Alabama A&M presents stiff challenge for Alcorn State

Published 11:13 am Friday, October 12, 2012

With two Southwestern Athletic Conference wins in hand, Alcorn State will try its luck against the top team in the Eastern Division.

The Braves head east Saturday take on undefeated Alabama A&M (6-0, 5-0 SWAC). Alcorn (2-4, 2-2) is coming off its best game of the season, a 20-17 victory over Southern University, and coach Jay Hopson feels like his team is ready to give the Bulldogs a battle.

“When you look at our four conference games, I feel we’ve been competitive in all four of them,” Hopson said. “I know one of those was a 40-point loss to Alabama State, but we gave them six touchdowns. We came back against Southern and for the most part, we executed at a good level.”

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Alabama A&M presents a stiff challenge. It has the most efficient offense in the SWAC with 199.2 passing yards and 178.2 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Deaunte Mason has completed 96 of 141 passes for 1,195 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Mason has two primary targets, Montaurius Smith and Reshard DeJeanrette. Smith has 27 receptions for 282 yards and DeJeanrette has 21 for 329.

“The quarterback (Mason) does a great job running the offense and he spreads the ball around,” Hopson said.

As good as the Bulldogs have been on offense, A&M coach Anthony Jones said his defense has answered the call as well. He hopes that trends continues as the Bulldogs eye a Nov. 17 date against struggling Auburn.

“Our defense has been pretty special,” Jones said. “Prairie View was one team that did keep us a little off balance.”

Alcorn can counter with an offensive unit that has steadily improved since freshman John Gibbs took over at quarterback. He had his best game of the season, completing 15 of 24 passes for 192 yards against Southern. The running attack has also improved, with Arnold Walker leading the way with 228 yards.

For Hopson, the key is limiting the mistakes.

“We did a much better job of protecting the ball and when we do that, we have a chance to win.”

Jones said he has noticed the Braves’ improvement.

“You can see the potential they have,” he said. “Their defense has played well in spots and they are capable of being explosive on offense.”