Alcorn still looking for starter at QB

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, September 1, 2010

LORMAN — With at least eight starters back on both sides of the ball and a returning head coach for the first time in four years, things are quite settled for the Alcorn State University Braves.

The biggest question mark going into the Braves final preseason scrimmage last Saturday morning at Jack Spinks Stadium was who will play quarterback?

For second-year coach Earnest Collins, the issue has still not been determined.

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“We need to evaluate today’s film and then go through one brief tuneup this coming week in order to determine who we will start at quarterback. I think by mid-week, we should have a pretty good idea,” Collins said.

The job has come down to senior Terrance Barnes, who was the Bback-up to graduated three-year starter Tim Buckley, and a freshman from Canada, Brandon Bridge.

“Right now, Barnes and Bridge are right there. We did a lot of situational things today like our two-minute offense. I think we moved the ball well,” Collins said.

Barnes felt good about his performance. He led the first-team offense to a score and a field goal against the Braves’ starting defense.

The Braves have a new offensive coordinator, Michael Armour. Perhaps the biggest change is that the Braves will be more structured than last year, when they relied heavily on Buckley to make a play on the ground or through the air. The former Madison Central quarterback passed for over 1,600 yards, ranking third among the Southwestern Athletic Conference passing leaders.

“We’re still going to throw the ball, but we also have a 220-pound running back, Arnold Walker, who we will use more. We gave it to him in the second half against Jackson State and that got us a win,” Collins said.

Walker was named the Capital City Classic MVP after leading the Braves to a 14-7 win over the archrival Tigers. The win gave the Braves a 3-6 overall record and they have since built on Collins’ postgame statement that the JSU win was the first one for the 2010 season.

“It was very important. We’ve carried that work ethic from winning that game, what coach called our first game of 2010, into the spring practice and into preseason practice. Now, we’re looking to carry that momentum into the first two games, and then hopefully, the next nine,” said Walker, who ended the year with 432 yards rushing and three TDs.

Bridge, a Toronto native, represents Barnes’ competition for the quarterback role and said he’s handled the transition from going from one of North America’s largest cities to the serene confines of Lorman.

“It’s really different, but there are some good things about being here,” Bridge said. “The quietness helps focus you on your studies. And I wanted to come here to play football. I thought I might be going to either Syracuse or Buffalo, but they changed coaches. A coach recommended this school and I’m glad to be able to compete for the starting job.”

Defensively, the Braves return nine starters including first-team All-SWAC defensive end Malcom Taylor and second team linebacker Josh Cragin.