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No time to rest for Alabama A&M Bulldogs
Coach Anthony Jones had hoped to relax a little Saturday after Alabama A&M dismantled Mississippi Valley State 37-14. But with yet another important Southwestern Athletic Conference game on the horizon, Jones didn’t have much time to celebrate the Bulldogs’ fourth straight victory.
Not with Texas Southern coming to town. More specifically, not with the Tigers’ stout defense coming town.
A&M (4-2, 3-1) hosts Texas Southern (2-3, 1-3) Thursday night in a pivotal conference game for both teams at Louis Crews Stadium. Kickoff is 6:30 and the game will be televised on ESPNU.
While the Texas Southern has allowed 101 points in back-to-back lopsided losses to Jackson State and Alabama State, it hasn’t been because of its defense.
The Tigers lead the SWAC in rushing defense (76.6), pass defense (137.8) and total defense (214.4). They are eighth in scoring defense, allowing 30.2 points per game. Texas Southern allowed 50 points in its first three games, but allowed 101 in its last two outings.
“They have one of the best defenses not only in the conference, but in the country,” Jones said. “When people look at the scores of their last two games the don’t think that, but they’re only giving up 215 yards per game. People aren’t moving the ball against them. They’re getting field position and taking advantage of some mistakes they’re making.”
Jones should know.
The Bulldogs struggled against the Tigers last year.
A&M managed only 197 yards in total offense a year ago in a 32-9 loss to Texas Southern. The Bulldogs managed only three Chance Wilson field goals. It was the first time A&M had failed to score a touchdown in a game in three years.
“They’ve got great personnel,” Jones said. “For what they want to do, their personnel fits them to a T. They’ve got guys that can run. That’s why they can turn the heat up on you. They’re physical. They understand the system, they believe in it and they make it tough on you.”
The Tigers have allowed 231 yards or less in four of their five games.
As a result, A&M has to execute on a high level, Jones says.
“We have to be on top of our game,” he said. “If we’re not, it could be a long night.”
The Bulldogs have played better offensively over the last two weeks.
A&M erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter last week ago in a 28-27 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Bulldogs scored 37 points in the first half Saturday against MVSU enroute to a 37-14 victory.
“We played a complete half, but we’ve got to play better and put more points up,” quarterback Deaunte Mason said.
The Tigers can ill-afford another loss if they hope to defend their SWAC championship. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are trying to stay within striking distance of East Division-leading Alabama State.
“It’s desperation timee for everybody,” Jones said. “Everybody is fighting for their SWAC lives. It’s do-or-die all the way across the board. This game will be no different.”
By Reggie Benson, The Huntsville Times