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Collins: It’s time for Alcorn State to win

NATCHEZ — Alcorn State head football coach Earnest Collins had one message for Braves fans Thursday night. It’s time to win.

Collins and Alcorn offensive coordinator Michael Armour and defensive coordinator Zach Shay addressed Braves fans at the annual Alcorn State Powwow on the ASU Natchez campus.

“We’re not going to be satisfied just beating Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State every year,” Collins said. “We want to win SWAC championships. You didn’t hear me say that last year. But what I’m saying now is that we expect to win.”

Collins said his team has built off last season’s 14-7 victory over Jackson State in the season-ending Capital City Classic, and has ridden that momentum into this season.

“The phenomenal thing about that game was we played as a team on both sides of the ball,” Collins said. “The offense scored two quick touchdowns and that was all we needed. We held Jackson State to minus-12 yards rushing, and anytime you can do that, you’re going to win the football game.

“I told the guys after the game that we were on our way if they just continued to do what they were doing.”

Collins said he made sure the players stayed sharp by changing the offseason conditioning program after that game.

“Usually we take a break until Christmas after our last game, but I told the guys we were going to change some things,” Collins said. “I said we were going to start working for next season right then.”

After Thanksgiving break, Collins had his team lifting weights at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, causing some players to quit, but the rest of the team to get stronger.

“Ninety-eight percent of the team came back after Thanksgiving break ready to work,” Collins said. “They have stayed through the summer and worked hard. We’ve been looking for leadership and we’re starting to get that.”

One of the biggest question marks for Alcorn this season is at quarterback.

All-everything QB Tim Buckley graduated, taking his 1,949 passing yards and 16 touchdowns with him.

Four quarterbacks are battling for the position: senior Terrence Barnes, redshirt freshman Darius Smith and true freshmen Brandon Briggs and Jeremy Collins.

Coach Collins said the quarterback battle has been fierce, and he is looking for one player to step up above the rest.

“I fully expect one of them to take control of the offense,” Collins said. “I don’t care who it is. All of them will get a good evaluation, and we’ll find out who the quarterback will be to take us to Birmingham (for the SWAC championship game).

Collins said he doesn’t want to play multiple quarterbacks during the season, but might play more than one in Alcorn’s season opener against Langston on Sept. 4 to see who handles a game situation the best.

“I might play two or three in that first game to see them under pressure,” Collins said. “But I want someone to win the job.”

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