Week 3 HBCU Notebook: Austin Howard leads Southern into game at Georgia

Southern University’s offense looks like a well-oiled scoring machine. The Jaguars are averaging an eye-popping 38.3 points a game behind sophomore quarterback Austin Howard, who put on quite a show last weekend.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Howard had it in high gear for a 50-31 victory over Jackson State. The Jaguars’ signal-caller connected on 21 of 32 passes for a career-high 395 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to wide receiverWillie Quinn. Howard also ran for two touchdowns, earning him ESPN.com HBCU Player of the Week honors.

Southern head coach Dawson Odums enjoyed watching his Jaguars (2-1 overall, 2-0 SWAC) tally 50 points for the second straight week, as Southern topped Mississippi Valley State, 50-13, on Sept. 10. In particular, the coach has enjoyed the fact that Howard has led this scoring parade.

“He can make every throw,” Odums said. “He has some guys that can catch it, and when they do that you have some guys that can spread the field and find some holes. He’s capable of delivering the football. I thought Saturday he played exceptionally well.”

He has been playing well for a while. Last season, as a true freshman, Howard led Southern to its second straight SWAC championship game. On his way to the 2014 SWAC Freshman of the Year award, he threw for more than 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns and passed for more than 200 yards in five games. He finished the season with four rushing TDs.

Up next, Southern will visit Georgia (3-0, 2-0 SEC) in a tough nonconference game in Athens, Georgia. If the Jaguars have a chance of competing with the Bulldogs, it will be because of Howard.

“It starts with him,” Odums said. “When he’s on and doing certain things to be a good quarterback, then our offense can score a lot of points. I was happy to see that on Saturday. He was in a comfort zone and to be able to deliver the ball on target to some receivers that were able to make some great catches.”

SWAC Players of the Week

Alabama State linebacker Kourtney Berry was selected as the SWAC Defensive Player of the Week. He had 19 tackles in the Hornets’ 34-10 loss to Grambling State. Southern’s Howard was named the SWAC Offensive Player of the Week.

MEAC Players of the Week

Hampton quarterback David Watford was chosen as the MEAC Offensive Player of the Week. Watford led the Pirates with 337 yards of total offense, 279 yards passing and 58 rushing. He had two rushing touchdowns and one passing TD in a 37-19 win against Howard in the Nation’s Football Classic in Washington, DC. South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard was named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Leonard had a career-high 16 solo tackles in the Bulldogs’ thumping of Florida A&M, 36-0. He also had 3.0 tackles for a loss of 8 yards and one sack.

Countdown to the Celebration Bowl

Coaches won’t admit to looking ahead, but you better believe the Celebration Bowl isn’t too far off in their minds. The game, which opens the college football postseason, will kick off at noon Saturday, Dec. 19, live on ABC from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, featuring the champions of the MEAC and SWAC.

SBN Sports Network Black College Football Poll

1. Alcorn State

2. North Carolina A&T

3. Southern

4. Bethune-Cookman

5. Grambling State

6. Tennessee State

7. Tuskegee

8. North Carolina Central

9. South Carolina State

10. Hampton

Heritage Sports Radio Network, LLC Division I FCS Poll

1. Alcorn State

2. North Carolina A&T

3. South Carolina State

4. Southern

5. Bethune-Cookman

6. Hampton

7. Tennessee State

8. Prairie View A&M

9. Texas Southern

10. North Carolina Central

Boxtorow HBCU Football Media Top 10 Poll

1. North Carolina A&T

2. South Carolina State

3. Alcorn State

4. Tennessee State

5. Southern

6. Tuskegee

7. Bethune-Cookman

8. Hampton

9. North Carolina Central

10. Prairie View A&M

Longtime ESPN contributor Donald Hunt is a veteran sports writer for The Philadelphia Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @DHuntTrib.