Jackson State is in Full Control of the SWAC

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Stephen Hatala

Coming into the 2021 season, the Jackson State Tigers once again had lots of hype surrounding them, and that was accompanied with a huge target on their back. So far, the Tigers haven't disappointed. At this time, the Tigers boast a 6-1 record, with their only loss coming against the Sun Belt's University Louisiana-Monroe. Head coach Deion Sanders turned plenty of heads last year when he was named head coach of the Jackson State Tigers. Despite having superb talent, Tigers finished the 2020-2021 spring season at 4-3 and left the majority of the football world scratching their hands. Thus far in 2021,though,  the Tigers have dominated the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

The Tigers defense has been elite all season. Coach Sanders made a concerted effort to build an elite defense and is now seeing the dividends. Last year, the Tigers gave up 21 touchdowns through six games, while this year they’ve only surrendered ten touchdowns through eight games. Sanders' defense ranks top three in the SWAC in virtually all major defensive categories. First in sacks, first against the run, and first against the pass. One mark of an elite defense is being able to pressure the quarterback and getting off the field on third down. The Tigers only allow opponents to convert on third-down 27.6 percent of the time and their 37 sacks are the most in the S. Senior James Houston leads the charge with 9.5 sacks, and 14.5 tackles for loss, while senior Aubrey Miller Jr. has been stout all season, ranking second in the SWAC in tackles and sixth in sacks. 

The Tigers offense has been pretty sensational too. The high-powered offense leads the conference with 33 touchdowns on the season and their 29.4 points per game are the second most. In addition, the Tigers have only taken two field goals all season. Two. Freshman quarterback Shedeur Sanders has been on point all season. He's accounted for over 2,000 yards and is responsible for 23 of the teams' 33 touchdowns with 20 passing and three on the ground. Another bright spot on the offense is their ability to extend drives. The Tigers convert 40.6 percent of their third-down opportunities, which is tied for first in the SWAC. Senior wide receiver Keith Corbin has been giving defenses fits all year with 37 catches 574 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman Malachi Wideman has been a big time play-maker for the Tigers, averaging over 16 yards per catch and he's scoring seven touchdowns, the second highest mark in the SWAC. Needless to say, Sanders and Wideman will be a good connection, or years to come. 

The Jackson State Tigers have been undoubtedly the most dominant team in the SWAC this year. Coach Sanders and his staff has done a brilliant job, especially on the defensive side of the football. Many of the Tigers best players are seniors, but the way Sanders is running the team, be rest assured that the influx of talent will continue to pour into Jackson State. 

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