Southern plans to scrimmage with better effort _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Alcorn State quarterback John Gibbs, Jr., (3) is brought to the ground by Southern's Dionte McDuffy (23) in the fourth quarter of the SWAC Championship game, Saturday, Dec. 6, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Tx.

The Southern football team finished preseason camp last Saturday with a scrimmage that didn’t feature the type of effort coach Dawson Odums was looking for.

The Jaguars say they plan to show improvement in that area when they scrimmage again Saturday morning at the Louisiana Leadership Institute.

“I think overall they’re going to be more excited,” Odums said. “I think they understand that that’s part of our makeup and that’s our motto — to play with energy and passion. Any time we get off the bus that’s something we’ve got to have in our lunch box that we’re always going to be carrying with us and I think we had it in spurts but not to my liking.

“I think we’re going to do better at that and it will be interesting to see how we do with that on Saturday.”

Odums and his assistants pointed to examples where effort was lacking as they reviewed tape of last week’s scrimmage.

“We should come out with great effort this Saturday because the coaches have been harping on it all week,” safety Dionte McDuffy said. “We should come out with great energy and fly around to the ball.”

Last week’s scrimmage started about 45 minutes later than scheduled because of a miscommunication that led to the buses arriving late to transport the team from campus to the Louisiana Leadership Institute.

“I don’t think everybody was completely focused as much as they should have been,” defensive end Donald Phillips said, “but after watching film and talking with coach Odums, that’s not going to be a problem anymore.”

Though Odums said the whole team could do a better job with its effort, the defense especially is looking for redemption after yielding eight touchdowns during the 90-play scrimmage last week.

“We’re going to have a better showing,” Phillips said. “We were watching film and our major problem was not coming out of the gate strong and not getting to the ball.

“We needed to get 11 guys to the ball. We’ve been working on that since and that’s our main focus, just running to the ball and having 100 percent effort on the field because that was the main problem — just effort.”

The scrimmage mostly featured the No. 1 offense vs. the No. 2 defense and vice versa.

“I think overall the No. 1 defense had a good scrimmage,” McDuffy said, “but there are still some small things we have to work on to become great as a whole defense.”

“It’s definitely easy to overlook good things that the defense did because people like touchdowns,” Phillips said. “We had a lot of good plays in the scrimmage, but touchdowns are going to override that any day.”

The scrimmage featured several big plays from the offense, including a 99-yard touchdown pass from Austin Howard to Mike Jones on the first play and a 25-yard touchdown from Howard to Willie Quinn.

“I thought (the offense) did a really good job of executing, especially in the passing game,” Odums said. “We’re still trying to get better at running the football and I think we’re going to get better.”

The offense overall has more experience than the defense and the second-team secondary is one of the youngest groups on the team.

“Usually what we would see is the defense is ahead of the offense all the way up until the season starts because defense is easier to catch on to,” Jones said, “but with all our experience on offense the offense is actually ahead of the defense right now from what I can see.

“We have a lot more experience on offense than they do on defense so our confidence level is a little bit higher than the defense’s because they have a lot of young guys over there, but I would expect them to bounce back with a good performance.”

McDuffy said the defense might have been too concerned about not risking injury to teammates, “but at the same time you have to work to try to get better.”


Odums said this scrimmage probably won’t be as long as the last one. ... The Jaguars are scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m. ... The scrimmage is open to the public.

Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.