"Last week, it was 'Win the Trip,' and we did that. We were a fresh team and we were in a good frame of mind at kickoff, and it paid off," said Thomas. "This week, it's 'Win the Week.' We'll have a lot of, to steal a term from Nick Saban, 'clutter,' which is not a negative unless you allow it to become so. It's positive, all the excitement around this game, and we have to manage all of those non-football areas well.
"We have to win it day-by-day, night-by-night, all the way into 6 p.m. Saturday night," said Thomas.
The Demons play host to the Jaguars at Turpin Stadium for the first time since 2000. The teams last met in Shreveport in 2002, a 30-20 NSU win that knotted the series at 5-5, including three straight Demon victories. All but the last matchup were season-opening contests. Southern's previous four visits to Natchitoches have all sold out 15,971-seat Turpin stadium.
The 23-17 triumph last Thursday night in steamy Springfield, Mo. - temperature on the field pregame was 107 - ended a 17-game skid by NSU in out-of-conference road games (13 against FBS foes). A 27-23 victory at Louisiana-Monroe starting the 2005 season was the last OOC road win, and the last season-opening road win, for the Demons.
Thomas and staff broke down the game tape Friday morning after an all-night return trip, as players attended class to end the first week of school at NSU. The first-year coaching staff gleaned plenty of teaching points to be applied beginning with a light Sunday night workout and the first extended practice of the week Tuesday afternoon.
"It was kind of like a Clint Eastwood movie - there was some good, bad, and a little bit of ugly, just a little bit of ugly. We want to make it all good. We know exactly what we need to work on, in all three phases, and most of it is not very surprising," Thomas said. "Going back to Clint, and one of the great lines from 'Dirty Harry,' he says 'a man's gotta know his limitations.' Well, now we have a much better understanding of our strengths as well as our limitations, and we can do a lot to lessen or eliminate the limitations."