For a defensive lineman, a split-second can be the difference between a tackle for loss and giving up a big gain.
This season, Southern nose tackle Casey Narcisse expects his line to have an extra fraction of reaction time.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Tayrone Odums, the defensive scheme is being simplified, leaving the players more free to react than they were in 2011, when Narcisse said he was often stuck thinking too much.
"It was a lot. Being paralyzed is the perfect word," Narcisse said. "It was like three different stunts, and I didn't know what to do or where to go. The defense we're putting in now is more simple. We're playing faster and playing smarter with less thinking. It's just more reacting."
That fact alone won't be enough to mend the Southwestern Athletic Conference's worst run defense, but it certainly won't hurt. The Jaguars gave up 185.5 yards per game, ranking 96th out of 120 teams in the Football Championship Subdivision.
But along with a revamped strength and conditioning program, Narcisse expects Southern will be better equipped to stop the run. He also singled out freshman defensive tackle Gabe Echols (6-foot-2, 295 pounds) as the newcomer who most impressed him during offseason workouts.
The Jaguars' projected 2012 depth chart lists Echols as a backup to Benay Pryer (6-4, 295), a Louisiana-Lafayette transfer, at the tackle spot alongside Narcisse (6-1, 305), with junior Kadeem Lewis (6-2, 240) and sophomore Arthur Miley (6-5, 250) as the starting ends.
Former JSU player dies
The Jackson State family suffered a tragic loss on Monday, when former offensive lineman Vincent Jones died from cancer at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Jones, a Jackson native, enrolled at JSU in the fall of 2011.
"Vincent was a wonderful young man," JSU coach Rick Comegy said in a statement. "He was well liked by everyone in the football program, and he will truly be missed."
Two players on watch list
Two SWAC players earned spots on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the top defensive player in FCS.
No SWAC player has ever won the award, but Jackson State defensive end Joseph LeBeau and Alabama State safety Kejuan Riley appear the best hopes to break that streak.
LeBeau, the reigning SWAC Newcomer of the Year, tallied 75 tackles, 24.5 for loss and 15.5 sacks last season. Riley snatched nine interceptions, the nation's second-best total.
Sharp gets extension
The conference announced Friday that it has reached a contract extension with commissioner Duer Sharp through June of 2015. The 42-year-old Sharp has held the position for five years, and despite frequent turnover in the conference office, the SWAC has negotiated long-term contract agreements with ESPN, Russell Athletic, Toyota, Coca-Cola and Nike.
Kickoff set for SU opener
The Jaguars' season opener is 41 days away, and now fans can calculate kickoff down to hours, minutes and seconds.
Kickoff time has been set for Southern's opener at New Mexico on Sept. 1. The game will get under way at 4 p.m. Central time.