BATON ROUGE, La. – Southern’s defense has been getting torched. The “Defenders” of Gold and Blue finished their second consecutive shootout, where the Jaguars’ offense had to keep the game within reach.
The difference between Saturday against Texas Southern and two weeks prior against Mississippi Valley State was Southern lost.
The Jags gave up 576 total yards against the Tigers, but the SWAC West opener wasn’t the first game the defense struggled. After Saturday’s loss, Southern’s unit fell to eighth in three rankings: total yards, passing yards and touchdowns.
The most uncharacteristic issue has been run defense. The Jags have allowed the third most rushing yards per game in the SWAC, but with what has seemed like many issues plaguing the defense, interim head coach Jason Rollins boiled the problems down to one thing: assignments.
“All it takes is one guy out of a gap or one guy out of position. It’s not the entire 11. It’s maybe one guy here, one guy there so we have to figure out a way to get everything fitting correctly,” Rollins said.
Personnel has been an issue, even though Southern returned most of the spring football roster. The 2021 spring team finished the condensed season as the conference’s number one defense, and the team had multiple veteran’s from the 2019 squad, which finished fifth in total defense and first in run defense.
Coach Rollins made the point not to compare previous seasons, especially the COVID year.
“We don’t even speak of the spring because everything from the spring is totally flipped to the fall. The spring has no bearings on what’s happening right now because pretty much every team is different,” Rollins finished.
The difference has shown in the conference standings. Southern entered the week third in the SWAC West, but the Jaguars could still control their destiny.
The team has one final road trip, before a four-game home stand, but Southern will face the division’s current top two teams: Prairie View A&M (1) and Alcorn State (2) in back-to-back games.
Every game starting this weekend became a do-or-die for the Gold and Blue, after Saturday’s loss.
“That’s every game. Cause everybody wanna, like coach always say, everybody wanna beat Southern so every game is they championship game, and we going come out and play hard, fast and physical,” linebacker Brian Jordan, Jr. said.
“We want to win out. That’s number one. We want to win out. We don’t want to lose no more games, but just getting better as an offense, most definitely, that’s what we can control,” wide receiver Marquis McClain said.
The offense has been a bright spot. The Jags will walk into Arkansas-Pine Bluff with the SWAC’s third best total offense and second-highest scoring unit in the conference.
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