If Southern football coach Dawson Odums takes some calculated risks with his 2019 team, they won’t come until the season gets underway.
Right now, Odums is playing it safe until he can get his eighth Jaguars team to the season opener without filling up the school infirmary.
Odums has scaled back practice and he will hold Saturday’s scrimmage well short of the 120-play, full-pad session he conducted last Saturday. The Jaguars will go “80-85 plays,” Odums said, and reserve players will get more than their usual share of snaps.
The scrimmage is set for 7:45 a.m. at A.W. Mumford Stadium and is open to media and the public as part of Fan Fest.
“We’re so beat up it will probably be a controlled practice scrimmage,” Odums said. “It’s right before school starts, right before the season, I don’t want anybody going down Saturday. I know we’ve got to get our work in. But with the short amount of practice time we have, we can’t afford to have anybody we’re counting on to go down.”
The scrimmage marks the end of the Jaguars’ two-week fall camp. Players have moved into their semester living quarters and classes start on Monday. Odums said practices will be pushed up from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m.
“It’s going to be situations and scenarios, like red zone, short yardage and goal line,” Odums said. “I don’t know how much tackling to the ground we’re going to have. We’re going to get the threes and fours a lot of work.”
The Jaguars open the season at McNeese State Aug. 31 with a 6 p.m. game in Cowboy Stadium. After a road game at Memphis the next week, Southern’s home opener is set for Sept. 14 against Edward Waters.
Odums said the coaching staff will begin game planning for McNeese State and other opponents next week, although how much work the Jaguars do in full pads is yet to be determined.
“Next week depends on how healthy our team is whether we’re in full pads or not,” he said. “We’ll still be early bird gets the worm here on the Bluffs with the 6 a.m. practices. We’ll start getting ready for our opponents, looking at film, get the rotations and substitutions under control, who red shirts, who is scout team.”
After the scrimmage and beginning at 2 p.m., Southern fans are invited to Fan Fest at the Felton G. Clark activity center on campus.
Jaguar athletes and coaches from the football, softball, volleyball and across country teams will be available for autographs. Southern’s marching band, The Human Juke Box, will play, and also performing will be the Dancing Dolls and Southern cheerleaders. An appearance by Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected.