Going 2-9 in 2010 was alarming. Following up with a 4-7 season was, too. Getting blown out at New Mexico was a “reality check.”
Losing to Mississippi Valley State was shocking. Seeing coach Stump Mitchell fired was disheartening.
Southern’s alarm clock has rung many times over the past few years, with the Jaguars sleepily slapping a heavy paw on the snooze button over and over.
If this most recent wake-up call doesn’t get them up and moving, it’s time to check for a pulse.
“We don’t need any more reality checks. We’ve had enough of those. It’s time for us to just control our own destiny,” senior left tackle and captain Chris Browne said. “There shouldn’t be any more excuses. It’s just time to roll.”
Roll forward, rather than roll over and back to sleep.
Ever since coach Pete Richardson’s tenure came to a disappointing end, it’s been clear that Southern is lacking what once made it a football power. The coaching search that will take place after this season will be an opportunity to right the ship, but in the short term, the Jaguars still have a chance to reach their goals.
The silver lining beneath a 66-21 loss to New Mexico, a 6-0 defeat against Valley and a September coach-firing is that despite an almost unimaginably calamitous start, Southern is in pretty good shape.
It’s almost as if the rest of the Southwestern Athletic Conference was conspiring to give SU a fighting chance.
The reigning conference champion and Western Division favorite, Grambling, has gotten off to an 0-2 start in the league. Prairie View, the predicted No. 2 team in the West, is also 0-2.
The only teams with wins in the division are Texas Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff at 1-1 — and TSU isn’t even eligible to win the title this season. What’s more, UAPB has to travel and face the SWAC’s best team, Alabama State, on Thursday.
So at 0-1 in the conference, Southern has a decent chance of being in first place after this weekend.
Of course, that depends heavily on SU looking much, much, much different from the gang that fumbled and stumbled around against Valley.
It’s impossible to predict what the Jaguars will do — anything from a 50-point loss to 50-point win seems feasible — but if these players truly are refocused and re-energized, there are a few things they won’t do.
Like dropping passes, lollygagging around the field, picking up boneheaded penalties and showing a general lack of interest in winning the game.
Obviously, not everyone has been guilty of those crimes against football, and the defense deserves credit for playing well against the Delta Devils. But this is a team game that requires a coherent and cohesive team to win consistently.
If these players truly are refocused and re-energized, it will show on Saturday against Jackson State.
That might not equal a win, or even a close loss, but it will prove whether the Jaguars are ready to spring out of bed or need to be carted off to the morgue.