Hopson pleased with Alcorn’s progress

Published 12:01 am Friday, April 19, 2013

LORMAN — It’s his second season as head coach of the Alcorn State football team, but this is only the first chance Jay Hopson has to coach his players for spring practice.

With Saturday’s Purple and Gold spring game looming, Hopson said he’s looking for a high-energy scrimmage out of his players.

“I want a good, clean, hard-fought scrimmage,” Hopson said. “I want to see guys play sound and physical football. Offensively, we want to see guys hold onto the football, and defensively we want to see guys wrap up.”

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Hopson, who was hired last May, didn’t have a chance to work with his team in spring training. The Braves began spring practice March 19, and Hopson said having a spring makes a world of difference in getting ready for the fall.

“You actually get to slow down and teach,” he said. “You can go at more of a learning pace. I think we’ve made some good improvements in certain areas, and our execution has been good. All in all, it’s been a good spring.”

The players are getting the opportunity to have more in-depth work with the coaches, Hopson said, instead of the coaches just going over the basics.

“You’re able to spend a lot of time on teaching the details and not just worry about them getting lined up and in the proper assignment,” Hopson said. “That’s what it’s all about. We slow down and teach them, and hopefully we’ll get a lot out of this and it will carry over into the fall.”

Though a couple of new players have transferred in, Hopson said the roster remains largely intact from last fall, minus the 2012 seniors.

“Our recruiting class doesn’t show up until July,” Hopson said. “The thing I want to see is our guys get fundamentally better, and we’re doing just that. I want our guys to get familiar with what’s going on as far as our plays, formation recognition and our reads on offense.”

Quarterback Zerick Rollins will lead the Purple squad, while the Gold roster will feature quarterback John Gibbs. Both are competing hard, Hopson said, but quarterback isn’t the only position where competition is intense.

“Every position (has stiff competition), and I refuse for there not to be,” Hopson said. “The one thing I want to do is create competition.”

Hopson said it’s hard to compare where his team is compared to the end of last season, but he’s hopeful spring practice has allowed the players to improve in all aspects.

“I think our execution and reads are better on offense, and I think we’re playing with better leverage on offense,” he said. “It’s likewise on defense — we’re better, more fundamentally sound. That all has to carry over into August.”

Kickoff for the Alcorn spring game is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Jack Spinks-Marino Casem Stadium.