Monday, August 15, 2011
SWAC 2011 Preview
Alabama A&M Bulldogs
2010 Record: 3-8
It was a long, frustrating season for the Bulldogs, and they are trying to find some kind of combo to take them back up the chain, but it's a long climb. Justin Jones started as a freshman at QB, but it was a terrible situation. Jones was awful, having posted 2 picks for every TD he tossed. Kaderius Lacey will take over full time at RB after rushing for 710 yards and 5 scores, and the loss of Tony Green helps his case as well. There is little depth. G'Alonzo Martin will be the top receiver, but it's not proven if Jones can get the ball out to him regularly.
Vernon Marshall led the team in tackles, but he's a DB, and nobody else finished in the SWAC top 25. Not solid at all. LBs Willie Fuller and Larry Lumpkin return, and are the best pass rushers on the team. Being that they combined for 8, I am not excited about this. Lumpkin and Dee Lett do a solid job of disrupting the run, but there are some serious issues up front. The Bulldogs will face some issues when it comes to defending the pass as well, as their top specialists all moved on after last season.
I see another rough outing for the Bulldogs, with no end in sight. Anthony Jones may just find himself swimming in the coaches dead pool before too long.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Hampton
Alabama State Hornets
2010 Record: 7-5
2010 was such an up and down season, but it ended on the down note as ASU fell in the SWAC title game to Texas Southern, which was their second loss to TSU on the season. Reggie Barlow (former ASU receiver) had his contract extended after the SWAC title appearance, so there will be stability here. Devin Dominguez returns at QB, but he is a wild one. Dominguez passed for 1536 yards and 19 TDs, but also tossed 15 picks. That has got to improve this season for the Hornets to beat out Jackson State and return to the title game. Andrew Pitts started as a freshman, and was good for a marginal 557 yards and 4 scores. Sophomore Quendarius Jackson will return to provide some depth. Nicholas Andrews and TC McWilliams both return at WR to give Dominguez some solid targets. They will be instrumental in getting those picks erased.
ASU returns their top 3 tacklers, and there is one from every group in DB Brandon Roberts, LB Demarques Taylor, and DE Jimmy Daniels. Daniels led the team with 5 sacks last fall, while fellow DE Kynjee Cotton added another 5. Daniels was a force against the run, having totalled 18 TFLs to lead the SWAC. Cotton added 11 more, and the Hornets are a grinder to run against. Dononvan Masline led the secondary last fall with 11 defended passes, with Saeed Lee adding another 6 to the mix, while Kejuan Riley was the real star after picking off 7 passes on the season. Marcus Sullivan and Masline combined to add 7 more for ASU.
If the Hornets can solve their issues at LB, they could push for the East title once again, but Jackson State stands in their way.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Mississippi Valley State
Alcorn State Braves
2010 Record: 5-6
One of the streakiest teams in the conference, the Braves need to find consistency this season. Brandon Bridge showed serious flashes of brilliance at times last fall, and the sophomore returns after passing for 19 TDs and 2086 yards. If he cuts down on his 13 picks, he could be truly dynamic. Bridge added another 601 yards and 8 TDs on the ground. His primary back will be Gabriel Nash, who rushed for 612 yards and 6 scores. Simon Collier will step into a starting role at WR, but nobody quite knows who will line up with him.
On defense, LB Herve Tonye Tonye will be back after collecting 82 tackles at LB last fall. Javoris Tribune will also bring some tackling ability oout of the secondary, but there is no much depth when it comes to tackling ability. Brandon Morris will be expected to step up on the line after the Braves lost their two top sack specialists. He is also the only true threat against the run. Tribune will be a top tackler, but is also a scary pass defender, as he knocked away 8 passes last fall. Jason Owens is a ball hawk as well, having defended 6 passes. Jamison Knox picked off 3 passes as a freshman last fall.
