#30 Alcorn State FCS Football 2015 Preview

Alcorn State Braves

Overall Rank: #30

Alcorn State Team Page#30 Alcorn State FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy Alcorn State Football Tickets

From top to bottom, Alcorn State had a great 2014 campaign. In week two, they nearly beat Southern Miss, but the comeback came up a little short in the 26-20 loss. Still, the Braves were able to win ten games on the season, including a SWAC championship contest over Southern. This is one of the most productive offenses in the FCS and that will continue into 2015.

2014 Record: 10-3, 7-2
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Jay Hopson (23-13 at Alcorn State, 23-13 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Fred McNair
Defensive Coordinator: Tony Pecoraro

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: John Gibbs, Jr., QB, 1,006 yards
Passing: John Gibbs, Jr., QB, 2,482 yards
Receiving: Jordan Payne, WR, 463 yards
Tackles: Damon Watkins, LB, 79
Sacks: Darien Moody, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: Anthony Williams, Jr., DB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Arron Baker, RB Darryan Ragsdale, WR Charles Hughes, OL Isaac Sampson, OL Johnathan Scott, DB Quinton Cantue, DB Warren Gatewood, K/P Haiden McCraney

Key Losses: RB Anthony Williams III, DB Devon Francois, DE Jamil Cooks, DE Deion Roberson, LB William Thomas II, LB Corey Williams

Alcorn State ranked second in the FCS in scoring offense with 44.0 points per game and eighth in total offense with 493.1 yards per game. Quarterback John Gibbs is the type of player that gives opposing defenses nightmares. He threw for 2,482 yards and 21 touchdowns last season and added 1,006 yards and 11 more scores on the ground. Whether it is a passing lane or a rushing lane, the 6-6 signal caller sees the field extremely well and will find that lane. Jordan Payne is back to be Gibbs’ top target and Jaborian McKenzie, Jarvis Turner and LaDarrien Davis provide plenty of experienced receiving options. But where this team does most of their damage is on the ground. Arron Baker, who rushed for 725 yards and 13 touchdowns, and speedster Darryan Ragsdale, who rushed for 691 yards and seven scores, are both back. What bodes well for this offense is that most of the offensive line returns too. With so much returning, this offense should be firing on all cylinders from day one.

The Braves led the SWAC in total defense and scoring defense, but they do have a few pieces to replace on that side of the ball. The line lost ends Jamil Cooks and Deion Roberson, who combined for 12.0 sacks and 34.5 tackles-for-loss. Darien Moody, who had 7.5 sacks, will be the new leader of the front line. At linebacker, William Thomas and Corey Williams both had very productive senior seasons. Damon Watkins is a great talent who is ready to step up, but finding a player like Williams who can get into the backfield, will not be easy. The big loss in the secondary is Devon Francois. He led the team with 84 tackles and five interceptions in 2014. Anthony Williams Jr. and Warren Gatewood are both experienced playmakers. But it was in the secondary where Alcorn State struggled the most last season and there is a need for stability and steadiness, not just playmakers.

The Bottom Line:
Alcorn State returns enough on offense to give everybody trouble. And that includes Georgia Tech in the opening game of the season. The Braves do have to travel to Jackson State and Alabama State, their two biggest threats in the SWAC East, and to Southern, the favorite in the West. That is not the most friendly schedule, yet Alcorn State has the tools to cruise through the SWAC and win another conference title.  

Projected Postseason: Celebration Bowl vs. MEAC champion

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 285.2 (5th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 207.8 (66, 8)
Total Offense: 493.1 (8, 1)
Scoring Offense: 44.0 (2, 1)
Rushing Defense: 108.0 (12, 1)
Pass Defense: 211.8 (59, 4)
Total Defense: 319.8 (19, 1)
Scoring Defense: 19.5 (12, 1)
Turnover Margin: 0.46 (27, 1)
Sacks: 3.00 (9, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.54 (3, 1)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#34 DeUndre Pickett-White


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