Jaguars staying focused during short week

Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON Southern quarterback Dray Joseph runs as lineman Zach Brown looks to make a block against Alcorn State.
Advocate staff photo by RICHARD ALAN HANNON Southern quarterback Dray Joseph runs as lineman Zach Brown looks to make a block against Alcorn State.

Southern quarterback Dray Joseph walked slowly to midfield from the Jaguars’ sideline and shook the hands of Alcorn State players, congratulating them on their 44-38 overtime victory Saturday night inside A.W. Mumford Stadium.

Joseph took one last look at the scoreboard in the south end zone of the stadium, put his helmet on and made his final trek toward the north end zone and into the Jaguar locker room.

There, he was greeted by linebacker Daniel Brown, who had one message for Joseph and the rest of the Jaguars: Southern is still in position to win the Western Division of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

“It’s a great thing to come into the locker room and hear Daniel Brown telling everyone not to worry about this loss — that we’re going to be in the championship anyway,” Joseph said. “It’s a great thing when you have guys that are always preaching positivity.”

On Saturday, Southern ran short of the magic that led it to overtime victories in previous home contests against Prairie View and Alabama A&M.

The Jaguars were able to muster a comeback after trailing 31-14 midway through the third quarter, eventually tying the game 38-38 after Greg Pittman connected on a 38-yard field goal attempt with 16 seconds remaining in the contest.

Yet the momentum was short-lived as the extra period opened with a Joseph interception. Alcorn State scored on the opening play of its possession in overtime to secure the victory.

And with a short week, Joseph and his teammates have little choice but to move on quickly from Saturday’s heart-wrenching defeat. The Jaguar football team convened Sunday night for an atypical practice.

“Dray (Joseph) had a smile on his face (Sunday at practice),” Southern coach Dawson Odums said. “He was himself. We don’t get down on our guys after losses. There’s no need to hang your head down if you did your absolute best. You move on to the next game.”

Odums said once practice was under way, players shifted their focus to the task at hand.

“Once we got going, our energy level got better,” Odums said. “We’re focused on Texas Southern, that’s our mindset. The short week gives our guys a chance to get the bad taste out of their mouths quickly. We don’t have to dwell on the loss. The players have to get focused. It’s a short turnaround. We’re just excited to get back on the field and correct our mistakes.”

Despite the short week, Odums does not believe that the reduced amount of time will have any effect on himself and the coaching staff to install a quality game plan and getting the players fully prepared.

“We’re going to be who we are,” Odums said. “That’s what we try to focus on. We’ll try not be too complicated and just keep things simple — allow guys to just go out and make plays. We just have to try and figure out a way to get our guys to execute better in the first half so we can get off to better starts.”

Menard recognized

Southern freshman receiver Randall Menard was named the conference’s Newcomer of the Week for his performance against Alcorn State.

Menard, a former Breaux Bridge standout, hauled in three passes for 119 yards with touchdowns of 23 and 53 yards.

Menard also scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 6 yards for a score in the second quarter of last week’s game.