Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

November 4, 2011

Blazers enjoy week off; prepare for UNA

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State football team won’t meet again until Sunday evening.

At that time, the Blazers will turn their focus towards Gulf South Conference rival North Alabama, the same team that knocked the Blazers out of the Division II playoffs last season.

Next Saturday, North Alabama can, once again, end the Blazers season with a victory, as the meeting will mark a likely elimination game for both schools.

Riding a two-game losing streak, the Blazers enjoyed a week off this week, practicing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before taking today and Saturday off.

After all, Valdosta State opened the season with nine straight games before their lone bye week.

“We had a good week of practice for the off week,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “It is hard to practice during the off week. I think our guys are excited to have the opportunity to take a weekend off.”

While the Blazers are enjoying the week off, North Alabama is set to host West Georgia on Saturday in Florence, Ala.

“We started to watch some film, and we’ll come in here on Sunday and watch the West Georgia film to see if they did anything different through the season,” Dean said. “It is going to be hard to gauge this game. You look at North Alabama and they play  to the level of their competition.”

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Saturday’s 23-20 loss to West Georgia marked the second straight week the Valdosta State Blazers fell in the final minute of a game, after following to Delta State the prior week.

With back-to-back late game collapses by the VSU defense, questions have started to surface about the success of the co-defensive coordinator rolls by Seth Wallace and Earl Chambers.

On Thursday, Dean put the questions and speculation about the success of the system to rest, noting the defenses success earlier this season.

“Everybody looks at the last two ball games and the last two drives of those ball games, and starts to point fingers and say ‘what is wrong with the defense,’” Dean said. “You look back at what (the defense) did, they kept us in the ball game at Arkansas-Monticello, they basically won the game with West Alabama. They kept us in the game at Wingate, Newberry, so it has been successful.”

According to Dean, the coaches make game decisions together, talking through headsets on the sidelines.

Through the first nine games of the season, the VSU defense is allowing 360 yards per game, while the Blazers are surrendering 23.2 points to opposing teams.

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Through the Blazers two-game losing streak, the productivity of the Blazers’ receiving corps has decreased, especially with sophomore Quin Roberson.

After recording, 27 catches through VSU’s first six games this season, Roberson has managed just one catch for 11 yards during the past two games.

“There is a little frustration, but at the same time I see other guys making plays,” Roberson said.

Drops have also plagued the Blazer receivers, especially Roberson, who said he has become content over the past few weeks.

“It really has been a pain in our butts lately,” Roberson said. “I mean, we are doing extra drills, pushups and updowns for drops. Trying to eliminate all kinds of drops.”

Roberson, a Colquitt County alumnus, also gave his prediction for tonight’s meeting between the Packers and Wildcats. Roberson nearly guaranteed a Packer victory, as he said he will be taking in the game on Valdosta State’s night off.

“I will be at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium,” Roberson said. “And, Colquitt County will win by 14 points. Colquitt by 14.”

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True freshman running back Troy Braswell stole the show this past Saturday, racking up 188 yards for the Blazers.

While Braswell shined, junior Theseus Jackson was hampered with a leg injury, which he suffered in the game against West Alabama.

“I’m feeling good, but I am not 100 percent,” Jackson said on Thursday. “I am all right.”

Jackson said the rest between the West Georgia game and the North Alabama game will benefit him, saying the coaching staff will have to cut his leg off so he won’t start.

“I get to rest more and just take an easy,” Jackson said. “But, they are definitely going to have to cut my leg off in order for me not to start.”

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