JFP College Football Preview 2017: The Smalls | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

JFP College Football Preview 2017: The Smalls

Belhaven University head coach Hal Mumme Photo courtesy Belhaven University

Belhaven University head coach Hal Mumme Photo courtesy Belhaven University

Alcorn State University Braves

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Alcorn State head coach Fred McNair Photo courtesy Alcorn State Athletics

Head coach: Fred McNair (5-6 overall, all at ASU, entering second season)

2016-2017 record: 5-6 overall, 5-4 SWAC

Last Season Recap

The Alcorn State Braves were the Southwestern Athletic Conference East champions for the third year in a row, although injuries like the one to quarterback Lenorris Footman dropped the Braves' win total from the year before. Grambling State University defeated the Braves, keeping them from a third straight SWAC Championship win.

Season Outlook

Footman is back, and so is Noah Johnson, who replaced him last season. Most of Alcorn State's top skill players at the running back and wide receiver are returning, as well. The defense has three returning starters on the defensive line and four in the secondary.

Schedule

Sept. 2 Miles; Sept. 9 @ Florida Int.; Sept. 16 McNeese; Sept. 23 Southern; Sept. 29 @ TSU; Oct. 5 @ Alabama State; Oct. 14 Prairie View; Oct. 21 @ Grambling; Nov. 4 Alabama A&M; Nov. 11 MVSU; Nov. 18 @ JSU

Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils

Head coach: Rick Comegy (168-115 overall, 4-29 at MVSU, entering fourth season)

2016-2017 record: 1-10 overall, 1-8 SWAC

Last Season Recap

The Delta Devils lost eight games in a row to start last season before notching their lone win against the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. MVSU then lost its final two games of the season. Most of the losses weren't even close.

Season Outlook

Head coach Rick Comegy has coached the Delta Devils to just three SWAC wins in his first three years. That needs to change, and with five starters returning on offense and six on defense, this season would be a good start.

The schedule is brutal to begin with, as MVSU will face opponents on the road for three of the first four games.

Schedule

Sept. 2 @ North Dakota State; Sept. 9 @ Southern Illinois; Sept. 23 Grambling; Sept. 30 @ Charleston Southern; Oct. 7 @ Arkansas-Pine Bluff; Oct. 14 @ Alabama A&M; Oct. 21 Virginia-Lynchburg; Oct. 28 JSU; Nov. 4 TSU; Nov. 11 @ Alcorn; 
Nov. 18 Alabama State

Delta State University Statesmen

Head coach: Todd Cooley (26-16, all at DSU, entering fifth season)

2016-2017 record: 4-6 overall, 3-5 GSC

Last Season Recap

The Statesmen won their opener before losing the next two games. Then, they won the next two games before dropping another. DSU won against the University of West Florida before losing three more to end up with a 4-6 record—its first losing season since 2012.

Season Outlook

DSU will have to figure out who will start at quarterback between Collin Willis and Breck Ruddick, both of whom played in the spring game. Star running back Chris Robinson will be a nice weapon to take pressure off the passing game.

The Statesmen also have several returning starters on defense, but the unit will need to learn new defensive coordinator Jerry Patridge's scheme.

Schedule

Sept. 2 Tarleton State; Sept. 9 Chowan; Sept. 16 West Georgia; Sept. 23 @ Shorter; Sept. 30 @ MC; Oct. 7 West Alabama; Oct. 14 @ West Florida; Oct. 21 Valdosta; Oct. 28 @ North Alabama; Nov. 4 @ North Greenville; Nov. 11 Florida Tech

Millsaps College Majors

Head coach: Aaron Pelch (35-34 overall, all at Millsaps, entering eighth season)

2016-2017 record: 3-7 overall, 2-6 SAA

Last Season Recap

Millsaps College went 1-1 in nonconference play last year, with a loss to archrival Belhaven University before and a win against Trinity University.

The Majors also lost their first three conference games before notching a win against Birmingham-Southern College in October. The team lost two games to close out the month. Millsaps scored its last win against Sewanee: The University of the South before a loss to Rhodes College in the closer.

Season Outlook

Three quarterbacks who received playing time last season will return. Having more experienced athletes throwing the ball should help improve an offense that averaged 25 points per game last year. The defense will need to make a few more stops after the team lost four games by only seven or less points.

