September 5, 2012

Know your opponent: Savannah State

2012 Record: 0-1 (1-10 in 2011), lost 84-0 to Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Starters returning: 11 total, offensive and five defensive.

Breaking it down: There is no way to sugarcoat it, plainly put the Savannah State Tigers will be perhaps the worst team to ever set foot on Bobby Bowden field at Doak Campbell Stadium.

After a 1-10 season last year, including a 1-7 record in the MEAC, the Tigers opened up 2012 with an 84-0 loss to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys racked up 682 yards of total offense and 84 points with a time of possession of just 25:47. OSU scored nine times on the ground and three times through the air.

Head Coach Steve Davenport, in his second season as Savannah State has said multiple times that the first two games on the schedule for his team are all about the money and he's not even counting them as regular season contests.

"Our number one goal was not to win either of these games," Davenport said on Saturday. "Our goal is to win the conference championship. We have got another preseason game in Tallahassee (this) week, then our season gets underway."

Through the air

Player to watch:

QB Antonio Bostick (Jr.)

2011 Passing: 67-170 755 yards, 4 TDs, 8 interceptions

2011 Rushing: 82 carries, 93 yards, 3 TDs

Saturday will be a homecoming for Bostick. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound signal caller grew up just outside of Tallahassee in Qunicy, and played for West Gadsden High School.

Bostick split time at QB the past two season with Alfred DeFillips, who graduated after last season. Against OSU Bostick was 12 of 25 for 81 yards with two interceptions.

His top target on Saturday was junior wide out Edward Lackey, who hauled in five passes for 29 yards. 2011-leading receiver Dylan Cook also returns this season, he had two catches for 15 yards against OSU. Sophomore tight end Kris Drummond is also expected to be a big weapon for Bostick. Drummond had just one catch against the Cowboys, but was voted preseason second team All-MEAC by the league's coaches.

Pounding the ground

Player to watch:

RB Sheldon Barnes (Jr.)

2011 Rushing: 33 carries, 184 yards, 1 TD

Much like the Tigers' passing game, the running game leaves much to be desired. Savannah Stat averaged just 88.6 yards per game last season and a measly 2.7 yards per carry.

Sheldon Barnes is the leading returning rusher with 184 yards on 33 carries last season. On Saturday it was true freshman Alex Simmons who led the way on the ground with 40 yards on nine carries. Barnes had just 14 yards on 9 carries.

Bostick also presents a threat to run, scoring three times on the ground last season.

Getting defensive

Player to watch:

DB John Wilson (Jr.)

2011 Stats: 60 tackles, 1 interception, 10 pass breakups

While the Tigers' offensive numbers aren't pretty, they pale in comparison to the defensive stats SSU put up a year ago. Teams averaged 40.2 points per game and 452.1 yards per game last year.

Opposing offenses passed for an average of 224.7 yards per game and ran for an average of 227.4 per game, and 5.5 yards per carry a season ago.

Sophomore John Wilson is the leading returning tackler with 60 stops. He also had 10 PBUs, a pick, and a forced fumble. Wilson did have an interception against the Cowboys last week. He is the cousin of Atlanta Falcons' defensive back Dante Robinson.

The Tigers do return an experienced--albeit undersized--defensive line. Sophomore Leroy Cummings headlines the unit. As a true freshman Cummings had a team-high six sacks to go along with 9.5 tackles for loss, and 28 total tackles. His performance prompted Phil Steel to name him to his 2012 preseason All-MEAC Team. Against OSU he had three tackles, one for loss.

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