If Jay Hopson wants to find out how good his Alcorn State team is, well, he will find out very quickly.
The Alcorn State head coach's high flying offense, which returns all 11 starters from a team that won the Southwestern Athletic Conference title and the 2014 ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT's FCS HBCU Football National Championship will get a huge test against ACC power, 16th ranked Georgia Tech Thursday night in Atlanta.
"Derek Horne, our athletic director, asked and it was a game I certainly approved of, and those are the kind of opponents we want to play," Hopson told the Jackson Clarion Ledger. "We want to play Georgia Tech, Texas, whoever ... We know they're a great football team. They're Orange Bowl champions. We know it's a big challenge, but it's a game we're excited to play and we're looking forward to it."
The Braves, the top team in this year's ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS Football Preseason Top Ten Poll, will try to show a Fox Sports South television crowd why they are the nation's best team in HBCU football. Senior quarterback John Gibbs Jr. who threw for nearly 2,500 yards and rushed for just over 1,000 yards leads the Alcorn State offense.
But they face a team that also sports a prolific offense. The Yellow Jackets run a triple-option that averaged 342 yards a game, 6.1 yards a carry, which was second best nationally. Tech's quarterback, Justin Thomas, also rushed for more than 1,000 yards (1,086) and threw for nearly 1,800 yards.
It's one of the main reasons the Yellow Jackets were picked to win the ACC Coastal Division in 2015.
It's also why the Braves are excited, Gibbs said.
"It's a terrific opportunity," he told the Clarion Ledger. "It's a chance to make history. We had a chance against Southern Miss last year, but fell six points short. We have another chance again this season to make history and prove (ourselves) to the world and shock everyone."
Winston Salem State, the third-ranked Division II team in the ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT Division II Preseason Football Top Ten Poll, isn't wasting any time. in trying to regain the form they had in winning the CIAA title two years ago. They kick off the HBCU Division II season Thursday night with their matchup at UNC-Pembroke.
Pembroke finished 2-8 last year as they look to take another step in their rebuilding effort. But WSSU is on a mission after finishing 9-2 but losing the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association title to Virginia State and missing out on the NCAA Division II playoffs. Plus they defeated Pembroke easily last season, 38-7.
But this Rams team is full of question marks as 18 of 22 starters are gone from last year's squad. Every starter from last season's defense is also gone, though All-CIAA defensive end Michael Bloomfield returns.
|WSSU's Michael Bloomfield|
Here is the complete ADD'S HBCU SPORTS REPORT FCS and Division II Preseason HBCU Football Top Ten poll:
1) Alcorn State
2) North Carolina A&T
3) South Carolina State
4) Grambling State
6) North Carolina Central
8) Alabama State
9) Morgan State
10) Tennessee State
2) Virginia State
3) Winston Salem State
4) Albany State
5) Fayetteville State
8) Bowie State
10) Elizabeth City State