2023 Louisiana Football Preview: Southern

Southern Jaguars

By Grant Chachere

All Photos Courtesy of Southern University Athletics

Southern head coach Eric Dooley

Outlook

Eric Dooley did an excellent job with Southern in his first year as the head coach. Dooley learned a lot from two legendary coaches Eddie Robinson, who he played for at Grambling from 1985-1988, and he was an assistant on Pete Richardson’s staff at Southern from 1997-2010.

Southern is coming off another successful season where they finished 7-5 and won the SWAC West division to advance to the SWAC Championship game. Although they fell short and lost to Jackson State, the Jags have seemingly taken the next step to becoming the big dogs, or in this big cats, of the SWAC.

With former Jackson State head coach Deion Sanders taking his coaching talents to Colorado, the SWAC is wide open and the Jaguars may be the team to do so.

Southern Assistant Head Coach Terrence Graves

Offense

Harold Blood (6-2, 180, Gr.) is the new starting quarterback. Blood, who prepped at Destrehan High School, waited for four years for his turn to take the reins of the offense.

Last season, the run game was highly effective for the Jaguars as they rushed for over 200 yards a game. Although Southern lost its top two backs, they brought back the third leading rusher from 2022 in running back Kendric Rhymes (6-0, 185, Jr.) who rushed for 364 yards and scored five rushing touchdowns. The Jaguars also brought in Alabama A&M graduate transfer Gary Quarles (5-8, 180, Gr.) who was first-team All-SWAC in 2021 and missed most of last season due to injury.

In the receiving corps, they return Chandler Whitfield (5-10, 170, Jr.) and August Pitre III (6-1, 176, Gr.). Whitfield had 24 receptions for 301 yards and two touchdowns while Pitre caught 19 balls for 295 yards and three touchdowns.

On the offensive line, they return All-Conference offensive lineman Eli Fields (6-5, 315, Jr.).

Southern Defensive Coordinator Henry Miller

Defense

The defense for Southern is elite and nothing else. Southern allowed 301 yards per game, which was the sixth-best defense in the country.

On the defensive line, the Jaguars return All-Conference defensive linemen Tahj Brown (6-3, 230, Gr.) and defensive tackle Ckelby Givens (6-2, 230, So.). Brown recorded 28 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while Givens recorded 37 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

Southern also returns its tackling leader from last year, linebacker Jalen Campbell (6-0, 222, Sr.). Campbell was rewarded with All-Conference honors after his 82 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and six sacks.

In its elite secondary, the Jaguars return All-Conference performers Jordan Carter (5-11, 195, Gr.) and Kristion Davis (6-2, 180, Jr.). Carter had 36 tackles and three interceptions on the year while Davis had 41 tackles and two interceptions.

Special Teams

Southern returns All-Conference kicker Josh Griffin and punter Robens Beauplan. They also have a very good long snapper in Braxston Blackwell.

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