Southern’s once-potent offense tries to rebound at Arkansas-Pine Bluff

The Southern offense was able to accomplish something Saturday night it hadn’t done all season.

The Jaguars took their opening possession and found the end zone, marching 75 yards on eight plays, finishing with a 33-yard strike from quarterback Dray Joseph to receiver Willie Quinn.

But those were the only points the offense put up.

Southern’s other scores came on special teams, as Justin Bethancourt recovered a muffed kickoff in the end zone and Matt Hill connected on two 37-yard field goals — one on the final play of regulation, the other in double overtime to win it.

Quinn’s touchdown and Hill’s end-of-regulation field goal were 56 minutes apart. That leaves many concerns for Southern coach Dawson Odums.

“On offense, we’re going to tweak some things and just try to continually get better,” said Odums, whose Jaguars (3-3, 3-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) will try to keep their spot atop the Western Division with a win at Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-6, 0-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“We have to get our fundamentals down and work on the little things. And specifically, we have to execute. When we execute, we can play with anybody on offense.”

The offense was plagued by five turnovers Saturday, including a career-high four interceptions from Joseph.

“We know (Joseph) didn’t have his best game,” Odums said. “But he will bounce back. He’s always bounced back before, and we expect him to do so this weekend.”

The Southern offense ranks second in the conference with 281.2 passing yards per game and is statistically the worst rushing offense in the SWAC, managing a mere 80.3 yards per game.

Recognizing the difficulty the Jaguars have in rushing the football, Odums said he plans to shift to a pass-first philosophy.

“We understand that we are a 20 (two backs, no tight ends), 10 (one back, no tight ends), and 11 (one back, one tight end) personnel football team,” Odums said. “We just have to execute, get our guys in better positions, and our quarterback has to play better.

“We get bogged down. We have a negative play — a penalty or a sack — (and) those negative plays is what hurts you. If we can just prevent those, I think we can get our execution back up to where we want it be.”

Injury report

Regular kicker Greg Pittman missed Saturday’s game against Alabama A&M with a hip flexor injury. Odums said the team hopes to have Pittman back for the Arkansas-Pine Bluff game. At the latest, Odums said he expects Pittman back for the following week when the Jaguars take on Alcorn State in A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Sophomore running back William Bates saw his first action against Alabama A&M — but Bates suffered a serious knee injury during the game and could miss the rest of the season, Odums said.

Starting defensive end Christian Allen missed last week because of what Odums called “stinger issues.” Allen is expected back in the lineup this weekend.

Odums also announced Tuesday that senior fullback Brian McCain, who hoped to return last week, will instead redshirt this year. McCain suffered a Jones Fracture in his left foot during the preseason.

Bus trip

Spots are still available for the 6th Man Club bus trip to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The bus will leave at 4 a.m. Saturday and return immediately after the game, which kicks off at 2:30 p.m. The cost is $125 and includes a game ticket and tailgate party. For information, call Anna Jones at (225) 907-7212, Freddie Green at (225) 421-6637 or Elijah Wilkinson at (225) 355-9249.