Thursday, September 10, 2015

Southern Kicks Off SWAC Season At Mississippi Valley State Tonight


Now it gets real.

A week after getting trounced by opponents neither had much of a chance of defeating, Southern and Mississippi Valley State meet in Itta Bena, Miss., tonight at 7:30 p.m. (EST) to kick off their Southwestern Athletic Conference seasons.

A national ESPNU audience will watch as Southern, who fell 62-15 to Louisiana Tech last week, tries to follow up last season's SWAC Championship Game appearance with a 2015 title.

"I think our guys are ready to play football," head coach Dawson Odums told The Advocate.  "We didn't play very well [against Tech]. We've got an opportunity to put that behind us and taste victory and that's what it's all about."

The Jaguars return most of the parts of an offense that was one of the SWAC's top offenses. Quarterback Austin Howard, who had a big freshman season, returns as does five of his top six targets from last season.  Running back Lenard Tillery rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns.
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Defense was this team's achilles heel last year as the Jaguars ranked seventh in total defense in the SWAC last year.  But they return four of their five top tacklers from last year including linebacker Demetrius Carter and and defensive back Dionte McDuffy.

Mississippi Valley State was routed by New Mexico 66-0 in Week 1, but has been looking forward to trying to build after consecutive 2-9 seasons.

"I've seen the attitude I've been looking for," head coach Rick Comegy told The Clarion Ledger earlier this season.  They [the players} were all tied {to different coaches}.  I've tried to bring (my type) of guys in and see if that's going to change anything.  I've seen flashes."

But they are in rebuilding mode after losing star quarterback Patrick Ivy and receiver Julian Swafford to graduation.  Quantavius Peterson is taking over the quarterback spot after throwing for nearly 900 yards and six touchdowns.  Joshua Price and Keenan Daniels are his primary targets.

While the offense is looking to shore up, the MVSU defense will be working on trying to improve from their 2014 performance where they ranked near the bottom of the SWAC in most major defensive categories.

Last season's leading tackler, defensive back Le' Trey Jones, who had 11 tackles at New Mexico last week, leads the Delta Devils' defense which also includes lineman Khalil Young, who had four sacks last season, and linebacker LaDerius Hooker.

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