Southern wasn’t supposed to compete for a SWAC championship last season.
But they won the SWAC West and then upset Jackson State in the conference title game.
The defending champs head into the 2014 season with the expectation to repeat the unexpected the success they achieved in 2013.
“Our theme this whole spring is your ‘get to’ versus your ‘go to,’ which really works the mindset,” Odums said prior to the opening of spring camp. “The difference is, you say, ‘I get to go to practice and get better today. I get to go to class and get better today,’ not that ‘I’ve got to go, so I’m just going to go and not do what I’m really supposed to do.’’
The road to Houston won’t be an easy one for the Jaguars, especially with the losses of All-SWAC quarterback Dray Joseph and leading wide receiver Lee Doss.
That production will have to be replaced by an inexperience signal-caller in redshirt freshman Deonte Shorts who will be expected to meld with emerging group of young receivers.
“I don’t feel like a freshman,” Shorts said. “Everyone’s expecting me to be the starting quarterback and to make plays. It’s all good to me. I don’t feel like a freshman; I feel like a senior.”
What they might lack in veteran leadership on offense, Southern has plenty in that category on defense with the return of linebacker Daniel Brown, who was second on the team in tackles last season with 86.
The secondary is bolstered by redshirt sophomore defensive back Dionte McDuffy, who recorded one interception and 69 solo tackles last season. If Southern wants to repeat, McDuffy and others will need to step up to improve a unit that ranked just seventh overall in total defense.
In the second full season of the Odum regime, Southern seemingly has the pieces to make another title run.