After loss to Lobos, Jaguars work on ‘D’
Two days after its nightmare came to an end, Southern’s defense began reliving it.
At Monday afternoon’s practice, the Jaguars lined up against a pistol-formation option offense — the same one that New Mexico had used to torch them for 347 rushing yards and a 66-21 win.
On the face of it, there wasn’t much to be gained from practicing against the pistol, a rarely used formation that SU is unlikely to face in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
But after a long, disappointing flight home and a rough film session, Southern was eager for another chance, albeit against its own scout-team offense.
“We’re just trying to correct our mistakes and make sure nobody else does that to us again,” said linebacker Detrane Lindsey, who led all players with 10 tackles (six solo).
First and foremost, that requires the Jaguars to know and stick to their assignments — a major reason why the Lobos were able to rack up so many yards on the ground. Between the options for a dive, quarterback keeper or pitch to a running back, New Mexico often found one or more lanes open.
There simply weren’t enough SU players in the right place.
“It was just us knowing who had who,” Lindsey said. “Assignment issues and focus — once the train gets going, it’s hard to stop it.”
To a certain extent, that could be forgiven. Southern went into the game unsure of what kind of offense they’d face from an overhauled UNM team, but the defense didn’t do itself any favors with the next step after assignments.
When it came time to tackle, the group left a lot to be desired.
Cornerback Virgil Williams said coaches preached about sound technique and warned against arm tackles, but the Jaguars were too lazy with their form to put the clamps on the Lobos.
After a preseason of weather-shortened scrimmages, Saturday was the first real test of the team’s tackling mettle. Lack of practice time aside, it could only be regarded as a failure.
“I don’t like that at all. Three-hundred and fifty yards — that’s unexplainable,” defensive tackle Casey Narcisse said. “There’s no reason to why we gave up all that yardage. It’s very painful and very hurtful, and now we’re more focused on tackling and pursuing the ball and playing more physical at the point of attack.”
Narcisse was one of several players to use the phrase “reality check” in reference to the loss.
That’s why no one complained about seeing more pistol in practice.
After the way they played last weekend, there’s no way the Jaguars could claim they’re a finished product.
“It’s very painful, but at the same time it’s a learning experience,” Narcisse said. “We found out that we really weren’t where we thought we would have been at right now at this stage, so we have to come back, regroup, and it was really a reality check for us to see where we stand and what we have to do to get better.”
They can start with the option.
As coach Stump Mitchell said, the Jaguars are likely to see some form of it again this season — especially after showing they have trouble stopping it.
Lindsey said he isn’t sure when Southern will come up against the option again, but he can’t wait for another chance.
“I hope everybody in the SWAC runs that so we can beat them,” he said.
Changes at ‘Jaguar Journal’
Carlos Brown, longtime host of the “Jaguar Journal” radio show dedicated to SU athletics, has left for a new show called “In the Zone” on WUBR-AM, 910 (9-11 a.m. Saturdays) that will also feature coverage of Southern.
Reggie Flood will replace Brown on “Jaguar Journal,” which airs from 6-7 p.m. Wednesdays and 8-10 a.m. Saturdays on WNXX-FM, 104.5.