JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The Jackson State Tigers are now 1-5 on the season after falling to Alabama State 31-16 in their homecoming SWAC opener.
And, typically with losses come low team morale and camaraderie.
“I definitely think you can come closer as a group,” said QB Derrick Ponder, who went 15-30 for 164 yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception. “We got a good group of guys and we’re a close group, but we got to work on that camaraderie when adversity hits us and when things aren’t going our way. We’re a good close group when we’re winning and when we’re at practice, but we got to work on sticking together when things get hard and tough.”
“I hope that they’re a family and they do a good job at spending time together,” said head coach John Hendrick. “I’ve tried to do things like – at the hotel — I’ve mixed up who’s roommates, I’ve crossed roommates with defense and offensive guys to make sure that we get closer because that’s what I’ve been trying to build the whole time I’ve been here was trying to build a family concept. So, hopefully we’ll keep getting better at that.”
First downs is one of the biggest problem areas Hendrick says they need to improve on. The Tigers went 4 of 15 Saturday.
He also said the punt team has to be more efficient.
“I think we might have kicked a 15 yard punt and the defense did a good job getting them stopped on 4th down, down inside the red zone area,” Hendrick said. “The first two in the first half, we can’t kick punts and let people get the ball on our 30 yard line.”
“Definitely putting ourselves in bad positions, We were getting behind the chains on 1st and 2nd downs,” Ponder said. “So, now it’s 3rd and long oppose to 3rd and 3, 3rd and 2. So, we put ourselves in tough spots, not making plays that we should have before 3rd downs to put in bad spots on 3rd down.”
We then asked starting Ponder what keeps him motivated during adversity.
“I think you just have to think positive and encourage the guys around you,” he said. “There was never really a point that we were too far out of that game, two scores down and some times we may have gotten a little bit down with adversity on us, but I think just think positive and stay positive.”