HBCU Football Wrap-Up

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    The big question facing Jackson State coming into this season was could the Tigers find an adequate replacement for Casey Therriault, their record-setting All-American quarterback of the past seasons.

    The big question facing Jackson State coming into this season was could the Tigers find an adequate replacement for Casey Therriault, their record-setting All-American quarterback of the past seasons.

    The jury is still out after three games. However, University of Akron transfer Clayton Moore made a strong case that there is life after Therriault with a scintillating performance in his first start for the Tigers as Jackson State Texas Southern 45-35 last weekend,  and he will under center Saturday against Southern University in the W.C. Gorden Classic at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Miss.

    Moore replaced Dedric McDonald who started the Tigers’ first two games – both losses – and Therriault-like stat line against Texas Southern. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Moore also rushed for 101 yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground en route to being named SWAC Newcomer of the Week. His stats compared favorably to those that Therriault (328.5 yards passing a game) put up during his two-year career as Jackson State’s starter.

    Jackson State had by far its most productive offensive game of the season with Moore at the helm The Tigers amassed 542 total yards after averaging 318.5 and only scoring two touchdowns in their first two games.

    “We wanted to do a little bit more in terms of running the quarterback more,’’ Jackson State coach Rick Comegy says, who indicated he didn’t necessarily change quarterbacks because McDonald was playing poorly. “We felt Clayton could do that, check down and run the ball. He’s not a bad runner and will take a hit. Sometimes you need a change for the team. He gave us the spark that we needed to fight hard. It worked out well for us.’’

    Comegy hasn’t ruled out the possibility of McDonald getting back on the field. But he says unequivocally that the starting job at this point is Moore’s to loose.

    “I’m a 60-minute guy, old fashioned guy,’’ Comegy says, ruling out the possibility of Moore and McDonald splitting time. “If a guy is the quarterback, he’s our quarterback. I’m not looking to change. I had to make a change. McDonald may not be happy about the change. But as head coaches we have to make decision while thinking of what’s best for the body. If he’s not hot, we’ll go with McDonald if he’s hot. He has done that. What he does is he will keep us competitive.’’

    Moore, a native of Louisville, Miss., where he was a one of the state’s top prospects, took a circuitous route to Jackson State. He was kicked off his school team late in his senior season following an altercation with his coach. That led Ole Miss to pull the scholarship it had offered him. Moore still went to Ole Miss as a walk-on, but he didn’t play. The following year, he started for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and threw for 2,395 yards and 23 touchdowns.

    That paved the way for him to enroll at the University of Akron. There Moore started all 12 games in 2011 and threw for 1,655 yards as the Zips posted a 1-11 record. However, he was the odd man out when a new coaching staff was hired at the end of the season and told him he would be No. 3 on the depth chart when spring drills began.
    Moore packed his bags and transferred to Jackson State as the heir apparent to
    Therriault’s job. But at the end of preseason practice, McDonald, not Moore, was named the starter. Moore was regulated to mop up duty in the Tigers first two games, a 56-9 thumping by Mississippi State and 38-12 loss to Tennessee State. His stats: 23-for-38 and 201 yards passing and 45 yards rushing on 11 carries.

    Moore was one of the Tigers’ few bright spots in their loss to Tennessee State as he completed 18 of 28 passes for 184 yards in relief of McDonald.

    Moore’s debut as Jackson State’s starter will be a difficult act to follow considering his lack of familiarity with the offense since he didn’t go through spring practice the team. However, Comegy is encouraged by how quickly Moore has picked up the Tigers’ offensive scheme, and he is optimistic that he will have an even better grasp of it in the coming weeks.

    “He’s in sync and learning the offense,’’ Comegy says. “He hasn’t gotten it all down yet. He will catch up.’’

    Moore’s second start comes against a Southern University team that’s in flux after Stump Mitchell was fired following a 6-0 loss to Mississippi Valley State last week and replaced by defensive coordinator Dawson Odums on an interim basis. The Jaguars are 0-2. Mitchell, who was in his third season at the Jaguars’ helm, was 6-18 after replacing Pete Richardson.

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