Southern set for spring game

Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU --  Southern linebacker Anthony Balancier sacks Texas Southern quarterback quarterback Rudolph Johnson in October. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU -- Southern linebacker Anthony Balancier sacks Texas Southern quarterback quarterback Rudolph Johnson in October.

Odums likes progress, says ‘some guys are really stepping up’

Three weeks after beginning its first spring practice under coach Dawson Odums, the Southern football team wraps up the 15-practice tune-up with Saturday’s spring game.

Action at A.W. Mumford Stadium begins at 1 p.m.

Odums, who inherited the program full-time after serving as the interim head coach for nine games last season, said the spring has given him and his staff some time to work in some new concepts.

For the most part, he said he was pleased with the team’s progress.

“We’re doing some things well,” he said. “We’re still making some mistakes, but that’s spring ball.”

Odums said early on that a priority was keeping the Jaguars healthy this spring, and he has held out a number of players who are nursing what he described as minor injuries.

All-Southwestern Athletic Conference receiver Lee Doss, running back Terence Clayton and linebacker Chris Scruggs are among the Jaguars who will not see action Saturday. Doss has missed the past couple of weeks because of a knee injury.

“It’s really given some new guys to showcase what they can do,” Odums said.

“Some guys are really stepping up.”

Odums listed running backs Leonard Tillery and Yondarius Johnson, wide receiver Justin Morgan and defensive back Dionte McDuffy as up-and-comers who have caught his eye. He said veterans like linebackers Anthony Balancier and Daniel Brown have had productive springs as well.

Tillery and Johnson are walk-ons who continued to run the ball hard in a scrimmage last Friday.

Odums called Morgan, a converted quarterback, one of Southern’s best athletes.

McDuffy transferred from South Alabama in January after earning all-state recognition as an Evangel defensive back.

“We’ve got some guys who are having a good, productive spring, but we want to see them finish this week on a high note,” Odums said.

A coaching staff that includes newcomers Chennis Berry, Chris Coleman and Lorick Atkinson has made a point to get Southern operating at a higher tempo.

That goes for a defense Odums hopes will swarm to the football.

That goes for an offense that could spend much time this season in no-huddle mode.

Odums said returning SWAC passing leader Dray Joseph, who threw for 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions last year, has had the kind of spring he expected from the team’s offensive captain.

“I’d like to see him polish it off this week and finish on a high note this spring,” Odums said.

Southern, coming off back-to-back 4-7 campaigns, begins the 2013 season Aug. 30 at the University of Houston.