Alcorn facing big-time quarterback

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 24, 2008

LORMAN — It’s not often that a Big 12 quarterback travels to Alcorn State.

But it’s happening this weekend, and the Braves are ready.

Former Oklahoma State signal caller Bobby Reid will be heading the Texas Southern offense against Alcorn State on Saturday, and Braves coach Ernest Jones has been working the defense hard in preparation for the game.

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We’ve just been throwing the ball down field over and over,” he said. “Our offense has even noticed it. They’ve been like, ‘Man, coach, they throw the ball that much?’

“And they throw it far. They don’t go for the 5-yard throw or the 2- or 3-yard pass. They want the touchdown right now. We’re working on getting our defense to go up and compete for the football. They have to get used to running up and down the field.”

Reid ranks second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference with a 204.9 yard passing average, a 55.4 percent completion percentage and 11 touchdowns. He also ranks No. 2 in total offense, and the reason he’s not No. 1 is because he was injured for nearly all of Texas Southern’s previous game, against Jackson State.

The Tigers have the third-highest scoring offense in the SWAC with 28 touchdowns and 25.5 points per game average, and the passing offense averages 238 yards per game.

“All the coaches in the league are wondering, ‘How did they pull that one off?’” Jones said of the Tigers securing Reid. “He’s a definite NFL prospect. What he does, he anticipates where the receiver should be so he throws it before they actually get there. That’s what great quarterbacks do.”

Reid is in his first — and last — year of eligibility with Texas Southern after transferring from Stillwater, Okla., and Tiger coach Johnnie Cole said he had to pick up the offensive scheme on the fly.

Reid is the probable starter after coming out just three plays into this past weekend’s loss.

“He comes with the Big 12 experience. He’s been there and played in front of the large crowds,” Cole said. “As he goes, we go, and we’re looking for him to have big game.”

Alcorn State, meanwhile, is ninth of 10 teams in scoring offense, but Texas Southern is last in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 40.5 points and 42 points per game.

“We have to tackle better,” Cole said. “We got to be able to wrap up and bring them down.”

The Tigers are also worst in total defense, allowing 436.6 yards per game and 6.5 yards per play.

Braves quarterback Tim Buckley is sixth in the SWAC, completing 50 percent of his passes with six passing scores and a 165.1 yard-per-game average.

“Their quarterback is very explosive,” Cole said. “He’s a young guy too, so hopefully we can contain him. If we can contain them, I believe we can contain their offense.”

Jones said Buckley has been banged up since the Sept. 27 game against Southern.

“But he’s such a soldier that he plays through the pain. We need him.”

But Buckley is just part of Jones’ plan against the Tigers’ defense.

“We want to run the football, something we haven’t been able to do well this year,” he said. “We’ll run on first down and we’ll run on third down. If we’re going to pass, we’re doing it on second down. We plan to have a nice running attack.”

Most of Reid’s passes will be sent to William Osbourne, who ranks No. 2 in the league with 6.2 receptions per game. He’s caught 50 passes for 678 yards and five scores, averaging 13.6 yards per catch and 84.8 per game.

“They’ve got the best quarterback in the league and an NFL prospect, so we expect them to just throw the football up and down the field, about 70 times,” Jones said. “You’ve got to stop him.”