiana Tech. “Pittman’s a different guy,” Odums… Continue reading →

Southern settles depth chart

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --   Southern defensive back Nicholas McDonald has passed Blake Monroe for the starting strong safety slot.

Southern began the preseason with few doubts about who would be in its starting lineup. Now that the preseason is winding down, the few preseason competitions at the top of the Jaguars depth chart seemed to have been settled — at least for the time being. Performances in games and in practice can always produce promotions and demotions,… Continue reading →

Southern plans to give Justin Morgan more touches

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Justin Morgan  slips a tackle attempt by Jackson State's Antonio Sutton during Saturday's game.

When Tyre Bracken left the Southern football team during the offseason, the coaches starting looking around for the right guy to take his place. The Jaguars had lost their second-leading rusher from last season, someone whose 6.3 yards-per-carry average was the highest among players with more than 16 rushes. Bracken was an explosive back-up to 1,000-yard rusher Lenard… Continue reading →

Southern shows improvement in scrimmage

Southern coach Dawson Odums had several areas in which he wanted the Jaguars to show improvement from last week’s scrimmage to the one Saturday morning. He wanted to see more energy from the whole team, the defense getting faster to the football and creating turnovers, and improvement from the run game. The players seemed to fulfill each request… Continue reading →

Tanner Lee, Green Wave sharp in scrimmage that ends preseason camp

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON--Tulane Green Wave quarterback Tanner Lee (12) hands off to Tulane Green Wave running back Lazedrick Thompson (33) during Spring practice at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans, La. Saturday, March 7, 2015.

After leading the first-team offense inside the 10-yard line during Tulane’s last preseason scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee found running back Sherman Badie over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown pass. The play epitomized the day for the Green Wave. Taking what the defense gave him and checking down repeatedly, Lee spread the ball around as Tulane ended… Continue reading →

Southern plans to scrimmage with better effort

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs, Jr., (3) is brought to the ground by Southern's Dionte McDuffy (23) in the fourth quarter of the SWAC Championship game, Saturday, Dec. 6, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Tx.

The Southern football team finished preseason camp last Saturday with a scrimmage that didn’t feature the type of effort coach Dawson Odums was looking for. The Jaguars say they plan to show improvement in that area when they scrimmage again Saturday morning at the Louisiana Leadership Institute. “I think overall they’re going to be more excited,” Odums said. “I… Continue reading →

Southern APR data submission meets NCAA approval

Southern has cleared its first hurdle in academically certifying its student-athletes to the NCAA’s satisfaction. The Jaguars received notice from the NCAA earlier this week that the Academic Progress Rates data they submitted last week were complete and met NCAA requirements. The submission of the forms is normally a routine matter, but Southern’s submission of… Continue reading →

Mike Jones remains Southern’s deep threat

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Mike Jones (89) makes the catch on a 55-yard pass touchdown reception in the second quarter from quarterback Austin Howard as Grambling's Mike Roach (6) can't keep up in the 41st annual Bayou Classic, Saturday, Nov. 29, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

When Southern wide receiver Mike Jones catches touchdown passes, they tend to come in groups. Jones showed off that habit, as well as his knack for big gainers once again in the Jaguars scrimmage Saturday. On the first play, he caught a 99-yard touchdown pass from Austin Howard. He later caught a 5-yard scoring… Continue reading →

Southern coach Dawson Odums cancels practice amid strong thunderstorms

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Football head coach Dawson Odums interacts with a young fan during the fourth annual Southern University Fall Fan Fest refreshed by Coca-Cola, Saturday, August 15, 2015, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge.

Since the start of preseason camp, Southern coach Dawson Odums has preached to his team to “get everybody to the gate.” That means having everybody healthy when the Jaguars figuratively enter the starting gate and play their season opener at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 5. That was on Odums’ mind Wednesday afternoon when he canceled practice amid strong… Continue reading →

Next assignment for Southern: Louisiana Tech

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Running back Lenard Tillery and the Jaguars are hoping to hit their stride in time for their season-opener against Louisiana Tech on Sept. 5 in Ruston.

