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Doodads from SWAC land
Prairie View got demolished on national television. Arkansas-Pine Bluff lost to an NAIA team. Southern got thumped by Tennessee State.
Yeah, it wasn’t exactly a scintillating first week for the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
There were more than a few ugly moments for SWAC teams in college football’s opening weekend, but there were a handful of bright moments, as well. And the second week is dead ahead, with a few more interesting matchups. Take, for example, those Prairie View Panthers. They have less than a week to prepare for archrival Texas Southern, the reigning conference champion. A win could get Prairie View’s season back on track in a hurry.
Here’s a smattering of notes, quotes and doodads from around the league:
ALCORN STATE: Yes, the Braves lost to Grambling 21-14 in Melvin Spears’ debut, but The Man in Shades wasn’t entirely deflated. Spears said 15 of his 22 starters were freshmen, and “when you put freshmen in, you never know exactly what they’re going to do,” he said. “But based on our evaluation, I thought our coaches did a great job in bringing in some talented players.” … QB Brandon Bridge was 17-for-25 for 175 passing yards and one touchdown. He ran for 45 yards and another score — but Spears said he’d like to see Bridge take fewer chances with his body by scrambling so much. “He wants to be a gladiator,” Spears said, “and sometimes that’s not the smart thing to do.”
GRAMBLING: Not bad a debut for both men named Doug Williams. The coach, in his grand return, helped guide the Tigers to a 21-14 win over Alcorn. His freshman son, known as D.J. Williams, completed 16 of 24 passes for 161 yards, two TDs and no interceptions — despite facing pressure from a blitz-heavy defense, dialed up by Alcorn coordinator Michael Roach. “I’ve been sitting here watching film,” Doug Williams said. “I don’t know if I’ll give him a grade ‘A,’ but I’ll certainly give him a passing grade.” … Doug Williams, speaking on the passing of former Tampa Bay teammate Lee Roy Selmon: “You weren’t going to find a better player. As a teammate, you weren’t going to find a better person.”
PRAIRIE VIEW: Heishma Northern’s head-coaching debut couldn’t have turned out worse. At the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Fla., his Panthers were thrashed by powerful Bethune-Cookman. They trailed 42-0 in the second quarter, and the 63-14 final score could have been much worse. “It’s a rough day coming into work and getting embarrassed on national TV. … It’s not indicative of what we are as a program,” Northern said. … Quarterbacks Jonathan Troast (12 of 22) and Jerry Lovelocke (2 of 8) struggled against the Bethune defense, combining for 135 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Meanwhile, the PV defense allowed 500 yards of offense. “I just questioned our effort at times, and I could see it coming from a mile away,” said Northern, who added that his team didn’t practice well the week before.
ALABAMA STATE: Reggie Barlow had an interesting take on this week’s trip to Ypsilanti, Mich., for the Hornets’ game against Eastern Michigan. “It’s an FBS school, and our guys all say they’re supposed to be (playing for) FBS schools anyway, so now they’ll get an opportunity,” he said. “Now we’ll get a chance to see how you perform at these places.” … ASU forced seven turnovers in a 41-9 blowout at Mississippi Valley. New quarterback Greg Jenkins, a transfer from Troy, completed 19 of 27 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.
ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF: This, obviously, was not the way UAPB wanted to start under new coordinator Eric Dooley. By and large, the offense did its job against NAIA Langston. It had more passing yards, more total yards and more first downs. But it also had five turnovers, and UAPB missed field goals from 42 yards away. Final score: Langston 19, UAPB 12. “I don’t care if you play Little Sisters of the Poor — if you turn it over five times, you’re going to struggle,” Lions coach Monte Coleman said. “We didn’t make plays when we had opportunities. … The team played hard. We just didn’t make plays. There’s a fine line.”
JACKSON STATE: The Tigers cruised to a 42-2 win over Concordia, but still raised concerns about their offensive line and missed opportunities. “We left some touchdowns out there on the field because of execution,” coach Rick Comegy said. “We’re not as good as we can be, but we can get better as we go.” … This week, JSU faces Tennessee State — the team that trampled Southern 33-7 in the season opener. Did that come as a surprise to Comegy? “I guess, in a way,” he said. “Football’s a funny sport. You have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day. … I just don’t know much about Southern at this point. It shows how good Tennessee State is. We’ve got our hands full with (Tennessee State).” … QB Casey Therriault was 15-of-32 for 218 yards in his season debut.
Alabama State at Eastern Michigan, 1 p.m.
Murray State at Mississippi Valley State, 4 p.m.
Alcorn State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 6 p.m.
Alabama A&M at Southern, 6 p.m.
Tennessee State vs. Jackson State, at Memphis, Tenn., 6 p.m.
Grambling at Louisiana-Monroe, 6 p.m.
Prairie View at Texas Southern, 7 p.m.
By Perryn Keys, The Advocate