Monday, July 18, 2011
Gulf South 2011 Preview
Delta State Statesmen
2010 Record: 11-4
The Statesmen are trying to get back to the playoffs, where they ran into UM-Duluth in the title game, only to fall 20-17 in the championship tilt. Micah Davis returns at QB after passing for an amazing 4093 yards and 33 scores last fall. Brandon Lucas takes over as the feature back after rushing for 11 TDs coming off of the bench last season. He looks to get many opportunities as the Statesmen spread the load in their fired up offense. Chance Dennis becomes the top receiver after racking up 807 yards and 4 scores last fall, as DSU loses LJ Castille (67-900-13). Bill franks should step up as the number two. Xavier Triplett should be the new defensive leader, but is just a sophomore. He collected 100 tackles as a freshman. Joe Marshall will provide up front pressure after totalling 13 TFLs last fall, while Dwight Tillman and Dominique Davenport return in the secondary after combining for 21 defended passes last season. Davenport added 6 picks.
Season Opener: 8/27 Elizabeth City State (@ Cleveland, Ohio)
North Alabama Lions
2010 Record: 9-4
Terry Bowden's Lions made it to the second round of the playoffs last fall, only to fall to Delta State, avenging an earlier 31-7 loss by the Statesmen to UNA. Lee Chapple returns at QB for the Lions after passing for 3051 yards and 21 TDs. We Holland will be depended on to improve his total of 721 yards rushing last fall to take pressure off of the passing game. Jarmon Fortson will also return as Chapple's favorite target in the passing game. The Lions have losses to address on defense, where they lose their top two tacklers and their pressure providers up front. The ions also lose significant depth in the secondary.
Season Opener: 9/1 Central Oklahoma
Valdosta State Blazers
2010 Record: 8-3
The Blazers were the third team from the conference to make the playoffs, but fell in the 1st round to North Alabama, which the Blazers had beaten on the road earlier in the season. Brett Whitmire will likely be starting at QB once again, but struggled as a freshman with 11 picks to just 7 TD passes. David Arnold returns at RB, but worked as a tandem with Ronnye Nelson, and Nelson is gone. The receiving corps, in a word, is uninspiring. Larry Dean ranked 7th in the nation in tackles with 11.09 per game, but he has moved on. DB Harrison Dreiling looks to lead the defense now.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Wingate
West Alabama Tigers
2010 Record: 7-4
The Tigers stumbled at the end of the season, losing two of their final 3 games to miss a shot at the playoffs. Gary Johnston will be given the task of replacing superstar QB Deon Williams, who passed for 3392 yards and 25 TDs last fall as a senior. T-Ray Mitchell should take off some pressure, as the sophomore RB rushed for 843 yards and 6 scores last season. WR's Gerald Worsham (80-1201-11) and Kendrick May (34-681-4) will give Johnston every chance to succeed. LB Gabe Poe will lead the defense at LB after posting 97 tackles last fall, but the Tigers need to find someone to provide pressure up front. D'Eric Jackson will lead the secondary after he defended 7 passes last fall. He returned 2 of his 3 picks for scores last season.
Season Opener: 9/1 @ South Alabama
West Georgia Wolves
2010 Record: 3-7
The Wolves flamed oout in the second half of the season, losing their final 5 games, giving up 31 or more points in their final 4. Joe Weatherford played in 8 games, but was hardly dependable, tossing 7 picks to just 4 TD passes. Yusuf Holloway returns at RB, but he was nothing magical with his effort last season. Improvement must come here as well. Arkeem French will lead the receivers, but again, nothing great happening here. DB Manny Rodriguez will try to lead the defense after the loss of leading tackler Travis Payton. The Wolves lose their top pressure producers from last season as well, which could call for a season of more of the same. Waylon Kimble did pick off 6 passes, and he returns for his senior season.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Tusculum
Note: The Gulf South lost all 6 of their Arkansas based members from last fall, as they have left to form up the new Great American Conference. It has been announced that New Orleans has been accepted as a member of the Gulf South after deliberating a move down from D1 to D3. They have also announced that they will be adding football by 2015 at the latest. More on that when the info becomes available.