Written by Thomas Scott
August 7, 2017
For most teams a season consisting of an 8-3 overall record and an 8-1 SWAC Conference record would be deemed a success. However, the Southern Jaguars aren’t most teams. With a return to the SWAC Championship on the line, Southern fell to Grambling State 30-52 in the Bayou Classic. This defeat extended the Jaguars championship drought to four seasons. For Coach Dawson Odums, last season is no longer a factor. Despite any losses, he has his team poised for another championship run.
Chop Wood, Carry Water
Coach Odums explained the meaning behind the mantra “Chop Wood, Carry Water” when speaking to WBRZ Baton Rouge.
“Chop wood, carry water. Four words you’ll hear every day on the field at Southern. It’s the title of the book this team is reading together throughout camp that teaches the lessons of falling in love with the process of becoming great.
The 2017 Jaguar roster will have the daunting task of replacing the program’s all-time leading rusher (Lenard Tillery) an all-time leading receiver (Willie Quinn). Still, don’t expect Coach Odums to pile the pressure of replacing historic production on the shoulders of one or two players. He knows this will be a collective effort. Interestingly, this upcoming season is Coach Odums first with a roster made up entirely of his own recruits. An impressive fete considering Coach Odums tendency to avoid signing talented JUCO and transfer players. Unlike rival Grambling State, who opens camp with 22 transfers on the roster, Odums prefers to build his program in house.
Who Will Step Up?
Coach Odums unique approach should inspire his next batch of unproven talent. Seven Jaguars were selected to preseason SWAC All-Conference teams. This group includes Dillon Beard (TE), Austin Howard (QB), Danny Johnson (DB), Aaron Tiller (DE), Skylar Prol (OL), Kentavious Preston (LB), and Jamar Mitchell (DB).
Expect quarterback Austin Howard to have a highly efficient and effective senior season. Last year he threw for 29 touchdowns. This year, Austin Howard will be relied upon to steady the new contributors and elevate his individual play. Running backs Herb Edwards, Devon Benn, and Darbbeon Profit will potentially all play a factor in replacing Lenard Tillery.
On defense, expect Aaron Tiller (DE) and the the newly experienced defensive line to be a factor up front. Tiller punished opposing SWAC offensive lines last season to the tune of nine sacks. Six out of eight Southern Jaguars who played defensive line last year started true season with less than 70 snaps of experience. Sometimes experience is the best teacher, so expect for Tiller’s teammates to up their performances.
The Southern Jaguars know they are talented team. Yet, the Jaguars were again picked to finish second in the West Division to Grambling State during SWAC Media Day. Instead of focusing all their energy on their rivals, Coach Odums has his team applying a championship mindset to every single team related activity. If the Jaguars can “Chop wood, carry water” they may see themselves back in the SWAC Championship. For more information on their upcoming season please visit Go Jags Sports.