Alcorn State University
Head Coach: Jay Hopson (13-10 record, entering 3rd season with ASU)
2013-14 Record: 9-3, 7-2 SWAC; season ended with a 48-33 upset win over Jackson State.
Stadium: Jack Spinks Stadium
Radio: 90.1 WMPR FM
Last Season Recap:
Alcorn State University's last season began with a 63-12 win over Edwards Waters. Mississippi State University demolished Alcorn 51-7 in the next game, but ASU knocked off both MSVU and Arkansas Pine Bluff. Alabama State then beat ASU by 19 points. Alcorn State returned with a four-win streak against Warner University, Grambling State, Texas Southern and University of Southern Mississippi. A one-point defeat at the hands of Alabama A&M ended the Braves' hopes of an East title, though ASU finished the season with wins over Prairie View A&M and Jackson State.
Alcorn State has high expectations for 2014, with nine starters returning on offense, including all five linemen and quarterback John Gibbs. Alcorn State also returns a strong receiving crop that includes last season's leading wide receiver Tollette George and tight end Jordan Payne. The team might rely more heavily on pass offense this season since Alcorn's career rushing-leader, Arnold Walker, graduated.
It's easy to see why Alcorn State fans think this season will bring the team's first SWAC Championship since sharing the title with Grambling in 1994. Alcorn was the second preseason pick in the East behind only Alabama State, and with all the returning starters and a nice schedule, playing for the title isn't beyond the realm of possibilities. I could see Alcorn State beating every opponent but Southern Miss, but depending on how rebuilding is going for USM, ASU could give them a scare. The two key games will be Southern and Alabama State. Jackson State will also be lurking at the season's end. Anything less than eight wins will feel like a letdown, though 11-1 would be a dream season.
Schedule: Aug. 30 Virginia University at Lynchburg; Sept. 6 @ Southern Miss; Sept. 13 Louisiana College; Sept. 20 @ Mississippi Valley State; Sept. 27 Southern; Oct. 2 Alabama A&M; Oct. 11 @ Grambling State; Oct. 18 Texas Southern; Oct. 25 @ Prairie View A&M; Nov. 8 @ Alabama A&M; Nov. 15 Arkansas Pine-Bluff; Nov. 22 Jackson State
Mississippi Valley State University
Head Coach: Rick Comegy (0-0, 1st season at MSVU, 156-82 overall record)
2013-14 Record: 2-9, 2-7 SWAC; season ended with a 19-7 loss to Alabama State.
Stadium: Rice-Totten Stadium
Radio: 91.7 WVDS FM (online for Jackson)
Last Season Recap:
The Delta Devils managed two wins last season, far below their 5-6 prediction. They had two four-game losing streaks. MVSU broke one streak with a 28-9 win over Alabama A&M, but they lost four more games before a narrow win against Texas Southern. They ended the season with a loss to Alabama State.
Hopes are high at Mississippi Valley State. Head coach Rick Comegy has been a winner wherever he has gone. Comegy was the smart hire for MVSU, and the results should start to show this season. Quarterback Patrick Ivy returns after starting nine games last season, joining wide receiver Julian Stafford and tight end Natron Brooks.
The Delta Devils will need more offensive production from Ivy, Stafford and Brooks, but running back Cortez Frizell needs to produce more than the 268 yards on the ground that he garnered last season. Frizell only finished eight yards ahead of Ivy as the team's leading rusher. Defense has been MVSU's calling card for the last few seasons, and the unit should be solid this year. Defensive back Avery Boykin was first-team All-SWAC and will need to be a leader for the unit.
Comegy has a major rebuilding project on his hands, and this season will lay the foundation for good things in the future. It would be unfair to expect a major turnaround this season for Mississippi Valley State, but there should be improvements. MVSU will open the season with a win against University of Faith. MSVU will have a hard time beating Illinois State out of the Missouri Valley Conference, so a 1-1 record heading into SWAC-play should be expected. I think this season will be a success if the Delta Devils can double their win-total over last season. Anything less than matching those two wins would be a disappointment.
Schedule: Aug. 30 University of Faith; Sept. 6 @ Illinois State; Sept. 13 @ Alabama State; Sept. 20 Alcorn State; Sept. 27; Alabama A&M, Oct 4 @ Texas Southern; Oct. 11 @ Jackson State; Oct. 18 Prairie View A&M; Nov. 1 @ Arkansas Pine-Bluff; Nov. 6 Grambling State; Nov. 15 @ Southern University
Delta State University
Head Coach: Todd Cooley (7-3 record, entering 2nd season as DSU)
2013-14 Record: 7-3, 4-2 GSC, season ended with a 38-20 loss to University of West Georgia
Stadium: Parker Field-McCool Stadium
Radio: 930 WSFZ FM
Last Season Recap:
Head coach Todd Cooley had a successful first season at Delta State, starting with a 10-point win over Mississippi Valley State, though the team immediately suffered a loss to Texas A&M University-Commerce. The Statesmen beat North Alabama, the eventual Gulf South Conference champions last season, and Florida Institute of Technology, but fell in their first conference game against West Alabama, who tied with North Alabama in the final standings. DSU won against Tarleton State, Shorter University, Valdosta State and Concordia College, and ended with a loss to the University of West Georgia.
