Alcorn finally plays at home

Published 11:47 pm Thursday, October 8, 2009

LORMAN — It’s taken five weeks and three official games, but the Alcorn State Braves will finally play their first home game of the season on Saturday against in-state rival Mississippi Valley State.

And Alcorn State head coach Earnest Collins couldn’t be happier.

“It seems like it’s been forever since we played at home,” Collins said. “We finally get to play in front of our home crowd. The kids are excited about it.”

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Alcorn will also be honoring the memory of former quarterback Steve McNair, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1994 and was a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans.

A ceremony will take place on the field half an hour before the scheduled kickoff time of 4 p.m.

“You always want to give honor to Steve McNair,” Collins said. “He put Alcorn State on the map. People ask where Alcorn State is and when you tell them that’s where Steve McNair played, they know what you are talking about.”

Alcorn State comes into Saturday’s game with an 0-3 overall record and an 0-1 record in the SWAC.

Last Thursday’s scheduled game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff was canceled after a severe lightning storm hit the area at halftime of what was a scoreless game.

Even though the game was between two SWAC schools, the game was designated a non-conference game. Therefore, the game was canceled and will not be made up, leaving Alcorn with just nine games on the season.

Collins said it was a strange situation trying to sit through a three-hour delay before the decision was made to cancel the game.

“It’s nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” Collins said. “Anytime you’re scheduled to play, you want to play. The kids were upbeat, most of them kept their shoulder pads on through the whole three-hour delay. But I understood the decision that was made by the commissioner and the officials. We didn’t want to put any of the fans or players in harm’s way.”

Before the game was canceled, Alcorn’s offense was stagnant in the first half, managing just 31 yards of total offense, a far cry from the previous week when they rang up 42 points in a 48-42 loss to Southern.

Collins said the team needs to find some consistency before Saturday’s game.

“It’s about being consistent and protecting (quarterback) Tim Buckley, allowing him to show his talent,” Collins said. “We’ve got to give him time in the pocket. We’ve got a young team and they’re learning. It all comes down to being consistent and we’re working on that every day in practice.”

MVSU comes into Saturday’s game with a 2-2 overall record and 1-1 record in the SWAC.

The Delta Devils have won two games in a row, including a 10-3 victory over Alabama State two weeks ago.

“They’re a physical team,” Collins said of MVSU. “They’re doing good things on defense and their quarterback (Paul Roberts) is as good as anybody in the conference. He came off the bench against us last year and we couldn’t tackle the guy. He’s a great athlete that can run and throw. He’s the heart and soul of their offense.”

Saturday’s game will be televised on a tape delay basis by ESPNU at 9:30 p.m.

ESPNU is available on Dish Network and DirecTV.