Mississippi Valley State is road tested and ready for its trip to Texas.
The Delta Devils stood toe-to-toe with a Tennessee State team that was a heavy favorite before eventually losing 26-20. While it was a tough way to start the season, there were still plenty of positives for the Delta Devils, who are seeking their first win of the young season Saturday against Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, at Provost Umphrey Stadium.
But second-year MVSU coach Vincent Dancy isn’t much on moral victories at this point.
“We had enough of those last year,” he said. “My job is to win football games, and we didn’t get it done. Our guys knew they let one get away.”
Valley enters Saturday’s matchup with at least one leg up on the Cardinals. The Delta Devils faced much tougher competition in Week 1, compared to the cake walk Lamar had with a 65-16 win in the opener, against NAIA opponent Bethel University.
One thing that needs to change for Valley to get in the win column this weekend is to find a way to run the ball. After struggling in that area a year ago, the Delta Devils managed just 42 yards on 18 carries against TSU. That means Valley threw the ball 52 times.
Look for that ratio to even out a little more on Saturday.
“We won’t always throw it that much. We want to be balanced and establish a run game. Most all of those passes came on (run-pass option plays), so our quarterback (Dejerric Bryant) is making those calls at the line.
“We knew it was going to be hard to run on such a big, physical front, so we tried to find one-on-one matchups on the outside.”
Asked what the main thing he learned in the season-opening loss, Dancy said, “I think we found out that I have a good team.”
Lamar comes into the game at 1-0 and hoping to build off its surprise success from last season, when the Cardinals made their first FCS playoff appearance in program history by winning its final six regular-season games, but preseason projections have them picked near the middle of the pack in the Southland Conference.
Any repeat success from last year is going to have to start with the run game on offense. Lamar returns four of the five offensive linemen who started against Northern Iowa in the playoffs, and running backs Myles Wanza and A.J. Walker are also back. Jordan Hoy — who once started at quarterback for Old Dominion against the ACC’s North Carolina — started three games last year and was very effective, and he is also a big-time threat to run. Statistically, this was one of the top rushing attacks in the nation last year (13th at 241.8 yards per game). Look for that success to continue.