#38 Alabama A&M FCS Football 2012 Preview

Alabama A&M Bulldogs

2012 Overall Rank: #38
Alabama A&M FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Alabama A&M Team Page


Alabama A&M tied Alabama State and Jackson State for the SWAC East title in 2011 and it should be those three again in the mix in 2012. The Bulldogs stout defense and up and coming offense should make this a better overall team this season. However, A&M has to play both Alabama State and Jackson State on the road and that may be enough to keep them from the top of the standings.

2011 Record: (8-4, 7-2)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Anthony Jones (72-45 at Alabama A&M, 90-58 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cedric Pearl
Defensive Coordinator: Brawnski Towns

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kaderius Lacey, RB, 1,143 yards
Passing: Deaunte Mason, QB, 1,996 yards
Receiving: Montarius Smith, WR, 669 yards
Tackles: Vernon Marshall, S, 75
Sacks: Phillip Harvey, DE, 6.0
Interceptions: A.J. Clark, S, 1; Denzel Cotton, LB, 1; Vernon Marshall, S, 1; Joshua Udeh, CB, 1

Other Key Returnees: OT Alan Cruz, C Joaquenssi Eugene, G Justin Goodrich, CB Derrick Harris, OT Jamaal Johnson-Webb, WR G’Alonzo Milton, DT Preston Nelson, DE Melvin Payne, WR Terrance Pride, G Bryant Ross, DT Montay Rover, DT Tim Tillman

Key Losses: LB Willie Fuller, DE Corey Hart, CB Clarence Morris, S Rico Porch

The offense was nothing spectacular last season, but there is great hope for some much improved numbers. Quarterback Deaunte Mason is a dual-threat signal caller who can simply make plays. Last season he threw for 1,996 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 512 yards and three scores on the ground. The Bulldogs also have quality depth under center with former UAB Blazer David Isabelle. Like Mason, Isabelle can run the ball, but Mason beat out Isabelle for the starting job last year and cemented his spot atop the depth chart. But having quality depth is never a bad thing, especially with a player like Mason who will get hit a lot while scrambling. Isabelle did flex out wide at times too and caught 13 passes for 134 yards. He is a great athlete and Coach Anthony Jones will find more ways to use him this year. But do not count on Isabelle being the top target for this team. A slew of others return to help Mason increase his passing production. Montarius Smith, Terrance Pride and Rash DeJarnett were all freshmen last season and had very productive seasons. G’Alonzo Milton is the senior leader among the receivers and he is also the man who will end up in the end zone most often. Of the 13 touchdown receptions A&M had in 2011, eight of them went to Milton. Running back Kaderius Lacey is coming off of a superb junior season in which he rushed for 1,143 yards and eight scores. With an experienced offensive line, led by tackle Jamal Johnson-Webb and guard Justin Goodrich, the Alabama A&M ground game should be more consistent and Mason will have more time in the pocket before he has to tuck and run.

The defense allowed a mere 18.50 points per game last season, but they do have some holes to fill. Up front, Corey Hart is gone after tallying 17.0 sacks and 32.0 tackles-for-loss during his senior campaign. Those will be tough shoes to fill. Phillip Harvey and Melvin Payne will do their best to get consistent pressure in the backfield again this season. The rush defense was superb in 2011 and that should stay the same with tackles Tim Tillman and Preston Nelson back to man the middle of the line. The loss of leading tackler Willie Fuller will put a small damper on the run defense, but a strong secondary will make up for any deficiencies. Vernon Marshall is among the best defensive players in the conference and is very good at coming up and helping out the run defense. Rico Porch and Clarence Morris are gone, but junior cornerback Derrick Harris is primed for a breakout year.

The Bottom Line:
The offense should be better than they were last year, but the defense could take a small step back. Overall, this should be a strong Alabama A&M squad that will compete for a SWAC title. However, the schedule is tough and that could be the one thing that keeps the Bulldogs out of the SWAC title picture. But this is a team that beat Grambling State and Alabama State on the road last year, so this group certainly has the capability of beating quality teams away from the friendly confines of Louis Crews Stadium.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.42 (60th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 184.67 (75, 5)
Total Offense: 3340.08 (81, 5)
Scoring Offense: 20.17 (97, 9)
Rushing Defense: 109.33 (14, 2)
Pass Defense: 202.50 (52, 6)
Total Defense: 311.83 (17, 3)
Scoring Defense: 18.50 (9, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (12, 2)
Sacks: 3.00 (9, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.83 (52, 1)