Southern keeps rolling with a 21-14 win over Florida A&M in the Atlanta Classic

By Mike McCall

ATLANTA — My oh my, they’ve done it again.

Mr. Odums’ Wild Ride continued Saturday with another tense rivalry win, as Southern beat Florida A&M 21-14 in the Georgia Dome. Heading into next weekend’s trip to Alcorn, this team has some momentum, and they’re clearly feeling a lot more confident.

“I just think this is what we’re supposed to do,” quarterback Dray Joseph said. “We know what type of players we have in our locker room, and I just think we changed our whole mental aspect and the way we do things.”

Interim coach Dawson Odums is making a strong case to take that job full time, and Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor said as much after the game. Taylor said he felt like Southern out-hustled his team and flat-out wanted it more, and he cited the biggest play as an example of why.

The Jaguars took the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter, when linebacker Corry Roy forced a fumble, recovered it and ran down to the 6-yard line. There, he was hit and fumbled it himself, but teammate Daniel Brown was there waiting to scoop and score.

Cue Taylor:

“I really feel that if coach Odums is not given the job tonight, something’s wrong over there in Baton Rouge. Continue reading

Last Call: Southern vs. Florida A&M

By Mike McCall

We’re a day away Southern’s 2:30 p.m. showdown against Florida A&M in the Atlanta Classic, where we’ll see if the Jaguars turnaround that began last week was for real or just a fluke performance.

To get you ready, here’s a roundup of the key storylines heading into this contest. Check them out and click the links for more details:

– Coming off the emotional (and somewhat shocking) 28-21 win at Jackson State last weekend, it’s time for Southern to get back to work. The Jaguars are just a half game behind Arkansas-Pine Bluff for the division lead, and they’ll still be in that position after this week since both squads are facing nonconference foes. Continue reading

Southern football chat with Advocate beat writer Mike McCall

The Foreign Exchange: Five questions with Florida A&M beat writer St. Clair Murraine

By Mike McCall

Welcome to the third installment of our Foreign Exchange series, where we examine Southern’s upcoming game through a different perspective. This week, St. Clair Murraine, who covers Florida A&M for the Tallahassee Democrat, was kind enough to answer a few questions that give us a closer look at the Rattlers and Saturday’s Atlanta Classic.

Enjoy, and make sure you check out his work over at the Democrat for more coverage. Continue reading

Southern back on track after win over Jackson State

By Mike McCall

I don’t think any of us saw that coming.

Southern’s 28-21 win at Jackson State was quite the shocker after losing to Mississippi Valley State and going through a coaching shake-up, but if there’s one thing it proved, it’s that the Jaguars really were just a few simple tweaks away from being a winning team.

Those small things were blocking, catching, turnovers and hustle — all areas where they were vastly improved. The blocking and catching meant quarterback Dray Joseph didn’t have to run for his life, and he also had enough confidence in his wideouts that he never had to force the kind of throws that have gotten him in trouble in the past. Instead, he was 18 of 25 for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Continue reading

Last Call: Southern vs. Jackson State Preview

By Mike McCall

We’re about 24 hours away from Saturday’s 4 p.m. kickoff between Southern and Jackson State up in Mississippi — a game that will either keep the Tigers at the top of a heated SWAC East race, or mark a stunning reversal for a struggling Jaguars squad.

To get you ready, here’s a roundup of the key storylines heading into this contest. Check them out and click the links for more details:

– Of course, the biggest story is the coaching change, as Stump Mitchell is out and Dawson Odums is in. With SU’s goal of a division title still very much within reach, Odums is hoping to turn things around through better discipline, hustle and ball security, fundamentals Southern has lacked so far. That — along with an embarrassing loss to Mississippi Valley State — has led to a much different atmosphere at practices this week. Continue reading

Men with the Keys: Catching up with Southern’s new offensive coordinators

By Mike McCall

The spotlight will be on Chad Germany and Elvis Joseph this weekend after they were named co-offensive coordinators following Stump Mitchell‘s dismissal — especially Germany since he will be calling the plays.

Both were kind enough to take a few minutes out this week to chat, and their responses are below:

Quarterbacks coach Chad Germany

On what has to be done to fix Southern’s offense: “It’s just a matter of executing. I think the offense is a great offense. It’s one of the reasons I’m at Southern University is the West Coast offense.”

On how the offense brought him to SU (when he was coaching at Capitol High): “I said, ‘Wow, I have the West Coast offense five minutes away from where I am. ‘ I thought it would be great to ask coach Mitchell if I could come volunteer and learn some things about the offense. Next thing you know, [the previous quarterbacks coach] was leaving and coach Mitchell asked me if I would be interested. … The West Coast offense was really what drew me here.” Continue reading

The Foreign Exchange: Five questions with Jackson State beat writer Travis Downey

By Mike McCall

Welcome to the second installment of our Foreign Exchange series, where we examine Southern’s upcoming game through a different perspective. This week, Travis Downey, who covers Jackson State for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, was kind enough to answer a few questions that give us a closer look at the Tigers and Saturday’s contest.

Note: Travis and I did an exchange. Read my answers on his blog here.

Q: This is a rivalry game, but Southern comes in about as low as it possibly could after losing to Mississippi Valley State and having its coach fired. How seriously is Jackson St. taking this game? Has the rivalry lost some luster? Continue reading

Southern University football chat with Mike McCall

Southern dismisses Stump Mitchell, names defensive coordinator Dawson Odums as interim coach

By Mike McCall

Well it has certainly been an eventful 24 hours. From the kickoff of Thursday’s loss to Mississippi Valley State until now, much has happened, and most of it not good.

Friday was a happy or sad day, depending on your perspective. For those fed up with Stump Mitchell’s 6-18 record, not to mention that hard-to-stomach loss on Thursday, seeing him cut loose was a joyous occasion. For his players and some others, it meant seeing a good guy meet an unfortunate but ultimately necessary end.

I hung around the A.W. Mumford Field House for most of the day, and once it became apparent that Mitchell’s hours were numbered, the mood among his players turned somber. They actively avoided the media, with the exception of running back Terence Clayton, who stopped by to say, “Make sure you put this in your newspaper: We want Stump Mitchell here.”

The five team captains hung around together for the longest, departing as a group after they apparently received the news. A few minutes later, Southern called a press conference where athletic director William Broussard addressed the media. The main points are that Mitchell is out (technically he’s reassigned to an unspecified post at the university), and defensive coordinator Dawson Odums will take over as the interim coach. Broussard did not disclose the financials, only saying Mitchell was “exceptionally professional” when he met with him. He added that an official coaching search will begin after this season. Broussard made the recommendation to Chancellor James Llorens, who approved and got the ball rolling.

My full thoughts will be in Saturday’s paper. In short, I think it’s probably the right move long-term, but it does little to fix this season’s issues. For my part, I’m genuinely sad to see Mitchell go, from a personal standpoint. He was very accessible, patient and kind, which is all I can ask for from a coach. The bottom line comes down to wins though, and I doubt “being nice to Mike McCall” ranked high on Broussard’s list of factors when making his decision.

As you might imagine, there will be plenty of coverage in the paper. But here are the quotes I typed out from Broussard’s presser: Continue reading