All Southern coach Dawson Odums wants for his team’s final home game of the season is a difficult environment for Prairie View A&M to play in.
Odums prefaced a question by saying his team enters November with as good a chance as any team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference to make it to the conference championship game, and it's the last home game this year.
“Why not come and intimidate (Prairie View)?” Odums asked. “Why not? Sit behind their bench and just talk trash to them. Make it an environment where they get back, talk to their A.D. and be like, ‘That’s got to be a neutral site game.’
“To me, that’s home-field advantage. That’s the kind of environment we want to create around here by winning games and competing for championships.”
Odums has taken a few playful jabs at the Southern fanbase this season for its attendance at the home football games.
In three home games this season, Southern has drawn 10,006, 12,958 and 15,279 according to official box scores.
“It’s not hostile enough for me,” Odums said. “I think it should be feared. It should be intimidating when you play on the road. When you go into an environment, it’s got to be an intimidating environment.”
He brought up Southern’s game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff last week, where whatever voice a small crowd could muster was lost in a mostly empty War Memorial Stadium.
“You could hear yourself talk to the person beside you,” Odums said. “That wasn’t intimidating.”
A new punter?
It sounds like a change is coming at punter for Southern after Taylor Merritt averaged 30 yards on his five punts against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
“Punting has been a concern all year,” Odums said. “We’ll get a chance to rotate some guys in there this week to try and figure out which guy wants to step up and be our punter.”
Three different players have had a shot punting for Southern this season, but all come with issues.
Merritt’s biggest problem is consistency, Odums said. He has shown flashes of ability, but has also made some head-scratching errors, like Saturday when he was credited with a 3-yard punt, setting up a Pine Bluff scoring drive with less than two minutes to go in the game.
Austin Summerbell has the longest punt of the season for Southern — a 64-yarder — but has been dealing with back tightness all season and hasn’t dressed for several games.
Murphy Nash, who rejoined Southern’s roster for the UT-San Antonio game after a years-long hiatus, has struggled to get his timing down.
“When you have all those guys having something, it makes the operation difficult, and that’s what we’ve been experiencing at punter,” Odums said.
A busy schedule
Hall of Famer and Southern alumnus Mel Blount will be in attendance during Saturday's game against Mississippi Valley. Southern originally planned to honor Blount with a number of other notable alumni at the season opener, but Blount was unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict.
Blount will be joined by a crew from NFL Films, which will shoot footage for a project about Historically Black Colleges and Universities that is scheduled to air during Black History Month.
He is also scheduled to speak at the Southern Hall of Fame banquet Friday night at the Belle of Baton Rouge casino. The 22 Southern Hall of Fame inductees are scheduled to be honored shortly after Southern honors its senior class for Senior Day.
The 1997 football team will also be honored at some point Saturday, commemorating 20 years since coach Pete Richardson led them to a Black College Football National Championship.
Southern will also hold its homecoming parade Saturday morning, with Mayor President Sharon Weston Broome serving as the grand marshal. Southern’s initial homecoming parade was rescheduled with Tropical Storm Nate looming.