BY MIKE McCALL
October 18, 2012
Whatever magic dust interim coach Dawson Odums had sprinkled on the Southern football team, it wore off.
At least for a week.
After winning two straight until Saturday’s momentum-zapping 20-17 loss at Alcorn State, the question now is how the Jaguars will respond. Will they slip back into a funk? Or retain some confidence and bounce back?
That can’t be judged until Saturday’s homecoming matchup with Texas Southern, but in the meantime, the players are keeping the mindset they had before their two-game win streak.
“The mentality is still the same. We haven’t done anything. We haven’t accomplished anything,” defensive tackle Casey Narcisse said.
That humbling thought is one of truth and necessity. Wins over Jackson State and Florida A&M were huge emotionally, but they didn’t loom as large in the Southwestern Athletic Conference standings.
There, SU (2-3, 1-2 SWAC) is a game and a half behind division leader Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and while winning out would book a spot in the conference title game, based on Saturday’s performance, the team has a lot of work to do before a run like that could be considered likely.
Odums said the first step — just as was the case after wins — is making his players forget the weekend’s result.
“It’s the same challenge going into every week,” Odums said. “You have to teach the young men how to put things behind them and focus on the task at hand, and that’s Texas Southern. We’ll do the best job we can as a staff, and we’ve done pretty good getting these guys ready to play coming off some adverse situations, so we’re excited, and we’re ready for the challenge.”
A major task will be finding some rhythm on offense. The Jaguars have six offensive touchdowns in the past three games, three of which have come on one-play drives.
While those quick-hitting scores are certainly a positive, they haven’t been backed by much consistency. That was especially clear against Alcorn State, when Southern trailed by a large margin in time of possession: 37:32 to 22:28.
In the second half, SU held the ball for only 8:35, and quarterback Dray Joseph said the Braves’ late touchdown was a product of the defense having to stay on the field for such a long period of time.
“I just think mentally we came out kind of slow offensively, but we’re going to get better,” Joseph said.
TSU, which will come in with the conference’s worst defense statistically, might help with that, but the Jaguars will also look to refocus this week and come out with more energy, lest they open up the kind of streak that’s painfully familiar after the past few seasons: a losing one.
“We see how the two teams in the past two weeks felt when we came up with the win,” cornerback Virgil Williams said. “We’re just going to put this behind us.”