Alabama State heads into their matchup with Mississippi Valley State with momentum coming off a win over an FCS top 25 opponent Tennessee State.
But head coach Reggie Barlow — like most coaches — still sees the need for improvement as the team enters SWAC play.
“Offensively the thing that sticks out when we watch game film is our play on third down,” Barlow said. “Some of that is what the defense does, but a lot of it falls on our guys executing the play correctly. Sometimes we don’t line up right or we miss an assignment and we have to get all of it right and get better on third down. Right now we are converting like 20 percent and that has to get better now that we are in conference action.
The two early-season opponents for the Hornets have been able to complete 54 percent of their pass attempts for 736 yards and five touchdowns.
“We are not playing zero (man-to-man) coverage’s so much this year like we did last year, we are playing a lot of zone and quarters coverage,” Barlow said. “We are not coming with as much pressure this year and our linebackers and defensive backs have to find the players that come into their area and challenge them.”
“Last year we put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks because we were bringing pressure and we are not doing that as much this year, so the quarterbacks are having a little more time to get rid of the ball. Another thing is we have played two nationally-ranked teams that are very big and very good across the offensive line and that can cut down on pressure as well, but we have to get better at both putting pressure on the quarterback and challenging the receivers down the field.”