#42 Arkansas-Pine Bluff FCS Football 2013 Preview

Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions

Overall Rank: #40
#42 Arkansas-Pine Bluff FCS Football 2013 Preview
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Team Page


Arkansas-Pine Bluff had an amazing 2012 campaign, culminating in a thrilling overtime win over Jackson State in the SWAC Championship. Coach Monte Coleman’s squad lost just two games and both of those were way back in September. The Golden Lions were simply on a roll. Now Coach Coleman has to keep that momentum heading in 2013.

2012 Record: (10-2, 8-1)
2012 Postseason: SWAC Championship
Coach: Monte Coleman (29-27 at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 29-27 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Dooley
Defensive Coordinator: Monte Coleman

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Justin Billings, RB, 852 yards
Passing: Benjamin Anderson, QB, 2,346 yards
Receiving: Ladarius Eckwood, WR, 787 yards
Tackles: Xavier Lofton, LB, 107
Sacks: Damien Lee, DE, 5.5
Interceptions: David Watson, DB, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR Dezmond Beverly, LB Jer-ryan Harris, DB Gyovanni Harvey, DB Ryan Shaw, WR Willie Young

Key Losses: OL Terron Armstead, DT Robert Dorsey, RB Dennis Jenkins, LB Bill Ross, DE Brandon Thurmond, DB Jarvis Webb, OL Chris Wilson

Coach Coleman is going to win games with his defense, but the Golden Lions offense kept improving throughout last season. In the middle of October they dropped 50 points on Southern. In November they scored 49 points against Texas Southern and won a 42-41 shootout versus Prairie View A&M. This is not a squad that should win shootouts and Coach Coleman will never be happy allowing 41 points, but it does say a lot about the offensive firepower. Arkansas-Pine Bluff wants to open up the passing attack by running the ball and Justin Billings proved to be a very capable rusher. The 5-8 senior is an explosive playmaker and rushed for 852 yards and five scores last season. Quarterback Benjamin Anderson is a very good rusher too and that helps the numbers on the ground. However, Dennis Jenkins is gone and the backfield will need to find a new power back. Billings cannot handle the load for an entire season and a player like Aaron Lagrone or John Toney will need to help Billings out. Anderson can do plenty of damage through the air as well. He will not put up huge numbers, but he did throw for 2,346 yards and completed over 58 percent of his passes as a sophomore. If the interceptions can move down from 13 and the touchdowns up from 16, Anderson will lead this team back to a title. With wide receivers Ladarius Eckwood, Denzmond Beverly and Willie Young, Anderson should be in for another big season. Beverly is a great possession receiver, catching 46 passes for 434 yards and six touchdowns. Eckwood is more of the big play receiver, gathering 52 passes for 787 yards and six scores. Young may be the most interesting player on this team to watch this year. As a freshman last season he played in just a handful of games and only caught eight passes. However, he averaged 39.1 yards per reception. That number would have been higher too but the end zone got in the way on three of his eight receptions.

The one thing that could keep the offense from improving on their third best offense in the SWAC is the offensive line. There is a lot of rebuilding to do and the line will not be better without Terron Armstead and Chris Wilson. The defense has its own holes to fill. Sack master Brandon Thurmond totaled an amazing 17.5 sacks during his senior season. Senior Damien Lee is next in line, but coming anywhere close to being as productive as Thurmond is asking way too much. Xavier Lofton and Jer-ryan Harris form a nice senior duo at linebacker. They can replace the production of the departed Bill Ross, yet it remains to be seen if Ross’ leadership is replaceable. The secondary returns David Watson and Ryan Shaw. Expect Shaw to continue leading the way after totaling 62 tackles and breaking up 13 passes as a junior.

The Bottom Line:
Coach Coleman will have his defense playing good football sooner or later. He is a defensive minded coach, and the defensive coordinator, and knows how to retool in order to get the most out of his team. And there is talent down the line at just about every position on that side of the ball. Certainly the youth and inexperience will be problematic for a little while and the entire unit will be tested more often without Thurmond making life miserable for the opposing quarterback and Ross orchestrating from the middle linebacker position. However, it will not last long and Arkansas-Pine Bluff will again rule the SWAC West.

Projected Postseason: SWAC Championship

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 200.25 (24th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 199.08 (69, 5)
Total Offense: 399.33 (43, 3)
Scoring Offense: 26.75 (56, 4)
Rushing Defense: 145.50 (48, 3)
Pass Defense: 167.50 (15, 3)
Total Defense: 313.00 (12, 2)
Scoring Defense: 18.50 (11, 1)
Turnover Margin: -.08 (64, 5)
Sacks: 3.08 (8, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (52, 4)


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