A Look At The Texas Southern Tigers

The Hartford Courant

Texas Southern Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference are coming to Connecticut

When: Sept. 11, 2010, Rentschler Field. First meeting

Last season: 6-5, 5-2 SWAC

Quick facts about TSU: School colors are maroon and gray and the mascot's name is Pretty Baby II. TSU is an HBCU -- Historically Black College and Universities -- located in Houston. Its most famous football alumni is probably former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, but the Tigers have actually produced 15 All-Americans. Some well-know players were Horace Young, Herman Driver, Ernest Calloway and Kenny Burroughs in the 1960s to Mike Holmes and Ernie Homes in the '70s and Donald Narcisse in the 1980s.

The 6-5 finish was one of the best in the last 10 years and it included a 42-0 loss to Rutgers. The Tigers are coached by Johnnie Cole, a former quarterback at TSU in the 1980s. He took the job at his alma mater in 2008 (4-8).

Who's gone, who's back: The Tigers will lose four starters – total.

In this case, who's gone isn't nearly as important as who's back.

So who is back? How about all three leading ground gainers from 2009: running back Martin Gilbert (644 yards, six touchdowns) quarterback Arvell Nelson (325, four TDs) and RB Joseph Warren (142, one) return. Nelson threw for 2,392 yards but also threw 13 interceptions compared to 12 TDs. Most of the TDs went to Joseph Anderson, who had seven TD receptions. Anderson is back, too. Warren also returns kickoffs and averaged 18 yards on 17 returns in 2009. All three leading tacklers are back including linebacker Dejuan Fulghum (88 tackles), defensive back Robert Joseph (80) and Shomari Clemons, also a linebacker who had 63 tackles.

The UConn-Texas Southern rivalry: There isn't one and probably won't be. UConn raced to fill a nonconference void after it had scheduled Northeastern and was left scrambling when the school decided to drop football last year.

What's at stake? For the Tigers, it's time to win and folks around the school are excited about it and excited about having Cole on the sidelines. After the game with UConn was announced Cole was quoted as saying, "I am excited about the opportunity to play UConn because it gives us a chance to play at the highest level and gives your program exposure in areas where they may not now about Texas Southern football."

The Tigers schedule: TSU, like UConn, opens Sept. 4. The Tigers open against Prairie View A&M. UConn opens at Michigan. After the Sept. 11 date with the Huskies TSU will stay on its league schedule with eyes pointed toward a spot in the SWAC title game in December.

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