Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!

Are You Ready For Some Football!!!!

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The SWAC Football season is set to kick off on Labor Day weekend with a full slate of games. As teams make final preparations to open the season, here is the schedule of events and contests this weekend.

Monday, August 27
SWAC Coaches Teleconference

Saturday, September 1
New Mexico vs. Southern in Albuquerque, NM (4:00)
Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Langston in Little Rock, AR (5:00)
Mississippi Valley State vs. Concordia (Ala), Itta Bena, MS (5:00)
Jackson State at Mississippi State, Starkville, MS (6:00)
Grambling State vs. Alcorn State in Shreveport, LA, (6:00)
Tuskegee vs. Alabama A&M in Birmingham, AL (6:00)
Prairie View vs. Texas Southern in Houston, TX (7:00)

Sunday, September 2

Bethune-Cookman vs. Alabama State in Orlando, FL (11:00)

Alabama A&M
Last season’s Eastern Division Champions will look to make their way to the SWAC Championship game for the second consecutive year.  Alabama A&M fell just one point shy in last season’s conference title game.  The Bulldogs are hoping to continue their trend of playing stout defense as they finished third in the conference in total defense last season.  AAMU will have to replace Corey Hart, the team’s sack leader from a year ago.  They do however return defensive back Vernon Marshall who was named 2012 Pre-Season First Team All-SWAC. Marshall finished last season with 75 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, three sacks and an interception.  Senior First Team All conference QB Deauntae Mason along with senior running back Kaderius Lacey will bring back a wealth of experience in the backfield.  Alabama A&M will take on Tuskegee Saturday September 1st with a 6pm Kickoff from Birmingham’s Legion Field.

Alcorn State
Alcorn State starts a new era with first year head coach Jay Hopson at the helm.  The Braves are hoping Hopson can bring his several years of coaching experience to Alcorn and generate some improvement.  The Braves will not have an easy challenge having to take on the SWAC defending champs in their opener.   There is one major bright spot for Alcorn and that is the performance of last year’s kick returner Terrance Lewis, who is back for his senior season. Lewis averaged 114.7 all- purpose yards per game, had 28 receptions and five touchdowns as a receiver and scored two touchdowns returning kickoffs, and one score returning punts.  Leading rusher Arnold Walker looks to continue to provide that boost needed in the backfield.  As a sophomore, Walker ran for 713 yards and three touchdowns.  Alcorn State and Grambling State square things off from the Port City Classic in Shreveport at 6 p.m.

Alabama State
In 2011, The Alabama State Hornets fell just shy of reaching the SWAC Championship game.  After getting off to a very hot start at 6-1, ASU dropped two more games along the way that ultimately cost them a shot at the conference title.  Despite last season’s results, the Hornets have won a share of the last two SWAC Eastern Division Championships and this year they are the pre-season favorite to win the division again.  All-American and All Conference safety Kejuan Riley leads ASU’s defense.  The 6-2 senior returns with 17 career interceptions, nine last season.  Left Tackle Terren Jones anchors the offensive line.  The All-American and Ft. Walton Beach native will have an opportunity to create holes for running back Isaiah Crowell.  Crowell transferred to ASU from University of Georgia and was last season’s SEC Freshmen of the Year while also earning freshmen All-American accolades.  Alabama State will face Bethune Cookman in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Fla.  The game will be played at the Florida Citrus Bowl Sunday September 2 and will kickoff at 11 a.m.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff
In 2011, Arkansas-Pine Bluff completed their first winning season since 2006.  The Golden Lions have reason to believe they have something to build on this year.  UAPB finished second in the Western Division with a 6-5 record and 17 starters are returning from that squad.  Quarterback Ben Anderson is back after being tabbed last season’s SWAC Freshmen of the Year.  The redshirt sophomore completed 166 of 309 passing attempts last season for 1,876 yards and 10 touchdowns.   Perhaps the biggest impact may come from upfront.  Terron Armstead, Lyron McClenney, Chris Wilson and Ryan Savage all return, providing UPAB with an experienced offensive line.  Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s season gets underway in the Delta Classic 4 Literacy Saturday September 1st at 5 p.m.  from Little Rock, Ark.

