Last season, Alcorn State got off to a strong start to the season, with a 50-21 victory over Miles College on Hall of Fame Weekend. The Braves were trying to improve upon their 2016 season, where they finished 5-6.
The Braves dropped their next two, including a close 17-10 loss to FBS team FIU. Starting conference play, they were able to get some momentum going, winning their next four straight before being halted by SWAC champions Grambling State, 41-14.
Alcorn State took two of the next three to make it to the SWAC Championship Game with a record of 7-4. Who did they face? The aforementioned SWAC champions, Grambling State. The game was much closer this time around, with the Tigers only wining 40-32.
The offense definitely carried the braves, averaging 31 points per game and seven yards per play. Most of that production was courtesy of running back De’Lance Turner.
RB De’Lance Turner Speaking of Turner, he was a senior last season, and will not be around to help the Braves this season as they come to Bobby Dodd. Turner was a dual-threat weapon, leading the team in rushing with 1,357 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground and had three receiving touchdowns (second-best on the team).
QB Lenorris Footman Another offensive weapon gone for the Braves. Footman was a solid quarterback for the Braves, completing just over 60 percent of his passes, and sporting a 10/4 TD/INT ratio. With a name like “Footman,” he also had the ability to get some stuff done in the rushing game, finishing with 585 yards and seven touchdowns, third and second highest on the team, respectively.
WR Norlando Veals To round out the offensive losses, Veals is a big one. Not only was he the Braves’ leading receiver last year (901 yards), he more than doubled the next closest receiver (Charles Hughes with 423 yards). Veals also pulled in seven touchdowns through the air.
DEs Ramonte Bell and Michael Brooks Alcorn State sports a 4-2-5 defense and is losing two starters from it: DEs Bell and Brooks, who combined for 10 sacks a season ago.
RB PJ Simmons Sitting behind Turner was PJ Simmons, who had quite the year, himself, last season. He was second on the team with 727 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s not as dangerous as Turner, but he will be depended on a lot more this season.
WR Charles Hughes Speaking of replacing players, Hughes was the Braves’ number two receiver last season. As a senior this season, Hughes will be depended on to help break in a new quarterback.
LB/DE Terry Whittington Listed as a linebacker on the roster, but he can line up there or as a pass rusher, Whittington will probably be playing with a hand in the dirt this season to ease the loss of Bell and Brooks. He led the team last season in TFL with 13.5. Playing as a full-time starter, it’s a pretty safe bet that those numbers are going up.
CBs Javen Morrison and Deago Sama Alcorn State’s secondary is actually pretty solid. With any luck, Georgia Tech won’t have to worry too much about it. But if the Yellow Jackets do have to take to the air, they’ll need to work around Morrison and Sama, the Braves’ starting cornerbacks. They don’t always come down with the interceptions—between the two of them, Morrison had three picks, Sama had none—but they do a good job of getting their hands in and causing disruptions in the passing game. They combined for 23 pass break-ups last season.
Georgia Tech last played Alcorn State in 2015, a year that few Tech fans want to remember. That season, the Yellow Jackets wiped the floor with them, winning by a nice score of 69-6. While the Yellow Jackets certainly have questions marks on offense and defense, I think this game will serve as a nice tune-up game for them before playing USF.
Score Prediction: GT wins 48-17