Alabama State aims to right the ship against Savannah State

The scheduling fates have shined on struggling Alabama State, which sees winless Savannah State on Saturday after enjoying a bye week.

Coach Reggie Barlow says the time away gave his team some time to heal, both physically and emotionally. The Hornets needed some respite, after slumping to three straight losses. “We came right out the gate and started our conference slate,” Barlow said.

Alabama State had opened the 2010 season with three wins, including a road victory over defending Southwestern Athletic Conference champion Prairie View A&M. They then fell against Alcorn State, Texas Southern and Grambling.

Up next: Alabama State (3-3, 3-3 in SWAC) plays host to 0-7 Savannah State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cramton Bowl.

Savannah will start redshirt freshman quarterback Antonio Bostick for the fourth straight game, after a leg injury felled junior A.J. DeFilippis. So far, Bostick has passed for 414 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions — all the while running for his life. He has been sacked a staggering 11 times, including five in one game against Florida A&M. Bostick has piled up a team-high 71 carries, for 207 yards.

Still, don’t think for a moment that Barlow is overlooking this MEAC provisional program.

“We played Savannah last year, and it was a tough game,” Barlow said. “We barely got out of there with a victory. They have had a challenging season, but they will still come in here try to get a victory on us. We have to be ready to play.”

[ALABAMA STATE coach Reggie Barlow left with a profound respect for the Texas Southern defense.]

Key injuries for Alabama State have included tailback Tim Clark (concussion); right tackle Bruce Beal (high ankle sprain); left tackle Terren Jones (bruised left foot); defensive tackles Akeem Moore (hip flexor) and DreQuay Everett (knee); and cornerback D’Antoine Hood (knee). Knee injuries also felled cornerback Jamire Williams and receiver Chris Thomas.

The absence of Beal and Jones has slowed the Hornets rushing attack — and complicated the early going for young quarteback Devin Dominguez, who had been benched in the second quarter of two straight contests going into this bye. Alabama State is sticking with him, though.

“We’ve gotten some guys back healthy, and worked on smaller things to get our quarterback play back to being consistent,” Barlow said. “Last week gave us an opportunity to focus on that. We know one thing: We have to run the ball better. Andrew Pitts hasn’t had the amount of carries that he should. Once we run the ball better, it will help us in our passing game. You go from those long third downs to third and managables. That gives us an opportunity to have more success on offense.”

Alabama State is No. 6 in the 10-team SWAC for rushing, with just 94 yards per game. Pitts is averaging only 47 yards a night.


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