Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool

Photo Credit: Houston Chronicle, Smiley N. Pool

My bold prediction for 2011 is that the Mississippi Valley State football team will not go winless this season.

Stop the presses.  It takes a confident college football prognosticator to go out on a big limb like this and risk ridicule

Never mind that the Delta Devils lost each game it played last season by at least two scores, or that the team tallied just 103 total points while giving up a SWAC Eastern Division high 363 points on the defensive end.

I will discount the program’s football budget woes or that their on-campus stadium was, well, not exactly sanctioned for Saturday afternoon contests.  The team was forced to play just down the road at a high school stadium in Greenville, Miss last year.

Those horrid happenings will not be indicative of how Mississippi Valley will perform if you ask head coach Karl Morgan.

“Things are progressing steadily,” Morgan told the Associated Press earlier this month. “I really think some positive things are happening at Mississippi Valley.”

Although Valley suffered a blow in losing Oliver Hughes to a knee injury during spring practice, hope springs eternal with sophomore Carl Davis and senior wide-receiver Paul Cox Jr, who led the team in receiving yards a season ago.

There are also some quality talents on the other side of the ball led by preseason All-SWAC safety Carlos Hollis and eight other starters returning to the defense.

You might be asking yourself at this point who can MVSU topple with seemingly so many factors working against them?

Let’s take a look at the schedule shall we.

The first four games feature Alabama State, Murray State, Alcorn State and Prairie View.

While these opponents are not juggernauts by any means, I just don’t see Morgan’s bunch winning any of these contests.

October features games against the defending SWAC champions, Texas Southern, on homecoming, Grambling State (who figures to represent the Western Division in the conference title game), Jackson State (who hasn’t lost to Valley in ages) and an Alabama A&M team that always presents a tough defense.  Coming out victorious against these teams will be no easy task.

There is light at the end of the tunnel however. On the first day of October, Mississippi Valley squares off against Southern at Rice-Totten Stadium. That is a winnable game.

The Jaguars were a disappointing 2-9 under then rookie head coach Stump Mitchell. To make matters worse, Southern, as a result of APR failures, will be banned from the league championship game.

Southern has nothing to play for.  Entering the game as the likely favorite presents a chance that Mitchell’s group might take MVSU lightly and be beaten as a result.

Mississippi Valley wins 20-13 for their only win of the 2011 season. All will not be lost.

I predict close losses to Arkansas Pine-Bluff and South Alabama to wrap up the regular season.

Winning one game might be a disappointment to many fan bases and football programs. But for a team that couldn’t register a number above zero in the win column just 12 months ago, it is a step in the right direction.  You have to crawl before you walk.

“Our talent level should be better than it was last season so that’s a positive,” Morgan said We’ve just got to keep doing things the right way. If we do that, we should be much more competitive.”



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