The Statesmen (4-2) are coming off a big 38-36 win against then the No. 14 Tarleton State University Texans from the Lone Star Conference Saturday at Parker Field/McCool Stadium.
Delta State doesn’t have much time to celebrate its win Saturday as the team has to travel to Rome, Ga. to take on the 0-7 Shorter University Hawks in Rome, Ga. Thursday in Gulf South Conference football action. With this being a conference game, it will have an impact on the conference standings. DSU is currently tied for third in the GSC with a 2-1 conference record, while Shorter is 0-4 in the conference.
Even though the Hawks are winless, they can’t be taken lightly. Shorter has a good ground attack by rushing for 213.6 yards per game. The ground game is its best option as the Hawks have run the ball 350 times out of 451 total plays using a triple-option attack. Junior quarterback Eric Dodson (123 carries, 448 yards, 7 TDs, 49-of-100, 770 yards, 3 TDs, 6 Ints) and senior fullback Bradley Moon (98 carries, 444 yards 1 TDs) have led the way for the Hawks.
Delta State head coach Todd Cooley said the way Shorter runs its offense will present a challenge for his team.
“When playing a triple option, you wish you had more time to prepare, but we have to play the cards that are dealt us,” Cooley said. “It’s a TV game, and it’s a chance to go represent our university on TV which is great. You just have to go make it work.”
Against Tarleton State on Saturday, the Statesmen got a big boost at quarterback from Tyler Sullivan who completed 33-of-49 passes for 422 yards with four touchdowns and one interception and rushed for a team-high 43 yards on nine carries. Sullivan got the start over Travis Champion, who has completed 152-of-213 passes for 1,583 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions in five games.
“I made the decision to start him,” Cooley said about starting Sullivan. “It wasn’t anything that Champ had done wrong or anything like that. I just felt like Tyler gave us the best chance to beat Tarleton.”
With what Champion and Sullivan have done at the quarterback position, Cooley said finding a quarterback to play every week isn’t a problem.
“We’ve got a little depth there,” Cooley said. “We’ve been lucky. Coach (Joel) Williams has done a great job of putting a system in here that’s very user friendly and pretty easy to learn. I’ve got confidence in all the guys that we put in there at quarterback. They’ve done a good job at pushing each other and getting better.”
Sullivan is slated to get the start against Shorter on Thursday.
On defense, a player to watch out for is DSU’s Trenton Warren. The defensive back earned GSC Defensive Player of the Week recently by recording 12 total tackles with three pass-breakups against Tarleton State University. For the year, Warren has 26 tackles with an interception.
Kickoff for Thursday is set for 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on WHCQ, which is Channel 12 on Cable One.