School: Southern University
Mascot: Lacumba the Jaguar
Returning starters: No idea.
2014 record: 9-4
There are unique challenges associated with running a football program at the FCS level. Those challenges have generally been more acute at the nation's historically black colleges and universities. But there aren't many programs that can say that they've faced the challenges Southern faces entering 2015. The Jaguars put together a solid 9-4 campaign in 2014. However, because of sanctions related to prior APR-related issues the school was barred from conducting spring practice this year. So, when the Jags convened recently to begin fall camp it was the first time the group had done so in a formal manner since last December.
Southern has also endured a year and a half long NCAA postseason ban after the athletic department's record keeping was so shoddy they had trouble proving who was and wasn't eligible. At one point several players were actually pulled off the field after the national anthem. There have also been facility issues surrounding the team's practice field (they're practicing off campus this fall), and repeated turnover in the athletic director's chair.
When the Jags reconvened this month, they also did so without eleven players from the 2014 squad with remaining eligibility but who did not meet academic requirements. They include starting safety Bryan Anderson. Anderson's 54 tackles and 2 interceptions will be replaced by junior Blake Monroe. He'll be joined by senior Dionte M
Also gone from the team are expected running back contributors Jamarcus Jarvis and Tyre Brackens. The Jags will however return Lenard Tillery, whose 1,196 rushing yards in 2014 were the first 1000 effort by a Southern player in eleven years. Malcolm Crockett, a senior transfer from Pitt should also have a chance to shine behind a relatively experienced offensive line.
Southern doesnt have the depth to hang with Georgia. But they have had a lot of experience coping with adversity most teams couldn't imagine. Southern was recently picked by SWAC coaches to finish second in their division, and if the coaching staff delivers that they deserve a raise. And some better luck. But they won't find that luck in Athens. Score prediction: UGA 55, Southern 10.