Last Call: Southern-New Mexico Preview

By Mike McCall

Well folks, we’re about 24 hours away from kickoff in Albuquerque, N.M., where Southern will take on New Mexico in a 4 p.m. (central) start. To get you ready for the game, here’s a roundup of some of the key storylines (click the links for more info):

- The game will be a first look at Dray Joseph since he won the starting quarterback job over J.P. Douglas. Joseph got here by limiting mistakes during the preseason, so the Jags will look for more of the same from him against the Lobos. Continue reading

The Foreign Exchange: Five questions with New Mexico beat writer Rick Wright

By Mike McCall

Odds are, you don’t know a ton about New Mexico, and neither do I. So I asked Albuquerque Journal reporter Rick Wright, who covers the Lobos, five quick questions to gain a little insight.

Here are his answers:

Q: Coming off a few rough years but with Bob Davie taking over, what’s the mood around the program and fan base? Continue reading

Southern University football chat with Mike McCall

Southern releases depth chart, with Dray Joseph as starting quarterback

By Mike McCall

With less than a week until the season opener, Southern released its depth chart for Saturday’s matchup at New Mexico.

Not too many surprises, especially since the school announced Dray Joseph as the starting quarterback late Sunday night. Here are the other notables:

Darrius Coleman will start at running back, as expected, after Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph went down with injuries.

– In perhaps the biggest surprise, freshman Anthony Mosley will start at right tackle, where there’s still no timetable for Taylon Jones‘ return. Mosley was a defensive player until last week, when coaches flipped him looking for depth. Eric Janeau would have been the more polished option, but coach Stump Mitchell likes Mosley’s strength over Janeau’s footwork. Continue reading

Weather spoils Southern’s final scrimmage; Jaguars will choose starters Sunday

By Mike McCall

Southern fans showed up in force for fan fest on Saturday, with more than 30 RVs lining the parking lots and a solid number filing into Mumford Stadium for the team’s third and last preseason scrimmage.

Unfortunately, all they got to see was some team stretching before heavy rains came down, and while the Jaguars persisted long enough to finish position drills and pass skeleton, they ran just one play in the scrimmage before lightning spoiled the evening.

That means all three scrimmages were altered by weather. Wet conditions drove the first over to Doug Williams Stadium (which still cracks me up), and the next was cut in more than half because of lightning.

BUT, the coaches will still decide on all of the team’s starters Sunday, giving them a finally finalized depth chart in advance of next weekend’s game at New Mexico. Of the hotly contested position battles, coach Stump Mitchell has only announced one.

On Saturday, Mitchell said he’ll turn to freshman Greg Pittman at kicker over Matt Hill. If you’ve been following my coverage regularly, you now know I’m a dummy, because I had Hill as a a heavy favorite based off what I’ve seen. But Mitchell said Pittman has been better statistically (if not in game situations, which is what I went off of), and he also likes Greg’s potential a lot, so he’s willing to ride out some growing pains to reach the payoff.

In other seemingly-small-but-potentially-major news, long-snapper Justin Williams may no longer be with the team. He wasn’t at practices the last half of the week, and Mitchell said that as far as he knows, Williams has quit the team. From what I’ve heard, Williams was running into some problems getting registered for classes, so it may not be over yet. In the meantime, linebacker Javon Allen is snapping. Mitchell said he snapped in high school, and while Allen hasn’t been bad, he hasn’t been Williams either. So that’s something to keep an eye on.

Tomorrow and Monday we should find out the winners of a bunch of position battles. Here’s a quick look: Continue reading

Five areas of focus for Southern heading into the season

By Mike McCall

This post would have been a recap of Southern’s second scrimmage, but lightning on Saturday morning put a big dent in that plan, as the Jaguars’ were run off the field twice and had to call it quits after four-and-a-half drives.

To sum it up: receiver Charles Hawkins caught a five-yard hitch on the first play and torched everyone for a 65-yard touchdown, and then things slowed down. Sack, short run, incomplete pass, punt. Eleven-yard run, run for a loss, short pass, incomplete pass, punt. Eight-yard pass, false start, lightning. False start, incompletion, sack, screen pass, punt.

More lightning.

What can we learn? Well, Hawkins is fast, and that’s about it (plus, we already knew that). The other items of note were D’Andre Woodland splitting time with Johnathan Mack at No. 2 corner (although Woodland was at fault on Hawkins’ TD), Chase Tuten punting well, and seeing a remade linebacker corps of Anthony Balancier, Franchot West and Demetrius Carter after injuries derailed likely starters Detrane Lindsey, Javon Allen and Corry Roy this week.

The scrimmage spelled the end of the Jaguars’ fall training camp, as classes begin on Monday, so with less than two weeks until the season opener at New Mexico, what does Southern need to address the most?

Here are five items: Continue reading

Southern football chat with Advocate beat writer Mike McCall

Practice Report – RB Jerry Joseph likely out for the year, DE Jeffrey Watkins no longer with team

(Note: by Mike McCall)

This is an all-around bummer of a post, but let’s chalk it up to a case of the Mondays.

First, the biggest (and worst) news out of practice today: Jerry Joseph (pictured) will likely miss the entire season due to a meniscus tear that will require surgery. Because the tear is in the inner portion of the meniscus (rather than the outside, which can often heal on its own) coach Stump Mitchell estimated about a six-month recovery time.

Joseph was slated to start at running back alongside (or slightly behind) Sylvester Nzekwe, and even though his numbers last season weren’t anything to write home about (nine carries, 25 yards), that made him the second-best back in Southern’s anemic rushing attack and coaches were excited about his potential.

Joseph was supposed to be the power back, Nzekwe the quick one. Instead, Nzekwe is still battling an ankle injury, and no solid No. 2 option has emerged between Darrius Coleman (a converted DB), Lenard Tillery (a freshman) and Terrance Clayton (a former track sprinter).

Nzekwe practiced Monday (but not full speed), while Tillery returned from a rib injury. This group was already a concern, and those concerns grow exponentially larger with Joseph out, because now the Jags really need two of those next three to step up. We might see an awful lot of fullbacks Brian McCain, Lee Mitchell and David Chin.

As for Joseph’s future, he’s a redshirt senior, but Southern can apply to get him another year of eligibility in light of the injury. Wishing the best for him. Good dude. Continue reading

A position-by-position look at Southern’s first scrimmage

(Note: Technology has conspired against me getting this blog up, so I’m posting from legendary Southern beat writer Joe Schiefelbein’s account. Make sure to direct any fawning praise/angry tirades to me, Mike McCall).

Southern held its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday, and your opinion of the Jaguars’ play will depend on your philosophy.

For the glass-half-full types, there was a stout first-team defense, a few big plays on offense and signs of life from the kickers. Meanwhile, those who tend to see the glass as half empty would point to dropped interceptions, mostly stagnant offense and a nonexistent rushing game.

Point being, Southern is a work in progress.

The Jaguars ran 13 drives, beginning at the 35-yard line, midfield and then red zone drills from the 25, rotating through quarterbacks and the first, second and third strings. All in all, there were 20 points scored: One touchdown on a drive that started on the 35, one TD on a drive from the 50, and two field goals (with one miss) out of the four red-zone drives.

Both J.P. Douglas and Dray Joseph got chances to work with the starting offense, and the results were up-and-down across the board.

Let’s take a look, position by position. Continue reading