“We taxed them at the beginning of practice so we can create some adversity at the end.” DAWSON ODUMS, Southern defensive coordinator
Whenever Southern University breaks its team huddle at the end of practice, a series of mini-huddles forms within seconds. On Thursday morning, defensive coordinator Dawson Odums called his unit together and stood in the center.
Odums made a series of hand movements, and with each one, the SU defenders clapped in perfect unison, their eyes trained intently on Odums. After the final clap, they were free to go.
The little drill would perhaps fit as a timing exercise for the Jaguars cheerleaders, but Odums has a deeper goal.
“It’s just a focus deal after practice, just bringing them up and making sure that they have a little bit of discipline and focus,” Odums said. “I sort of stole it from (Alabama) coach (Nick) Saban, watching him do it.”
That’s part of Odums’ goal this season — keeping his team sharp as practices and games draw to a close.
Finishing was an area Southern struggled mightily last year, being outscored 79-26 in the fourth quarter.
That was their worst period in terms of both points allowed and points scored, and Odums is intent on fixing his half of that problem.
“We taxed them at the beginning of practice so we can create some adversity at the end,” he said of Thursday’s practice.
By the end, their fatigue showed, and Odums said communication was lacking. That was clear on one red-zone play, when a missed assignment left tight end Rashaun Allen standing near the goal line with no one nearby, save for a linebacker about 5 yards in front. The defense was spared by an overthrown pass, but that was hardly the point.
Missed assignments are an area of particular importance, especially in the run game, where gap responsibility is a common theme.
Although the Jaguars have had some struggles in that area, they’re also coming around to the idea that if they know where they’re supposed to be and get there, everything will work out.
In other words, clap to Odums’ beat.
“I just feel like we have to trust the system,” linebacker Detrane Lindsey said. “That’s why coach talks about discipline. If we’re very disciplined in the system, everything is going to be OK.”
Receiver Michael Berry, who had been held out with a pulled hamstring, was back in action Thursday and looking like his usual self — at one point catching passes on three straight plays.
With 508 yards and seven touchdowns last season, Berry is Southern’s top returning wide receiver and should participate in the team’s scrimmage Saturday after missing last week’s.
SU in second place in contest
Under Allstate’s fourth annual Quotes for Education drive, the company donates $10 to the Tom Joyner Foundation for every person who receives an insurance quote and mentions the program, with a maximum donation of $150,000.
The funds are earmarked for scholarships that will aid students attending historically black colleges or universities, and an added contest this year allows the HBCU with the most votes to receive an additional $50,000 donation.
As of Thursday afternoon, Southern was in second place with 15,531 votes, while Lincoln University of Missouri led at 16,302.
The contest began this month and runs through Dec. 31.