Alcorn must get things going

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Alcorn State Braves face a big challenge tonight, as well as a great opportunity.

Virtually nothing has gone right thus far in a 1-3 start, but the Braves aren&8217;t out of the conference title race yet.

Everyone in the SWAC East already has a loss, and if the Braves can win out they should be right in the thick of things.

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Tonight, that quest begins as the Braves take on Prairie View A&M in a televised conference showdown.

Prairie View (2-2, 1-2 SWAC) has wins over conference foe Southern and Div. II Edward Waters.

I spoke with Alcorn head coach Johnny Thomas Tuesday, and we both agreed that every game remaining this season will be do-or-die, and that is certainly not a situation a coach would like to be in.

However, history has proven that some teams simply do better with their backs against the wall, and looking back a few years, Alcorn appears no different.

Looking through The Democrat archives, several columns just like this one have been written at about the same time of year, and each year the Braves come out with a winning record.

After seeing them play, that doesn&8217;t seem to be too tall an order.

The Braves seemed strong defensively against Alabama State two weeks ago, although they had trouble stopping the run at times. Offensively, after early struggles they ran the ball at will.

The biggest problem appears to be at quarterback, where Tony Hobson Jr. is suffering from a sophomore slump after a solid 2005 season as a freshman.

Chris Walker has come on in relief of Hobson and played well on several occasions this season, but thus far Thomas seems committed to sticking with Hobson and keeping Walker in a relief role.

I&8217;ve seen firsthand what a situation like that can do to a football team, as have many of you.

Quarterback controversy between Rick Clausen and Erik Ainge submarined Tennessee&8217;s 2005 season, a duel for the starting job between Tyler Watts and Andrew Zow helped destroy Alabama&8217;s football program and Steve Spurrier managed to ruin two or three lives in attempts to find the right quarterback while at Florida.

We&8217;ll see how that goes, but it all starts tonight in Texas.

Should the Braves win, they would head home with a 2-3 record and two straight home games to build momentum.

Texas Southern and Southern certainly won&8217;t be easy, but are definitely winnable games.

Following that, it&8217;s all on the road as they take trips to Mississippi Valley State, Alabama A&M, Jackson State and Grambling.

Now that is a murderer&8217;s row.

Despite not having much evidence to support it, I do think Alcorn will turn things around. A conference title may not be in the making, but there&8217;s plenty of room to build with this young squad.

The rest of the season should provide ample opportunity to grow.

Tim Cottrell is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by phone at 601-445-3632 or by e-mail at