The Southern football players have been practicing for and talking about the upcoming season for the past month.
Finally, the opener is within sight as the Jaguars close in on their trip to Ruston, La., to place Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. Saturday:
Here’s a sampling of what the players have said this week:
QB Austin Howard on opening against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision: “We’re going to see what kind of team we’ve got. It’s different between practicing against our own guys and going against somebody else. I think if we go out there and just handle our business we’re going to be all right, but this season opener is going to determine what kind of team we’ve got.”
S Dionte McDuffy on the same topic: “If you play your best opponents first you see where youre at for the rest of the season and what you need to work on from here on out.”
CB Danny Johnson on the Jaguars losing starting nickelback Rhaheim Ledbetter to ineligibility earlier this week: “Losing somebody who’s been preparing to play just a week before is still kind of hard because you have to adjust and see who you’re going to put in. If you would have known earlier you could have had people ready to play in that particular area.”
NICK Jamal Jenkins on leaning on his defensive teammates as he prepares to make his first career start on defense in place of Ledbetter: “Dionte McDuffy, (LB) Demetrius Carter and (LB) Daniel Brown. I speak to them a lot about my assignment. It’s a brotherhood and we’re going out there playing together. I’m ready to play.”
McDuffy is one of a handful of Southern players from North Louisiana, who will be closing at or close to home Saturday. He’s from Shreveport and will have 12 friends and family members in the stands. “The most that’s ever been to one of my games,” he said.
CB Jamar Mitchell on the Jaguars defense trying to match Tech’s ability to take the ball away. The Bulldogs led the nation in takeaways last season: “That’s what we’re trying to do – create turnovers and give the ball to our offense and let them make plays. As a defense we’ve just got to create turnovers and get the ball back to our offense and let them do what they do.”
RB Lenard Tillery on his counterpart, Kenny Dixon, who’s Tech’s career rushing leader: “I really like him. I’ve seen him all three years that he’s been there, watching highlight tape all the time. I just really like the way he runs. Whenever you get to go against another running back that you know is great, who’s going to leave records, who’s going to leave an impact on his team, you want to see that guy and you just want to try and come out and do better.”
LB Daniel Brown on the anticipation of his first game since 2013 after missing lasr season while ineligible: “It means a lot to me to be able to go back and represent my family and represent my school and all the people that believe in me as a whole. I feel blessed to be back.”
Brown on playing an FBS opponent: “They’re going to come out of the gate fast and try and get us overwhelmed. They’re going to try to out-physical us because we come from a lower-division school and they’re going to think they can manhandle us. It’s just, be ready for anything in the game because some teams might come and play with you and some teams might try and finish you right then and there.”