Jaguars have more questions than answers after slow start

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern coach Dawson Odums runs onto the field at the start of his team's game Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, at Northwestern State.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON -- Southern coach Dawson Odums runs onto the field at the start of his team's game Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, at Northwestern State.

After a disappointing start to the season, Southern coach Dawson Odums and his Jaguars football team are left with more questions than answers.

The Jaguars, who lost to Houston in the opener 62-13 and Saturday 55-14 to Northwestern State, open Southwestern Athletic Conference play this weekend at home against Prairie View.

The two disappointing losses would lead most coaches to wonder if the philosophies they are using are the correct strategies.

“The Northwestern State game was pretty bad,” Odums said. “We didn’t play well in all phases of the football game.”

Southern rushed for a mere 61 yards on 35 carries and surrendered 554 total yards of offense to the Demons.

“After we evaluated the film, we realized that there are certain guys at certain positions not making the plays that they’re supposed to make,” Odums said.

The Jaguars were also troubled Saturday by a barrage of penalties.

“We had too many penalties,” Odums said. “We can’t have 13 penalties in a game. You’re not going to beat anybody committing that many penalties.”

Odums was particularly disappointed in the mental hiccups his players committed.

“We make a stop on third down, and we think we’re off the field, and then you’ve got guys playing undisciplined football and giving us penalties.”

Southern has found themselves behind the eight ball each of their first two games, being outscored by a combined 58-13 in the first half.

However, Southern can’t focus on what has been a dreadful start to their season, as it has to turn its attention to Saturday’s home opener against Prairie View.

The Panthers beat the Jaguars last season 49-29 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.

“Prairie View is a very good football team,” Odums said. “They can run the ball effectively and have a couple of good quarterbacks, good running backs and good receivers. If we’re not ready to go Saturday, it’ll be the same result.”

Odums said he expects modifications with Jaguars.

“I think we’re going to have some changes this week,” Odums said. “And if guys don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing, then we’ll have even more changes. We’ve got to get guys out there with a certain level of excitement and energy level onto the field.

“We won’t make wholesale changes, but we’ll evaluate it position by position, and we’ll try and get the right 11 guys out onto the field.”

Odums even indicated that schematically the coaching staff may explore new wrinkles.

“We’ll look at the film and decide if what we’re doing strategywise is the best option moving forward,” Odums said.

However, Odums was quick to make mention of two Jaguars who stood out positively on film.

“As far as positives go, Willie (Quinn) was one of them,” Odums said. “Daniel Brown as well: He played extremely hard. We have got to get the right guys on the field. We’ve got to have guys that play with passion and pride and are excited about being in this program.”

As Southern gets set to host Prairie View, Odums emphasized that starting Saturday is what really matters as far as fulfilling preseason goals.

“Right now we know everything moving forward is about the SWAC,” Odums said. “We were in the same predicament last year, starting 0-2. We’ve been here before. We understand what we have to do to correct it.

“The guys that want to be on this journey will be on it. We’ve got to make some decisions as coaches and trim some of the fat and get the program going in the right direction.”