2017 Norfolk State Football Preview

Latrell Scott is trying to make the most of his second chance as a head coach at the FCS level.

Scott was selected as Mike London’s replacement at Richmond back in 2009 and had a decent first season as a head coach. Despite being the youngest coach in all of Division I, Scott went 6-5 in his first year, and a lot was expected of him in his second campaign.

But Scott’s sophomore season wasn’t meant to be with the Spiders. A week before the start of the 2011 season, he was arrested for DWI and was asked by the school to resign in the aftermath.

He was given a second chance by Division II Virginia State and was very successful there, leading the team to a 19-3 record in two seasons. Scott has yet to have the same success with the Norfolk State Spartans, posting consecutive 4-7 seasons in his first two years, but there is still optimism based on his prior work in the state.

2016 Norfolk State Football Season In Review

Last season was a rough one for the Spartans. Norfolk State won its season opener against Elizabeth City State but then proceeded to lose its next six tilts. Four of those were against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference foes, so it didn’t take long for the Spartans to be out of the conference title chase.

Even though Norfolk State rallied to win three of its last four, it was too little too late.

The Spartans didn’t have much success moving the ball through the air with Greg Hankerson at the helm in 2016. He threw eight interceptions and eight touchdowns and was very inefficient, averaging less than six yards per pass attempt. He led the team in rushing, but he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.

Marcus Taylor was the team’s leading receiver with 454 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t have many big performances, but he helped the team keep it close against North Carolina A&T and Howard.

This was a pretty good defense last season, although the Spartans did get some help playing in the offensively challenged MEAC. They ranked 31st in the country in total defense and allowed just 5.1 yards per play.

2017 Norfolk State Football Season Preview

The Spartans are going to have to break in a new quarterback this season. Hankerson graduated and left the spot wide open, as no one else has taken valuable snaps under center.

Tyre Givers-Wilson has a little bit of experience on the field, as he played four games last season, but he only threw four passes and mostly handed the ball off. There’s a good chance that freshman Juwan Carter will emerge as the first option this season instead. Carter is a local hero after winning two state titles in high school and is the dual-threat that most college coaches prefer these days. If Givers-Wilson can’t separate himself in practice, Carter will probably get the nod.

On the other side of the ball, eight starters return from last season’s solid unit. Chris Lee is back and leads the defense after racking up 13 tackles for loss in 2016. However, the team lost its best defensive back in Sandy Chapman.

2017 Norfolk State Football Schedule

September 2: Norfolk State vs. Virginia State
September 9: Norfolk State vs. William & Mary
September 16: Norfolk State at James Madison
September 23: Norfolk State at Delaware State
October 7: Norfolk State vs. Florida A&M
October 14: Norfolk State vs. Hampton
October 21: Norfolk State at North Carolina Central
October 28: Norfolk State vs. Savannah State
November 4: Norfolk State vs. North Carolina A&T
November 11: Norfolk State at Howard
November 18: Norfolk State at Morgan State

FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch

Playing two quality non-conference foes in William & Mary and James Madison will be a good barometer for where the Spartans are at entering conference play. Norfolk State should be a sizeable underdog in both, but if it can keep one or the other close, that bodes well.

If all goes well, the Spartans could be 3-0 in MEAC play heading into their game against North Carolina Central. Although they wouldn’t be expected to win that one, it could once again set the stage for future victories. This team should be a little better this season, so keep that in mind in FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.

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