A few months ago, Southern coach Dawson Odums was looking forward to the fact the Jaguars were two seasons away from having a program full of players who have never experienced a losing season during their time at Southern.
Now, he’s hoping the Jaguars can put together a pair of consecutive wins.
A winning season is still a possibility at .500 with three games left to play, including this week’s trip to 1-7 Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but Southern has won back-to-back games only once all season. The Jaguars defeated Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State in consecutive weeks in early September but have lost every other game since.
“Just have to win two of them,” Odums said about a winning record for this season being in jeopardy. “I’m concerned about Arkansas-Pine Bluff. You take care of business there, you’re one step closer.”
The latest Jaguars’ loss came in an embarrassing home outing against Alcorn State this weekend, in which the Braves trounced the Jaguars for the program’s worst home loss of the Odums era.
The Jaguars’ defense gave up 274 rushing yards and six total touchdowns to Alcorn State back up quarterback Lenorris Footman only a week after what Odums referred to as one of the best halves of defensive football he’s seen since arriving in Baton Rouge.
“It’s tough when you play bad and then you come back and you play decent and you try to duplicate that — try to get that mindset every week locked into what you need to be doing. That’s focus,” Odums said. “Some years you have it, some years you don’t. It’s a combination of who your seniors are and who your team is.”
Odums said he and the coaching staff are trying to develop a plan to counteract the “roller-coaster” season they’ve had in terms of consistency, but ultimately attributed their troubles to a lack of experience throughout the depth chart.
The Jaguars feature a relatively large number of freshmen, sophomores and transfers in the starting lineup, as well as the barrage of injuries that have plagued the team all season.
Last week against Alcorn State, Southern listed 18 freshmen or sophomores on the two-deep roster, and Odums announced senior linebacker Daniel Brown and junior center Terrell Lee may also miss time with foot injuries suffered Saturday.
“What people don’t understand is that the previous two teams were junior- and senior-laden, so you had experience. This team is freshman- and sophomore-laden, so they’re not ready to step up and be those leaders.
“We only have 19 seniors, but it’s a mixture of guys that haven’t been in the program, so you have a mixture of transfers and guys who came here as true freshmen, so that creates different levels of leadership.”
Southern is still mathematically in the running for a trip to the Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship in Houston but is no longer in control of its own destiny to do so.
The Jaguars must win out while Grambling has to lose one of its final two games before the programs meet at the end of the season, and Prairie View needs to drop two of its final three games to avoid a tiebreaker.
Southern plays Alabama A&M at home next week before ending the season with the Bayou Classic in New Orleans.
“I think you look at the next one: Go 1-0,” Odums said. “Our main goal is to be consistent. Come in Sunday and do everything the right way. Come in Monday and do everything the right way. Just put a week together where you’re doing everything the right way, and it’ll show on Saturday.”