Southern coach Dawson Odums and Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs took part in a news conference promoting the Bayou Classic on Tuesday morning inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Jaguars (6-4 and 6-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference) and the Tigers (8-2, 8-0) meet in the 42nd Bayou Classic at 4 p.m. Saturday in the Superdome.
Southern won last year’s meeting 52-45 in a showdown for the SWAC West division title. Grambling has clinched this year’s West title.
Here are excerpts from that the two coaches had to say:
The difference in coaching in the Bayou Classic for the first time last season after having played in four of them:
Fobbs: “It’s a different deal from where I stand right now. I’ve been a player and then I’ve been a fan in the stands. This is a unique situation because everything starts with you.”
On the Tigers being last in the SWAC in time of possession and first in scoring:
Fobbs: “Time of possession sometimes is overrated. Because we’re a fast-paced offense we score and we score quickly. The name of the game is to put points on the board and stop them from scoring, but you do want to possess the ball and what I think we’ve been able to do is possess the ball at the right time. It may not have been the whole game, but we’ve been able to possess the ball when we needed to so to me that’s the most important stat.”
On last year’s last-second loss being motivation for his players during the offseason:
Fobbs: “You always reflect after the season. We don’t like to reflect during a season. We reflected on it, we learned from it, we put it behind us and we focused on 2015.”
On Southern running back Lenard Tillery:
Fobbs: “He’s a heck of a football player and more importantly they have a really good offensive line that does a good job of opening those holes for him. So for us it’s about making sure that we stop the run and force them to do some things that they don’t want to do. But they can throw the football well too, so we have to have a balanced defensive effort.”
On the significance of the Bayou Classic:
Fobbs: “It’s huge and it’s not only huge for both universities, but also for Historically Black Universities and also to attract students to our campuses. It’s also big for the city of New Orleans.”
On the Southern-Grambling rivalry:
Fobbs: “This game that we play this particular weekend is a heated rivalry. I call it a sibling rivalry because there are so many student-athletes on both sides that are cousins, that are high-school teammates and maybe even brothers that have to deal with the smack talk from Christmas, New Year’s and so forth. So that makes it a very heated rivalry and all of us who have siblings know how heated that rivalry can be from time to time.”
On catching up after not having spring practice:
Odums: “You can’t catch up. I tell people all the time, you’ve only got so many minutes in a day. When those minutes are gone, you never get them back. I never get yesterday back, so I can’t worry about these I don’t have. I’ve got to focus on the things that are in front of me and what I can control.”
Odums: “They’re 8-0. Nobody has shown us on film how to beat them. We’ve got to figure it out ourselves. There isn’t any blueprint.”
On Grambling quarterback Johnathan Williams:
Odums: “Jonathan Williams – are you kidding me? I was at the doctor’s office yesterday. I tried to get him to give a sick slip so I didn’t have to come down here but he said I was healthy enough to go. He’s scary. Have you seen him play? He’s scary to me. Figuring him out and keeping him under control is going to be a big part of the game.
On Southern quarterback Austin Howard:
Odums: “Who are we going to see? The one we’ve seen the last two weeks? I think he’s gotten better in the month of November. He’s executing at a high rate. His efficiency is great, but their guy is undefeated. He’s willed his team to win in the close ones and in the blowouts. I think our guy will play very well. I think we’ve got just as much talent around our guy as they have around theirs.
On Fobbs saying Grambling will be “stellar” on Saturday:
Odums: “They say they’re going to put on a stellar performance. I’m about to go Google that word. My definition might be a little off, but he says they’re going to put on a stellar performance. We’ll see. For a coach to say that you’re going to put on a stellar performance, I like the confidence and if I were 8-0 I’d be the same way – confident.”
On trying to hand Grambling its first SWAC loss of the season:
Odums: “We’re the underdogs, right? They’re 8-0. I’ve never heard of a team that’s 6-4 being picked over an 8-0 team. What’s the Vegas odds on that? I’m going to have to cut this interview short. I’ve got to go back and get some work done. We’re the underdogs and ya’ll are killing me. I’ve got to go get some preparation done.”
On the significance of Southern and Grambling both having winning programs:
Odums: “It’s great for the fans. It’s our Classic. We should be taking ownership of it whether the programs are good or bad. It’s our Thanksgiving weekend classic. We’re on the tube with some of the greatest rivalries in college football. That in itself is enough for them to embrace it and say, you know what, I don’t know what I’m doing Thanksgiving, but I need to make that a part of my Thanksgiving.”