|« The CAA Today: Special Teams||MIAC Profiles of Excellence: Erin Sprangers, University of St. Thomas »|
No feedback yet
CSN SWAC Attack: TSU on Track
By Brandon Williams, CSN SWAC Attack Columnist
Johnnie Cole waited nearly two decades for the chance to return to his alma mater. In that span, the former Texas Southern quarterback spent his time making a name for himself as one of college football’s most creative offensive minds, including the invention of the HOBO (High Octane, Big play Offense).
Cole finally came back home in December 2007 when he was named the new head coach of a TSU program that had nose-dived since winning eight games in 2000. Steve Wilson, his predecessor, managed only four victories in his four seasons, leaving Cole a small bar to clear.
After a 4-8 season in 2008, the Tigers have found their stride, ripping off three straight victories before bowing to Grambling 47-33 last night in a nationally televised clash at Grambling.
At 4-5 overall (3-2 SWAC), TSU needs to win its last two games to record the school’s first winning campaign in 10 years.
“Our program is coming along,” Cole said. “I’ve said all along (that) we’ve got a good football team. We’ve played a hard schedule, and (our overall record) is kind of deceiving.”
There is no deceiving the confidence gained during that win streak that started with a 19-17 triumph at Jackson State. The momentum carried over with a 51-31 victory over Alcorn State and last week’s 30-7 rout at Mississippi Valley State.
Much of TSU’s success has to be credited to defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey. The former NFL coach has taken advantange of the Tigers’ wealth of defensive talent and applied an aggressive style that has shaved off nearly 100 yards and 15 points from last year’s unit, which ranked near the bottom of FCS squads in most defensive categories.
The rapid development of quarterback Arvell Nelson also has contributed to the surge. Nelson, who began his collegiate career at Iowa, has completed 58 percent of his passes and gives the team a dual threat with his running ability.
With a team filled mainly with sophomores and juniors, the Tigers know that a strong finish to this season – coupled with another solid recruiting class – would give them the jolt necessary to make a serious bid for the West Division title in 2010.
NOT QUITE HOME
Steve McNair, Jr. will play his college football in the state of Mississippi, but it won’t be with Alcorn State, the school where his late father starred from 1991-94.
The younger McNair, a wide receiver at Oak Grove (MS) High School, announced that he would play at Southern Mississippi next fall. Steve McNair, Jr. chose the Golden Eagles over several other Division I programs.
TRIPLE THE FUN
Thursday’s TSU-Grambling football game was the capper on a busy day of athletics on the GSU campus.
Earlier in the day, the Lady Tigers volleyball team hosted Arkansas-Pine Bluff, while the women’s basketball team began its 2009-10 season with an exhibition contest against Wiley College.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Jackson State (3-5, 3-3) at Alabama A&M (3-5, 2-3), 2 p.m. Eastern, Saturday.
What to Watch For: Bloi-Dei Dorzon has given the Tigers’ offense a breath of fresh air. His 108-yard effort in last week’s triumph over Alabama State has JSU in a position to put a tighter grip on their new found East Division lead. Dorzon will need more help, as the Tigers won despite generating a paltry 212 yards of offense.
Who to Watch For: Bulldogs quarterback Deaunte Mason needs to be efficient against a Tigers defense that has carried JSU all season. Running back Ulysess Banks will be keyed on from the outset, which could give Mason the time to find All-SWAC wideout Thomas Harris.
Texas Southern (4-4, 3-1) at Grambling State (5-4, 3-2), 8 p.m. Eastern, Thursday
This isn’t the TSU of old. These Tigers have some bite under coach Johnnie Cole and are capable of pulling off the upset. TSU is bidding for its first four-game win streak in more than a decade. They’ll have to achive it against a GSU team whose West Division title hopes were effectly smashed in last week’s 49-42 loss to Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Lincoln (Mo) at Mississippi Valley State (2-7, 1-6), 2 p.m. Saturday
The Delta Devils’ five-game losing streak should come to an end against the visiting NAIA school. MVSU has been outscored 80-14 in their last two games and have managed a mere 24 points in the slide from a 2-2 start.
Prairie View A&M (6-1, 6-0) at Alcorn State (2-5, 2-3), 3 p.m. Saturday
Not pleased with how his squad nearly squandered a 33-7 lead to Alabama A&M, Panthers coach Henry Frazier took no prisoners in practice this week. Don’t expect a lethargic performance from PV as they take on a Braves team that still holds an outside chance to claim the East Division title.
Alabama State (4-5, 1-4) at Southern (5-3, 2-2), 3 p.m. Saturday
With neither having much to play for, don’t be surprised if this becomes a shootout between ASU’s Anthony Speight and the Jaguars’ Bryant Lee. Scoring has been hard to come by for the Hornets, who have scored more than 17 points only once during a 1-5 stretch.