SWAC Championship: Alcorn State 38, Southern 24 — Four downs (How good is Braves quarterback John Gibbs Jr.?) _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Southern coach Dawson Odums, left, and Alcorn State coach Jay Hopson meet after Alcorn's 38-24 win over Southern for the SWAC title Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

1. What we learned

John Gibbs Jr. is a really good quarterback. He can run and he can throw, but as his coach, Jay Hopson, properly noted, his biggest strength is how he operates the offense. Gibbs’ calm demeanor and astute decision-making elevated his outstanding dual talents to an even higher level all season long. He was named the Most Outstanding Player on Offense on Saturday, a vote that could have been closed in the second quarter.

2. Trending now

The trenches. The SWAC, like most of college football, mostly features dual-threat QBs and spread offenses, but even with that, Alcorn State has significant elements that are more traditional. Their offensive and defensive lines were difference-makers. Southern was very strong in both areas, too, which is why these teams played a second time. But Alcorn’s line play was a bit better and a huge factor in the Braves’ championship.

3. Final thoughts

These programs look like they have staying power. Hopson just finished his third season, and Odums did essentially the same. They have elevated their programs and have a lot of important players with remaining eligibility. The success both teams had this season should be a boost as the coaches turn to recruiting. So look for more Southern-Alcorn games with high stakes in the future.