Coming off Saturday’s 50-21 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Southern was left licking its wounds from more than just the lopsided score.
Plenty of Jaguars limped into the game, and even more limped off the field, leaving SU (3-4, 2-3 Southwestern Athletic Conference) on shaky ground as it prepares for its final four games.
“What we’re going through is a nine-game stretch, and you’re seeing the effects of it,” interim coach Dawson Odums said. “It’s tough when you’re playing nine games in a row against the kind of caliber football teams we have at the tail end of our schedule. All the teams we have left, other than a couple, are in the hunt, so you’re going to get everyone’s shot.”
The top three safeties were injured going into the game, and more bumps and bruises led to Justin Morgan, the team’s third-string quarterback, lining up on defense. Linebackers Javon Allen and Corry Roy both got dinged up, as did center Aaron Hall and left guard Zach Browne.
Playing status and possible replacements won’t be figured out until later this week, but as of now, it’s unclear how much of Southern’s depth chart will be in tact for next Saturday’s trip to Shreveport against Prairie View.
And based on what Odums saw on Saturday, playing another game with so many heath issues is risky business.
“I knew it was going to be difficult based on the injuries and who we had out there that was a little bit banged up,” he said. “It has been a long stretch. We have a lot of guys out, and we added to that.
“It’s just tough to get that chemistry at practice, and when you’re missing some key players, it’s tough.”
The key injuries to watch will be in the secondary, where strong safety Levi Jackson is out indefinitely with an arm infection, free safety Mychal Bell may miss the rest of the year with a knee injury and D’Mekus Cook (shoulder) did not dress out Saturday.
Cornerback Virgil Williams also played safety against the Golden Lions despite a shoulder injury.
Morgan’s future uncertain
Morgan’s appearance at defensive back raised questions over how he’ll be used going forward.
The freshman appeared headed toward a redshirt before he came into last week’s win over Texas Southern, and he was used on defense and kick returns Saturday. Morgan — a dual-threat quarterback — also played receiver in high school and could see time on offense.
“I don’t know what the future holds for him,” said Odums, who added that Morgan played out of necessity because of injuries. “Who knows where he’s going to be playing in the future?”
Tempers kept in check
There was no blowback from last year’s fight between Southern and UAPB, as both teams gathered afterward for a team prayer at midfield.
The only testy areas came via the Golden Lions’ five personal fouls. One of the conference’s most-penalized teams, they finished with 146 yards on 14 flags. Southern was penalized nine times for 70 yards.