Arkansas-Pine Bluff safety Jarvis Webb doesn’t mind at all that the intensity from last year’s 22-21 victory over Southern, which ended on a blocked extra point, carries into Saturday’s game in Baton Rouge, La.
Just as long as it’s the intensity before the postgame brawl between the two teams.
“Intensity carries over,” Webb said. “We don’t like what happened at the end of the game. We just have to show them we can beat them again on the field.”
Adding to the intensity this time around is the lead in the SWAC Western Division up for grabs. Southern will tie UAPB in record with a win but assume control because of the head-to-head result.
“That’s intense-enough incentive on both sides,” Lions coach Monte Coleman said.
The last time UAPB lost control of the West, the Golden Lions eventually depended on Southern to help punch their tickets to the SWAC championship game. The Jaguars failed, losing to Grambling State in the Bayou Classic at the end of last season.
So the Lions are looking past their embarrassing 10-minute melee with the Jaguars from last year and only want to do battle with them with a football involved, not with helmets as weapons.
“We put all the unnecessary things in the past,” Webb said. “We just have to look forward and work hard every day and beat them. We don’t want to put ourselves behind. We’re in the driver’s seat. We don’t want to be in the passenger seat.”
Said UAPB receiver Dezmond Beverly: “We’re not going to be scared or anything because of what happened last time, but we’re going to play hard.”
The Lions have had two weeks to prepare for this game since their last outing, a 34-24 win at home against Jackson State. In that game, the Lions continued to struggle on offense, amassing only 293 total yards including 30 passing by Ben Anderson.
But after a blowout loss at Tennessee State, the unit made some strides with Anderson’s two touchdown passes and Dennis Jenkins’ season-high 154 rushing yards and two scores.
“It was a progression,” Beverly said. “Like coach (and offensive coordinator Eric) Dooley said, we still haven’t played a complete game yet. We can put up more points. We can have more passing yards, rushing yards. We can do all that. We just haven’t put it together yet.”
They’re looking to build on that against the Jaguars, who allow 321.8 total yards per game. And Southern interim coach Dawson Odums said UAPB’s offensive talent is a concern.
“They get the ball to their guys,” he said. “They play in a way they can say their guys are better than your guys.”
On offense, Southern favors big plays from quarterback Dray Joseph, who has nine touchdowns and only five interceptions on the season. His play is helping hold up an offense whose leading rusher, Darrius Coleman, averages only 26.3 yards per game.
“We see the quarterback likes to throw deep balls,” Webb said. “We have to play more deep because they like to run a lot of posts.”
Southern also is looking to build on momentum from its early-season coaching change. Stump Mitchell was reassigned from his head coaching duties, and Odums moved up from defensive coordinator to interim head coach, building a 3-1 record.
“They’re playing better, playing more unified,” Coleman said. “I’ve got a lot of respect for Stump Mitchell, but for whatever reason, they’re playing hard right now.”
Golden Lion Notes • I.C. Murrell
• Southern special teams coordinator Marty Biagi will face off against his old team today. Biagi was UAPB’s secondary coach and resigned over the summer after one season. Southern was Eric Dooley’s place of employment for 14 seasons before becoming UAPB’s offensive coordinator in 2011.
• UAPB starting running back Justin Billings is listed as day-to-day after suffering a broken nose against Jackson State two weeks ago. He had the nose reset this week.
• UAPB defensive end Brandon Thurmond is now second in the Football Championship Subdivision in total tackles with 7.5 (the SWAC recognizes eight, one of which is assisted). He trails only Zack Wagenmann of Montana with eight (two assisted).
• The UAPB defense has taken a tumble from being one of the best in the nation. The Lions are still ranked 23rd nationally at 321.83 yards allowed per game, but were ranked as high as sixth this season. SWAC foes Mississippi Valley State (275) and Alabama A&M (288) are ranked fourth and sixth, respectively.
• This is the first of two games in Louisiana the Lions will play this season. UAPB visits Grambling State on Nov. 10.
• Through two games, Southern averages 13,254 in home attendance at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
UAPB Golden Lions (4-2) at Southern Jaguars (3-3)
6 p.m. Saturday • A.W. Mumford Stadium, Baton Rouge, La. • Radio: KUAP-FM 89.7 • SWAC records: UAPB 3-1, Southern 2-2