Bubba McDowell has spent much of the 2023 season encouraging his team to remember the past.
The second-year Prairie View coach wants them not to forget how much it hurt to lose at Mississippi Valley State in the 2022 regular-season finale and miss an opportunity to clinch the SWAC West.
He wants them to contemplate how poorly they played in a 45-7 loss to Florida A&M on Oct. 28, its opponent in Saturday’s SWAC Championship Game. It was a game McDowell called simply “bad.”
More importantly, McDowell wants them to remember when the Panthers were picked to finish fifth in the SWAC West standings by preseason voters in July.
“All day, every day, McDowell said on Monday when asked whether he used the team’s preseason prognostication as motivation. It wasn’t a moment that I didn’t remind them. For us to be voted where we were, I used that as fuel with these guys … I’m still using it.”
McDowell, who has been with the Prairie View program for the last 13 seasons, has stressed to the group that it must capitalize on another opportunity to finish after being unable to do so in Itta Bena, Mississippi, in 2022 and against Jackson State at the SWAC Championship Game in 2021.
“Just finishing out what we started,” he said. “In certain situations, you have to look back. The Mississippi Valley State game and the Jackson State game — you have to bring that to their attention so you can learn from it.”
The Panthers also must take lessons from the last time they played FAMU in Tallahassee — the SWAC East Division champions — and favorites to win on Saturday.
It was the second-worst loss of the season back then and part of a seven-game stretch where Prairie View had gone 2-5.
Quarterback Trazon Connley threw for just 93 yards. Leading rusher Caleb Johnson could only muster 60 yards on 10 carries. The defense allowed 453 total yards on 8.4 yards per play.
“That game last time was bad. We want to remind them that you can’t do that again against a team like this,” said McDowell.
Despite the loss, Prairie View has won three straight, including a 14-7 win over Alabama State two Saturdays ago to win the SWAC West.
McDowell wants to see the team that has gone unbeaten in November, not the one that was out of sorts the last time it played at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
“You can’t go back to Tallahassee and put up a performance like you did last time,” he said.
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