Storyline: Valley’s high?
Since his arrival in Itta Bena, Miss., Mississippi Valley coach Karl Morgan said his team has played its best when facing the Southern Jaguars. The evidence supports his theory. The Delta Devils played the Jaguars competitively in Morgan’s first year as coach — losing 38-20 after 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter from Southern. Valley lost 28-21 in 2011 before finally beating SU last year in A.W. Mumford Stadium 6-0 in what would be Stump Mitchell’s final game as coach.
Keep an eye on: LB Jarkeith Ruffin
Southern adds a welcome addition in freshman linebacker Jarkeith Ruffin. Ruffin is a 6-foot, 240-pounder from Collinsville, Miss., who received scholarship offers from Ole Miss and Louisiana-Lafayette, according to Scout.com. He sat out the Jaguars’ first two games because of academic issues before finally being cleared by the NCAA this week. With linebacker Daniel Brown banged up with a sternum injury and Anthony Balancier returning from a suspension, Ruffin is expected to see plenty of action Saturday.
Key matchup: Southern WR Lee Doss vs. DB Avery Boykin
Two of the best at their respective crafts in the SWAC, Doss vs. Boykin is an intriguing individual matchup to follow. Doss is coming off a career game in which he snagged nine passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns in Southern’s double-overtime victory against Prairie View. Boykin leads Mississippi Valley in interceptions with two.
X Factor: RB Lenard Tillery
Southern has not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2003. It hopes to change that this year with freshman Lenard Tillery. After redshirting last season and missing the first two games of this season, Tillery showed why SU coaches believe he could eclipse the 1,000-yard mark this season. Described by coach Dawson Odums as a player with elusiveness and power, Tillery tallied 75 yards and three TDs on 16 carries in his collegiate debut last week.