Southern interim coach Dawson Odums makes sure his players adhere to a rule that’s fairly common in his profession.
You get 24 hours to celebrate a victory, and then it’s time to move on.
By Monday, the raucous celebration that followed Saturday’s 28-21 win at Jackson State had faded, replaced with the still-looming task of turning the Jaguars’ season around.
When they reached the practice field Monday, there was no champagne on ice, no massage therapists or recliners.
Just more up-downs, screaming coaches and sweat.
At 1-2 (1-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference), SU is far from the finished product it hopes to be by season’s end, and Odums knows it will take more than one victory to restore the program to its former glory.
“I don’t think one victory creates that excitement,” he said. “I think our fans were excited we beat Jackson, but it has been (three years) since we’ve won two games in a row. … That’s a challenge for us.”
To break that streak, they’ll have to go through Florida A&M in the Atlanta Classic on Saturday, a team that sits in first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and beat Southern 38-33 a year ago.
Still, the outlook is much brighter than it was last week, as the Jaguars sit just half a game behind division leaders Arkansas-Pine Bluff (3-1, 2-1 SWAC). That brings added motivation, but after recent events, SU definitely isn’t getting ahead of itself.
“We’re not looking at numbers,” defensive tackle Casey Narcisse said. “All we’re looking at is getting ready for the next game. We’re ready to play.”
That next game against the Rattlers, along with UAPB’s nonconference matchup, ensures the gap at the top of the SEC West won’t get any bigger this weekend.
The Golden Lions will travel to Tennessee State, the nation’s No. 1 team according to Boxtorow’s coaches and media polls that rank historically black colleges and universities.
The Jaguars and Golden Lions will resume their SWAC title quest in two weeks, but until then, Odums is just happy to see his team get on the board.
“We were 0-2, so we wanted to taste victory,” he said. “Even under (former) coach Stump Mitchell, we felt like we had a good football team. We just hadn’t played up to that. I was glad to come out Saturday and show people that we do have a good football team.”
Narcisse called the win “a blessing” — not just for the relief of a victory, but for what it showed about his teammates. He rattled off a list of reasons why he felt they looked like a different unit Saturday compared to the first two games.
“The brotherhood, the work ethic, the enthusiasm, the bonding,” he said.
But of course, there was added pleasure in proving doubters wrong.
“Everybody who was there for practice who didn’t believe, all our critics, we thank them all, because guess what, we’re winning,” Narcisse said.