Ever feel like you need to hit something?
Maybe you had a rough day, maybe there’s some pent-up aggression, or maybe you just need to flex some muscle.
It’s normal, even healthy. That’s why they make stress balls and punching bags.
If you’re the Southern football team, that’s why they make Alcorn State.
When the Jaguars travel to Lorman, Miss. on Saturday, it isn’t just for a third straight win or to stay relevant in the Southwestern Athletic Conference race.
This is the time to make a statement.
After pulling off back-to-back upset wins against rivals away from home, Southern wants to prove its resurgence is no fluke, hence this week’s motto of “Start fast, finish strong.”
Beyond winning the tough games, being a contender means beating the teams you’re supposed to beat — and without late drama.
After all, over the past five years, only two teams (2009 runner-up Alabama A&M and 2010 runner-up Alabama State) have reached the SWAC Championship game after losing to Alcorn or Mississippi Valley State.
Southern already slipped up against one of those, and the loss to the Delta Devils left a bad taste that still lingers after wins against Jackson State and Florida A&M.
“We haven’t done anything,” left tackle Chris Browne said. “We won a nonconference game and then we beat a team on the other side of the conference, so we still have our goals to reach.”
Alcorn is a fantastic chance to take another step toward those goals.
Since defeating Grambling in the opener, the Braves have lost four games by a combined score of 196-23.
Granted, they had to play two tough nonconference games against James Madison and Arkansas State, as well as two of the conference’s best in Arkansas-Pine Bluff (24-6) and Alabama State (54-14). Against the Hornets, Alcorn was remarkably sloppy, essentially giving up 42 points via disastrous plays on offense and special teams.
One could make the argument that the Braves won’t come out and play so poorly again, or that the strength of their schedule thus far doesn’t give an accurate view of their ability.
But, by virtue of ranking lower than No. 100 in the nation for passing offense, total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, scoring defense, punting, returns and sacks, Alcorn is a team that’s ripe for a whooping.
That is, if the opponent is for real.
And that’s what Southern will have a chance to show this weekend. Win going away, and those dreams of a SWAC championship look a little less outlandish. Struggle with the Braves or — worst of all — lose, and the Jaguars might be best described as a middling team.
That wouldn’t be so bad based on where the Jaguars were a few weeks ago, but it also wouldn’t match the sky-high potential left from a quick two-game win streak.
Another stress ball is bouncing down the road.
Southern needs to pick this one up and squeeze it until it pops.