The first thirty minutes of Michael Haywood’s tenure at Texas Southern went really well. His starting quarterback, Jay Christophe, had 112 yards passing with one touchdown to go along with 46 yards rushing. He and all conference wide receiver Derrick Griffin had teamed up for a 46-yard touchdown and they were leading Prairie View A&M 17-6 at halftime. Christophe wouldn’t return for the second half after suffering a season ending injury late in the second quarter. TSU lost the lead and the game 25-29 to PVAMU. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Griffin had played his last football game as a Tiger. He was suspended for the remainder of the season for violating team rules just over a week later and would eventually leave school to pursue a professional football career.
Texas Southern soldiered on to a 4-7 overall record, although they could have managed their way to .500 if a few breaks had gone their way. Three of the seven losses were by a total of four points or less, the kind of games that stick with coaches like gum on your shoes. After virtually an entire season and spring to see the game outside of the lines, Christophe is ready to roll out again under his second-year head coach, this time as an improved leader.
“Last year I learned a lot, how to be a leader from the outside looking in. I didn’t have the physical ability due to injury to show them and lead them in that direction but I became a vocal leader and learned from other’s mistakes,” Christophe said at the recent SWAC Media Day.
When Haywood was coaching at Miami of Ohio, his second season was the one where everything came together, winning a MAC championship after going 1-11 the season before. Texas Southern wasn’t predicted to win this year’s SWAC championship, which doesn’t really mean anything, but Christophe expects better execution from his teammates this season.
“We have better knowledge of it, so now we know alignment and assignment. Football is about alignment and assignment, so now we have a greater knowledge of what he wants and what each individual coach wants, instead of just going on the fly and being athletic.”
Texas Southern will get tested a few days before most other schools. They open up at FAMU on August 26th in the Jake Gaither Classic.