By Mike McCall
September 30, 2012
When he was promoted from Southern’s defensive coordinator to interim head coach, Dawson Odums knew what it would take to get that first word dropped from his new title.
He’ll have to turn the Jaguars — thus far a hapless outfit at 0-2 — into winners.
“If we do the necessary things, I believe I have an opportunity to at least have a chance to talk to the athletic director and the chancellor about the responsibilities of continuing to be the head coach at Southern University,” Odums said. “But make no doubt about it, I understand. The only way you’re going to have that chance is that you have to win.”
Because there won’t be any new stud players showing up and it’s tough to reinvent the playbook in the middle of the season, Odums’ main turnaround tactic is to increase discipline and ball security — two of Southern’s biggest problem areas thus far.
SU ranks eighth in penalties per game (nine) and is tied for last in turnover margin (negative-three per game), and Odums said he believes that cleaning up those issues would go a long way to earning some wins, beginning with this Saturday at Jackson State.
“It’s all about discipline. It has nothing to do with talent,” Odums said. “If you take your eyes off the football, of course you’re going to drop it. If you don’t wrap it up tight, of course you’re going to fumble it.”
With nine games left and his team still only a game off the division lead, that’s what Odums is focusing on. His potential future as a full-time head coach will have to wait, and if he can’t get the Jaguars to perform an about-face, he knows he won’t be part of the official coaching search after the season.
“I actually told (Athletic Director William Broussard) that I’m going to take this one day at a time, and I’m going to do the best I can to focus on Jackson State,” Odums said. “What happens in December will happen in December.”
Still the man
Despite the coaching change and the return of former starters Sylvester Nzekwe and Jerry Joseph from injury, it appears that Darrius Coleman will hang onto the top running back spot.
Odums expressed confidence in Coleman on Tuesday, saying he will likely keep his starting job while Nzekwe and Joseph will be worked into the game plan.
“He has carried the ball well for us,” Odums said. “I believe Darrius Coleman has earned the right to continue to be the starting running back at Southern University.”
Coleman hasn’t quite been a dynamic runner, with 116 yards on 35 carries, but he has brought a steady presence. He ranks seventh in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in yards per game (58), but he is the only one of the league’s top 10 rushers with a per-carry average below 4.1 yards (Coleman’s is 3.3).
After rising from third string to starter just weeks before the season, Coleman clearly earned the trust of the coaching staff, as his average of 17.5 carries per game is the highest among .SWAC backs.
JSU tickets on sale
Tickets for Southern’s 4 p.m. matchup at Jackson State this weekend will cost $30 at the gate, but fans can buy their in advance for $25. The SU ticket office, (225) 771-3171, is selling tickets as well as parking passes for buses that will make the trip.
Those passes are $200.