Alcorn State first-year coach Jay Hopson had a lot to say Monday.
Still baffled after Saturday’s disastrous 54-14 loss to Alabama State, during which almost nothing went the Braves’ way offensively, Hopson settled in for a weekly teleconference and spoke his mind.
In short, he said, Alcorn has a lot of improving to do.
And time is growing short as the Braves’ Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule heats up.
“We totaled it up, and I think they had 24 yards and 42 points,” Hopson said, noting Alcorn’s offense routinely put its defense in bad positions. “You can’t beat the Alaska Sisters of the Poor if you do what (we) did.”
Here’s how dreadful things got.
Alcorn quarterbacks John Gibbs and Darius Smith combined to complete 12 of 31 pass attempts for 112 yards. Gibbs also had an interception.
The Braves also had five fumbles, four of which they lost. And Alcorn’s receivers weren’t any better, as costly drops hampered the Braves all game long.
Making matters worse, Alcorn gave up three touchdowns on drives of 20 yards or less (a 17-yard drive, a 7-yard drive and a 5-yard drive.)
“Alabama State had two good drives for 14 points, and the other 40 we just handed to them,” Hopson said, explaining that Alabama State returned a fumble, an interception and a blocked punt for touchdowns.
In all, Alcorn (1-4, 1-2) gift-wrapped six touchdowns for Alabama State. Hopson and the Braves have to hope for a different outcome when they host Southern (2-2, 1-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“I think the kids realize we had five turnovers on special teams,” Hopson said. “I think it’s one of those things where they realize it wasn’t so much of an offensive or defensive deal; it was more of just missed execution on special teams. That’s our charge this week, to shore up our special teams. We’ll make changes.”
Those changes likely begin with veteran leaders, like senior receiver Terrance Lewis.
Despite being held without a catch last week and watching his team lose in a landslide, Lewis is optimistic the Braves will bounce back against a resurgent Southern team that’s fresh off back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009.
“Last week we had a lot of turnovers. ... It was a rainy game, so we’re trying to clean up a lot of those mistakes,” Lewis said Tuesday. “We’re just going to continue working hard and playing hard. We’re not going to change too much.”
Lewis’ insight also shed light on the main reason for Alcorn’s struggles and how the Braves have been playing catch-up since Hopson was hired in May.
“We learned a new offense for the spring with the interim coach, and then we started running coach Hopson’s offense during the summer, so fall camp was basically our spring,” Lewis said, noting Hopson and his staff were not hired until after spring practice. “I think if we would have had a spring (with Hopson and his staff), our outcome of this season would have been way better.”
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