Saturday, September 6, 2014

Winston Salem State Looks to Avenge 2013 Loss to UNC-Pembroke; Three MEAC Squads Face FBS Powers; Previews of All of Today's HBCU Football Action


Kienus Boulware and his Winston Salem State Rams open the 2014 season with a lot to prove for such a powerful Division II program. 

Boulware, promoted to head coach after Connell Maynor left for Hampton in December, wants to show that continuity in the 14th-ranked WSSU program is firm. The former defensive coordinator also has been forced to replace a bevy of starters from a stout defensive squad last season.

And he they have to do it all against a team they opened the season last year with a loss to, 21st-ranked UNC-Pembroke.

None of that worries Boulware.

"I guess maybe it’s my experience (20 years as an assistant) but I feel pretty good about what we’ve accomplished coming out of preseason camp," Boulware told the Winston Salem Journal's John Dell.

Their matchup highlights the first full Saturday of HBCU football action for the 2014 season.  It's a Saturday in which three MEAC squads take on Division I-FBS programs, the SIAC sees Albany State visit perennial power in neighbor Valdosta State, and the SWAC's Alcorn State looks to prove its might at Southern Mississippi.

But Winston Salem State, the preseason No. 1 team in the ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT HBCU Top Ten Division II poll, is looking to make a statement, as well as avenge last year's 25-21 loss to UNC-Pembroke though its not their primary objective.

"It will be tough to use revenge (as a motivator) because their head coach is gone and we have a few new guys on our staff," Boulware said to Dell. “If you are going to get mad you kind of get mad at yourself; so with this game, it’s all about who makes the least amount of mistakes."

Here is a complete rundown of today's HBCU football action: 


- South Carolina State vs. Clemson (This game would have been tough enough for SC State, given that 23rd-ranked Clemson is one of the top ACC teams. Their defense made Georgia's Todd Gurley a Heisman candidate last week in their 45-12 loss and the offense didnt score in the second half.  So they will be some surly Tigers.  But SC State is no slouch. They sported one of the top FCS defensive squads last year and have looked forward to playing the instate rival)

- Florida A&M vs. Miami (Miami is another ACC squad looking to bounce back from a convincing loss last week (31-13 to Louisville) and are looking to make a statement. Not good news for FAMU who lost to Jackson State last week.  The FAMU defense gave up 439 yards to J-State while Miami is under pressure to open up the offense.  The teams have played 9 times.  FAMU won the first meeting in 1979 and none ever since.  They last met in 2010, a 45-0 Miami win.)

- Howard vs. Rutgers (Howard will be looking to get MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Greg McGhee back on track after last week's 41-0 shellacking at Akron.  Rutgers hasn't been the place to do that in recent years. Howard has been outscored 127-14 in three previous games at Rutgers, a team trying to get ready for Penn State next week)

- William & Mary vs. Hampton (Hampton fought hard against Old Dominion in Connel Maynor's first game as head coach.  But William & Mary rushed for more than 277 yards in last season's 31-7 win over Hampton.  But this is a fiesty bunch of Pirates)

- Morgan State vs. Holy Cross (In their first meeting ever, these two squads both have something to prove.  New Morgan State head coach Lee Hull's team narrowly lost to Eastern Michigan last week and looks to continue their climb in the MEAC. Holy Cross was 3-9 last season, but they lost seven games by seven points or less.  Typically, they lost last week 14-13 to Albany)

- Savannah State vs. Georgia Southern (These two teams are right up the road from each other, so bragging rights are on the line. SSU has never won in Statesboro - or in any game in this series - and lost 77-9 last season to Georgia Southern)

- Liberty vs. Norfolk State (The Norfolk State defense was stout in last week's 10-6 lost to 25th-ranked Maine. Liberty fought hard against 23rd-ranked FBS squad North Carolina before folding late.  The difference between the two squads so far - offense.  The Spartans mustered only 100 yards and no touchdowns last week, while Liberty put up 346 yards and 29 points on the Tar Heels)

- Elizabeth City State vs. North Carolina Central (North Carolina Central has erased last week's embarrassing 52-7 loss to East Carolina to focus on CIAA foe, ECSU, a team that was 4-6 last season.NCCU is 8-2 in the last ten meetings between the two schools who haven't played since 2007)

- Delaware State vs. Delaware (This Route 1 Rivalry hasn't been competitive as DSU has won every game, with a combined score of 196-59.  But if the Hornets can put last week's 52-21 lost to Monmouth behind them, this may be their best chance for a win in this series.  Delaware was blown out by Pitt 62-0 last week. They return only 13 starters from last season's 7-5 squad and are picked to finish sixth in the Colonial Athletic Association)

-Tennessee State vs. Alabama State (Tennessee State, top ranked in the ADDS HBCU SPORTS REPORT HBCU FCS Top Ten Poll, wasn’t tested much in swamping Edward Waters 58-7 last week, through the ground game, with RB Tom Smith, shined. Alabama State, who is celebrating the inauguration of their new president, lost big to Sam Houston State last week, 51-20, and hasn't been close to TSU in since their last win in the series in 1981)

- Mississippi Valley State vs. Illinois State (Mississippi Valley State's 32-7 victory over University of Faith last week really didnt say much. Faith lost to Tusculum Thursday 71-0. MVSU has to stop ISU's top rusher, Marshuan Coprich and prove they are ready to battle a much tougher and more physical squad.

