#43 Alabama State FCS Football 2014 Preview

Alabama State Hornets

Overall Rank: #43

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Alabama State went 8-4 in 2013 with a 7-2 record in the SWAC East Division, highlighted by a six game winning streak in the middle of the season. The Hornets tied with Alcorn State for second in the division behind 8-1 Jackson State. Alabama State is projected by many to be the best team in the SWAC this season with a lot of starters returning on both sides. Unfortunately, Alabama State is one of four SWAC teams that is ineligible for postseason play because they didn't meet NCAA academic standards, along with Mississippi Valley State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Prairie View A&M.

2013 Record: 8-4 overall, 7-2 SWAC
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Reggie Barlow (42-37 at Alabama State, 42-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Fred Kaiss
Defensive Coordinator: Kevin Ramsey

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Malcolm Cyrus, RB, 759 yards
Passing: Daniel Duhart, QB, 1,903 yards
Receiving: DeMario Bell, WR, 594 yards
Tackles: Kourtney Berry, LB, 105
Sacks: Kourtney Berry LB, 7; Edward Mosley III, DE, 7
Interceptions: Najee Bright, S, 4

Other Key Returnees: RB Jahaad Coleman, RB Rodney Cross, WR Earl Lucas, WR Jamel Johnson, WR Jarrett Neely, WR Myles Everett , TE Justin Robinson, OT  Demechery Hickingbottom, LB Leland Baker, LB Daerius Washington, S Deandre Rashada, DT Derrick Billups, DE Carlton Jones

Key Losses: RB Isaiah Crowell, K/P Bobby Wenzig

The defense returns nine starters from a unit that allowed 25.8 points and 393 yards per game last year. The defense dominated the Alabama State spring game, holding the offense to two touchdowns and a field goal and only 222 yards. Sophomore Linebacker Kourtney Berry had an amazing freshman campaign with 105 tackles, including 12.5 for loss and 7 sacks. He also had 3 hurries, 3 pass break-ups, 4 defended passes, an interception and 2 fumble recoveries. He headlines a strong linebacking corps that also includes Leland Baker and Daerius Washington. Baker had 88 tackles, including 17.5 for loss and 6 sacks. Washington had 80 tackles, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. The defensive line is also strong led by DE Edward Mosley III. Mosley had 7 sacks, 6 hurries, a forced fumble and two recovered fumbles. DT Derrick Billups had 52 tackles, including 13 for loss and 5 sacks. Billups also had 5 hurries, 3 forced fumbles and a blocked kick. DE Carlton Jones had 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks, along with 5 hurries and a forced fumble. Safety Najee Bright had 4 interceptions and 65 tackles. The other safety Deandre Rashada had 76 tackles and an interception.

Quarterback Daniel Duhart returns for his junior year. Last season he completed 54.3% of his passes for 1,903 yards with 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also had 72 carries for 161 yards. The offensive line could have done better protecting him as he lost 167 yards on sacks. Backup QB's Arsenio Favor and Quinteris Toppings took a few snaps last year mostly in garbage time of blowouts. Duhart missed most of spring practice with an injury including the spring game. He is expected to be ready for fall camp though. The top five receivers return for Alabama State. Earl Lucas had 51 catches for 515 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR DeMario Bell had 30 catches, 594 yards and 3 touchdowns. Each also had some carries on end arounds. WR Jamel Johnson had 28 catches, 355 yards and 5 touchdown catches. WR Jarrett Neely had 15 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown. WR Myles Everett had 2 touchdown catches, but is more dangerous a kick and punt returner. Everett had an 86 yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Last season Alabama State relied heavily on former Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell. He was kicked off the Georgia team for some unfortunate legal issues. Crowell had 170 carries for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns, along with 7 catches. Crowell is now with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. Senior Malcolm Cyrus becomes the feature back in 2014. Cyrus rushed for 759 yards on 131 carries with 6 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 174 yards. Jahaad Coleman had 32 carries 207 yards and 3 touchdowns in just 4 games last season. Khalid Thomas and Rodney Cross will also get some carries. Kicker/punter Bobby Wenzig leaves via graduation. He made 12 of 17 field goals and 27 of 28 extra points despite missing a few games with an injury. He also averaged 42.8 yards per punt with 24 punts inside the 20. Now it will be up to Alex Louthan to handle both jobs. He made 2-of-6 field goals and all 20 extra points attempted. Louthan didn't attempt a punt last season.
The Bottom Line:
Alabama State has talent returning on both sides of the ball, and the schedule is managable. There are no FBS schools on the schedule. Still, a trip to Sam Houston State to open the season and a home game against Tennessee State the next week look like the toughest games on the slate. There is a very good chance they could lose those two games and then run the table to go 10-2. However, because they aren't eligible for the postseason, motivation could be an issue late in the year.

Projected Postseason: None

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 236.3 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 198.7 (75, 7)
Total Offense: 435.0 (28, 2)
Scoring Offense: 33.4 (25, 3)
Rushing Defense: 112.6 (11, 1)
Pass Defense: 279.8 (117, 9)
Total Defense: 392.3 (66, 5)
Scoring Defense: 25.8 (54, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.2 (49, 5)
Sacks: 4.17 (2, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.17 (69, 6)

Madness 2014 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#127 Charlie Kelly


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