ASU’s Pecoraro wants top defensePublished 12:01am Thursday, September 27, 2012
lorman — When Tony Pecoraro stepped on the Alcorn State University campus this summer, he had a goal in mind.
Pecoraro was in the first days of his new job as the defensive coordinator for the Alcorn football team, but he said he already knew that he wanted to make the Braves the best defensive team in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Four games into the season, Alcorn is 1-3 and giving up almost 36 points a game. Pecoraro said the defense is making some strides, but still has a long way to go to reach his goal.
“We’re not satisfied,” he said. “But we are satisfied with the fact that you can see improvement, not on the scoreboard yet, but in the film room.”
Alcorn is Pecoraro’s second stop as a defensive coordinator. He came to Lorman from the University of North Alabama, where he led two Lions’ defenses to top-30 finishes in NCAA Division II scoring defense.
Pecoraro said he wants his defenses to be known for how sound they play as a unit.
“I like great fundamentals, great tackling and great effort,” he said. “I like to be as aggressive as we can be.”
Head coach Jay Hopson and his entire staff, including Pecoraro, did not have much time to work with the Braves before throwing them into the fire Sept. 1 for the first game of the season.
“We are still getting to know alignment and assignment,” Pecoraro said. “But I think it is getting better each week.”
The task of playing catch up has been tough, Pecoraro said, but Hopson’s hard work has made the transition easier for the players and coaches.
“He’s one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever been around,” Pecoraro said about Hopson. “He’s also the hardest worker. He doesn’t ask you to do something if it’s not something he won’t do himself.”
Pecoraro said Hopson’s goal of rebuilding the Alcorn program has spread down to the assistants.
“Every one around here is excited about the opportunity to get better,” he said. “Alcorn has got some history, and we want to get it back.”
Pecoraro said he has enjoyed the short time he has spent at Alcorn so far, and he loves sharing his passion for defense with the Braves.
“I’ve always been a defensive guy,” he said. “I love the camaraderie and the physicality.”
The Alcorn defense has already faced challenges against high-powered offenses like Arkansas State and James Madison University, and Pecoraro said those games will help the Braves’ defense prepare for the rest of their SWAC games.
“It’s a good thing to go against teams like that,” he said. “We can find positives like having a three-and-out or forcing a turnover, and tell (the players), ‘If you can do that against them, you can do it against anybody.’”
Saturday Alcorn will host Alabama State for homecoming, and Pecoraro said he is excited about the atmosphere on The Reservation this weekend.