If preseason camp is any indication, the Jaguars defense appears to be the strength of the team, with the line being the anchor on that side of the ball.
It should come as no surprise that the defense has excelled during preseason practice in coach Dawson Odums’ second year at the helm.
Odums, a former defensive line coach himself, naturally maintains a higher expectation in regard to his guys up front and is enthusiastic about the group he has coming back.
“Our defensive line is a veteran group, and they’ve played a lot of snaps,” Odums said. “It’s exciting to have that depth up front.”
That depth starts with sophomore nose guard Gabe Echols and junior end Arthur Miley.
Miley, a preseason second-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection, is a vocal leader on the practice fields, making sure every defender knows his responsibility pre-snap so that they can perform at their highest level on every play.
“We need to make sure everyone is ready to go and fly around and make some plays,” Miley said. “We’re flying around the ball. Everyone is showing pursuit and effort.”
Echols, a native of Decatur, Ga., shared similar thoughts in establishing what the defense needs to show on the field.
Echols is in competition for the starting nose guard position in Southern’s 3-4 front.
With just over two weeks left before the opening kickoff and no indoor practice facility, the Jaguars worked outside Wednesday in less-than-ideal conditions.
“We’re working to clean up what we’re doing,” Odums said. “We’re trying to make sure our execution is down. The game will be a lot faster. So we try to create the game-like situations and get the guys prepared.
“We want to get the mindset that no matter what, we won’t be denied,” Odums said.
Senior fullback Brian McCain is the lone Jaguar suffering from a long-term injury, aside from the normal nicks and bumps typically associated with preseason camp.
McCain is expected to miss six to eight weeks, Odums said.
“Coleman is dealing with a sprained Achilles, and he is day-to-day right now,” Odums said. “And we don’t want to risk him, we want to be sure he’s 100 percent before he comes back.”
“Justin Woods tweaked his knee a little bit, and he’s doing some rehab. But I feel if we had a game to play right now, he’d be ready to go.”
Odums said he feels Tillery should be ready to go by the season opener.
The 6th Man Club is sponsoring bus trips for road games to Houston, Northwestern State, Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Texas Southern, Alabama State and the Bayou Classic.
Prices vary depending on each trip.
Saturday’s Fall Fan Fest, originally scheduled for Seymour Gym, will be relocated to the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Doors will open at 12:30 p.m.
Tickets for Southern’s season opener Aug. 30 against Houston will go on sale at the SU ticket office at 9 a.m. Thursday. For information, call (225) 771-3171.