Delta State has 17 returning starters this season, including 2013 GSC Offensive Freshman of the Year quarterback Tyler Sullivan and wide receivers Ricky Hunt and Casey Osborne. In 2013 Sullivan threw 15 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Delta State begins the season on the road with tough games against Fort Valley State University and Valdosta State. The Statesmen won't return home until late September, hosting Central State University before an away game with Florida Institute of Technology, both of which should be winnable. DSU returns home to play Shorter University before two potential wins on the road against University of West Georgia and University of West Alabama. Delta State ends the season with three home games against North Alabama, Concordia College and Mississippi College. A GSC win would be a major success.
Schedule: Sept. 6 @ Fort Valley State University; Sept. 20 @ Valdosta State University; Sept. 27 Central State University; Oct. 2 @ Florida Institute of Technology; Oct. 9 Shorter University (Ga.); Oct. 18 @ University of West Georgia; Oct. 25 University of West Alabama; Nov. 1 University of North Alabama; Nov. 8 Concordia College (Ala.); Nov. 15 Mississippi College
Head Coach: John Bland (1st season at MC, 75-26 overall record)
2013-14 record: 4-6 4-2 ASC, season ended with a 56-30 loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor
Stadium: Robinson-Hale Stadium
Radio: Online on MC site
Last Season Recap:
Mississippi College lost its first three 2013 games to Millsaps, Huntingdon and Webber International before righting the ship with victories against Hardin-Simmons, Sul Ross State and Howard Payne. Mississippi College lost 32-35 to Texas Lutheran, then won its next game against East Texas Baptist. MC's final Division III season ended with losses to Louisiana College and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Mississippi College moves from the Division III American Southwest Conference to the Division II Gulf South Conference this season. MC won three GSC conference titles (1979, 1988, and 1990) before moving to Division III after the 1994 season. Luckily, two of MC's returning starters are quarterback Jonathon Redd and wide receiver Jaime Harris. Things would be easier for MC with some solid offensive-line play and better handling by Redd.
The schedule kicks off with a challenging games at Belhaven University and at home against North Alabama. Things don't get easier with trips to Lamar and Shorter, but the latter seems a more achievable victory. MC's home game against University of Faith could result in a win, but the next home game is against Valdosta State. Mississippi College face Florida Technology in a potentially victorious road game and then comes home to a tough West Georgia team. Two wins is an achievable goal, though four or five would be optimistic.
Schedule: Sept. 6 @ Belhaven; Sept. 13 North Alabama; Sept. 20 @ Lamar; Oct. 2 @ Shorter; Oct. 11 University of Faith; Oct. 18 Valdosta State; Oct. 25 @ Florida Technology; Nov. 1 @ West Georgia; Nov. 8 West Alabama; Nov. 15 @ Delta State
Head Coach: Aaron Pelch (27-13 record, entering 5th season at Millsaps)
2013-14 Record: 9-1 5-1 SAA, season ended with a 49-30 loss to Rhodes
Stadium: Harper-Davis Field
Radio: Online on Millsaps site
Last Season Recap:
Last season, Millsaps started on a nine-game winning streak. The Majors began the season with a 52-19 win against Mississippi College and three home games against LaGrange, Point University and Hendrix. Next came three road wins by the Majors over Trinity, Birmingham Southern and Sewanee. The Majors returned home for two wins over Berry and Centre, but lost their final game of the season on the road against Rhodes.
Millsaps is the team to beat in the Southern Athletic Association, but will have extra incentive to win this season. For the first time, the SAA winner gets an immediate invite to the Division III playoffs. Big play-makers like running back Mike Barthelemy and defensive end Zach Bell return, so the Majors have plenty of heavy hitters.
Millsaps opens the season against their toughest opponent, Mary Hardin-Baylor, at home, and rounds out the nonconference slate with trips to Mt. St. Joseph and East Texas Baptist. They face Birmingham Southern, Sewanee and Rhodes at home and Hendrix, Berry and Centre during away games. If Millsaps beats UMHB, a perfect season is in their reach.
