Texas Southern University Tigers vs. Prairie View A&M Panthers
Saturday September 3, 2022, 6 p.m. Prairie View, TX
The annual Labor Day Classic takes place this Saturday up on the hill in Prairie View.
It’s a rivalry that dates back to 1947.
The Labor Day Classic started in 1985.
These two schools have met 77 times. TSU leads the all-time series 44-32, with one tie. The Panthers have won the last 7 games. The Tigers’ last win was in 2014, a 37-35 victory at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Panthers are coming off a season where they finished with an overall record of 7-5, and 6-2 record in conference play. They lost in the SWAC Championship game last year, 27-10, to Jackson State.
The Panthers are under direction of new Head Coach Bubba McDowell. McDowell is no stranger to the folks up on the hill. He has been there since 2011, as an assistant coach and spent the last four as the Assistant Head Coach under Vince Dooley, who left to take over the head job at his alma mater Southern University.
McDowell inherits a team that is loaded with talent and experience—18 starters return; 9 on offense and 9 on defense.
The man under center will be Duncanville product Trayzon Conley. Conley was a backup last year and played sparingly. He’s athletic and a great runner that needs to become more poised in the pocket. He has a slew of talented receivers returning, in Jailon Howard and Trejon Spiller, who both averaged over 20 yards per catch.
When the Panthers want to run the ball, Jaden Stewart will get most of the work. He rushed for 651 yards last season. The biggest concern for the offense is the development of the offensive line.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers are led by their front seven. Coach McDowell feels like this is the strength of their team. They return several impact players such as Troy James and Kevin Victorian who anchor the defensive line, and TreVon Green and Jesse Harris—two hard hitting linebackers who are athletic and physical. The secondary is led by Jamais Presley and Logan Jackson, both who are expected to be leaders and impact players on the back end.
Defense wins championships, and the Panthers will be relying on that defense to carry them back to the SWAC championship game.
The Tigers are coming off a 3-8 overall season, and 2-6 in the SWAC. But confidence is running high in Third Ward on the yard. Coach McKinney and his staff believe this year’s team will be very competitive and has a chance at competing for the SWAC Championship. And they should feel that way, with a quarterback like Andrew Body returning to lead the Tigers to the Promised Land.
Body had a breakout freshman season. He passed for 2,017 yards and rushed for 642 yards, leading his team in both categories. Coach McKinney stated he had a great offseason, and we should see a better, more poised version of Body this season. Upfront, protecting Body is an experienced offensive line that has four starters returning. That group is anchored by all-conference guard Blake Centers. In the backfield, they have a trio of gifted runners—Ladarius Owens, Jacorey Howard, and Demonic Franklin all bring a different element to the offense. The Tigers’ receiving corp is the least experienced of any offensive unit but look to Body to get the ball in the hands of TE Tyrin Johnson and other experienced receivers such as Osby Mitchell, C’ing Blanton, and Derrick Morton.
Defensively, the Tigers have struggled in the past, giving up 39.7 points per game. But the Tigers expect to be better this season with experienced senior leadership. That leadership starts up front with Demontario Anderson—an athletic edge rusher that has great pass rushing ability.
The true leader of that defense is middle linebacker Tarik Cooper who led the team in tackles and was the co-leader in interceptions. On the backend, in the secondary, senior Cedric Williams and A&M transfer Derrick Tucker are being counted on to provide leadership and playmaking abilities.
In conclusion, this should be a very competitive game.
You got the front seven of Prairie View against the high-flying offense of TSU and Andrew Body. The game is won in the trenches, where the big boys go at it. I’m going to give a slight edge to the Tigers this year, because of Andrew Body and his big dogs upfront. Look for the Tigers to win 38-35 in a shootout in Prairie View.
“I Just Tell It Like It Is”
Burl “The Coach” Jones