For Southern to move forward into this weekend’s game against Texas Southern, they’ll first have to look back to last Saturday’s loss to Prairie View — starting with the officials.
Southern coach Dawson Odums sent several clips from the Jaguars’ most recent game to be reviewed by the Southwestern Athletic Conference office — including a crucial goal-line spot that cost Southern a touchdown.
“We mailed in several clips to the conference office that clearly could have changed the outcome of the game, but you don’t have replay, so you have to live with the calls of the officials,” Odums said at his weekly news conference. “But then when we come back in and watch the film, you can clearly see there were some mistakes made. That’s human error.”
The first clip the Jaguars sent, Odums said, was when Malcolm Crockett fumbled at the goal line just before half time. Odums argued the recovery in the end zone should have been ruled a touchdown, but officials instead spotted the ball at the 1. The Jaguars were stuffed on the ensuing fourth-down attempt.
The second clip was of Prairie View receiver KhaDarel Hodge’s third-down reception on the Panthers’ final drive of the game. Odums contested that Hodge was out of bounds, which would have most likely forced a field-goal attempt to put Southern down seven points, 43-36, with about two minutes to play.
Instead, the Panthers converted the first down and marched down the field for a touchdown, sealing the game.
Odums was cautious not to criticize the officials directly, saying they’re humans who make mistakes on top of having the difficult responsibility of making instant judgements.
The primary reason Odums said he was sending the tapes was to make sure officials get the call right in the future — as well as to push the SWAC to adopt instant replay in all games.
Currently, because of a lack of resources, the only SWAC games with instant replay are those televised by ESPN. Saturday’s game was live on CST.
“We don’t have the opportunity, when we play these big games, to have instant reply,” Odums said. “It was put in position not to show up officials, but to help officials get it right. A lot of the time they are right, but in the situations where they make a mistake, they at least have something to bail them out.”
The Jaguars will also look back on their own performance from last week as Odums hopes to bounce back from Southern’s first conference loss of the season.
Odums didn’t hesitate to list the many errors his team committed — namely six fumbles and several dropped passes — but added it was one of those games where “football is just not interested in you.”
“We can’t go forward until we correct the mistakes from Saturday’s game and correct the attention to detail,” Odums. “The good thing is, we have a good enough bunch that’s going to come out and we’re going to get a chance to really see what they’re made of, because adversity tests your character.”
Moving forward, the defensive lineup will see several new faces this week as injuries have again forced Odums to shuffle his depth chart.
Senior Christian Allen makes the jump into the starting lineup at defensive tackle with usual starter Donald Phillips (Achilles tendon) questionable for Saturday.
Second-string wide receiver and cornerback Justin Morgan is listed as day-to-day this week after re-aggravating an ankle injury in practice last week. Morgan did not dress for last Saturday’s game, but Odums said he was hopeful for his return this weekend.
It isn’t all bad news on the injury front for Southern. Sophomore cornerback Jamar Mitchell (hamstring) makes his return to the starting lineup this week after playing a reserve role to Demerio Houston for the past few games.
Houston has one interception and is tied for first in the conference with six pass breakups this season, but Odums said Mitchell was always expected to return to his starting role once healthy.
“You don’t lose your job to injury,” Odums said. “Demerio Houston has played really well for us, he’s competed at a high level, but that gives us depth now. We’re happy to have Jamar back.”