With nine straight games, team tries to take it easy
With its two open dates placed after the first game and before the finale, Southern is in the midst of a long stretch run.
The Jaguars’ homecoming tilt against Texas Southern on Saturday will be the fifth of nine consecutive games — and with three of the next five coming against the conference’s top teams, SU is being careful not to wear itself out, too.
As a precaution, Southern practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts Tuesday and Wednesday rather than full pads.
“We have some guys who are dinged up, and that’s why we’re in shells trying to give our bodies a chance to recover,” interim coach Dawson Odums said. “This is a tough stretch for our football team, so we have to be mindful of that as coaches.”
The injury front has brought mixed news for the Jaguars this week.
Cornerback Virgil Williams and defensive tackle Casey Narcisse (shoulder) were both given a chance to rest Wednesday but are expected to take their usual places in the lineup. Free safety Mychal Bell won’t be on the field, as he’s still nursing the high ankle sprain that held him out against Alcorn State.
With Bell’s backup, D’Mekus Cook, down because of a shoulder injury, Johnathon Wilson is the likely starter.
“We just believe that you have to step up,” Odums said. “I can’t control the injuries, so the next guy has to get ready, and as a staff, that’s our job, to get the next guy ready.”
On the bright side, the Jaguars anticipate that receiver Charles Hawkins, who has been limited by a hamstring injury since Week 2, will make his long-awaited return to playing full speed.
Hawkins hasn’t made a catch since he had six grabs for 80 yards and a touchdown in the season opener, and while he played in each of the last two games, he wasn’t a factor.
“I think he’s getting better every day,” Odums said of Hawkins. “I would say he’s probably at 100 percent. We’re going to do some things and try to get him the ball. We have some stuff we’re going to try to do to take advantage of his speed.”
New tactic at practice
Southern picked up two new defensive linemen during practices this week. Both are more than eight feet tall and great at disrupting passing lanes.
They’re also made of aluminum.
The Jaguars broke out two ladders for use during passing drills, using them to simulate linemen with their arms raised and force quarterbacks to keep their passes out of harm’s way.
Tipped balls have been an issue at times this year, with a notable example coming last week against Alcorn State, when Dray Joseph’s pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage and shot straight into the air before fortunately finding a pair of friendly lands in left guard Zach Brown.