ATLANTA – Jackson State coach Deion Sanders offered no apology on Saturday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
He never does.
The Tigers’ offense played poorly. The defense, in Sanders’ mind, was not much better.
This made the outcome of the Cricket Celebration Bowl predictable.
South Carolina State 31, Jackson State 10.
Jackson State, a 10-point favorite, on a nine-game winning streak thanks to one of the FCS’s best defenses, lost too many early opportunities to South Carolina State.
Then he made too many mistakes.
South Carolina State had one fumble and two interceptions in 21 points. Their touchdowns began at Jackson State 4, 12 and 16.
“We kind of used Jackson State’s game plan all season against them,” said South Carolina state coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough.
Quarterback Shedeur Sanders, who entered the game with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions, threw more than 200 yards in every game this season. Five times he had exceeded more than 300 meters.
Against the State of South Carolina, he had just 175 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
“The state of South Carolina has kicked us in the butt in every way and every way,” said Deion Sanders. “I think we were overconfident and overlooked them like they were going to give us the game.”
So, has he felt an arrogant approach during the week? After all, South Carolina State was 6-5.
“I felt it during the game,” Deion Sanders said. “We were a bit lazy. We had that fire in the locker room before the game because we got there, but there was just something missing, and when I looked into their eyes, something was missing.
“I just gave them a good old-fashioned conversation and I’m proud of each one of them because they accomplished wonderful things that hadn’t been accomplished in quite some time. There is no reason to bow our heads.
Not after JSU won an 11-game school record, not after the Tigers won their first Southwestern Athletic Conference championship since 2007.
And certainly not after Sanders was named SWAC and FCS National Coach of the Year and his son Shedeur was named National Freshman of the Year.
Frankly, all of that talk fueled the state of South Carolina over the week as they visited local restaurants and hung out in malls.
Players have heard about not being able to score more than 21 points against JSU’s much-vaunted defense which allowed just 240 yards and 13.5 points per game, while leading the nation with 44 sacks.
So they did something.
South Carolina State won because they took advantage of the flaws JSU had shown all season.
The Tigers rushed for just 74 yards on 29 carries, which meant they had to deal with too many long-distance situations on the third down.
South Carolina applied a lot of pressure without a blitz. They fired Sanders three times and hit him multiple times.
They also confused it with area cover looks.
“Shedeur is balanced. He’s very stable, ”said Deion Sanders. “It’s never too high or too low. He was just upset that the game plan didn’t work out. What he saw, they also had an answer. He’s a smart kid. He ticks to put us in a better situation, but we can’t block him. “
Shedeur Sanders said: “I just didn’t do the right readings and didn’t get the ball out of my hands.”
All week, Deion Sanders had spoken to his team about the possession of the moment every time he performed on Saturday so they could win the first black JSU College Championship in nearly 30 years.
Deion Sanders enjoyed his own moment in the locker room before the game, keeping his promise to take a few steps on his own after having to use a motorized scooter since returning to the sidelines last month.
He missed a month after complications from toe surgery.
“Whatever situation we find ourselves in, embrace it. Dominate him. Maximize it. I just teach them moments. Everyone has a multitude of moments. What are you doing with it? You never know when that moment is going to come, so you always have to go, ”Deion Sanders said Friday morning after a light breakfast. “You always have to be on 10 because you never know when that moment will be.
“You can’t go out of the game and say I haven’t had a chance to play. We don’t play that. Everyone in this game who touches the field from the kickoff team to the extra point team is going to have a chance to make a play. Do your job. Play this game.
“We’re serious about our moments. We don’t take it for granted because this stuff is real. Speakers came to tell them how precious these moments are. We are dealing with the last game of the season, which we have to put an exclamation mark at the end of this sentence.
“I told some of these kids that this was the last time you played football. What are you going to do with it? You have to go do your thing because you don’t know when that moment is going to be and you can’t miss it.
The state of South Carolina, which gained just 268 yards but committed just one turnaround, won the moment.
And that’s why he’s the 2021 Cricket Celebration Bowl champion.