Football Preview: Southern

Football Preview: Southern

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Southern football team has been a consistent winner under the direction of head coach Dawson Odums as the Jaguars eye a sixth straight winning season under his guidance. 
Southern ranked fourth in points per game (27.4), third in total yards of offense per game (372.9), third in rushing offense (162.3 yards per game), and fifth in passing offense (210.6 yards per game). 
The Jaguars will have big shoes to fill under center as Southern will need to find a new signal caller with the departure of Austin Howard, who threw for 2,025 yards and 18 touchdowns last season in nine games.  Among the five quarterbacks on the roster include redshirt sophomore Kobie Lane (6-0, 205), sophomores Ladarius Skelton (6-2, 210), John Lampley (6-2, 194), Glendon McDaniel (6-2, 200) and redshirt freshman DJ White (6-5, 230). 
Whoever takes the lead at quarterback will have the protection offensive lineman Jeremiah Abby, who was chosen as an All-SWAC Preseason First Team selection.
Redshirt sophomore Devon Benn could potentially be in line for a larger workload at the running back position with the departure of Herb Edwards (second in the SWAC in rushing with 968 rushing yards on 172 carries).  The 5-8, 180-pound Benn averaged 5.1 yards per carry and ran for 442 yards and four touchdowns in 2017. 
Jamar Washington made a splash as a freshman last year, ranking tied for ninth in the conference in receptions with 38.   As a solid possession receiver, Washington has a nose for the first down marker as the Alexandria, La. native averaged 10.7 yards per catch.  An immediate contributor who could join him in the wideout corps is University of Minnesota transfer Hunter Register.  The 6-5, 215-pound redshirt sophomore potentially presents matchup problems for opposing secondary players in the conference.
The Jaguars ranked seventh in scoring defense (27.7 allowed points per game), sixth in total defense (351.4 yards allowed per game), seventh in rushing defense (166.6 allowed yards per game), and fifth in pass defense (184.8 yards allowed per game). 
The unit is led by Andre Augustine, who was an All-SWAC Preseason First Team selection, and senior defensive back Demario Houston, who was named on the Black College Hall of Fame Player of the Year Watch List.  Houston doubles as a return specialist threat as well.  The Shelby, N.C. native returned a kick for a touchdown last season in game against Texas Southern.
But the team will have to make plenty of adjustments without the services of defensive back Danny Johnson (15 passes defended, 3 INTs), linebacker Kentavious Preston (70 tackles) and defensive end Aaron Tiller (9.5 sacks, 17.5 tackles for a loss), who were all key cogs in this defensive unit. 

Head coach: Dawson Odums; Record at SUBR 43-25 (seventh year); Overall 43-25 (seventh year)

2017 record and finish: 7-4 overall, 5-2 SWAC (second in the SWAC West Division) 

Returning statistical leaders
Passing: John Lampley (14-of-26, 114 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs)
Rushing: Devon Benn (87 carries, 442 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving: Jamar Washington (38 receptions, 408 yards, 3 TDs)
Tackles: Andre Augustine (53 tackles)
Sacks: Dakavion Champion, Joe Davis (2.5 apiece)
Interceptions: Montavius Gaines (2 INTs)

Potential game breaker: New to the team, wide receiver Hunter Register has the size (6-5, 215 pounds) and the talent level (a three-star recruit) to cause headaches to opposing team’s secondaries.  The Lafayette, La. native didn’t receive extensive playing time at the University of Minnesota, but a change of scenery could be the spark he needs to soar.