The Braves have some depth issues on offense, and the receivers are in a bit of flux. Bridge can win games by himself, and will be expected to break out huge this fall. Issues at LB and on the line give me cause for concern, so I am going to say that Alcorn State should expect to be back at the 5 or 6 win window once again.
Season Opener: 9/3 @ Grambling
Jackson State Tigers
2010 Record: 8-3
The Tigers are a team that has found a new way to play in the last year or so, and this season should cap it off with a SWAC title. Casey Therriault is one of the best FCS QBS around, as he passed for 3436 yards and 31 TDs last fall. He is a winner, and a game changer. BJ Lee returns at RB, but is strictly a complimentary part in this offense. Therriault will get back 4 of his top 5 receivers in Marcellos Wilder, Rico Richardson, TE Renty Rollins, and EJ Drewery. There will be some fireworks in Jackson this fall.
Milton Patterson will be back at LB for the Tigers to lead the defense, and Kerry Hoskins brings serious tackling ability at DB. Donovan Robinson led the team with 7 sacks last fall, but he loses some help around him this fall. Robinson's 18.5 TFLs make him one of the most dangerous linemen in the nation. LB Milton Patterson is a beats up front as well, after collecting 13.5 TFLs of his own. Qua cox was a dangerous play maker in the secondary as he knocked away 7 passes last fall. Andre Wright added 6 more, but the Tigers lost their top two defenders in the secondary. Tim Dandridge returns after picking off 3 passes.
The defense has a few concerns, but the offense is absolutely loaded. The Tigers are going to push the tempo in every game this season and dare people to keep up, and that is why I choose them to win the conference title.
Season Opener: 9/3 Concordia (Alabama)
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
2010 Record: 0-10
I cannot believe that this was the same school that Jerry Rice and Willie Totten made famous in the 80's. This team used to destroy other teams, scoring upwards of 80 points per game when those two were hooking up in the passing game all of those years ago. Those are just ghost stories now of a time long gone by and dead, and this program resembles a corpse.
Oliver Hughes returns at QB after putting on one of the worst performances I have ever seen by a college QB last season. It really seemed like he and his teammates just gave up at some point last fall. The run game will be starting over this season, and there was no returning depth to speak of from last season. Paul cox and Chris Williams both return at WR, but neither is a guy who can turn this thing around.
LB Terrell Johnson will take over the leadership role on defense, but can he handle it? He may get overrun. Leployer Franklin was the only minor hint of a pass rush guy last fall, and only had 2.5 sacks. Marcus Thompson started as a freshman last fall on the line, and finished with 10 TFLs, while Franklin added 7 more. Marquis Mcfadden and Allister Wade will be the primary pass defenders, as they combined for 9 defended passes. Carlos Hollins returns as well after picking off 2 passes last fall.
Another winless season? Probably.
Season Opener: 9/3 Alabama State
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
2010 Record: 5-6
The Lions lose their top pass-catch combo in Josh Boudreaux and Raymond Webber from last season, leaving the offense in limbo. Webber was our All FCS WR of the Year. Justin Billings and Adrian Moore provided little at RB last fall, but both are incredibly important now. Other than Webber, the Lions had very little to show for receiver productivity, and it now looks as if the team is in big trouble in the passing game.
Jerryan Harris was amazing at LB in his freshman season, as he collected 129 tackles on the season, good for 9th in the country. Derrick Timber also returns at LB after collecting 83 tackles. The Lions provide no pass rush, and the up front run defense has some serious holes to fill. Gyoyanni Harvey and James Harrell will return to run the secondary after combining to defend 12 passes last fall. Harrell finished with 4 picks, while Harvey added 2 more.
The losses are huge for the Lions, and depth is not plentiful. Five wins may seem like a pipe dream right about now.