- Alcorn State vs. Southern Mississippi (Southern Miss was 0-11 last year. Alcorn State can run the football as they rushed for 331 yards last week against Virginia-Lynchburg)

- Alabama A&M vs. Tuskegee (Alabama A&M is hoping for a double bounce back.  They are looking for a better showing than last week's 47-13 drubbing by North Carolina A&T. And they want to erase the sting of last year's 23-7 loss to Tuskegee. That will be tough sledding as Tuskegee is stout and ranked 25th in the country)

- Concordia College vs. Arkansas Pine Bluff (UAPB is in need of a win after Texas State routed them 65-0. The UAPB defense gave up nearly 700 yards of offense and gave up scores on 10 of 11 possessions.  They should have a much easier time of it with Concordia, an NAIA team)

- Grambling State vs. Houston (Grambling is catching Houston at an interesting time.  The Cougars lost bad to UT-San Antonio last week, 27-7.  Their defense was okay, but the running game was non-existent. Grambling was competitive against Lamar in their 42-27 loss, even though they wore down in the second half)

- Virginia Lynchburg vs. Jackson State (J-State looked solid in beating FAMU 22-17 last week, picking up where they left off from last season's 8-4 record. Virginia Lynchburg was overmatched last week in their 55-7 loss to Alcorn State and likely will be in the same position this week in Jackson)

- Central Methodist vs. Southern (The defending SWAC champs likely wont be challenged much by Central Methodist.  Southern is coming off a hard defeat to Louisiana Lafayette, 47-7, and will be looking for a convincing win)
- Clark Atlanta vs. Central State (It's the first time these two teams have played each other. Clark Atlanta is looking for a football resurgence, led by running back Montavious Taylor and linebacker Bre'nard Williams.  Central State struggled through a 2-8 2013 season and look to be more competitive this season)

- Benedict vs. Lane (Lane is having to shore up a less than stellar defense last year and replace star quarterback Chris Rini. Benedict was over-matched at South Carolina State last week, losing 63-0. They aren't thinking about that. They likely are thinking on the lines of last year's game with Lane, one they won 48-13)

- Delta State vs. Fort Valley State (Delta State visits Fort Valley State ranked 19th in Division II.  The Statesmen score a lot of points and play solid defense.  But this has been a competitive series and Fort Valley State is trying to regain some of their past glory)

-Morehouse vs. Edward Waters (It’s a very important year for the Morehouse football program. Two years of early promise have become distant memories after three bad seasons. But there is promise in quarterback Marquese Johnson, running back Shedrick Hamilton, and a talented linebacking core. Edward Waters will quickly try to recover from being swamped by Tennessee State 58-7 last week.)

- West Alabama vs. Stillman (Its the inaugural Tiger Bowl, but the third time these teams have played each other with West Alabama winning all three games. West Alabama returns 10 starters from last season's 8-3 team.  Stillman was 6-5 last year, relying on a solid passing game)

- Albany State vs. Valdosta State (Valdosta State is 14-1 in this rivalry, but Albany State is no pushover, even for this perennial power. The defending SIAC champs return the SIAC's Offensive Player of the Year, Frank Rivers who threw 19 touchdowns last season)

- Shaw vs. Miles (Despite some decent recent seasons, Miles hasn't won a season-opener in four years.  Preseason SIAC Defensive Player of the Year Julantate English hopes to stop that streak. Shaw was 6-4 last season in the CIAA and features running back Marquise Grizzle, who had 1,276 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns last year)


- Siena Heights vs. Virginia Union (Former defensive line coach Mark James takes over at Virginia Union, a team that was 3-7 last year. Offense may be a problem for VUU as they lost their top two rushers from a run-first offense.  Siena Heights is a new NAIA program, just in existence for four years)

- St. Augustine's vs. Indiana (Pa.) (Defense and experience on offense will be what St. Aug will be leaning heavily on this season. But they start out with a tough matchup. Indiana (Pa) is ranked 20th in the country and was 9-2 last season)

 - Johnson C. Smith vs. Charlotte (The battle of Charlotte features an up and down JC Smith team that looked like world beaters the first half of 2013 but folded in the second half.  Talented quarterback Keahn Wallace returns.  Charlotte is deep and also features a strong quarterback in Matt Johnson)

- Saint Anselm vs. Bowie State (Keith Brown rushed for 1,132 yards last year for Bowie State, but he was on the thing consistent about an inconsistent team. Bowie beat Saint Anselm 42-28 last season, but surrendered three touchdown passes from Andrew Murphy)

- Virginia State vs. California (Pa.) (Virginia State finally gets to hit the field after the nasty way the 2013 season football season ended in the cancelled CIAA championship game against Winston Salem State.  VSU was 9-1 and return the bulk of a stout defense.  California (Pa) is no pushover.  They are 3-1 against CIAA teams and narrowly missed the NCAA Division II playoffs the last two seasons)

- Fayetteville State vs. Chowan (The achilles heel for Fayetteville State's 6-4 team last year was defense, which gave up nearly 400 yards a game. But on offense, they are solid and return key cogs on offense. The same could be said for Chowan, a team much was expected from last year but fell to 4-6 because of defense)


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