Alcorn’s DBs face test today vs. SE Louisiana

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

LORMAN &045; There’s just something about a pass-happy offense that makes people giddy.

And opposing defensive backs are apparently no difference.

It’s the Alcorn State secondary that’s going to have the best view in Jack Spinks Stadium of Southeastern Louisiana’s passing offense, one that has true freshman quarterback Martin Hankins leading the nation in both completions and pass attempts.

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But the Braves’ secondary has been solid at times this season, and they’ll be tested for sure today against SLU. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

&uot;We’re just preparing for them like it’s any other game,&uot; said free safety Tim Batts, who had a key breakup to stop a score in last week’s win over Southern. &uot;We know they’re a passing team, so we’ll pretty much prepare for them like they’re any other passing team. But they pretty much pass just about every down. It’s like an insult to think you can just pass on us.&uot;

It’s a huge test for the Braves’ defense, a unit that moved up to eighth in the conference in points allowed per game (30.9), second in pass defense (163.9 yards allowed per game) and sixth in rush defense (173 yards per game). The secondary will be a focal point today against the Lions under former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme.

The Braves’ secondary has come a ways since losing cornerback Jeremy Stockdale, who tore an ACL against Alabama State Sept. 13 and is out for the year. Tyrone Parsons has a team-high two interceptions at the other corner, including one in the final minutes of last week’s win over Southern to preserve the victory.

&uot;We’re still

not where we need to be, especially with our safeties,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;Our safeties have come a long way and have played very well. But we’ve still got to refine what we do. This will be a big test. This team’s primary fort is passing the football, and they do an outstanding job of that. We have our hands full in trying to contain them, and that’s something we’ve worked hard on this week.&uot;

The Braves’ efforts Saturday against a potent Southern offense yielded 194 yards to quarterback Quincy Richard, a stark contrast from Week 2 when Grambling’s Bruce Eugene rung up 311 yards on the Braves &045; mostly in the second half after their man coverage gave Eugene fits.

Taurian Parks, the 5-9 junior out of Miami, had six tackles, one tackle for loss and two pass deflections.

&uot;What coach is trying to do this past off-season was bring in some new people so if somebody goes down, somebody else can come in,&uot; Batts said. &uot;Taurian Parks has come in and pretty much has held his own at right corner.&uot;

The Lions with Hankins at quarterback have put gaudy numbers on the board this season but are still looking for their first road win and first win over a Division I opponent in the school’s first season of football since 1985. Hankins has thrown for over 300 yards in the team’s last two games and threw for 405 in a win over Division I Henderson State.

&uot;They throw the football based on what you give them and what they read,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;If you give them the short pass, they’ll take advantage of that and get the long pass. They read the coverage and determine what kind of routes they run.&uot;

The Lions’ defense, meanwhile, will have to step up against an Alcorn offense that’s hot right now. Quarterback Donald Carrie threw for a season-high 379 yards last week, only his second game to top the 300-yard mark this season.

It’s a big matchup for the Braves, who are looking for their first consecutive wins dating back to their four-game winning streak early last year.

&uot;They’ve got a great team,&uot; Hankins said. &uot;They’re fast and have some athletes. We haven’t won on the road all year, and this is the last one. They’ve got a pretty good defense. They’re all juniors and seniors, so they’re all experienced. We’ll have to come out there and play better than we’ve played all year.&uot;

Said Thomas: &uot;We’re trying to iron out all the errors we made against Southern on special teams and defense and others we made on offense. If we play error-less football, we can win every football game. It also showed us we should not give up in any situation during the course of the game. We should always believe we can win the game despite what circumstances we’re in.&uot;