September 13th, 2023 6:00am
Week Two saw five Gulf South wins in non-conference play and Delta State open the conference slate with an expected dominant win on the road. This week sees three League matchups on the schedule and a host of quality non-conference contests including West Florida looking for an upset on the road.
Gulf South Week Two Results
West Alabama 27, Limestone 13
Delta State 42, Chowan 18*
West Florida 35, McKendree 3
Shorter 28, Erskine 7
Valdosta State 21, Albany State 16
North Greenville 24, Newberry 14
Midwestern State 30, Mississippi College 17
Texas A&M-Kingsville 20, West Georgia 17
Gulf South Week Three Matchups (all times Eastern)
*denotes Gulf South Conference game
Chowan (0-2, 0-1 GSC) at Shorter (1-1, 0-0 GSC)*
Saturday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 PM | Rome, Ga. | Stats
Chowan got a rude welcome to the Gulf South last weekend in a 24-point loss to League favorite Delta State in its home opener. A scoreless second half, coupled with a rushing attack that managed just 85 yards led to a second straight loss for an undisciplined Chowan team that also racked up 16 total penalties in the contest. Running back Jakari Norwood was a bright spot on offense, scoring two short-yardage touchdowns in the first half.
Shorter picked up it’s first win over future GSC foe Erskine College last Saturday behind a balanced offense that had 197 yards through the air and another 175 yards on the ground. Quarterback Josh Brown, the reigning GSC Freshman of the Week, was as efficient as they come, completing 15-0f-18 pass attempts for 197 yards and a score. Running backs Jaiden Dollard (two touchdowns) and Noah Holland (one touchdown) did the damage on the ground. The SU defense had nine total tackles for loss, including two tackles for loss and two sacks from transfer lineman Jahseim Henry.
In a battle of the Hawks, it will be Shorter coming out on top in this one. Shorter makes fewer mistakes overall (no turnovers in 2023 and just 15 penalties) in comparison to Chowan (four turnovers, 22 penalties), which will play a big part in a game where Chowan will be short-handed following a bevy of suspensions resulting from a late-game brawl last week.
My pick: Shorter
The Argos are rolling right now following a 35-3 drubbing of McKendree on the back of Gulf South Offensive Player of the Week PeeWee Jarrett. In just two games, the senior has already amassed 559 passing yards, 54 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns as UWF has outscored each opponent by 32 points to open the season. The defense has also been opportunistic, totaling three turnovers and 11 sacks, including five quarterback takedowns by John McMullen which leads all divisions of NCAA football. For his efforts, McMullen was the Week Two GSC Defensive Player of the Week.
Despite a loss to FBS opponent South Florida in Week Two, the Florida A&M defense recorded six sacks and held the Bulls to just 360 yards. Isaiah Land was a standout on defense in the game, recording 11 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. Through the season’s first two games, the Rattlers are averaging nearly 400 yards of total offense per game while a stingy defense is limiting opponents to just 331.5 yards per game. The only low spot thus far for Florida A&M has been turnovers, as the team has given the ball up five times (three interceptions and two fumbles) already.
This could be a high-scoring affair IF West Florida’s offense can match the speed of the Florida A&M defense. We’ve seen a number of Division II school’s pull off ‘upsets’ over FCS schools already this season, but I’m not sure this will be another one. I’ll be happy to be wrong, but the Rattlers’ defensive superiority may take over down the stretch. Tallahassee isn’t an easy place for opposing teams to play as Florida A&M is currently riding a 15-game home win streak.
My pick: Florida A&M
The Mississippi Valley offense was practically anemic in last week’s season-opening loss to Central State, amassing just 296 yards with only 3.7 yards per play. Defensively, the Delta Devils gave up almost 400 yards through the air as the Kendrick Wade Era (a former Delta State assistant coach) started on a sour note.
Delta State, in contrast, has averaged 45 points and 465 yards of offense per game to start the season with consecutive victories. Quarterback Patrick Shegog (612 yards, eight touchdowns, zero interceptions) may have his way with a weak MVSU secondary. Look for the defense, which has only given up 19 points per game, to be opportunistic and add to its takeaway total (one interception, three fumbles).
