Highlights from Southern coach Dawson Odums’ press conference

By Mike McCall

Another Tuesday, another time Dawson Odums puts up with us media folks and talks Southern football. This week, the topics included Saturday’s crushing loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the chance for redemption against Prairie View, the sputtering offense and the rash of injuries plaguing the Jaguars.

Here are some key points:

– On staying motivated after losing a shot at first place… “I believe we have some good players still on this football team, we have a football team that still believes, and we’re just looking forward to getting back on the field because the only way you can erase that is by going out, playing better and winning the next football game.”

– On FS Mychal Bell, who injured his knee last week (torn ACL and MCL)… “I know Mike is done. Mike won’t play anymore for us this year. He’ll get back into rehab and it’s unfortunate for that young man because he was playing pretty good. We’re down at the safety position but we hope to get [Levi Jackson] back this week, and we hope to get some other guys back back there.”

– On playing CB Virgil Williams at safety… “We need Virgil closer to the ball. I think it really takes away from his skills when we put him that far away from the football. We didn’t know Levi was going to be out, so we had to adjust and move Virgil. We were set on moving another safety and putting Kevin King back there, but when we didn’t have Levi it really hurt us — finding out Friday night that he wasn’t going to be able to play (arm infection). We had to move Virgil back there, and it’s not Virgil’s fault. He had limited reps back there at safety, and he did the best job he could. I really like Virgil closer to the ball.”

– On the string of injuries, with C Aaron Hall (knee) and LB Franchot West (shoulder) due for MRIs… “I really think we’re becoming the Southern MRIs. Every time you turn around, we have a kid getting an MRI.”

– On WR drops, notably the TD pass that Charles Hawkins dropped Saturday… “That’s plagued us all year, and not really the same guy. You look at a game here and  a game there, and we always seem to have one guy that struggles catching the football. But Hawk is a talented individual. He didn’t have his best game, and ‘How do you respond?’ is my challenge to him. You have to come back, regroup, go back to work, and guess what? We’re going to continue to throw the football, you’re going to get put in that same predicament, and what the result is going to be is totally up to him.”

– On seeing his defense get gouged on Saturday… “It’s very frustrating. You give up 510 yards of offense — that’s a lot of yards — and 50 points. So of course we’re not happy as a defensive staff and as a unit. We’re not happy with our performance. We had some guys in the wrong gap, didn’t do a very good job of tackling, and it stood out.”

– On facing Prairie View, which rebounded from an 0-5 start with two wins… “They’ve been winning. You have a team that has found their stride. … I really think when you look at the SWAC, every week you’re going to see something that raises your eyebrows. You’re going to see a team that makes you say, ‘How did they win?’ or you’re going to see a team and say ‘How did they lose?’ Every given Saturday in the SWAC — right now it’s unpredictable. So you have to go out and play and put yourself in the best position to win a football game. They’re doing a great job right now. They have some confidence, and it’s not like we’re lacking for confidence. We just played a bad football game. I really believe our guys will get ready to go.”

– On SU’s lack of a running game… “I’ve been saying it every week. I think we have to make a continuous effort to run the football. We just have to control that clock. It’s a team game, and a lot of bad things happen when you throw the ball every down. We need that clock to be on our side, eliminate possessions and one of the ways you do that is by running the football. We’re excited about having healthy running backs for a change, but our offensive line is now banged up, so that’s going to be a tough chore. We’re going to put some emphasis on it this week, and I look forward to those guys running the football.”

-On moving freshman QBJustin Morganto defensive back full time… “I watched him every day on scout team. He ran the option some in high school, and everyone knows that if you ran the option in high school, those quarterbacks become good DBs. My background at Georgia Southern is that out entire secondary were quarterbacks. If you find a guy that can run, you can teach him the skills of how to play at DB. He has great ball skills, he understands the position, we’re just excited to have him over there and we have to continue to get him reps and get him better.”

On QB Dray Joseph… “We’re committed to No. 10. We go how he goes. He didn’t play his best football game, and we didn’t play our best football game. … He has had a good year. This is really the first bad game he has played. I know he threw the interception and it was a pick-six, but it really wasn’t all on his shoulders. The running back is supposed to cross the linebacker’s face. He went behind the linebacker, and the quarterback threw to a spot. So it looked like it was on the quarterback’s shoulders, but it was actually the running back that has to help him out. We’re excited about No. 10 being our quarterback. We just have to get him playing better, and we know if he plays better, we’re going to play better.”