Another tough road test. Another tough team. Will Saturday’s game at Arkansas-Pine Bluff turn out differently for Southern?
We’re about to find out.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, the Jaguars (2-4, 2-2 Southwestern Athletic Conference) face the Golden Lions (3-3, 2-2) in a matchup of two teams tied for second place in the Western Division. Win this game, and you’re in good shape to stay in contention for first. Lose this game … well, it gets pretty bleak from here.
This, obviously, is a road game, and there’s no TV. But we’re here in your time of need. You can follow along at http://twitter.com/perrynkeys. We’ll live-tweet from gavel to gavel.
While we wait, here’s a few things worth chewing on:
1. The first quarter is crucial. If the Jaguars fall behind by two touchdowns early on, they’ll be in trouble — perhaps more so. That’s because UAPB coach Monte Coleman loves to run the ball, and he’s got the weapons to do so. Running back Adrian Moore leads the SWAC in rushing yards, and as we’ve all seen, Southern’s undersized defense has struggled against the run all year. If, however, the Jaguars themselves take an early lead, they can force UAPB to do something it’s not as good at: throw the ball.
2. Pay attention to the line of scrimmage. Southern’s offensive line, restocked with young players because of injuries to veterans, is no more adept at running the ball than before. Coach Stump Mitchell said he wants to run downhill Saturday at UAPB. If the Jaguars get a push up front, they’ll be in good shape, and they can keep their defense off the field. On the other side, Southern’s defense has to find a way to at least slow down UAPB’s rushing game. It’s like any other team, no matter how tough: If the Jaguars get pounded early, they’ll be tired in the fourth quarter. Speaking of which …
3. Watch the SU sideline in the second half. We’ve seen it and seen it and seen it … Southern does well enough in the first two quarters, then falls apart in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars need a fiery leader in the fourth quarter, someone who demands that they excel in crunch time instead of rolling over. Is it linebacker Jamie Payton? Left tackle Chris Browne? Those are two good candidates. Anyway, Southern has been outscored 30-7 in the final period this season. Let’s see if that changes.
Also, if you’re en route to Golden Lion Stadium, remember to bring a sweatshirt. Saturday’s forecast calls for a low of 55 degrees — and we can tell you, it gets pretty nippy after sundown.
This, as we all know, is not the longest SWAC road trip for Southern, but it sure feels like it. For the Jaguars, it’ll feel even longer if they’re headed home after a loss.
Remember, follow us on Twitter for live updates at https://twitter.com/perrynkeys. Let’s get it on.