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Norfolk State looks for brighter days after successive beatings

The Spartans have surrendered 118 points in two games and look to a game against Hampton to reverse its fortunes

Dawson Odums was to the point in describing what happened to Norfolk State in its game against James Madison last weekend.

“Started out rough, ended up rough, got rough as we went through,” Odums said during the weekly coaches’ call in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

After taking a 55-3 defeat at the hands of Marshall to start the season, James Madison followed with a 63-7 triumph, meaning that in two games, the Spartans have given up nearly a point a minute.

A ROUGH STRETCH

The Thundering Herd scored on eight of its first 10 drives, and scored 28 points in the second quarter to flex its muscle. It was that game that made Odums a prophet.

“And I told the guys that, you know, they’ll probably beat Notre Dame,” he says. “I mean, they’re really that good on defense.”

Norfolk State coach Dawson Odums is in search of a rebound for his team

Marshall took out Notre Dame 26-21, and voters in The Associated Press college football poll took the Irish out of the top 25, the first time they haven’t been in an AP poll since September 2017. They came into the Marshall game ranked eighth.

James Madison only punted twice in 12 possessions against the Spartans. Norfolk State managed to avoid the shutout when quarterback Otto Kuhns connected with Da’Quan Felton on a 90-yard pass play in the third quarter. The loss led Odums to another prediction.

“James Madison (is) probably going to be in the hunt” for the Sun Belt Conference championship, the coach says. “I don’t think they can win it this year, but they’ll be in the hunt for the Sun Belt.”

As for seeing into the future with his own team, Odums has a none-too-rosy outlook.

“All depends on the injury report,” he says. “Beat up, banged up. We got a lot of guys who are going to be a game-time decision. The injury report is about as long as the second page of the newspaper, so we will see how that unfolds.”

FORGING AHEAD

As bad as the first two games turned out to be, Odums says his players aren’t discouraged.

“I think they’re embarrassed. I think they’re frustrated. But I think they’re that way in a good way,” he says. “I don’t think they like the fact that we went out for the first two games and really just been overwhelmed. And now, it’s time to get back to the drawing board and see what we can do better and let our players make plays.”

The healthiest 11 players Odums can field will be facing Hampton (2-0) in the Battle of the Bay on Saturday. Those will be some freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomore trying to beat the Pirates; Odums estimates he has less than 10 seniors.

After all that the Spartans have endured, their next matchup involves a neighbor and the right to talk trash for a year. But Odums says his team can’t get caught up in the back and forth.

“We can’t do nothing about those first two. We’re preparing for this week,” he says. “And we know that it’s a rivalry game. And while you don’t put too much into it, we have to focus on us. We got to get us better. And if we do those things, everything else will take care of (itself).

Norfolk State looks for brighter days after successive beatings
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