Southern QB order nearly set

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Freshman quarterback Deonte Shorts runs the ball out of bounds during Southern's final scrimmage of fall camp, Saturday, August 16, in the A. W. Mumford Stadium on campus.
Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Freshman quarterback Deonte Shorts runs the ball out of bounds during Southern's final scrimmage of fall camp, Saturday, August 16, in the A. W. Mumford Stadium on campus.

Southern’s depth chart at quarterback is nearly set.

In fact the pecking order for the season opener Aug. 30 at Louisiana-Lafayette could be known as early as Wednesday.

The Jaguars held their first practice Tuesday since preseason camp ended Saturday. Redshirt freshman Deonte Shorts continues to work with the first team and seems likely to take the field first against the Ragin’ Cajuns.

First-year freshmen Jarrad Hayes and Austin Joseph are in a close battle for the primary backup position. Though Howard worked with the No. 2 offense and Hayes with the scout team Tuesday, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hayes winds up being first in line after Shorts.

Coach Dawson Odums said he plans to inform each of the quarterbacks of his plan before they return to the practice field Wednesday afternoon.

Whether Francis Kanneh is part of the equation remains to be seen. Kanneh, who was a close second to Shorts coming out of spring practice, has been a clear-cut No. 4 throughout camp.

Odums said Kanneh spoke with him earlier Tuesday to discuss his situation. Odums seemed unaware that Kanneh was not present at practice when told afterward. Kanneh could have had a late class that Odums was unaware of.

“I spoke to him and he voiced his opinion,” Odums said, “but I don’t know if he made his decision.”

Kanneh’s options, in addition to continuing to compete, would be to switch to another position, or to another school.

“We talked about it all,” Odums said. “The only ones that are going to go on this journey are the ones that choose to go. Some guys may get disgruntled. That’s understandable. Every program goes through that.”

Before practice, Odums talked about the quarterback competition in general terms without including Kanneh.

“Those three guys are really competing for playing time,” Odums said. “I think two of those guys really removed themselves and showed they’re going to be the guys that take the team to the next step.”

Odums said he saw continued improvement from the quarterbacks when he reviewed film of a scrimmage last Saturday. He has said all along that decision making by the quarterbacks would be the biggest factor in his decision making regarding the depth chart.

“I think we got better with decision making,” Odums said. “I think guys made the right reads. We missed a couple but overall I think they all got better.”

Odums added “we could possibly play two guys in the opener.”

“The difference in philosophy this year compared to last year is we had a senior (Dray Joseph) and he was a seasoned vet and he understood what the game called for,” Odums said. “We’ve got two young guys and no one has shown he’s that much better than the other one so there’s room for us to play two this year.”

It appears incumbent Lenard Tillery will remain atop the depth chart at running back, though Malcolm Crockett, Jamarcus Jarvis, Tyre Bracken and John West remain in the thick of the competition.

“We’ve still got the same four or five guys that are going to carry the football,” Odums said. “It really doesn’t matter who starts because they’re all going to get about the same amount of playing time. We’re going to run them until one gets hot.”

Odums had said quarterback and running back were the only positions where the starting position was undecided going into the most recent scrimmage.

“We pretty much know who’s going to be playing on this football team,” he said.

“Camp is over. Now is preparation time.

“It’s time to be focusing on the mental aspect of getting ready to play a game.”

Odums said he liked the intensity of the No. 1 defense early in the scrimmage and the way the No. 1 offense got into a rhythm as the workout continued. He said wide receiver Willie Quinn “was back in his rare form” after missing more than a week early in camp because of a broken jaw.

“I feel like I was productive, (but) I haven’t caught up yet,” Quinn said after practice. “I’ve still got things to learn, things I can get better at. I’ve got to keep learning the offense, get caught up in the system.”

Follow East on Twitter@EastAdvocate. For more, follow our blogs at blogs.theadvocate.com