Valdosta Daily Times

October 30, 2012

Blazers move up in Super Region rankings, Top 25

Cochran honored by conference

Ed Hooper
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State football team moved up one spot in the latest Super Region II rankings, released Monday afternoon.

The Blazers moved up to No. 3 in the rankings, following a 37-6 win over Gulf South Conference newcomer Shorter last Thursday.

A win this Thursday night over Texas A&M-Kingsville and a loss by a higher seeded team over the final two weeks of the regular season could move the Blazers into one of the top two seeds in the region.

The top two seeds in each region are awarded a bye week in the first round of the Division II playoffs.

“The bottom line is we have to win,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “Wherever they put us we are going to be happy. We have mixed emotions about being the No. 1 or 2 seed, because (we) are going to have 23 days before we play again. But that is just 23 days we have to heal up and rest some wounds.”

“As long as we are one of the six, we are happy,” Dean continued. “But it all depends on what we do Thursday night. We have to win.”

Miles remained the top-ranked team in the region with an 8-1 record, followed by West Alabama, who clinched at least a share of the Gulf South Conference championship this past weekend with a 37-7 rout of Delta State.

Mars Hill, No. 2 in the first region rankings last week, slid two spots to No. 4. Carson-Newman is fifth, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne, who moved up one spot from seventh.

Fort Valley State is down one spot to seventh, followed by UNC-Pembroke, Albany State and North Alabama.

The top six seeds in each region qualify for the playoffs, which begin Nov. 17. The final region rankings are released Sunday, Nov. 11.

If the playoffs were to begin this week, Miles and West Alabama would     receive the bye weeks, while Valdosta State would host Lenoir-Rhyne and Mars Hill would host Carson-Newman.

The regional rankings weren’t the only rankings the Blazers moved up in on Monday. VSU also moved back into the American Football Coaches' Association's Top 25 Poll.

Valdosta State is ranked 24th in the poll.

Gulf South Conference champion West Alabama, who secured at least a share of the GSC title with a win over Delta State on Saturday, also moved back into the Top 25; the Wolves are ranked 21st.

Seven Top 25 teams lost this past weekend, opening the door for reshuffling in this week's poll. The three spots remained the same, with Colorado State-Pueblo remaining as the nation's top-ranked team. Winston-Salem state (N.C.) is ranked second, followed by New Haven (Conn.).

Cochran named GSC Player of the Week

Quarterback Cayden Cochran has been named the Gulf South Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

Cochran completed 20 of 23 passes for 212 yards with two touchdowns. He also added 15 yards on the ground and a first quarter rushing touchdown.

The redshirt junior from Cashion, Okla. scored VSU's first touchdown in last Thursday's 37-6 win over Shorter, when he sneaked into the end zone on a 1-yard QB keeper.

He threw his first touchdown of the night in the second quarter, connecting with junior Gerald Ford on an 8-yard passing score. In the third quarter, Cochran connected with fellow junior Regginald Lewis from 17 yards out, which put the Blazers in front 31-0.

So far this season, Cochran has completed 114 of 183 passes to lead the Blazers with 1,506 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Cochran’s award marks the third consecutive week a Blazer player was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Week. Two weeks ago, linebacker Chris Pope and kicker Daniel Andersen were both honored. Last week, Andersen was honored again, along with wide receiver Seantavious Jones.

Valdosta State hosts Kingsville Thursday night at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. and the game will air live as the GSC-TV Game of the Week.