By BILL BURRUS
Vincent Dancy was grateful for the fist win of the season, but he needs more from the Delta Devils if they are to keep on winning.
A visit from reeling Virginia-Lynchburg was just what the doctor ordered for Mississippi Valley State last weekend. The Delta Devils got their first win of the season, snapping a nine-game losing skid with a 31-23 homecoming victory last Saturday.
Winless Virginia-Lynchburg, which has an enrollment just above 300 students and no full-scholarship athletes, was supposed to be the sacrificial lamb served for homecoming at Rice-Totten Stadium, but the Dragons put up more resistance than many anticipated.
“It was a win but it wasn’t a win that we thought was a good win. We’ll take any win but I thought our level of focus wasn’t there last Saturday,” Dancy said.
“We came out and we just weren’t ourselves for some strange reason. Offensively, I think we struggled, it probably was the worst performance of this season. Defensively you look at the statistics. They’re there but I don’t think we played our best game, and we just got to find out a way to regain our focus this week.
“Got a great opponent this week coming up in Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and we just got to figure out throughout this week how we get our mental preparation back.”
Valley plays at Pine Bluff at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Lions have been one of the surprise teams in the SWAC so far — sitting at 4-2 after the Golden Lions finished tied for last in the SWAC Western division at 2-9 overall and 1-6 in league play in Cedric Thomas’ first year as head coach in 2018.
Thomas has started turning things around, much like Dancy hopes to do at Valley, which hasn’t had a winning season since 2006.
“Man, I think Coach Thomas is doing a great job with that program, kind of sort of in the same situation that I’m in you know two young men who are trying to build and create a culture around a program but he’s done a marvelous job in his second season to have that team 4-2 right now and beat some big-time opponents,” Dancy said. “We have our hands full, right now we gotta play great, we have to play a great football game to win on Saturday but our young men know it, we see them on film, we understand what they have, they have two of the best dynamic duos at running back in this conference.
“I believe that hands down, and one of the best receivers in this conference so we have our hands full offensively and defensively they’re putting it together right now and they’re playing good football and we have to go out and have great practices to beat this team.”
The biggest change has come on defense.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff ranked dead last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference in scoring defense, allowing 43.2 points per game, and total defense, giving up 558.1 yards per game, in 2018.
Thomas, a former cornerback at UAPB, is now handling the defensive play-calling duties, something that he felt he had to do after last season’s problems.
Thomas’ defense faces a MVSU attack that struggled last week against an inferior foe.
“We did a great job running the ball for us but the passing game we struggled in with both quarterbacks so like I said we just gotta find a way to do a better job of executing the plays that are called.”
nContact Bill Burrus at 581-7237 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter:@Bill_Burrus.