Talkin’ about practice (or not)

Dawson Odums frustrated as players try to balance class schedules, workouts

Southern football coach Dawson Odums was not pleased after practice Wednesday.

He wasn’t unhappy with his team’s performance in drills.

He was disappointed with the disadvantage his team faces all season long.

Since classes started Monday, Odums has been unable to get his entire team to the practice field at one time.

“This is the second day in a row that I’ve got 12 or 13 guys that either have had to come late or leave early,” Odums said. “I can’t get them here alltogether at one time.

“It’s the hand that I’m dealt, but I just want people to know that they’re holding me to a standard. And it’s hard for me to fulfill those expectations when I can’t get all of my guys to the practice field.”

It was something Odums’ predecessors, Pete Richardson and Stump Mitchell, also faced while at Southern.

It puts the Jaguars at a disadvantage, Odums said.

“Houston has the advantage as I’m sure they have all their guys at practice,” Odums said. “I’m sure Northwestern (State) has all their guys at practice. Probably Prairie View, too. And all the rest of the teams in the conference.

“I’m only allowed to travel 63 guys — so when I’ve got 12 guys in class, I can’t get better as a team. My theory around here is, if you don’t practice, then you don’t play. Well, that would be half the team, then.”

And as Southern continues to prepare for its Aug. 30 season opener at Houston, players who need to be on the field are, at times, nowhere to be found.

“It doesn’t matter what we do in practice for preparation for Housto,n because the ones that are practicing are probably not going to be out there (during the game),” Odums added.

The ideal schedule for Odums would be to conduct practice at night after all classes have finished.

“I need to go at a time to where I can get everybody out here for practice,” Odums said. “The only time we can get all our guys here is at 9 p.m. at night.”

The immediate goal, Odums said, it to strike a healthy balance between academics and athletics.

“It takes a lot to be a good program,” Odums said. “Any institution can have a football team, but it’s all about doing things the right way. And that’s the only way I believe in doing things, is doing them the right way.”

First-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference receiver Lee Doss and senior linebacker Anthony Balancier were two key players who missed a portion of Wednesday’s practice.

“I didn’t get Balancier or Doss until practice was nearly over,” Odums said. “Two senior leaders for my football team. It’s just hard. We can’t get better. It’s important to have all your players at practice and right now I don’t have that.

“It’s hard to get that continuity.”

Odums said he continues to work with academic support staff — to not only ensure that his players are taking the necessary classes, but to also develop a schedule that’s compatible with football.

“It’s not their fault. That’s just how the classes fall in place,” Odums said. “They’re trying their best. They’re trying to work the class schedules out and helping to make sure I can get them all out here.

“From Day 1, from the time kids get on campus, we’re all making sure the kids have got their books, have their classes right and also for them to be accommodating to practice.’’