Season Opener: 9/3 Langston
Grambling State Tigers
2010 Record: 9-2
The Tigers return Doug Williams as head coach, and some folks are saying that this alone will win the SWAC title, as Williams won three titles during his first stint. I need to look deeper before I hand GSU anything of the sort. Anthony Carrothers started at QB as a freshman, and I was not impressed by what I saw. He only tossed 7 TDs and was picked 9 times, and was at or near the bottom of the league in most passing stats. All world RB Frank Warren has departed, as has primary backup Cornelius Walker. Mario Lewis bumps up to the top WR spot, but only collected 16 receptions last fall. None of this has me thinking title.
Cliff Exama returns at LB after finishing with 106 tackles last fall, but the Tigers bring back no other tackler that made the SWAC top 25 in tackles last fall. Antonio Leonard will anchor the top spot in the secondary, but only defended 5 passes last fall. Bruna Foster returns after picking off 3 passes.
Unless Doug Williams puts on the gear himself, I don't see how the Tigers compare to Jackson State. I don't think that they are as good as most people are making them out to be.
Season Opener: 9/3 Alcorn State
Prairie View Panthers
2010 Record: 7-4
The Panthers lose Head Coach Henry Frazier, the man that built this program up from the pits of hell. It's going to be interesting to see how this team responds to a new era. They also lose KJ Black at QB, which is a double hammer to the head. The Panthers lose their top two rushers from last fall as well, and the top three receivers went with them. Uh oh.
Why stop there, as the Panthers lose their top 3 tacklers, and will be led by sophomore LB Marcus White, who only had 49 tackles last fall. Adrian Hamilton returns on the line after recording 5 sacks last fall. He added 7.5 TFLs on the year. Losses are deep in the secondary as well, as Buster Lester returns by himself.
It is going to be a long and hard fall for the Panthers, and it going to be interesting to see how long it takes to rebuild, if they can at all.
Season Opener: 9/4 Bethune-Cookman
2010 Record: 2-9
The Jags took a serious fall last season, and it's time to seek out a rebound, but Stump Mitchell has some serious work to do. Jeremiah McGinty and Dre Joseph both fought for the QB job, and someone has to step up to take it this season. Sylvester Nzekwe takes over at RB, but carried only 66 times last fall. LaQuinton Evans takes over the top receiver spot, but only caught 17 passes last season. Not looking good from a developmental/building standpoint.
On defense, Southern did not have one player finish in the top 25 in tackles. Kedy Enabulele
will return after posting 4.5 sacks, but is the only pass rush threat available. He added 9.5 TFLs last fall, while Anthony Balancier added 11.5. The Jaguars were clueless when defending the pass, and there is no indication as to who should fill that role this season.
Going to be another long season in New Orleans.
Season Opener: @ Tennessee State
Texas Southern Tigers
2010 Record: 9-3
The Tigers won 8 in a row, won the SWAC title, and then promptly fired Johnny Cole after an NCAA investigation began looking into academic improprieties in the program. The investigation is ongoing, so the Tigers are eligible to defend their title...for now.
The Tigers will likely not be on a position to do such a thing, as they start over at QB. Marcus Wright will be the key piece for the offense after having rushed for 1200 yards and 8 TDs. Martin Gilbert will provide solid backup help at the RB position. Joe Anderson was the leading receiver last fall, and he returns once again. There is little depth to go with him.
Shomari Clemons will lead the defense at LB after he totalled up 73 tackles last fall, but who will there be to help him? Clemons had 8.5 sacks last fall, and Marquis Jackson added 7 more from his DE spot. Clemons and Jackson also combined for 32.5 TFLs last fall. The Tigers were very solid against the pass last fall, and should be so again, as they return their top pass defenders in Zack Gallow (10 defended passes), Jerome Thomas (10), Derricus Puridy (6), and Jackson (6). Gallow finished with 5 picks, while Puridy had 3.
The defense is solid, but the offense is in a major state of flux, and that may be costly this season. With all of the issues overshadowing the season, TSU could be in for a nasty tumble.
Season Opener: 9/10 Prairie View