“We want zero sacks. We want to rush for 200 yards. That’s our goal. We really want to run the football.” Chris browne, Southern OL
Southern’s offensive revival against Jackson State started up front.
Before the receivers could show off their sticky new hands, and before quarterback Dray Joseph could flash his accuracy, the Jaguars’ offensive line had to do something it hadn’t done enough of in the first two games.
But facing the Tigers and heralded defensive end Joseph LeBeau, the line bought Joseph more time than he’d seen all season.
Interim coach Dawson Odums called it the unit’s best performance so far, and instead of Joseph having to scramble for his life, he had more time to stand in the pocket and make throws. At least part of the reason was some tweaking to the team’s blocking schemes.
“We simplified things and modified some protections, and those guys jelled together,” Odums said. “(Left tackle) Chris Browne is the leader of that group, and it was good to see them open some holes and do a great job of pass-protecting so Dray could deliver the football.”
There was also the encouraging sight of center Aaron Hall, the team’s heaviest player at 351 pounds, running 50 yards downfield to block for receiver Mike Berry on his 60-yard touchdown.
But as was the case with most of Southern’s improvements on Saturday, there’s plenty of room left to grow.
Despite the better overall blocking, a few lapses led to three sacks, and the line failed to give the running backs much of a boost, as Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph combined for just 27 yards on 19 carries.
“We still made mistakes in the game that we need to correct, so we’re not satisfied at all,” Browne said. “We want zero sacks. We want to rush for 200 yards. That’s our goal. We really want to run the football. As an offensive lineman, you want to run the ball, so we just feel like we need to do a better job of executing the run-blocking.”
Saturday’s opponent, Florida A&M, ranks No. 81 in the nation at 191.5 rushing yards allowed per game. Southern is No. 113 in rushing at 72.67 yards per game.
LB Lindsey shines
Southern’s crop of fresh-faced linebackers haven’t quite made a major impact on the defense just yet, but a few standouts are starting to emerge.
Outside linebacker Detrane Lindsey led the team with five solo tackles and tied for the overall lead at 5.5, making it two of three games where he stands atop the Jaguars’ defensive stat sheet.
Lindsey also led the Jaguars with 10 tackles (six solo) against New Mexico, and his high-motor style has caught his coaches’ eyes.
“One thing about Detrane Lindsey, he can find the football,” Odums said. “Sometimes he gets caught up in some alignment issues, but for the most part he’s 100 percent effort and one guy that can really find the football on our defense.”
Lindsey has been the most consistent starter of the linebackers, and he’ll remain atop the depth chart heading into this weekend. Franchot West is the likely starter in the middle after Javon Allen suffered a high ankle sprain, and Anthony Balancier, who returned an interception 18 yards against Jackson State, should get the nod at the other outside spot.
Southern’s 6th Man Club is offering bus trips to Jaguars away games, including this weekend’s Atlanta Classic against Florida A&M.
The bus will depart at 8 p.m. Friday, with prices starting at $130 for a single bus pass. Packages that include a bus pass, hotel and game ticket range from $305 for a single to $830 for four.
The Southern ticket office is selling tickets for Saturday’s Atlanta Classic between SU and FAMU. Prices range from $10 to $50 and can be purchased by calling 225-771-3171.
The school is also encouraging fans to wear gold to the game and is selling shirts on its website, www.gojagsgear.com.