In the final preview of the Cougars opponents, we look at the Savannah State Tigers:
2013 Record: 1-11 (0-8 in MEAC)
2014 Game, date, and location: Saturday November 20th at Lavell Edwards Stadium
Head coach Earnest J. Wilson III has been the head coach at Savannah State for a complete season now. He played at Texas Tech and has coached at colleges and semi-pro teams across the country mostly in the role of offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. One of his coaching stops was a position as offensive assistant under Penn State coach Joe Paterno in the early 90s. His first season at Savannah State was mostly a forgettable one. They were only able to win their third game against Ft. Valley State at home. Many of their losses were also ugly blowouts. I have to imagine that their coaching staff is feeling at least a little heat for their poor start, and that administration could be looking for an out if this season gets off to a poor start. Their game against BYU is their last game, so Coach Wilson’s fate will be mostly decided by that time.
The Tigers return starting QB Leon Prunty from last season, but they have an exciting JC transfer from Eastern Arizona named Ker-Sean Wilson who had a great performance in the spring game. He is a dual threat QB who passed for 115 yards and ran for 62 yards with the snaps he was given. Consistent QB play will be crucial as they try to erase the bad memories from last season. Tigers fans are starting to get excited about an up and coming sophomore running back names Alex Simmons. He could develop into a productive force and maybe take some pressure off of the QB, which would be crucial if they hope to threaten the Cougars.
The anchor of last year’s defense was the linebacking core of Marquis Smith and Justin Dixon. They both return for Savannah State this season and will provide some veteran leadership on a porous unit. There were a handful of JC transfers that could add some playmaking ability, but pay close attention to Smith and Dixon because they will be the major pieces for the Tigers.
The Tiger’s defense is the X Factor if they want to have any chance to pull off the miracle upset. They allowed an average of 43 points per game last season, and their opponents were not exactly the cream off the crop. They need to find a way to force some BYU turnovers and keep Taysom Hill from completely controlling the clock with their dominant running attack.
I do not believe predicting a BYU victory in this game exactly qualifies as bold. This will be a good "pad the stats game" for the BYU seniors as the Cougars end the season on what will hopefully be a very high note.
Savannah State University is one of the oldest historically black colleges that was started as a public school.
Savannah State is the alma mater of Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. He participated in football, basketball, and track before going to the NFL and winning three Super Bowl rings and leading every major statistical category for the tight end position.