“We Just Gotta Want It A Lot More Than They Want It” | Deion Sanders Wants His Jackson State Tigers To Tighten Up

(Photo:@DeionSanders/Twitter)

The Jackson State Tigers have experienced immense success under Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who arrived in September 2020. The Tigers have enjoyed success in all three phases of the football, offensively, defensively and special teams, and at times they’ve overwhelmed teams. After a 2021 season where the offense was good but not great, t the recommendation of Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach, Sanders hired Brett Bartolone from Nevada to usher in the era of the “Air Raid of the SWAC” offense. And that’s exactly what Bartolone has done, as the Tigers have averaged over 40 points per game.

The Tigers have touched paydirt 36 times in seven games. Their 167 first downs are the most in all of FCS football, and they’re averaging just under 500 total yards per game. But if there’s one area where Coach Prime wants to improve, it’s the red zone. That’s where offensive coordinators have to get even more creative, because the area is so condensed. It’s also about the will and desire to punch the football into the end zone gainst a dug-in defense in that little space. During the SWAC’s weekly coaches Zoom videoconference, Sanders addressed his concerns in that area.

“We gotta run the ball. We gotta be more aggressive with the run.”

“Everyone knows we got a quarterback that can spin it and wide receivers that can go get it. That’s pretty much the formula. It’s just attitude there, the red zone is straight-on attitude. … We just gotta want it a lot more than they want it.”

Shedeur has been great in all areas of the the field, but he’s struggled a bit in his red zone efficiency. Teams are pressuring him more down there, because it’s less field to cover and they’re less susceptible to give up a big play. This season the reigning Jerry Rice award winner has passed for over 2,200 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His 73 percent completion percentage is tops in all of FCS, but drops to 57 percent in the red zone.

Bartolone Must Use Transfer Sy’veon Wilkerson More:

The Tigers don’t necessarily have trouble running the football, with the aforementioned Wilkerson rushing for nearly 600 yards on just over 100 carries for a 5.5 yards per carry average. That’s just 15 carries per game for a back averaging a first down every two touches. The problem is they don’t do it enough, and when they need it it hasn’t been there for them in red zone. Bartolone has to rep that more in practice and do it during in-game situations. A team that can run it and throw it in the red zone becomes virtually unstoppable down there. Ask Andy Reid and the Chiefs, who field one of the best and most creative red zone package you’ll see at any level of football.

Sanders Continues To Strive For HBCU Football To Be The Majority Not A Minority:

Since his arrival at JSU, Sanders has strived to get away from the ways of the old guard. He’s been open about making HBCU football a much more well-known commodity via exposure, visibility and revenue. That means looking at things from a different lens that hasn’t been accepted or proposed throughout time at HBCUs.

Sanders wants everyone to know he ain’t with “this is how it’s always been” as it pertains to HBCUs:

“We can’t be narrow-minded and close-minded thinking and say, ‘Well it worked like this for 25 years,’” Sanders said. “Well, it really didn’t. It really didn’t work. We say it did, but it really didn’t.

“No one talks about the truth, and, matter of fact, we have some dysfunction and we need to fix it. So I’m just willing to go out there and step out and say you know what, I want all to come, I’m going to invite everybody.

“We’re going to keep on continuing what we do. Because we’re trying to reach and teach and touch the majority not the minority, because we’ve already touched the minority.”