The football season for South Carolina State should get rolling forward Saturday when the Bulldogs welcome Johnson C. Smith to Oliver C. Dawson Stadium for the home opener.
Not only will it be the first time S.C. State has played since a 14-8 loss in the season opener at Southern in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Sept. 3, it will be the first time the 0-2 Golden Bulls have played outside of Charlotte this season.
That's right, the Bulldogs haven't played a home game and the Golden Bulls haven't played a road game. But they have three losses and no wins between them. Something has got to give Saturday.
"We didn't even score a touchdown in that first game and, at this point, it's been so long ago I almost can't use that information as something to reflect on," Pough said, since it will have been nearly 13 full days since the Bulldogs last played. "We've still got lots of work to do, maybe on both sides of the ball.
"We need to play better, especially in the early part of the game. Looking back, the weather part I think had a big impact on what we looked like. Now, the fact that we have to go back out and play in the same kind of circumstances, you know, on turf in 90 degrees and humidity, it's kind of a repeat of what we went through. You can run but you can't hide. We have to learn how to deal with those circumstances."
One possible impact player was not available to play against Southern but will be ready to go against Johnson C. Smith. Sophomore tailback LaBron Morris (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) was recovering from a knee injury two weeks ago but has reclaimed his spot atop the depth chart at running back and is ready to join Datron James, Jarius Jenkins and Trey Samuel in carrying the ball for the Bulldogs.
"I think, running back-wise, we've got lots of bodies and they didn't play all that bad in game one," Pough said. "I'd like for us to be a little bit more productive at the quarterback position.
"He (starting redshirt sophomore quarterback Dewann Ford) threw the ball so well in the latter parts of the second half, we may have to lean more on that side of his abilities. We have to figure out what's the best way to approach this and proceed."
Pough admits the schedule was set up in a good fashion so that the Bulldogs get to play a home game before heading back on the road for a Thursday, Sept. 21, conference game at N.C. Central.
"It would be tough to go back on the road again anyway," Pough said. "I'm excited about the fact that we get to stay on our home turf and play in front of our fans and hopefully have a great crowd here to support our team.
"We need everybody out to see us play. It's an opportunity for our fan base to come see us at our own place. It's a big deal when we do have these home games for the community to show that it appreciates it so that we can continue justifying having them this way. If not, we probably end up going back on the road and playing guarantee (payday) games if we can't have a decent enough showing at home."
Johnson C. Smith lost to crosstown rival Wingate, 38-18, to start the season before falling to Virginia State, 44-6, this past Saturday. After their visit to Orangeburg, the Golden Bulls embark on a seven-game schedule of play through the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Johnson C. Smith is coached by former Willie Jeffries' assistant coach Kermit Blount, who along with being an assistant at S.C. State and Howard has also been head coach at Winston Salem State and Delaware State before taking over the program in Charlotte three years ago.
"I'm sure (Blount) he'll come in here with some sort of trickery or setup to try and give his team some sort of an advantage to give them a chance to hang in there," Pough said. "He's got to figure some things out and we do too.
"The season is really just starting, at least that's what I'm telling my guys. We've only got one game under our belt, even though we may feel like we should have two or three."