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CSN SWAC Attack: Lack of Luster
By Brandon Williams, CSN SWAC Attack Columnist
Remember at the start of the season how some pundits – okay, us – predicted that Arkansas-Pine Bluff could be a sleeper in the SWAC West?
At 0-4, the Golden Lions haven’t found the luster that some/we envisioned could be there under new coach Monte Coleman and a defense that appeared to have made strides down the stretch of the 2007 season. Granted, the defense has played well at times (see last week’s 13-3 loss to Alcorn State), but it has been an outright lack of production from the offense that has hampered the process.
Take a look at the SWAC team stats section, and one can see a Pine Bluff team that has taken permanent rest near the bottom of most offensive categories. Not even a jolt of Viagra could cure an attack this impotent.
The Golden Lions are last in the conference with 6.8 points per game (decent numbers for a backup shooting guard, horrible for a football team), having failed to score in double figures in three losses. The offensive struggles have forced Coleman to ponder a quarterback change heading into Saturday’s conference opener against Alabama A&M, as freshman Govana Turner could wrest the job from ineffective incumbent Jonathan Moore.
“We’re going to see how they both are working in practice before I make a decision on which guy will start,” Coleman told the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Commerical. “There’s a good possibility that Turner will take the nod this week against A&M.”
An injured thumb suffered by Moore in the opener against Arkansas-Monticello has hampered his performance. It has shown in his numbers, as he enters the weekend with just one touchdown pass and five interceptions. His 50 percent completion rate is unacceptable for an offense attempting to take pressure off runningback Mickey Dean, the unit’s lone threat.
Turner played the second half of the Alcorn State game, but was sacked almost as many times (four) as he attempted passes (six). His 23 yards in the air weren’t encouraging, but it gives Coleman hope that the youngster could be the jolt the Golden Lions need to save their season.
“We’re not just going to name Gvona as the starting quarterback,” Coleman said. “Gvona has to come to practice and do something extra ordinary to get that position. But we’re looking at it.”
Game of the Week:
Prairie View A&M (3-0) vs. Morehouse (3-1), LA Coliseum, Saturday 5:30 p.m. EDT
The matchup: This could be a trap game for the Panthers, who travel to Dallas to take on Grambling State next week. PV has won by an average of almost 36 points per game, as coach Henry Frazier III has put the program in position to leave a mark on the SWAC West. Morehouse’s passing game will get a challenge from Prairie View’s “Purple Haze” defense, which has yet to allow a touchdown in the air. Still, Tigers quarterback Christ Sterling (815 yards, nine TDs) and wideout James Steadman (21-312-4) have the capability to make this interesting in the first meeting between the two historic colleges.
Who to watch for: PV quarterback Mark Spivey accounted for four touchdowns in last week’s route of Mississippi Valley State. The 6-5 senior had been quiet, as the Panthers’ running game took center stage, but the team can break the will of opponents when Spivey gets the chance to throw. Wide receiver Anthony Weeden has been quiet thus far, but the explosive junior is due for a breakout performance as well.
In case you missed it: Alabama State 47, Mississippi Valley State 7 – This is what coach Reggie Barlow was waiting to see: an offense (525 total yards) clicking on all cylinders. Hornets’ quarterback Reid Herschenbach riddled the Delta Devils for 28 completions, 250 yards and three TD passes while rushing for a fourth.
MVSU – which has been outscored 96-22 in its last two games – managed a paltry 102 yards and six first downs. The Delta Devils came within 52 seconds of being blanked before Eddie Ivory Jr. threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Russ.
At this point, the Willie Totten Fire Watch officially has begun.
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News and Notes
* TSU quarterback Bobby Reid is starting to come into form. The former Oklahoma State standout threw two touchdown passes in the Tigers’ 28-13 victory over Texas College in the Rose City Classic, giving him five total scores in the last two games, both TSU triumphs. The Tigers – who host Concordia College Saturday night – could win their third straight for the first time since 2003.
* A further look at Prairie View’s dominance: the Panthers lead the conference in 11 categories, including scoring offense and defense, rushing offense and defense, pass efficiency and defensive pass efficiency.
* Mississippi Valley State scored 38 points in its opening victory over Texas College. In the last 12 quarters, the Delta Devils have scored 29 points.
* Fresh off a bye, Southern quarterback Bryant Lee has to be salivating at the thought of facing an Alcorn State defense that has allowed nearly 250 passing yards a game. Lee has completed 66 percent of his passes for 680 yards and seven scores in his first three games, while wideout Juamorris Harris (22-256-4) has emerged as perhaps the SWAC’s best receiver.
* Grambling State appears to be committed to J.P. Tillman as its starting quarterback. The University of Missouri transfer has completed just 48 percent of his passes, but his 4-0 TD-INT margin in 77 attempts has given the Tigers’ offense a sign of progress. Still, GSU has managed only 18.8 points per game, sixth in the SWAC.
* Jackson State defensive end Sam Washington is staking a claim for postseason accolades. The 6-4, 265-pound junior has recorded eight tackles for loss, including three sacks.