The Norfolk State football team will have a chance to not only start the new season off the way they finished the previous one but will get a chance to do so against an old rival in Virginia State this weekend.
Spartans head coach Dawson Odums feels good about the 2023 edition of his team, coming off an uncharacteristic 2-9 season. The trial-by-fire experience his underclassmen received last year will be a benefit to NSU this season.
“Everybody knows we played a lot of young guys a year ago. We were able to go into the offseason on a winning note and put a plan together,” Odums said of Norfolk’s 42-38 barnburner win at South Carolina State in the 2022 season finale. “We feel really good about that game. We’re a better football team this year and we’re excited to get the season kicked off.”
This edition of Big State (VSU) vs. Little State (NSU) will be the first time the two teams have played since 2019, a 44-21 win for the Spartans at Dick Price Stadium. Odums believes the Trojans will be ready to go, and he is looking forward to a competitive and enthusiastic atmosphere.
“It’s always good to start the season at home, and we expect our environment to be electric on game day,” he said. “We’re expecting a good football game. Coach Frazier has done a great job with his program. It goes back to the CIAA days, and this is great for the state of Virginia. We’re two institutions familiar with each other, and we understand how important these games are.”
The game will also give players a chance to show what they can do, something Odums stresses when recruiting players.
“We’re playing a game now where freshmen have to play. When we recruit, we’re saying this guy can play for us,” he explains. “We don’t talk about redshirting players. We find something those guys can be good at and give them opportunities to be good in those situations.”
And after a good fall camp in the coach’s eyes, the Norfolk State team that takes the field this Saturday will be an improved one.
“We’re excited about where we are,” Odums said. “We’re a better football team than people expect because we’ve gotten a chance to watch these guys grow. We look and execute like a different team. We’re going to find out a lot about the individuals that make up this Spartan program.”