The Alcorn State Braves is the Georgia Tech football program’s first opponent of the 2018 season and the Braves will look to be the first FCS team to beat the Yellow Jackets.
The Georgia Tech football program has never lost to an FCS opponent and on September 1st, the Yellow Jackets will make sure that remains the same as the Alcorn State Braves come to town. Alcorn State will not only look to be the first FCS opponent to beat the Yellow Jackets but will seek revenge for a 69-6 loss back in 2015.
This time around the Braves will be under a new head coach as Fred McNair enters his third year as the head man at Alcorn State. The Braves in his first two seasons have gone 12-11 and will look to make their first FCS playoff appearance since 1994. But before doing that, the Braves must get past the Yellow Jackets, which won’t be an easy task.
Last season, the Braves went 7-5 on the season with their lone FBS opponent of the season being FIU. They played the Panthers hard for all four quarters but fell 17-10. It was an up-and-down season but a season that also saw them win the SWAC East before falling to Grambling State in the SWAC championship game.
A season ago, the Braves averaged 31.0 points per game while maintaining a slightly heavy run offense. Last season, the Braves offense gained over 3,000 yards on the ground while gaining an additional 2,600+ yards through the air. That being said, signal caller Lenorris Footman has now graduated from Alcorn State and leaves the keys to rising redshirt junior Noah Johnson.
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A season ago, Johnson completed just over 52% of his passes (55-for-104) for 782-yards and four touchdowns. He also threw four interceptions on the season which tied Footman’s total despite Footman having an additional 128 passing attempts.
On the ground, senior Turner De’Lance lead the Braves picking up 1,357-yards and 10 touchdowns over the course of 180 carries. Junior running back P.J Simmons will now take over as the Braves starter most likely after rushing for 687-yards and seven touchdowns on 80 carries. Quarterback Lenorris Footman added an additional 452-yards on the ground, meaning the Braves will return without two of their top three rushers from 2017.
Redshirt senior Hugh Charles is Alcorn State’s leading returning receiver after 31 receptions for 423-yards and a touchdown a season ago. Marquis Warford and Tavares Johnson will be two additional names in the Braves receiving core to watch on September 1st.
Defensively last season the Braves were solid to say the least. Their opponents on the season averaged 21.75 points per game, a total of 261 points over the course of the season. Opponents also averaged 5.4 yards per play and 356.9 yards per game. The Braves were strong through the air defensively but on the ground, opposing teams were able to run quite a bit on their defense. Opponents averaged 4.0 yards per carry and 1,877-yards on the season, an average of just over 130-yards per game.
The Braves did struggle several times last year defensively including allowing 30+ points three times throughout the season but also had plenty of games that would be easily classified as defensive struggles including a 3-7 loss to Jackson State.
The Alcorn State defense isn’t going to be strong enough to stop the Yellow Jackets regularly throughout their showdown on September 1st but there is enough talent on the Braves roster to at least stifle the Jackets a tad.
Historically, FBS vs FCS matchups usually go in the favor of the FBS program, and even more so if that program is a power five program. However, over the last few years we have seen more and more upsets by FCS teams over FBS opponents. That being said, some of the losses FBS programs have faced recently to FCS opponents are handed down by the cream of the crop of the FCS level. While Alcorn State is historically a tremendous program, they have not been a national championship contender for quite some time and that doesn’t seem to be the case in 2018 either.
That being said, the Jackets have the better matchups in each facet of the game and while a slow start wouldn’t be surprising from the Jackets offensively. The Braves offense should be a great test and tuneup for the Jackets defense that will be playing their first game in a new defensive scheme where there is bound to be mistakes and miscues.
The Jackets offense offense should be able to expose an Alcorn State defense that allowed nearly 2,000 yards on the ground last season. Overall, the speed and athleticism of Georgia Tech’s offense and defense should be vastly superior than Alcorn State’s which should lead to a victory. Expect TaQuon Marshall and KirVonte Benson to get the season started off in a big way.