Southern got a much-needed break the past two days.
The Jaguars had the busiest schedule of any Southwestern Athletic Conference team during the first two weeks of the season.
They were one of six SWAC teams to open against an FBS opponent and away from home.
They and Mississippi Valley State were the only teams to come back five days later, as they met in their conference opener Thursday night in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
Though the Delta Devils had as quick a turnaround as Southern, the Jaguars were the only ones who had to hit the road for those two games in six days.
Now comes the flip side.
Southern gets an extra two days between games as it prepares for its home opener against Jackson State on Saturday in Mumford Stadium.
Coach Dawson Odums gave the team Friday and Saturday off. Players will return to practice Sunday to resume game-week preparations.
The Jaguars are not only rested from the two days off, they’re energized by bouncing back from a 62-15 loss at Louisiana Tech in the season opener to beat Valley 50-13.
“We’re looking forward to coming back and playing even harder the next game,” said Willie Quinn, who returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass against Valley. “We’re coming back Sunday and working hard to do it all over again and get another ‘W.’ ”
Though Southern dominated Valley, taking a 33-0 lead midway through the second quarter, its performance slipped during the final 2½ quarters.
“As the game went along, guys started wearing down and thinking the game was ours,” said running back Lenard Tillery, who scored the first two touchdowns on runs of 10 and 14 yards. “Coach Odums is always preaching to keep our foot on the gas.
“If we keep the intensity that we had in the first quarter through an entire game, we should be in for a great season.”
Odums has big expectations for the home opener — the Jaguars’ first game in Mumford since a 44-13 victory against Valley last Nov. 15. Southern, of course, finished last season with the Bayou Classic game against Grambling in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before concluding the season in the SWAC championship game against Alcorn State in Houston.
This is the Jaguars’ latest home opener since at least 2004 and the first of just four games in Mumford this season. It is the only home game during the first six weeks of the season.
“Anything less than a sellout would probably be unacceptable in our eyes,” Odums said of the opener. “I think we’ve got a good enough fan base to where we should sell out. That’s the challenge. We want A.W. Mumford Stadium to be loud, obnoxious and rocking.”
The Tigers usually attract the largest crowd among Southern opponents. The crowd of 30,816 that turned out for JSU’s last visit two years ago is the largest in Mumford in at least the last four years.
“We’re welcoming one of our rival teams into (Mumford),” Odums said, “and we’re going to need everybody’s support in order to pull out a victory.”
With the new season comes change. The Jaguars have moved their kickoff times to save money by cutting down the number of hours that extra security needs to be on campus.
The Jackson State game will kick off at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The standard kickoff time for other games has been moved to 4 p.m. from 6 p.m.
Additionally, parking will not be allowed on campus without a season or gameday parking pass, both of which are available for purchase at the Southern ticket office.
The Jaguars’ other home games are scheduled for Oct. 17 against Prairie View A&M, Oct. 31 against defending SWAC champion Alcorn State (Homecoming) and Nov. 14 against Alabama A&M.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.