The Prairie View A&M football program has come a very long way in the past two decades.
People who grew up watching SportsCenter religiously in the 1990s might remember the occasional update about Prairie View A&M’s football team. The Panthers set the NCAA record for futility during that time, losing 80 straight games between 1991 and 1998 after the school had to shut down the program in 1989 and 1990 due to financial concerns.
Considering where this school was, Panthers fans are delighted that head coach Willie Simmons has gone 15-3 in SWAC play in his first two years at the helm.
2016 Prairie View A&M Football Season In Review
The Panthers were a pretty straightforward team last season. They beat everyone they were supposed to and lost to every team that was better than them.
A&M had the third-highest scoring offense in the SWAC, averaging 32.7 points per game. That offense helped keep this team competitive against some of its tougher opponents. The Panthers ended up scoring 44 points on Rice and 34 points against Southern in two of their four losses and were only shut down by Texas A&M and Grambling all season.
Trey Green and Jalen Morton split the quarterbacking duties in 2016. Both were turnover prone, combining to throw 18 interceptions on 357 pass attempts. Neither one was particularly accurate either as they combined to complete just 51.1 percent of their passes.
Green was more of a traditional passer and had a little more success through the air, throwing six more touchdowns on the season. Morton was more apt to use his feet and ran for six scores compared to just one from Green.
Quarterback wasn’t the only position that saw a timeshare situation last year. Three different running backs split the carries pretty evenly with Sta’fon McCray, Dawonya Tucker and Caleb Broach combining to average over five yards per carry and tally 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, the Panthers had some problems. Prairie View A&M ranked 72nd in the country in pass defense and 74th in run defense. Devohn Reed was a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the defensive line though, leading the team in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (11).
2017 Prairie View A&M Football Season Preview
After splitting duties last season, Morton will be the main option at quarterback this year. He should be a better passer with another year of experience and remains a dangerous runner when he takes off downfield.
All three running backs that were part of last year’s backfield return for another year, too. The offensive line should be one of the better units in the conference, which will help take the pressure off of Morton.
Josh Simmons was the conference’s Newcomer of the Year last season and will give Morton a dynamic option at wide receiver. He was electric as a kick returner, averaging 27.3 yards per return, and he can make the opposing team miss when in the open field.
Reed is one of eight starters back on the defense for 2017. He was the one Panther on the defensive side of the ball named to the preseason all-conference team, so big things are expected from him again. He has been fantastic as an undersized defensive tackle and his quick first step is tough for interior linemen in the conference to stop.
2017 Prairie View A&M Football Schedule
September 2: Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern
September 7: Prairie View A&M vs. Sam Houston State
September 16: Prairie View A&M at Nicholls State
September 23: Prairie View A&M at Alabama State
September 30: Prairie View A&M vs. Jackson State
October 7: Prairie View A&M vs. Grambling (in Dallas)
October 14: Prairie View A&M at Alcorn State
October 28: Prairie View A&M vs. Bacone College
November 4: Prairie View A&M at Southern
November 11: Prairie View A&M vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
November 16: Prairie View A&M at Incarnate Word
FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch
Like every other SWAC team, the Panthers have gone from playing nine conference games to seven. Unlike last year, Prairie View A&M decided not to put two FBS opponents on the schedule in 2017.
That doesn’t mean its non-conference schedule has some pushovers, though. While they do have lightweights like Incarnate Word and Bacone College, the Panthers also play Southland power Sam Houston State and a good Nicholls State team.
Even though the Panthers play Nicholls State on the road, they get two extra days to prepare for the game. Additionally, Nicholls State is likely to get hammered the week before playing on the road against Texas A&M. This is a really good spot to take Prairie View A&M in FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.