This is a no-brainer. The Statesmen are finally home after two weeks on the road to open the season and are sure to be the superior talent between the lines as they have been so far in 2023.
My pick: Delta State
Another Gulf South opponent is on the schedule for Keiser, the fourth-ranked team in NAIA, after the Seahawks fell 17-14 to Mississippi College to open the 2023 campaign. Keiser’s prominent offense was on display last week against fellow NAIA program Lindsey Wilson in a four-point victory. KU had 30 points with 343 yards of offense, scoring four touchdowns on the ground and overcoming two interceptions thrown by quarterback Bryce Veasley. The grad student has already given the ball up three times through the air, but has scored twice on the ground.
Valdosta State looks to be returning to form in the second year of Tremaine Jackson’s system, bullying the Albany State program last week in a hard-fought win on the road. The Blazers’ run game is averaging over 236 yards per contest as three different players have run for over 100 yards in just two games. Hopefully quarterback Sammy Edwards finds his footing in this one (just 79 passing yards last week) to build momentum going forward.
The Blazers’ speed and size are poised to take over the game early in VSU’s second home game of the year. A ‘buy game’ almost guarantees a Valdosta State win and the chance to rest some key players in the second half as the team prepares for Gulf South play starting next week.
My pick: Valdosta State
West Alabama evened its early season record with last week’s win over regional foe Limestone on the road, showing off its defensive prowess by holding the Saints to just 60 rushing yards and intercepting three passes. Lineman Jamal Ellis had two of the defense’s five total sacks and nine tackles for loss, while the offense converted the three takeaways into 14 points. The Tigers had a new face under center, replacing Week One starter Tucker Melton with fellow sophomore Spencer Arceneaux who provided enough spark with 168 passing yards and three total touchdowns (two passing, one rushing).
The Crusaders also evened their season record with a win last week (although many believe they should be 2-0) over in-state rival Newberry College. North Greenville went ahead 14-0 after one quarter of play and never looked back as quarterback Dylan Ramirez found his groove with 258 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Dre Williams, a running back turned wide receiver, is the go-to option out of the slot and has totaled 12 receptions for 176 yards and two scores already this year. The NGU defense held Newberry to just 253 total yards and has held each of its opponents to under 300 yards to start the year with at least one takeaway in each game.
Expect another low-scoring grinder in this one, but both sides are capable of exploding for big plays. North Greenville’s offense has a few more playmakers, but the offensive line will have its hands full against a West Alabama defensive front that has 19.5 through two games this year. If Ramirez can cut down on the turnovers (three interceptions in two games), the Crusaders could start the Gulf South schedule 1-0 in front of its home crowd for the first time this season.
My pick: North Greenville
Well, West Georgia made noise last week when the Department of Athletics announced it would begin the transition to NCAA Division I in 2024 with a move to the Atlantic Sun Conference. This news came prior to a Saturday evening loss to Texas A&M - Kingsville where quarterback Cameron Brown played almost the entire second half and finished with 73 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and two touchdowns after replacing starter Ben Whitlock who was pulled after throwing three interceptions. Whitlock wasn’t the only Wolves’ player bit by the turnover bug as UWG gave the ball away seven (!) total times and only lost by three points. The defense combatted those turnovers by holding the Javelinas to just 212 yards, but positive field position after turnovers allowed Texas A&M - Kingsville to convert two field goals while also returning an interception for a score in the second quarter.
Despite a second half lead, the Choctaws were outscored 17-0 in the fourth quarter in a non-conference loss to Midwestern State in Texas. Mississippi College is again one of the top rushing attacks in Division II with 233 rushing yards per game to start the year, led by Ron Craten (186 yards and a touchdown) and quarterback John Henry White (151 yards and a touchdown). The MC defense forced three turnovers in the loss (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and have five takeaways this year.
If the Wolves give Whitlock another chance, you can expect him to be on a short lease and give way once again to Brown and his dual-threat capabilities. I think the Choctaw offense just doesn’t have enough fire power to keep up in this one. West Georgia may have added motivation after falling out of the D2Football.com Top 25 for the first time in over a year’s time.
My pick: West Georgia