Danny Johnson came close to breaking a couple punt returns for touchdowns last week against Alcorn State, so close that he figured a score was right around the corner.
“I had been talking to the guys all week, saying, ‘We got close last week, we’re going to get one,’” Johnson said.
He didn’t have to wait long. Johnson shrugged off a would-be tackler on his first punt return opportunity Saturday and weaved his way through the remainder of the Fort Valley coverage unit for a 68-yard punt return touchdown.
It was the second score of Johnson’s career as a punt returner, something he didn’t get much of an opportunity to do with Willie Quinn serving as Southern’s top return man the past few seasons.
Johnson had ceded some return chances to freshman Jamar Washington in recent weeks, but Saturday he was the top option on the punt and kick return teams.
“In the return game, he’s got a chance to create some opportunities for us to get some points,” said Southern coach Dawson Odums. “That’s the second week in a row he’s had big returns.
“If you kick it to him, he has the ability to go the distance. We’ve got to get more guys who can make plays and give them a chance to touch the football.”
Johnson, a senior, acknowledged that proving he has value as a return man would help his chances of getting a shot to land on a team at the next level.
“That just adds value to my game,” Johnson said. “I try to improve on that every chance I get … and I feel like I’ve been reaping the reward.”
Offensive line shuffle
Freshman offensive lineman Jonathan Bishop made the first start of his career at left guard, taking over the spot usually occupied by redshirt sophomore Mason Sims.
But Sims wouldn’t be out of the game long. He spent a good portion of the game rotating in at left guard and right tackle, sometimes playing on the field at the same time as Bishop.
As a whole, the Southern offensive line had a rough night, committing several holding penalties — including one sequence where it was called for holding on three straight plays, only to have two declined — and allowing 11 plays to be made behind the line of scrimmage.
“We’ve got to get guys out there that are going to give great effort. There’s no substitute for that,” Odums said. “… We’ve got to shake it up because we haven’t been playing well up until this point.
“Now, we’re going to look at the film, and we might have to change it again. We’re going to do what we have to do to get the right combination, and the right combination is giving guys a chance. We gave Bishop a chance tonight.”
Senior defensive end Aaron Tiller enjoyed his best night of the season with eight tackles, three sacks and four tackles for loss.
It was Tiller’s sixth career game with multiple sacks. His career high came last season, when he tallied four sacks against Prairie View A&M.
He now has 23.5 sacks for his career.
Johnson, Tiller and Christian Rodriguez served as Southern’s captains. … Southern wore navy blue uniforms Saturday. … The Jaguars are 6-0 at A.W. Mumford Stadium since the installation of the artificial playing surface last season. … The announced attendance for Saturday’s game was 12,958.
Story By @ByLukeJohnson
Credit: Luke Johnson For The Advocate http://www.theadvocate.com