Schedule

Aug. 31 @ Belhaven; Sept. 9 @ Texas Wesleyan; Sept. 16 Trinity; Sept. 23 Sewanee; Sept. 30 @ Rhodes; Oct. 14 @ Austin; Oct. 21 Berry; Oct. 28 Centre; Nov. 4 @ Birmingham-Southern; Nov. 11 Hendrix

Mississippi College Choctaws

Head coach: John Bland (80-51 overall, 6-24 at MC, entering fourth season)

2016-2017 record: 3-7 overall, 1-7 GSC

Last Season Recap

Nothing has been easy about Mississippi College's adjustment back to Division II football after years at the Division III level. The highlight of last season was a 32-0 win over Shorter University in the penultimate game of the season.

Season Outlook

MC brought in a massive signing class this year, as the team works to become more competitive and earn its first Gulf South Conference win since 1995. The Choctaws have to find a new quarterback, but no matter who runs the offense, the defense needs to get better after allowing 32 points per game last season.

Schedule

Aug. 31 @ Clark Atlanta; Sept. 9 @ Southwest Baptist; Sept. 16 @ West Alabama; Sept. 23 Florida Tech; Sept. 30 Delta State; Oct. 7 @ West Florida; Oct. 14 @ Valdosta State; Oct. 21 West Georgia; Nov. 4 Shorter; Nov. 11 North Alabama

Belhaven University Blazers

Head coach: Hal Mumme (141-144-1 overall, 6-25 at Belhaven, entering fourth season)

2016-2017 record: 2-8 overall, 1-6 ASC

Last Season Recap

Last season, the Blazers won just two games, but one of those game was against rival Millsaps College in the season opener. Belhaven then lost eight games in a row before beating Howard Payne University.

Season Outlook

Starting quarterback Hunter McEachern will be returning, as will defensive lineman Alvin McCaskey and linebacker Keith Marshall, who both need to improve a unit that gave up 53 points per game last year.

Schedule

Aug. 31 Millsaps; Sept. 16 @ Texas Lutheran; Sept. 23 @ East Texas Baptist; Sept. 30 Howard Payne; Oct. 7 @ McMurry; Oct. 14 Southwestern; Oct. 21 @ Mary Hardin-Baylor; Oct. 28 Louisiana College; Nov. 4 @ Hardin-Simmons; Nov. 11 Sul Ross State

Hinds Community College Eagles

Head coach: Larry Williams (0-0 overall, entering first season)

2016-2017 record: 2-7 overall, 2-5 conf.

Last Season Recap

Last year was just one of those where nothing went right, as injuries and bad luck plagued Hinds Community College all season. The Eagles had a 2-7 record, and most of the losses were blowouts.

Season Outlook

After 23 seasons, coach Gene Murphy left his post, and defensive coordinator Larry Williams will take the reins. He will have to work with an Eagles offense that scored just 16 points per game and a defense that allowed 32 points per game. Luckily, both units have plenty of returning skill players.

Schedule

Aug. 31 @ Northwest; Sept. 7 @ Itawamba; Sept. 14 Southwest; Sept. 21 @ Pearl River; Sept. 28 GCCC; Oct. 5 @ Copiah-Lincoln; Oct. 12 East Central; Oct. 21 @ Jones; Oct. 28 East Mississippi

Holmes Community College Bulldogs

Head coach: Jeff Koonz (25-30, all at HCC, entering seventh season)

2016-2017 record: 7-3 overall, 4-2 conf.

Last Season Recap

Holmes got four straight wins before going on a three-game losing streak in the middle of last season. Luckily, the team won the final two games of the regular season. Holmes beat Iowa Western Community College 28-21 in the Graphic Edge Bowl.

Season Outlook

Holmes will have to add onto the success from last season, which can be a difficult task. Head coach Jeff Koonz has done an excellent job at Holmes, but the team can learn from mistakes and avoid losses.

Schedule

Aug. 31 East Central; Sept. 7 @ Southwest Mississippi; Sept. 14 @ Mississippi Delta; Sept. 21 Coahoma; Sept. 28 Northwest Mississippi; Oct. 5 @ East Mississippi; Oct. 12 @ Copiah-Lincoln; Oct. 21 Northeast Mississippi; Oct. 28 @ Itawamba

Find links to the rest of JFP's 2017 College Football Preview here.

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