Alcorn offense looking to replace departed seniors

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 9, 2005

LORMAN &045; Alcorn offensive coordinator John McKenzie can’t remember a spring that’s been like this.

While the most headline-grabbing task at hand has been finding a new quarterback, that may be just the start for the Braves after they wrapped up spring drills Saturday with the annual Purple and White game.

The deep-threat receivers are still looking for that connection Donald Carrie established. The offensive line remains a work in progress. And don’t be surprised if the players who arrive in August for the start of fall camp &045; namely freshman quarterback Tony Hobson out of Jim Hill &045; change things significantly before the season opens Sept. 3 against Grambling.

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&uot;We’re starting all over again,&uot; McKenzie said. &uot;Our quarterback has a lot of work to do. The only thing we came out of spring practice is with two solid guys (up front). That’s kind of different. You have to have five guys working as one. We’ll have our work cut out for us. That’s what we’re having problems with right now.&uot;

Yet some of those positions are just in transition following last season with the number of senior starters. Jon Herman started up front last year as a senior, and the guard positions are still in the air despite the return of Dustin Telemaque, Rashaud Cole and Todd Johnson.

Just like the position of losing Carrie, there’s a transition process required. That may have helped the defense Saturday in taking a 25-21 win over the offense in the scrimmage.

All three quarterbacks took snaps, but none really stood out. Ken Bradford returned an interception 104 yards for a touchdown.

&uot;The defense played very well today,&uot; Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas said. &uot;It was a pleasant surprise that they played so well. We were very pleased with the defensive line, and we were very pleased with the way the linebackers played as well as the secondary.

&uot;The offense played well, too, but the only difference between the offense and defense was the offensive line had to go all 60 plays. We’re a little bit more deep on the defensive line.&uot;

Unlike the offense, the defense has a handful of starters from last year along with a number of players who saw significant time on the field. The defense got the touchdown from Bradford &045; 10 points as per scrimmage rules &045; and didn’t allow a touchdown when the offense wasn’t working on red zone situations.

Tommy Campbell recovered a fumble that Robert Browne forced. Cornerback Matt Beavers sacked Milton Green for a loss of 10 yards.

&uot;We came a long way,&uot; senior-to-be corner Taurian Parks said. &uot;This year we had a new (secondary) coach. Everybody got real stronger this spring. I know that’s going to help. Basically the whole defense is freshmen and sophomores. They are very hungry, and they have a point to prove.&uot;

The defense showed it Saturday against the offense as the Braves rotated quarterbacks between Oliver Bozeman, Milton Green and Charles Herrington. Bozeman threw the least with only four attempts, but his 21-yard pass to Tabari Lott to open the scrimmage was the longest pass of the day and his 2-yard pass to Nate Hughes was the only touchdown pass.

Bozeman hit two of four for 23 yards and an interception. Green completed three of eight for 28 yards. Herrington completed three of eight for 39 yards.

&uot;Right now it’s Bozeman and Hobson &045; that’s why we had to bring in Hobson,&uot; McKenzie said of the heralded prep standout out of Jackson. &uot;It’ll give us an opportunity to move along in that position. Bozeman has been with us and has the experience, but he does a lot of different things in our offense that we like but we’re not accustomed to. Our wide receivers are accustomed to getting the ball downfield, and that’s not his strength.

&uot;Right now if we had to start, it’ll be a great battle between Tony Hobson and Bozeman.&uot;

Green and Harrington did well with their opportunities Saturday with the offense. The offense scored three times in red zone situations with Bozeman running in the first one from 2 yards out and hitting Hughes for the second before Jacob Davis recovered a fumble in mid-air from Michael Shepherd and ran it in.

&uot;Once Bozeman gets all the reps and knows the offense, he’ll be a pretty good guy,&uot; Thomas said. &uot;He’s more athletic than Donald. I don’t think his knowledge of the game and passing ability is where Donald’s was, but he’ll get the reps and will learn the offense.&uot;

The offensive line struggled later in the scrimmage with the lack of depth but opened the holes for the running game early and protected the quarterback. The defense sacked Green three times, while Jeremy McCoy and Shepherd got the bulk of the carries.

The line has guard Chris Seymour and center Jonathan Lowe back with the other three spots undetermined.

&uot;We need tackles,&uot; McKenzie said. &uot;We’re good in the middle. Our tackles have to be able to protect. We might have to move Lowe out there, but that’s what I don’t want to do.&uot;