(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.
Recap: Douglas was better statistically, but Joseph won where it counts — in the eyes of coach Stump Mitchell.
Douglas was 6-of-11 for 120 yards and a 46-yard touchdown to Thomas Jackson. He also led the only other TD drive of the day, setting up Brian McCain’s four-yard touchdown run with a 40-yard strike to Lee Doss.
Joseph went 4-of-13 for just 39 yards, and he missed Doss wide open for a touchdown on the same play that Douglas connected on (just on the other side of the field).
BUT, Mitchell awarded the day to Joseph, who wasn’t expected to play after being held out of Friday’s practice with a blister on his right big toe (after all, no one wants to admit they missed a scrimmage during a heated QB battle because of a toe blister).
Mitchell’s reasoning was simple. Douglas made the big plays, but he also made the mistakes. There were a lot of false-start problems under his watch, and before his first scoring drive (against the second-team defense) he went three-and-out twice against the starters. Also, the drive before his TD to Jackson went like this: missed an open receiver, false start, sack, false start. Then, on 3rd and 6, he forced a pass to Jackson that hit backup corner Sony Sanon in the chest. He dropped what would have been a pick-6, and Douglas hit Jackson for the score on the next play.
With that said, Douglas’ two deep balls to Doss and Jackson were beautiful. He has some things to clean up, but those were good flashes. Meanwhile, Joseph was more of a caretaker. He did notch the only two first downs against the starting defense: an 11-yard pass to Rashaun Allen and a 16-yarder to Charles Hawkins.
All in all, Joseph takes a small step forward in the QB battle, but I’d say this is far from over.
Starters: Darrius Coleman/Terrance Clayton
Recap: With true starters Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph injured, these two got the bulk of the carries. Coleman: 6 carries, 5 yards; Clayton: 6 carries, 16 yards.
Neither was very impressive, as the Jaguars managed just 34 rushing yards on 17 carries (a total that drops to 5 yards if you include sacks).
Freshman Lenard Tillery was held out as well, and it’s safe to say that no one has stepped up as a reliable backup to Nzekwe and Joseph, who, it should be noted, have some work to do themselves in reviving SU’s rushing offense.
At fullback, Brian McCain scored a four-yard touchdown, and Lee Mitchell and Joseph Jones had one carry each. They were also active in the passing game (albeit not for much yardage), which is something to keep an eye on this season.
Wide receiver/tight end
Starters: Charles Hawkins, Lee Doss, TE Rashaun Allen
Recap: Doss led all receivers with 53 yards on two catches (and would have had three for 90 and a TD if Joseph had hit him), while Thomas Jackson had two grabs for 51 yards and a TD.
Those two were solid, and freshman sensation Willie Quinn got one catch for 10 yards (wasn’t used a ton). Early on, they went to Allen a lot, but he wasn’t as effective as they hoped. He was hit and lost control of a catch on the second play, and he later ran the wrong route on a play that forced Joseph to scramble. Allen finished with two catches for 17 yards — not awful, but should have been more. Mitchell said Allen’s rust from a year off showed.
Hawkins had one catch for 16 yards, and fellow top wideout Michael Berry was out with a hamstring injury.
Starters: LT Chris Browne, LG Zach Brown, C Aaron Hall, RG Dwayne Houston, RT Taylon Jones
Recap: The line wasn’t bad. Despite the six sacks (a few of which were on the receivers not getting open, or third-team quarterback Justin Morgan being a bit unorganized), pass-blocking was okay. Run-blocking, well, that needs work, but it’s also hard to judge without the starting running backs in there.
The line did get a great push on McCain’s TD run, albeit against the second-string defense.
Starters: DE Kadeem Lewis, DT Delwin Williams, DT Casey Narcisse, DE Jaylen Jordan
Recap: This group looked good. Defensive coordinator Dawson Odums praised both ends (Jordan had two sacks, Lewis knocked down a pass and got a good pass rush) and said Narcisse was the quickest off the snap that he’s ever seen him.
Interestingly. Jordan and Williams swapped a few times, with Williams playing end, which makes sense since Jordan is bigger. Might see a lot of different looks from that group.
As far as the backups, DE Arthur Miley got himself a sack, and DTs Gabe Echols and Benay Pryer — two players SU needs to step up — showed their potential on one play against the second-team offense when they blew up the interior line to stuff fullback Lee Mitchell for a loss of one.
Starters: Detrane Lindsey, Javon Allen, Corry Roy (add Franchot West in a 3-4)
Recap: While inexperienced, this group is looking like a sleeper. A lot of athleticism here, and they were flying to the ball.
Notable moments include West blowing up Rashaun Allen on the first play to break up a pass, and backup Anthony Balancier wreaking havoc on the second and third teams.
This was an active, and their performance had Odums excited afterward. Still plenty of work to do, but very encouraging signs out of this crew.
Starters: CBs Virgil Williams and Johnathan Mack, FS Mychal Bell, SS Levi Jackson
Recap: From what I was able to see from the sideline, Williams was largely untested. Mack nearly caused an interception on the third play, when he broke up a Douglas pass to Doss, but Jackson bobbled and dropped the deflection.
That was one of two dropped picks on the day (along with Sanon). This group is good in coverage but needs to take advantage of opportunities.
Bell got a shot at FS, which has been a rotating door this fall. Johnathon Wilson and Jamaal Martin saw time there earlier, but Bell’s play on Saturday makes him the best of the bunch so far. He was in the middle of the action all day, and I didn’t see him miss a tackle.
Kevin King also saw some time at first-team corner, and while D’Andre Woodland got burned by Doss on his 40-yarder, credit the former track athlete with catching Doss before the end zone. Woodland is fast, but he needs polishing.
D’Mekus Cook will be in the battle for playing time as well, but he was out on Saturday.
Starters: K Matthew Hill, P Chase Tuten
Recap: Hill was solid, hitting both extra points and his only field goal attempt, a 39-yarder. Freshman Greg Pittman missed a 37-yarder but hit a 42-yarder, and fellow frosh Tuten was up-and-down as well.
Tuten had punts of 26, 48, 23, 34, 24 and 32 yards (31.2 average). That’s too low, but the 48-yarder and another that was downed at the 5 were good signs.
It’s also worth noting that Willie Quinn saw the most action at punt returner, not Virgil Williams, although the punt returns were not live situations so it’s hard to take much from it.
Overall, some good and some bad. For those who went, what did you think? Anyone surprise you or stand out? How do you see the quarterback battle playing out?