Braves aim to shake turnover blues

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

LORMAN &045; Forget the hokey song in the new Hummer commercial.

What’s playing through the minds of the Alcorn Braves right now is the strict orders from coaches &045; no turnovers late in the game, no penalties that kill drives and no mistakes that give the other team breaks.

Annoying, yes, but those words are going to play through their minds until they get it right after two weeks of just beating themselves heading into Saturday’s game at Stephen F. Austin.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We’ve got to get our team chemistry back and get everyone back up,&uot; said receiver Corvin Johnson, currently the third-best receiver in the SWAC. &uot;We’ve got to get back to the mindset like we started out in. We’re trying to get our confidence back, and I think with confidence nobody will be able to stop us. Nobody will be able to stop us.&uot;

At times the Braves (1-2, 1-1 in SWAC) have appeared that way &045; they pummeled Arkansas-Pine Bluff and were in control of games against Grambling and Alabama State before things went bad in a hurry.

Bad snaps in the Grambling game allowed the Tigers to pull away, and interceptions allowed the Hornets to pull away in the second half. And watching both felt like their guts were being pulled away for the Braves.

The Braves are still third-best in the conference in turnover ratio at plus-1, but the minus-3 stat from the Alabama State game left a bad taste in the mouth of head coach Johnny Thomas.

&uot;What we have done is try to let the guys know that we have a good football team,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;We should have won those games, but we turned the football over. That prevented us from winning. It’s not like people are lining up and out-manning us or out-working us or we’re undisciplined. We’re doing what we’re told to do, but you can’t have the interceptions and you can’t fumble the ball.&uot;

It’s been two weeks of going back to the basics for the Braves after having last week off, and quarterback Donald Carrie has spent a significant amount of time doing that after getting picked off three times against Alabama State.

The junior quarterback has been hot and cold in games this season, throwing three picks against UAPB, getting in a zone and moving the offense at times against Grambling but throwing three picks in the second half against Alabama State.

&uot;We’re basically taking everything back to the drawing board,&uot; said Carrie, the SWAC’s No. 4 passer at 201 yards passing per game. &uot;A lot of times an interception is mainly on my mechanics and the way I’m positioning my feet. I’m going to the right people, but sometimes I’m not leading with the right foot, and that causes the ball to sail and creates interceptions for the defense. We’ve been working hard on getting my footwork right and my mechanics right.&uot;

Fortunately for Carrie and the Braves &045; or unfortunately, depending on your view &045; they’ve been here before. The turnover factor was a thorn in their sides last year late in the season. Carrie had interception troubles late in the year, and the offense struggled down the stretch.

But now Carrie is a little wiser, and the Braves are determined to fight through it.

&uot;He was throwing the ball high and throwing the ball too far inside or outside when we had people open,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;He would scramble and try to make things happen, and in reality it wasn’t there. Those are things we can correct. With his experience and his competitive edge, I think he will be able to make the necessary corrections himself.&uot;

Then there are the fumbles that have hurt, and the three against Alabama State was just as unnecessary as the interceptions. Either way, it’s those in their own territory that’s the biggest problem.

Who can forget the two mistakes at the end of the Grambling game &045; two bad deep snaps to punter Shane Phillips, one resulting in a touchdown and another in a safety for the Tigers.

&uot;Our coaches are always telling us turnovers and penalties get you beat,&uot; Carrie said. &uot;The team that makes the most turnovers and penalties will get beat, and that’s been the case. We want to cut down on our mistakes and play four quarters of football, and we’ll come out with a win.&uot;

How’s that go again? Just ask anyone on the roster.

The words are stuck in their heads.

&uot;Basically, turnovers get you beat,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;The other team has yet to beat us. We’ve been beating ourselves. We know what to do. It’s a problem of executing. That’s our biggest thing &045; being focused. It’s nothing we can’t fix.&uot;