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SU head coach Dawson Odums watches Southern University preseason football camp Tuesday August 13, 2019, in Baton Rouge, La.

Southern football coach Dawson Odums isn’t crazy about it, but the Jaguars are back in their early-morning mode for daily football practice.

With the end of camp last Saturday, the Jaguars are practicing when most folks are still sleeping or having breakfast. It’s been that way all eight seasons since Odums took over in 2012

“The rooster ain’t even crowing when we get up,” Odums cracked this week as his team prepares for its Aug. 31 season opener at McNeese State.

“That early morning practice is tough,” he said. “Eight years of getting up early, and we still have guys making 4.0. It’s a challenge. But I only focus on things I can control.”

Odums said the early practice window has nothing to do with the heat, although temperatures in the afternoon hover in the mid to high 90s and sometimes beyond. Mornings are cooler, but it’s all about Southern class schedules.

Rather than having players missing practice every day, Odums keeps attendance at its best by making it first thing in the morning. Even with the early schedule he loses a handful of players to 8 a.m. classes.

“That takes a toll by the time you get to the end of a season,” he said. “Our schedule challenges you as a player, challenges your discipline. That window allows us to get all our players at practice. It’s going to challenge you mentally.”

Odums said practice requires a four-hour window. Ideally he’d like to have it from 2-6 p.m. or 3-7 p.m. to keep the practice team generally around the time games are played. He said too many players have after, evening and night classes.

“I’ve been here eight years, and we’ve never had that window,” he said. “If we did we’d be missing a lot of guys. Even a 6-10 a.m. window would be good.

“We haven’t been able to get to that solution at Southern. It’s the way classes are offered and when the sessions are offered. There may be one class you can take at 8 a.m. and you have to take it. I respect it. That’s the hand we’re dealt. You play it to the best of your ability.”

Thursday in shells

Southern continues to move closer to the start of game week. The team practiced in shells Thursday and will go in helmets Friday before a mock practice Saturday evening to get the team used to the 6 p.m. kickoff at McNeese State.

Sunday is an off day for players with coaches installing game plans for the opener. Monday will be helmets only as the Jaguars walk through McNeese State formations.

Odums has been splitting the squad into offense and defense and working against scout-team players. He said the team is rounding into shape.

“We’re getting there,” Odums said. “The team we were hoping to have at the beginning of the year is starting to come together. Everybody was at practice. The biggest thing is having everybody out there.

“It’s full throttle, but we stay up, not tackling to the ground. Everybody is ready to hit a different color jersey.”

Odums said he’s like to bring as many players as possible to deal with possible heat issues, roughly around 100 players.

“We’ll need everybody,” he said. “I wish we could take more. You don’t know how the weather is going to be. That’s the advantage of being the home team early in the season, you can dress out more guys.”