NASHVILLE, TN — Two games into the 2021 season the Tennessee State Tigers are seeking big improvements across the board. Last Saturday’s 38-16 loss to Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic reaffirmed that the problems which initially surfaced in the season-opening defeat by Grambling have not been corrected to date. While the Tigers stayed in the game through the first half, Jackson State broke it open over the final two quarters. It was the first Southern Heritage Classic since 2019.
Jackson State’s head coach Deion Sanders saw his son Shedeur Sanders shred the Tigers’ secondary for nearly 400 yards (362) and three touchdowns. He set Classic records for completions, completion percentage and the third most passing yards ever compiled. The Tigers absolutely must get both a better pass rush and tighter coverage. They were unable to prevent Jackson State from controlling the tempo throughout the second half, and Sanders was especially effective on third down plays.
TSU also again had problems establishing offensive consistency, though it seems for now that Grambling transfer Geremy Hickbottom is the starter. He played much of the contest. However the Tigers got a final touchdown courtesy of Rodell Rahmaan’s 47-yard scoring reception. Rahmaan was the offensive standout for the Tigers with 94 receiving yards. Hickbottom and number two QB (at least for this game) Deveon Bryant combined for 194 yards. Devon Starling led Tigers’ running backs with 35 rushing yards. The Tigers also had a special teams breakdown late, surrendering an 81-yard punt return touchdown.
The Tigers hope to break into the win column Saturday as they face Kentucky State in the home opener.