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Sneak Peek: The Alcorn State Braves

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Auburn will open the 2020 season against an Alcorn State team seeking their 3rd consecutive SWAC title.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 21 Celebration Bowl - NC A&T v Alcorn State Photo by Austin McAfee/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking a quick look at every Auburn opponent on the 2020 schedule.

2019 Record: 9-4 (6-1) - SWAC Champions

2020 Signing Class: N/A

Head Coach: Fred McNair (5th Season)

Key Departures:

  • WR Chris Blair - 45 rec 945 yds 7 TD
  • RB De’Shawn Waller - 128 carries 517 yds 4 TD
  • DT Darrell Henderson - 43 tackles 8 TFL sack 2 PBU QBH FR
  • LB Solomon Muhammad - 87 tackles 11 TFL 3 sacks 2 INT 4 PBU QBH 2 FR 2 FF
  • CB Daylon Burks - 47 tackles TFL INT 4 PBU FF
  • K Corey Mccullough - 11/19 (57%) FG 60 punts 2,440 yds 40.67 avg

Key Returners:

  • QB Felix Harper (RSr) - 204/377 (60.5%) 2,954 yds 33 TD 8 INT 6 rushing TDs
  • RB Niko Duffey (So) - 161 carries 835 yds 6 TD 24 rec 227 yds 2 TD
  • WR LeCharles Pringle (RSr) - 48 rec 828 yds 14 TD
  • DE Malik Holbert (Sr) - 20 tackles 6.5 TFL 3.5 sacks
  • S Juwan Taylor (Sr) - 89 tackles 6.5 TFL sack 2 INT 5 PBU FR 2 FF
  • S Qynnterrio Cole (Sr) - 86 tackles 0.5 TFL 5 INT PBU FF

Preview

Assuming a full schedule is played, Auburn opens the 2020 campaign against the 2 time defending SWAC champions. Fred McNair’s stint for the Braves has been an overwhelming success thus far. He boasts a 30-19 record overall, 22-8 in the SWAC along with 2 titles. The older brother of former Titan great Steve McNair, Fred McNair will lead a high flying offense into the confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium looking to pull off a stunner to open the season.

The Braves are lead by the 2019 SWAC Offensive Player of the Year, Felix Harper. The lefty had a spectacular debut season as the Braves starting QB throwing for almost 3,000 yards and over 30 TDs. Alcorn State runs a spread attack that does an excellent job getting its playmakers in space. They return a number of those playmakers including leading rusher Niko Duffey and touchdown machine LeCharles Pringle. It should be a nice opening test for Auburn’s retooled secondary.

On the defensive side of the ball, Alcorn State returns a pair of disruptive safeties in Juwan Taylor and Qynnterrio Cole. The two seniors combined for over 170 tackles in 2019 and 7 interceptions. The Braves run a lot of one high looks to get Taylor in the box to help stuff the run. It’s an undersized defense but one with some outstanding athletes.

Up front, the Braves return their sack leader in Malik Holbert. He’ll pair with Jacorian Wren to give Alcorn State a formidable pass rush off the edge. Auburn’s newly constructed offensive line should be more physically dominant than Alcorn State’s front four but they will have to deal with this unit’s quickness.

Auburn will have a dramatic talent advantage to open the season but they will face a veteran squad that is used to winning. I fully expect Auburn to win comfortably but it wouldn’t shock me if this game was closer than fans would like heading into halftime. Alcorn State is built on scoring a lot of points and should give Kevin Steele a chance to thoroughly evaluate his options on the backend of Auburn’s defense before the Tigers’ week 2 tilt with the Tar Heels.

War Eagle!