Scrimmage signals end of camp for Jaguars

Southern concludes preseason football camp Saturday morning with its second scrimmage.

The Jaguars plan to run 80 to 90 plays during a workout that begins at 9:15 a.m. inside A.W. Mumford Stadium. The scrimmage is open to the public.

Southern conducted a 115-play scrimmage on its practice field last Saturday.

“It’s actually a little bit more important,” linebacker Daniel Brown said. “The second scrimmage is about learning from your mistakes in the first scrimmage and now it’s like a game-time situation, so you want to be extra in tune with the mental so you don’t have the same busts that you had in the first scrimmage.”

Coach Dawson Odums said he expects fewer mental mistakes than he saw in the first scrimmage.

The Jaguars have two starting positions still up for grabs and they’re the two spots at which players handle the football most frequently — quarterback and running back.

At quarterback, Deonte Shorts has been working with the No. 1 offense most of the time. Austin Howard and Jarrad Hayes have been splitting reps with the second team and Francis Kanneh has seen his reps dwindle since the start of camp Aug. 1.

Things could change based on performances Saturday. Shorts sat out the passing phase of a few practices this week to rest a sore elbow. That enabled Kanneh to get more chances.

“It gave (Kanneh) a chance to get back in there and regroup,” Odums said. “I’m looking forward to this scrimmage so we can set a depth chart.”

The arrival a week ago of former White Castle standout Tyre Bracken, a transfer from Southern Miss, has expanded the competition at running back to include four players as he joined incumbent Lenard Tillery and fellow transfers Malcolm Crockett (Pittsburgh) and Jamarcus Jarvis (North Texas).

“Tyre just came in and we want to see a lot from him,” Tillery said. “We’re trying to put not in stone but in firmer handwriting who can do what in what packages so (Saturday) is going to be a good indication of how rotations are going to be on Aug. 30.”

Southern opens the season Aug. 30 at Louisiana-Lafayette.

The wide receivers could be at full strength Saturday after three players — Willie Quinn, Randall Menard and Justin Morgan — returned to practice this week after missing the scrimmage a week ago because of injury.

“We’re trying to fine-tune everything, polish it up,” Tillery said. “Last scrimmage we looked pretty good, but we had foolish penalties like offsides and things of that nature so (Saturday) we’re trying to see what works against our defense. The key point is see what works for us and polish it up.”

Odums said players who are nursing injuries won’t participate, though only place-kicker Greg Pittman, who had knee surgery Wednesday, is expected to miss the opener because of injury. Odums said he also might hold some healthy players out of the scrimmage.

“We know what they can do,” Odums said. “We don’t want to run the risk of getting guys hurt right before the season. We want to be smart about it all and get out of here healthy.”

The Jaguars will simulate game conditions. In addition to utilizing an officiating crew as they did in the first scrimmage, they will use headsets for the coaches, the scoreboard and the play clock.

Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate. For more coverage, follow our blogs at http://blogs.theadvocate.com