#41 Texas Southern FCS Football Preview

Texas Southern Tigers

Overall Rank: #41

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2010 Record: (9-3, 8-1)
2010 Postseason: none
Coach: Kevin Ramsey (First year at Texas Southern, 0-0 overall)

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marcus Wright, RB, 1,212 yards
Passing: none
Receiving: Joe Anderson, WR, 818 yards
Tackles: Marquis Jackson, DE, 63
Sacks: Marquis Jackson, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Zack Gallow, DB, 5

Texas Southern’s joy of beating Alabama State in the SWAC championship game did not last too long. That was the first SWAC title the Tigers had won in 42 years. Coach Johnnie Cole was let go a few months later amid an NCAA investigation and now there is some concern that the team may have some trouble making the transition after such a late coaching change. However, former defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey was an obvious pick to be the interim coach. His defense absolutely dominated last season and he has been around the program long enough to make the transition a smooth one.

Coach Ramsey’s defense was the best in the FCS last season, allowing a mere 204.92 yards per game, and they could be again this year. All four starters return to the defensive front in Coach Ramsey’s 212 Degrees defense. End Marquis Jackson is a stud and tallied 18.0 tackles-for-loss and 8.0 sacks last season. With tackle Jonathan Hollins in the middle of the defense, getting through the Tigers first line of defense will be difficult for even the most potent offenses. At linebacker, Tyler Crane will move back from the end spot to replace Dejuan Fulghum. However, replacing Fulghum will not be easy. The linebacker led the team with 101 tackles, 18.5 tackles-for-loss and 11.0 sacks. Crane knows how to get to the quarterback and should go a long way in replacing those lofty numbers. Antonio St. Rose and William Parker are options to fill in the other linebacker spots, but a couple talented junior college transfers will not give the jobs away. Either way, despite the changes, the linebackers have plenty of depth. The front four is good, but the secondary may be the best defensive unit on this team. Zach Gallow is an all-conference performer who picked off five passes last season. Derricus Purdy has turned into a solid corner and Eric Brown has a ton of potential after switching to cornerback from wide receiver during the 2010 season. Add Iowa State transfer Adrian Bennett and the now healthy Kydarian Wilkins to the mix and the secondary is loaded.

Quarterback Arvel Nelson is gone, leaving a quarterback battle between Dantavious Parker and Harry Brown. Brown has been around the program, but threw just one pass last season…which fell incomplete. Parker spent some time at the FBS level, playing for Troy and even earning a couple starts. He is a dual-threat signal caller, while Brown is more of a pocket passer. The good news is that the new quarterback will have some quality receiving options. Joe Anderson caught a team high 56 catches last season and Richard Samuel has emerged as a quality secondary receiver. Add tight end Kirk Fitzhugh to the list and Parker or Brown will be able to put up some passing yards…if the line can give them time. Quinn Criss is the only returning offensive lineman with any significant experience. There are a handful of players who played some last season, but this unit will be extremely inexperienced and extremely young. That will not be a good thing while the Tigers break in a new quarterback.

The Bottom Line:
The inexperienced line may not be good for the conference’s best ground game either. Marcus Wright had a superb junior season, rushing for 1,212 yards and eight touchdowns. Wright will not run out of gas either with the bruising Martin Gilbert and the elusive Deshon Daniels joining him the backfield. However, having three quality running backs will not do too much good if the offensive line struggles. This is a team that will win games with defense, but they still need to control the clock with their ground game or be able to make some big plays in the air like they did prior to the 2010 campaign.

Projected Postseason: none

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 213.67 (12th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 170.00 (80, 6)
Total Offense: 383.67 (32, 3)
Scoring Offense: 24.92 (54, 5)
Rushing Defense: 81.50 (3, 1)
Pass Defense: 123.42 (2, 1)
Total Defense: 204.92 (1, 1)
Scoring Defense: 18.33 (8, 1)
Turnover Margin: -.58 (97, 9)
Sacks: 3.75 (1, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.25 (26, 1)