#43 Southern FCS Football 2015 Preview

Southern Jaguars

Overall Rank: #43

Southern Team Page#43 Southern FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Southern Football Tickets

Despite a very young offense, Southern managed to win the SWAC West with an 8-1 mark. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the team they met in the SWAC title game was the team that beat them 56-16 earlier in the year. Alcorn State dismantled Southern back on September 27th, but the game was much closer in the title game where Southern was tied with the Braves 24-24 late in the third quarter before Alcorn State pulled away for a 38-24 win. The young Jaguars are growing up now and this is a talented team that should get another shot at a SWAC championship.  

2014 Record: 9-4, 8-1
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Dawson Odums (22-13 at Southern, 22-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Chennis Berry, Chad Germany
Defensive Coordinator: Dawson Odums

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Lenard Tillery, RB, 1,196 yards
Passing: Austin Howard, QB, 2,334 yards
Receiving: Willie Quinn, WR, 892 yards
Tackles: Demetrius Carter, LB, 101
Sacks: Donald Phillips, DL, 4.5, Aaron Tiller, LB, 4.5
Interceptions: Danny Johnson, DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Tyre Bracken, RB Malcom Crockett, WR Justin Morgan, DB Dionte McDuffy

Key Losses: WR Reggie Travis, TE Montrell Jones, OL Zach Brown, OL Dwayne Houston, DL Arthur Miley, LB Brian McCain, DB De’Andre Woodland

Austin Howard had his ups and downs during his freshman campaign, but overall he had a great year. His completion percentage was a bit low at 51.7 percent, but he threw for 2,334 yards and 17 touchdowns, while being picked off just eight times. That is not bad at all for a freshman. Howard will have his favorite target, Willie Quinn, back too. Quinn caught 62 passes for 892 yards and five scores. Justin Morgan is a big play receiver who caught just 22 passes in 2014, but they went for 392 yards and four touchdowns. He could get more involved this year. As good as the passing game could be, it was the ground game that was better last year thanks to running back Lenard Tillery. He rushed for 1,267 yards and nine touchdowns. Coach Dawson Odums has a balanced offense with developing skill players. The offensive line lost a couple key pieces, most notably Zach Brown and Dwayne Houston and that is a place where the offense could run into trouble.

The Southern defense ranked sixth or seventh in most major defensive categories in the ten team SWAC. They do return most of their top tacklers, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. One thing the defense did do well was get to the quarterback, but that is also where their biggest losses are. Arthur Miley (7.0 sacks) and Brian McCain (6.5 sacks) are gone and the pressure will be on lineman Donald Philips and linebacker Aaron Tiller to get to the quarterback. Demetrius Carter is a solid leader in the middle of the field and led the team with 101 tackles in 2014. The secondary is led by Danny Johnson and Dionte McDuffy. Johnson intercepted three passes and recorded 11 pass breakups, while McDuffy was second on the team with 61 tackles. Bryan Anderson is a young defensive back to keep an eye on after recording 54 tackles and two interceptions in 2014. This has the potential to be a very good secondary, but the dynamic pass rush helped them out quite a bit. If that pass rush is not as effective without Miley and McCain, Southern’s secondary could have a hard time.

The Bottom Line:
The SWAC West is Southern’s to lose. Grambling State, who they play at the end of the regular season, should be the toughest competition. The Jaguars do play Alcorn State on Halloween this season. In the end, like last year, that game may not have huge implications for Southern or Alcorn State as far as winning their respective divisions, but it very well could be a preview of the SWAC title game a month later.

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 192.5 (35th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 222.1 (50, 6)
Total Offense: 414.5 (37, 4)
Scoring Offense: 34.2 (21, 3)
Rushing Defense: 173.5 (61, 6)
Pass Defense: 250.0 (97, 7)
Total Defense: 423.5 (89, 7)
Scoring Defense: 32.7 (98, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.31 (39, 4)
Sacks: 2.92 (12, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 0.62 (4, 2)


See All FCS Football Top 44 Previews