Former NFL all-pros meet in Memphis

LUT WILLIAMS, BCSP Editor

The first edition of Jackson State 2.0, the Tigers’ second year under head coach Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders, had a rather successful launch Sunday.

The Tigers barely nudged out Florida A&M 7-6 in Sunday’s Orange Blossom Classic in Miami. It was an outcome that leaves as many questions as answers.

Like, how good is the coach’s son Shedur, JSU’s freshman quarterback who threw 24 times for 221 yards without a pick but coughed up two fumbles and could only get JSU into the end zone once?

What about this team not being a ‘regular’ SWAC team as the freshman said? What was special about them Sunday?

What about all the Div. I transfers that were supposed to make such a difference? Where were and who were they?

Yes, it was a good win over a good FAMU squad but after his team’s performance, those questions are still out there.

Getting some answers
More answers are on the horizon Saturday as JSU travels to Memphis (6 p.m. CT) for its annual meet-up with Tennessee State at the 32nd Southern Heritage Classic.

The match up of Sanders’ Tigers with the Tigers of TSU is enhanced this year with former NFL all-pro running back Eddie George taking the reins at TSU. George spent eight seasons of his NFL career with the Tennessee franchise, seven of those years he rushed for over 1,000 yards.

The Classic, which has consistently drawn 42,000-plus over the last decade, could match its all-time high in attendance (61,171 in 1997) with this clash of former NFL all-pros.

But both teams will be searching for answers. George’s team debuted Sunday with a 16-10 loss to Grambling State in Canton, Ohio’s Black College Hall of Fame Classic. His Tigers committed 18 penalties for 150 yards in the loss.

“A lot of the things that cost us the game are definitely correctable,” George said after the game. “We will keep our head down and keep going.”

Others to watch
Virginia Union (0-1), after battling Hampton to the wire in a 42-28 loss, hosts nationally-ranked Valdosta State (1-0) Saturday (5 p.m. ET). VSU, ranked fifth in the AFCA Div. II poll, hammered SIAC favorite Savannah State 53-7 last week.

FAMU (0-1) will try to rebound (6 p.m. ET) against surprising Fort Valley State (1-0) who gave new head coach Maurice Flowers a rousing debut with a 30-0 whipping of Tuskegee Sunday in the Red Tails Classic in Birmingham.

Southern (0-1), coming off a 55-3 drubbing from Troy, hosts 0-1 Miles Saturday (6 p.m. CT) who fell 14-13 in overtime last week to Alabama State.

This week’s schedule also has a lot of HBCU FCS teams facing FBS opponents on the road beginning with 0-1 North Carolina A&T’s date Friday (8 p.m. ET) at 0-1 Duke of the ACC.

On Saturday, 1-0 Alabama State is at 1-0 Auburn (11 a.m., CT), 0-1 Norfolk State is at 1-0 Wake Forest (12 noon, ET), 0-1 South Carolina State is at 0-1 Clemson (5 p.m. ET), 0-1 Texas Southern is at 1-0 Baylor (6 p.m. CT), Grambling (1-0) is at 0-1 Southern Miss (6 p.m. CT) and Morgan State (0-1) is at (0-1) Tulane (6 p.m. CT).

Also (1-0) N. C. Central is at 1-0 Marshall (6:30 p.m. ET), (0-1) Bethune-Cookman is at (1- 0) Central Florida (6:30 p.m. ET), (1-0 Hampton is at 0-1 Old Dominion (7 p. m. ET) and 0-1 Howard is at 1-0 Maryland (7 p.m. ET).