Neither Southern nor Mississippi Valley State has a moment to waste as they prepare for their Southwestern Athletic Conference opener Thursday night in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
Both teams spent Sunday breaking down film of their lopsided season-opening losses a day earlier — the Jaguars lost at Louisiana Tech 62-15, and the Delta Devils lost at New Mexico 66-0 — before plunging back into practice Monday.
“Thank goodness for Labor Day,” Valley coach Ricky Comegy said Monday during the weekly SWAC coaches teleconference. “Since we don’t have classes today, we’re going to get as much done as we can.”
Comegy was a few minutes late for his turn on the conference call. He said he lost track of time during a staff meeting as the Devils accelerated their preparation. Under the circumstances, he could be forgiven for mistakenly referring to Southern’s opening opponent as Georgia Tech.
Actually it was defending SWAC champion Alcorn State that opened at Georgia Tech, losing 69-6 last Thursday.
Odums sees bright spots
The Jaguars had a walk-through Sunday and passed on their normal day off Monday to get in a full workout. They will have another full practice Tuesday and leave Wednesday for Mississippi.
Coach Dawson Odums said he found some bright spots as he reviewed the lopsided loss to the Bulldogs.
“I thought we competed for four quarters,” he said. “We were able to get (two) turnovers. Offensively, we moved the ball down the field. We were able to get into the end zone.
“Special teams was able to get into the end zone on a kickoff return. So we did some good things, we just didn’t do enough of them to give ourselves a chance to win a football game against a very good football team.”
The kickoff return Odums referred to was a 100-yarder by Willie Quinn, who was named SWAC Special Teams Player of the Week.
Quinn, who finished the game with six kickoff returns for 197 yards, had his second kickoff return and fifth overall return for a score as he established a new longest kickoff return for his career.
Other weekly honors
As for other players of the week, Prairie View claimed two of them after winning the only conference game played last week.
Panthers quarterback Trey Green and defensive end Ahkeem Barton were named on offense and defense for their roles in Prairie View’s 38-11 win at Texas Southern.
Green accounted for three touchdowns and 248 yards of offense. He passed for 167 yards and a touchdown, and one of his two rushing touchdowns was an 81-yarder. Barton made five tackles, including two sacks.
Jackson State defensive back Derrick Bobo was named Newcomer of the Week after making six tackles, all solo, in the Tigers 70-14 loss to Middle Tennessee State.
Alone in the win column
Prairie View not only won the only conference game the first week, it also was the only SWAC team to win its opener.
“Now the other nine teams have motivation to get better,” Panthers first-year coach Willie Simmons said. “We’ll see if we’re mature enough to respond after a big win by coming to work this week.”
Big East division game
There is one other SWAC game this week besides Southern’s game at Mississippi Valley, and it’s an important one.
Alcorn State begins defense of its title by visiting Alabama State, which is usually a contender in the East.
The Hornets lost to Cincinnati 52-10 in Brian Jenkins’ first game as head coach.
“This is another game where we’re going to have to play flawless football,” Jenkins said. “It’s another heavyweight fight, and we have to do a better job of protecting our chin if we’re going to avoid getting knocked out early.”
Follow Les East on Twitter @EastAdvocate.