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Alcorn looks for improvement in run game

LORMAN — Alcorn State head football coach Earnest Collins liked what he saw from running back Arnold Walker in last year’s Capital City Classic.

But he’ll like it even better if Walker can have that kind of production over the entire 2010 season.

Walker, then a true freshman, rushed for a career-high 120 yards in Alcorn’s 14-7 win over Jackson State and was the game’s offensive MVP.

“Arnold got a little taste last year in the Jackson State game of his role and what it has to be for us,” Collins said. “Basically in the second half we just handed the ball to him, and he was a workhorse for us in that game. We’re looking for him to do more of what he did in that game.”

Walker and fellow sophomore Gabriel Nash each bring something different to the table when they get the ball, Collins said.

“Arnold is 6-feet and 220 pounds, and he’s our workhorse,” Collins said. “Gabriel suffered through an ankle injury last year so he wasn’t as effective as he could be, but he’s got quickness and speed. Both of those guys will do great things for us.”

Both saw plenty of playing time last year as true freshman, and Collins thinks that a year of experience, along with a new running backs coach, will make a big difference in their production.

“It’s really a matter of experience,” Collins said. “Those guys each have a year under their belts. And coach Johnny Tart brings a calming influence to the guys. He seldom raises his voice, but he gets his point across. He’s a great addition to our staff.”

Alcorn will need to show improvement from last year’s rushing attack, which gained just 767 yards in nine games.

The need to rush the football is especially great since the Braves will be breaking in a new quarterback to replace Tim Buckley.

“It’s always important to have a running game, whether you have a new quarterback or a veteran quarterback,” Collins said. “If you’ve got a good running game, the defense has to put people in the box to stop the run. And we plan on having a good running game.”