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Receivers ready to contribute for run-dominant Texas Southern
Seniors Joe Anderson and Richard Samuel stand out as Texas Southern’s top wide receivers.
But it’s unclear how prominently the two will figure in the Tigers’ offense this season.
The receiving corps played a secondary role in 2010 as the Tigers utilized a power rushing attack to close the season with eight consecutive wins and capture their first outright Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.
Anderson led all receivers with 56 catches for 818 yards, but TSU’s passing attack ranked 80th out of 117 Football Championship Subdivision programs with 170 yards per game.
The Tigers’ running game, however, was 12th best in the FCS with 213.7 yards per game. Interim coach Kevin Ramsey has indicated the offense will again lean heavily on its running backs, starting with today’s season opener against Prairie View A&M.
A dominant ground game should eventually open more passing opportunities for first-year starting quarterback Dantavious Parker, and Anderson and Samuel are prepared to contribute when needed.
“We have a great running game and offensive line, but me and Joe have to be there,” Samuel said. “We’ve got to be clutch on third downs when we need it. We’re going to get a lot of man coverage and one-safety (looks) because the running game is so good, so we’ll have plenty opportunities to make plays and put points on the board.
“(Offensive coordinator) Charles Coe knows what we can do. As soon as we get our hands on the ball during games and start scoring, I think we’ll get a lot more touches.”
The 6-1, 195-pound Anderson was one of the team’s most reliable playmakers during the past two campaigns, catching a combined 107 passes for 1,372 yards and nine touchdowns. His breakout moment occurred last season via a seven-catch, 201-yard performance in a 32-9 win over Alabama A&M.
The 5-10, 180-pound Samuel had only 18 receptions for 223 yards and a score in 2010, but the former walk-on made a splash with two long touchdown grabs during the April 16 Maroon and Gray spring game.
“Both of them are different,” said TSU wide receivers coach Robert Ford, a longtime NFL assistant whose former pupils include Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin.
“Joe’s a big kid who’s very strong and runs really good routes. He actually catches the ball extremely well in traffic. Richard, in one-on-one (situations), is as good as I’ve seen in a long time. He’s very quick, and when you’re that size, you have to be quick. He’s learning how to play to his positives.
“(They’re) almost like night and day, but when we put them together, they actually complement each other really well.”
Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern
When/where: 7 p.m.; Delmar Stadium.
TV/radio: None; 90.9 FM, 91.3 FM.
Records: Prairie View A&M 0-1, TSU 0-0.
Last meeting: Prairie View won 16-14 on Sept. 5, 2010.
Story line: The annual Labor Day Classic was pushed back nearly a week from its normal weekend to accommodate Prairie View opening the season against Bethune-Cookman on Sunday, but this meeting retains significance. The winner will have a leg up in the race for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division title; the loser will need the other to lose twice to get into contention.
By the numbers: The Panthers have beaten the Tigers four consecutive meetings and six of the past seven. … TSU senior running back Marcus Wright is the SWAC’s returning leading rusher (1,212 yards in 2010).
By RONNIE TURNER, HOUSTON CHRONICLE