Grambling Tigers

It certainly didn’t take very long for Grambling State to regain its comfort level with head coach Doug Williams.  Williams, who departed from GSU following the 2003 season returned for his second stint in 2011.  A seven game win streak at one point eventually led The Tigers to a Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship.  The expectations are just as high for the 2012 campaign.  In fact, the league’s coaches and Sports Information Directors predicted GSU to repeat as conference champions.  The Tigers are led by running back Dawrence Roberts who was named the Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year.  A pair of pre-season first teamers on defense in Devon Carter and Jarcade Carter should both cause chaos on the other side of the ball.  Grambling State opens the season in the Port City Classic against Alcorn State Saturday September 1st.  The kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. in Shreveport at Independence Stadium.  The game can also be seen live on SWACTV.  Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m.

Jackson State
The Jackson State Tigers are hoping to be in the mix for a potential divisional crown again this season.  They will have to do so without last season’s All Conference quarterback Casey Therriault. JSU has led the conference in total offense the previous two seasons.  JSU is coming off of an impressive 9-2 mark last season.  Defensive lineman Joseph LeBeau returns to anchor the Tigers on defense.  Lebeau was ranked in the top 10 in the SWAC in tackles last season with 75; he led the conference in tackles for loss and fourth in FCS with 24.5. Lebeau was also 2nd in FSC in Sacks: with 16.  Jackson State opens the 2012 season against Southeastern Conference foe Mississippi State.  The game is set for 6pm from Starkville.

Mississippi Valley State
The 2012 season for Mississippi Valley State cannot arrive fast enough.  Believe it or not, there are some positives to pull away from last season’s 10 loss season.  A year ago, 10 of the Delta Devils’ defeats were by less than 10 points, including a one point loss to rival Jackson State and a six-point loss against the eventual SWAC champions in Grambling State.   MVSU returns 14 starters, nine on offense and five on defense.  Mississippi Valley State will entertain Concordia College in their opener September 1st in Itta Bena, Miss.  The kickoff is at 5 p.m.

Prairie View
The Prairie View Panthers will no longer use the word “young” when referencing this year’s team.  The PVAMU returns 16 starters from a team that finished third in the Western division.  At one point The Panthers saw themselves on a three game winning streak including a 31-23 victory over the eventual SWAC Champions in Grambling.   Quarterback Jerry Lovelocke returns after passing for 1,020 yards and throwing 10 touchdowns.  The defense returns seven starters from last season.   Prairie View will collide right out of the gate with arch rival Texas Southern in the Labor Day Classic from Reliant Stadium in Houston.  The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. 

Southern University
In 2012, Southern University is out to improve from their 4-7 record of last season.  While the record doesn’t appear to be that glamorous, two of The Jags four wins were against a pair of teams that tied for first place in the SWAC Eastern division in Alabama A&M and Alabama State.  Southern has the tall order of traveling to Albuquerque, NM to face The University of New Mexico.  The Lobos are now coached by former Notre Dame Head coach and ESPN analyst, Bob Davie. Kickoff between Southern and New Mexico is at 4 pm Saturday September 1st. 

Texas Southern
Texas Southern is probably looking forward to week three more than any other team in the conference.  Not that their first two opponents are insignificant, but because that is when The Tigers will make their debut inside of a new $95 million dollar stadium.  Speaking of newness, TSU head coach Darrell Asberry will be making his coaching debut against rival Prairie View in the Labor Day Classic from Houston.  The Tigers return 8 starters from a team that led the conference in total defense and 7 on offense which was second in the league in total offense.  Kickoff against PVAMU from Reliant Stadium is set for 7 p.m.