There’s a lot of multi-tasking going on with the Southern football coaching staff.
Head coach Dawson Odums doubles as the defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Chad Germany and offensive line coach Chennis Berry share the offensive coordinator duties.
Some programs divvy up the responsibilities for co-coordinators by having a running game coordinator and a passing game coordinator, but the Jaguars do it a little differently.
“They just work together, hand in hand,” Odums said. “Coach Germany calls the game and coach Berry helps coach Germany with the run part of the game and some ideas on the passing part and they put a plan together.
“They know their roles and that’s really the big deal — knowing where you fit in your role. They’ve worked well together and we’ve been successful doing it that way.”
The offense’s ability to be productive in both the running game and the passing game has been a key to Southern winning its last six games and being in position to capture the Southwestern Athletic Conference West Division title by beating Grambling in the Bayou Classic on Saturday.
“We definitely work well together,” said Berry, who also has the title of assistant head coach. “We usually come up with the plan early in the week. We talk about the run game and the protections and how it fits with the passing game and we talk about the tempo.
“So we talk about everything before we present it to the rest of the offensive staff and then once we come together on game day we kind of go back and forth. It’s a great working relationship and it’s working well.”
During the games, Germany, who’s also recruiting coordinator, works from the press box and calls the plays down to Berry, who relays them to other members of the staff. Various position coaches signal in the plays and the Jaguars also use diagrams on large poster boards to communicate to the players on the field.
“They’ve got all kinds of stuff going on,” Odums said. “It’s like a zoo. It’s organized chaos.”
Germany and Berry collaborate on coordinating the offense, and the rest of the offensive staff — running backs coach/senior associate head coach Elvis Joseph, wide receivers coach Chris Coleman and tight ends coach Justin Poindexter — also contribute to the game plan, Germany said.
“For the most part, as an offensive staff, each one of our coaches takes a section of the offense,” Germany said. “We break it down into sections and I call all of those coaches experts at their part of the game plan. Each one of them takes that information and brings it back and from that information they have plays that they suggest that we run in those situations.
“In formulating the game plan I take those thoughts into consideration and a lot of times almost 100 percent we go with those and sometimes we negotiate a little bit and we try to come to a common ground on what we think is the best collectively that we should do in our game plan.”
Both coordinators have had challenges this season with their position groups.
Germany had to groom inexperienced quarterbacks to replace Dray Joseph, who ran out of eligibility after becoming Southern’s all-time passing leader last season. Then redshirt freshman Deonte Shorts battled through a pair of injuries and missed four games in the middle of the season.
True freshman Austin Howard emerged as the starter, though Shorts is now healthy and still plays in relief of Howard. The staff has tweaked the offense to accommodate Howard’s superior passing ability and Shorts’ superior athleticism as a runner.
The Jaguars are third in the SWAC in scoring (33.5 points per game) and fourth in total offense (422.5 yards per game).
They have been balanced, ranking third in rushing offense (198.0) and sixth in passing (224.5).
“Being able to run the ball is something that we’ve talked about for a couple of years,” Germany said. “I think coach Berry has had a great hand in us being able to run the ball with the development of our offensive line, having those guys that have been around for a couple years under his tutelage and how they have responded to what they’ve been asked to do.”
The offensive line was expected to be a strength coming into the season and it has been, but Berry spent preseason camp and the early part of the season moving pieces around because of injuries and academic issues.
The line stabilized at mid-season and the Jaguars have allowed just seven sacks and Lenard Tillery is 27 yards from being Southern’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 11 years.
So the offense’s success has proven to be a team effort by the players, as well as the coordinators and the rest of the staff.
“You have co-coordinators,” Germany said, “but it’s still kind of a collective effort of all the guys on offense.”