Tigers, Jags Open 2011 Season
Tennessee State opens the season hosting the thirteenth John Merritt Classic. This year's contest pits the Tigers of Tennessee State University against the Jaguars of Southern University.
This is the second meeting in the John Merritt Classic between Tennessee State and Southern.The previous game, played in 2008, saw the Tigers hold off a late Jaguar rally to win 34-32.
Recently, these two teams have played three times in the last four years, with Southern holding a 2-1 edge. Historically, Tennessee State and Southern have played forty times since 1945, with the Tigers holding a 26-12-2 advantage.
Both teams enter the 2011 season with second year coaches looking to rebound from subpar records in their first year. Tennessee State's Rod Reed finished the 2010 campaign with a 3-8 record and Southern's Stump Mitchell finished 2-9 in his initial campaign. Both teams ended the season with six-game losing streaks.
Tennessee State will return a solid core of sixteen veterans which, 10 offense, 6 defense. Depth will come from a talented corps of redshirt players. How quickly these young Tigers learn the speed of the game will go a long way toward success this season.
The Tiger defense is led by a solid linebacking corps, headed by senior Rico of the year. Sophomore Wilson Robinson, earn OVC Newcomer team honors last year and senior John Jones, Jr. returns after sitting out last year.
The kicking game seems solid through summer camp with sophomore Jamin Godfrey handling place-kicking chores and freshman Matt Moseley doing a solid job with the punting.
For Southern, coach Stump Mitchell feels his road to success will come from a more disciplined team.
The Jaguars offensive attack is led by quarterback Dray Joseph. His top receiver is LaQuinton Evans. At running back Brandon Rice is the projected starter, but he was injured in preseason drills. A trio of backs, Dallas Fort, Terrell Alex and Jerry Joseph have fought to get playing time in the early season.
On defense, the Jaguars lost all four of their starting linemen. The projected starters are, DE-Jaylen Jordan; DT-Casey Narcisse; DT-Brandon Turner and DE-Kedy Enabulele. All are veterans, but "are a work in progress."
Last year, Southern ranked 5th in the SWAC in run defense. Kick off for the John Merritt Classic is set for 6:00p at LP Field in Nashville.
The game will be broadcast on the Heritage Sports Radio Network (HSRN) and can be heard live on Sirius|XM satellite radio, Channel 137 and www.HSRN.COM.