Depth matters in CFB, at no position more than quarterback. That was purely evident Saturday afternoon as Southern routes Grambling in the annual Bayou Classic, 49-7.
With the Superdome in New Orleans undergoing renovations, the game was played at the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana for the first time since 1973.
Southern Routes Grambling In Bayou Classic
It was already a challenge for Grambling, having lost at least 36 players over the last month to injuries and to COVID protocols. They are also on their third offensive coordinator of the season. And their quarterback who started the season is now in the transfer portal.
Skelton Starts The Scoring
Then the Tigers found out that no matter which Southern quarterback is taking the snaps, the offense is explosive. Ladarius Skelton started the game for the Jaguars. With him at quarterback, it was a run-dominant offense for Southern. Even with three wideouts on most plays, Skelton was adeptly running the run-option offense. On the first drive he took Southern 70 yards down field, entirely on the ground. The Jaguars took the 7-0 lead with Skelton keeping on the left side from a yard out.
New Quarterback, Same Scoring
Later in the first quarter, Skelton got flattened on a keeper to the right side, taking a shot to the left shoulder. He came out and was replaced by John Lampley. No loss of offense for the Jaguars, but it came with a totally different look. If Grambling’s defense was honing in on the running game with Skelton, Lampley poured it on through the air. On third and 15, Lampley connected with Brandon Hinton for exactly 15 yards along the left sideline. He found Corey Williams for another 23 yards, and then Jorien Vallien for another nine yards. That left it to Craig Nelson to finish off the scoring drive with a seven-yard run up the middle for the 14-0 first quarter Southern lead.
Grambling could not even pick up its first first down until its third drive of the game. Quarterback Elijah Walker was given little working room in the backfield. He was sacked three times in the first half alone and Grambling punted on each of its five first half possessions. Walker had only 20 yards passing in the first half.
Meanwhile, Southern was now airing it out with Lampley at quarterback. He picked up 45 yards on back-to-back completions to tight end Ethan Howard. He then went to his other tight end, Travis Tucker for 22 yards, with Tucker wide open in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown. It was 21-0 early in the second quarter.
Halftime Under Control
Skelton came back in for Southern late in the first half. The offense shifted back to the ground game. He had a 24 yard run and then a 37 yard run to the Grambling 10 yard line. Two plays later running back Jerodd Sims went up the middle for one yard and the touchdown in the closing second of the second quarter. Southern went into the halftime locker room with a convincing 28-0 lead.
Southern had put up 350 yards of offense in the half and Grambling managed only 82 total.
It didn’t get any easier in the second half for Grambling. Southern not only had a four-touchdown lead, but they got the ball to start the second half. They promptly converted on the opportunity. Skelton ran up the middle from two yards out for a touchdown to cap a quick hitting seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive, to go up 35-0.
Grambling finally got on the board six minutes into the third quarter. Walker threw a picture-perfect fade pass to the back corner of the end zone for receiver Raylon Richardson. The receiver used all of his 6-4 frame to come down with the 12-yard touchdown and the Southern lead was “reduced” to 35-7.
Southern Has All The Answers
Southern answered promptly with a 75-yard touchdown drive. Receiver Marquis McClain took the hand off from Skelton on the end around and it took it in from two yards out for the 42-7 Jaguars lead.
Just to show it didn’t matter which quarterback was in, Southern went to its third play caller of the day in Glendon McDaniel. All he did was lead the Jaguars to a 75 yard scoring drive. On a play-action pass, he rolled to his right and hit tight end Gregory Perkins along the right sidelines. At first glance, Perkins took it in for a 48-yard touchdown play. But he had stepped out at the five-yard line. No matter. McDaniel took it in on the next play with a five-yard trot to the right side. The Southern lead was up to 49-7.
Grambling finishes its revised Spring season at 0-3, its first winless season in 92 years. Southern, on the other hand, is 4-1 overall, and 3-1 in the SWAC. The Jaguars are still in contention for a spot in the SWAC championship game in three weeks.