Defense, Offense expected to perform at high level this season

According to the offensive and defensive coaches of the Alcorn State University football team, both sides of the ball are looking exceptional.

Tony Pecoraro, who is entering his third season as the defensive coordinator, is looking forward to leading his defenses to a successful season. His demand for them to reach their full potential has reached his squad. He has faith that if his team applies his teachings, they will have an impressive season.

“Our job is to make sure that we work harder, smarter and tougher than our opponents and if we do that, the score board will take care of itself,” said Pecoraro.

With five top defensive players returning, Pecoraro experienced defense is expected to perform at a high level.

“The linebackers, led by senior Will Thomas and junior Damin Watkins, have had a good camp. Both are valuable assets to our defense. They have improved their technique and have become bigger, faster and stronger. Sophomores Darien Anderson and Micheal Hurns have a better knowledge of the defense and junior Jestin Williams has improved after playing lots of snaps at the linebacker last year.”

The younger players ability to understand the defense as well as the upper classmen makes Pecoraro more confident in his team.

“The biggest improvements we have made are feeling more comfortable with the depth and knowledge of the younger players knowing our defense. When you have backups who are just as knowledgeable as the starters, it makes a very competitive locker room.”

Switching gears to the offensive side of the ball, Willie Simmons, who will also start his third season with the Braves as offensive coordinator, is pleased with how the offensive has come along.

“The offense is starting to hit its stride just in time for the start of the season. I think they are getting into playing shape and it will be interesting to see how they perform when the lights come on. Our veteran guys are starting to become leaders of this unit and some newcomers are really turning heads,” said Simmons.

Simmons said that the offenses’ overall awareness of the game has improved, making them a more cohesive unit.

“I think the players have improved in their overall understanding of the scheme. The “whys” are beginning to be understood, along with a general understanding of what the defense is trying to do to defend us. Basically, their overall knowledge of the game is increasing.”

The running backs have really pleased Simmons with their play. He believes that their progress will position them as the best rushing core in the SWAC.

“I am very pleased with our running backs. AS a group, they are very committed. They all understand that they have huge shoes to fill, but I feel that they are all up for the challenge. Each player brings a unique skill set to the position, so we will be very diverse, which is a good thing.”