By Felix Cunningham
If South Louisiana teaches an athlete one thing, it’s that there are punishing summers and a triple digit heat index to match.
Southern University’s football team was supposed to grind out the last remnants of fall camp on the practice field, but instead the Jaguars spent the remainder of preseason camp indoors.
The Southern coaches and players found refuge at the Louisiana Leadership Academy and will finish practicing there until the end of fall camp. Coach Dawson Odums discarded an initial 100-plus play scrimmage, the longest of the scheduled three, and kept the players from the extreme weather.
Even before canceling practice, Odums said the players were responding well to the troubling temperatures.
“The conditions create some adversity, so it’s allowing a lot of backups to get reps,” Odums said. “You get a lot of nicks and bruises. The good thing is that we haven’t had any major injuries in camp so far. The elements are creating adversity, but the guys are fighting through it.”
Though showing battle scars on the field, the Jaguars usually practiced in the morning to avoid the heat. But by the time the evening came around, the weather usually had not improved much.
“It’s extremely hot, point blank,” said Odums. “We are going in at nine in the morning, and it is still hot. But it still good to see them fight through it and practice as hard as they can. And they are not making a lot of mistakes even with this heat. That’s a good thing.
“In this extreme element, you expect a little fatigue and the mistakes to go up, but the guys buckle down and endure. So we’re excited as a whole to see what these young men are doing.”
Jaguar offensive lineman Eric Janeau said battling the harsh conditions is simply a case of mind over matter.
“We were taught about mindsets,” Janeau said. “As you talk about the heat, it will make you sluggish. If you talk about it getting better, then it will get better.”
Southern has often been the topic of overcoming adversity recently; whether it was being placed at a number slot or battling through APR hardship issues, the Jaguars have seen relief for better days.
“It is hard work and dedication that will take us this far, and it is passing through adversity that will take us farther,” offensive lineman Anthony Moseley said. “We don’t know how far we are going yet, but we know that we can get through it.”
Odums has a positive attitude about the upcoming season and strives to put the team at peak condition for the road ahead.
“We’re trying to make sure things are getting better,” Odums said. “We’re adding a few more things as we go through camp as we test guys that normally don’t play a lot and moving some veterans around.”
Southern kicks off the 2015 season in Ruston, La., on Sept. 5 against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.