Schedule: Sept. 6 Mary Hardin-Baylor; Sept. 13 @ Mt. St. Joseph; Sept. 27 @ East Texas Baptist; Oct. 4 @ Hendrix; Oct 18 Birmingham Southern; Oct. 25 Sewanee; Oct. 31 @ Berry; Nov. 8 @ Centre; Nov. 15 Rhodes
Head Coach: Hal Mumme (0-0 1st season at Belhaven, 135-119-1 overall record)
2013-14 record: 3-8, 1-4 MSC, season ended with a 55-45 win over Bethel University (TN)
Stadium: H. T. Newell Field
Radio: Online at Belhaven site
Last Season Recap:
Last season, the Blazers beat Texas College but lost their next four games to Louisiana College, University of the Cumberlands, Cumberland University and Campbellsville University. The Blazers beat Bluefield College, took four losses from Reinhardt University, Lindsey Wilson College, Faulkner University and University of Pikeville, and beat Bethel University.
Belhaven hired head coach Hal Mumme, known for his high-scoring pass offense, which will require an adjustment as Mumme brings players into the program to fit his scheme.
Belhaven faces a particularly tough season, one that will take adjustment. For one, the Blazers struggle with a back-and-forth slate that jumps in and out of conference games, which can be tough to handle. Another three-win campaign could be on the horizon.
Schedule: Aug. 30 @ Texas College; Sept. 6 Mississippi College; Sept 13 @ University of the Cumberlands (Ky.); Sept. 20 @ Cumberlands University (Tenn.); Sept. 27 Campbellsville University (Ky.); Oct. 11 Bluefield College (Va.); Oct. 18 Reinhardt University; Oct. 25 @ Lindsey Wilson College (Ky.); Nov. 1 @ Faulkner University (Ala.); Nov. 8 University of Pikeville; Nov. 15 Bethel University (Tenn.)
Hinds Community College
Head Coach: Gene Murphy (133-41-5, entering 28th season at Hinds, 159-61-5 overall record)
2013-14 Record: 7-3, season ended with 34-27 loss to Navarro College in the Brazos Valley Bowl
Stadium: Joe Renfroe Stadium
Radio: 87.7 WJMF FM
Last Season Recap:
Hinds opened the season with two victories over Delta and Coahoma, losing suffered their next two games with Gulf Coast and Copiah-Lincoln. The Eagles one five consecutive games against East Central, Southwest, Jones, Holmes and Pearl River. Hinds lost the Brazos Valley Bowl to Navarro College.
Hinds should be in great shape in the always-competitive Mississippi Association of Colleges and Junior Colleges. The Eagles return with six starters on offense, including quarterback James Summers and running back Tommy McCalpin. On defense, the Eagles have seven returning starters, including linemen Darrel Davis, Sky Logan, Eric Brown and Peter Bailey.
The Eagles face three teams ranked in the "Top 20" poll this season. Hinds will encounter third-ranked Co-Lin, ninth-ranked Gulf Coast and 10th-ranked Jones, all on the road. Hinds received votes, but the team didn't put a dent in the poll. The rest of the Eagles games will be tough but are manageable. This season will be a major success if the Eagles can finish with seven or more wins.
Aug. 28 @ Holmes; Sept. 4 @ Northeast; Sept. 11 Pearl River; Sept. 18 @ Gulf Coast; Sept. 25 Northwest; Oct. 2 East Central; Oct. 11 @ Co-Lin; Oct. 18 @ Jones; Oct. 23 Southwest
Holmes Community College
Head Coach: Jeff Koonz (10-17 overall record entering 4th season)
2013-14 Record: 3-6, season ended with a 48-21 win over Coahoma
Stadium: Ras Branch Stadium
Radio: 103.9 WYAB FM
Last Season Recap:
Holmes began last season with four losses against Jones, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Northeast and Itawamba. The first win of the season came against Mississippi Delta in a 58-6 bout, followed by a 55-0 loss to East Mississippi. The Bulldogs' final games ended in a win against Northwest, a loss to Hinds and a final win against Coahoma.
Only one offensive starter and one defensive starter return, along with back-up quarterback Jamario Benson, who split time with several players last season. Players to watch are Tyree Holmes and Lyndon Johnson on the defensive line, Antreon Bennett at linebacker and Ryhean McMorris in the secondary.
The Bulldogs face two "Top 20" teams—Itawamba and defending national champion East Mississippi. It looks like three wins are very possible, though another two are attainable. A successful season would be five wins, and three or less would be disappointing.
Schedule: Aug. 28 Hinds; Sept. 4 @ Pearl River; Sept. 11 @ Itawamba; Sept. 18 @ East Central; Sept. 25 Mississippi Delta; Oct. 2 Northwest; Oct. 9 @ East Mississippi; Oct. 18 Coahoma; Oct. 23 @ Northeast