Douglas fills in when starter has leg cramps
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It just wouldn’t feel right if both Southern quarterbacks didn’t play.
As was the case throughout last season, Dray Joseph and J.P. Douglas took snaps for the Jaguars in a 66-21 loss at New Mexico. But unlike 2011, this isn’t a two-quarterback system.
As coach Stump Mitchell said throughout the offseason, the backup played only because of injury.
In the third quarter, both of Joseph’s calf muscles cramped up, and he had to be carried off the field.
“I couldn’t bend my feet,” Joseph said. “Both of my toes were pointing down to the ground, so I couldn’t walk.”
Joseph’s exit meant more than a quarter of playing time for Douglas.
He finished off a touchdown drive by handing off to fullback Lee Mitchell (Joseph had led them to the 1-yard line) and presided over a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter against UNM’s backups.
But don’t expect Douglas’ day (8-of-15 for 79 yards and a touchdown) to start up another quarterback battle. That was settled during the preseason, and for most of the game, Joseph looked the part of a reliable starting quarterback.
His stat line reveals mixed results: 12-of-19 for 163 yards, a touchdown, two interceptions, two sacks and a fumble. Worst of all were that the fumble and one of those picks were returned for Lobos touchdowns, but Mitchell said neither were on Joseph.
The fumble was the result of a complete jailbreak, where the Jaguars’ line crumbled and Joseph was hit from both sides.
While his first interception — a ball he forced into double coverage that was tipped and picked off — was Joseph’s fault, Mitchell said the pick-six wasn’t.
Joseph fired in the direction of receiver Charles Hawkins on the right side, but the pass instead found New Mexico cornerback Cranston Jones right in the chest, and he scampered off to the end zone to make the score 59-6.
“I love Charles, but I don’t think he drove to the ball, and he allowed (Jones) to beat him on the inside,” Mitchell said. “I thought it was a pretty decent pass, and maybe it was because Charles is playing kickoff return and receiver. He might have been a little exhausted.”
That was one example of Joseph’s receivers letting him down.
Tight end Rashaun Allen dropped an easy catch that would have converted a third-down early on, Mike Berry fumbled after an eight-yard catch, Hawkins couldn’t hang onto a slightly-high pass, and Lee Doss dropped a well-thrown ball down the right sideline that would have moved the Jaguars into UNM territory — and possibly gone for a touchdown.
One play after Doss’ drop, the Lobos sacked Joseph, forced the fumble and ran it back.
Those drops accounted for three of Joseph’s seven incompletions, but he wasn’t fazed.
“You just keep throwing the ball to them,” he said. “Those are the same guys who catch the passes for you, too, when you need them to. So you can’t just get down on them and stop throwing them the ball.”
That mentality paid off on Joseph’s touchdown pass, when Doss hauled in a perfectly executed quick fade from the 2-yard line. While Mitchell cited drops as a major reason why the offense couldn’t get going, Joseph was quick to acknowledge his role as well.
“All in all I think I did all right — like a C-minus,” Joseph said. “I can’t make turnovers, and those things are costly, especially when they score.”