For the first time during the tenure of head coach James Spady, the Bulldogs are right in the thick of the SWAC East Division race. The defense has carried the way for Alabama A&M, leading the SWAC in sacks (22) and is ranked No. 1 in total defense just ahead of Grambling State, by allowing just 19 points per game in conference play. The only thing holding the Bulldogs back from taking that next step is the offense, which ranks in the middle of the pack in key offensive categories. If freshman quarterback Ageel Glass can play with a bit more consistency down the stretch, the Bulldogs can have a legitimate shot a winning a division that has been owned by Alcorn State the last three seasons.
Little has gone right for the Hornets this season, culminating in the firing of head coach Brian Jenkins. While Alabama State has fared well on defense, the offense inconsistencies are what ultimately cost Alabama State its season, and Jenkins his job. The Hornets rank near or at the bottom of several offensive categories, including points per game, which they’ve averaged just 10 per outing this season.
The Braves are back to their old dominating ways through the first half of the regular season. Alcorn State is tops in the SWAC in scoring offense at 31 points a game and rank second in scoring defense just behind Grambling. The story of Alcorn State, though starts and ends with quarterback Lenorris Footman. The senior has developed from a runner to a quarterback that leads the conference with 9 touchdown passes to go along with a respectable 61.8 completion percentage. The destiny of the Braves will depend on the right arm, and legs, of their star quarterback.
The Golden Lions have just too many holes on the defensive side of the ball to support an offense that has surprisingly improved and kept them competitive. Giving up 27, 38 and 40 points in its last three losses, and being 10th in the SWAC with a -12 turnover margin, have all but knocked Arkansas-Pine Bluff out of any hopes of winning the SWAC West.
The reigning SWAC champions haven’t experienced a hangover at all. The Tigers have won five straight, including an impressive win over Southland foe Northwestern State. Broderick Fobbs and Co. only challenge the rest of the regular season will be a date with Alcorn State on Oct.21 in a likely preview of the SWAC title game.
The 0-6 Tigers haven’t been this bad since humans landed on the moon. Look it up. The autopsy for the season has been a team that’s been in almost every game thanks to a defense that has been held back significantly by its offense. How much has the unit struggled? JSU is dead last in total offense, next to last in rushing, and passing. This week, head coach Tony Hughes decided to strip offensive coordinator Chad Germany of playing calling duties.
Mississippi Valley State
The good news is that the Delta Devils have found an offense. The unit currently is ranked No. 1 in passing offense at 303 yards per game. Quarterbacks Dewayne Betts and Christopher Fowler seem promising. Here comes the bad news. The other side of the ball just can’t stop anybody. Nobody. The defense has surrendered a league-worst 306 yards per game on the ground and 480 total yards per game. Yikes.
At 2-2 in league play, the Panthers are mathematically still in contention for the SWAC West crown. Realistically, though, Prairie View just hasn’t been consistent enough to believe it can surpass Grambling State.
At 3-3 the Jaguars have been just good enough to tease you that they’re good enough, if that makes sense. The offense had been up and down. So has the defense. Consistency will be the key for the Jaguars if they want to make a run in the second half. Playing Jackson State — and having a healthy Austin Howard coming out of the bye week — will help.
The other winless team in the SWAC continues another season of regression well below the mean. The Tigers have a hard time scoring (12.2 points per game) and are next to last in defense by giving up 427 yards per game. Following a bye, the Tigers have Grambling State, Mississippi Valley State and Southern out of the gate. A win will be hard to come by in the immediate future.