Classes have started at Southern, and the Jaguars first assignment is Louisiana Tech. Southern finished preseason camp Saturday, started classes Monday, and held its first post-preseason camp practice Tuesday night. It’s still two weeks until game week, but it’s not too early for Southern to start phasing in preparation for the Bulldogs.… Continue reading →

Les East’s Southern depth chart breakdown

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Lenard Tillery

Quarterback No. Name HT. Wt. Yr. 7 Austin Howard 6-0 190 So. 2 Deonte Shorts 6-2 180 So. -or- 15 Jarrad Hayes 6-0 187 So. BRIEFLY: Howard is the clear starter after being named SWAC freshman of the year last season. The Jaguars likely will occasionally spell him and use a package to take advantage… Continue reading →

SWAC preview: Alcorn State seeks repeat in balanced league

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs Jr.

It’s your turn, Alcorn State. The Braves won their first conference championship in 20 years when they beat Southern 38-24 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game last December. That outcome denied the Jaguars a second consecutive SWAC championship, which would have been a rare accomplishment. No SWAC champion has repeated since Grambling won the most recent of… Continue reading →

Austin Howard embraces his role as Southern’s starting quarterback

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Quarterbacks Austin Howard (7) and Micah Zander (12) sit in the bench area during Southern's first day of fall practice at the Louisiana Leadership Institute on Hooper Road, Monday, August 3, 2015.

It was just minutes before Southern’s Southwestern Athletic Conference opener last season when freshman quarterback Austin Howard learned he was about to make his first college start. He had played a few series in relief of Deonte Shorts in the first three games but, as kickoff at Prairie View neared, Shorts’ sore elbow hadn’t responded well enough… Continue reading →

Southern looks ahead to season

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Football head coach Dawson Odums interacts with a young fan during the fourth annual Southern University Fall Fan Fest refreshed by Coca-Cola, Saturday, August 15, 2015, in the F.G. Clark Activity Center in Baton Rouge.

Southern’s preseason camp ended Saturday, but the Jaguars still have nearly three weeks to prepare for the season opener Sept. 5 at Louisiana Tech. Camp lasted 13 days and ended with a 90-play scrimmage Saturday morning. “I thought we did exactly what we wanted to do,” coach Dawson Odums said. “We wanted our upperclassmen to… Continue reading →

Southern passing game has big scrimmage

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --   Southern tight end Austin Opara reaches in the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown catch during the scrimmage Saturday at the Louisiana Leadership Institute's field.

Southern’s preseason camp ended the same way last season started: with the Jaguars cooling their heels while waiting to hit the football field. Last season, they were stranded on the team bus while university officials sorted through which players would have to be left behind for the opener at the University of Louisiana at… Continue reading →

Southern’s young DBs showing progress

Advocate staff photo by  APRIL BUFFINGTON --   Southern's DB Arvin Huff run through drills during practice at the Louisiana Leadership Institute on Wednesday, August 5.

Southern’s young defensive backs are ready to step up at a moment’s notice — or at least they better be. Of the 18 defensive backs the team lists on its roster, only six are juniors or seniors. Fortunately, the Jaguars’ seven freshmen defensive backs have made waves in camp heading into the team’s full-squad scrimmage on Saturday, with… Continue reading →

Southern facing APR reporting deadline

Southern is finishing its first test since having an NCAA postseason ban lifted. The Jaguars face a Saturday deadline to submit Academic Progress Rates data relating to student-athletes for the upcoming fall semester. Southern and other universities that have been penalized for submitting unusable data face an earlier deadline than the fall deadline for universities that have remained in… Continue reading →

Southern’s Martin Henry has played a variety of positions during his football career. Now, he’s settling in as inside linebacker with the Jaguars.

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern's Martin Henry tries to wrap up Alabama A&M's Montaurius Smith last season.

Change is the only constant in Southern linebacker Martin Henry’s life. Stemming back to his days of high school ball in his hometown of Philadelphia, it’s easier for Henry to name positions he hasn’t played. From quarterback to long snapper, he’s done everything a coach has ever asked him. That’s why this season, most likely… Continue reading →

Southern offensive line taking shape

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Offensive live coach Chennis Berry leads a drill during preseason camp.

Southern is getting close to figuring out its starting offensive line and its rotation. It’s also preparing for the unexpected. Offensive line coach Chennis Berry insists on players practicing on both sides of the line and sometimes at multiple positions to be prepared for unexpected, though not necessarily unlikely, developments. “His motto is you stay ready so you don’t… Continue reading →