Clarence McKinney has been steadily building the Texas Southern football program since he arrived at the end of the 2018 season, and the Tigers’ record has been indicative of the climb.
TSU finished 0-11 in McKinney’s first season and secured three wins in 2021, which were the most for the program since 2016. The Tigers surprised a few folks last year, finishing with a 5-6 record, which marked the most wins for the program since 2014. TSU was in the battle for the SWAC West title through the final week of the regular season.
Is 2023 the year Texas Southern posts a winning record for the first time since 2000?
“If experience won games, we feel like we’d win quite a bit, but we have to go out and do it,” McKinney said. “The guys had a good winter and a good spring. Now it depends on what we do this summer that will determine how good we will be in the fall.”
McKinney is clear about the expectations he holds for his team.
“I expect us to compete for the SWAC West title and whatever happens after that happens,” McKinney said. “That’s always been my expectation. I don’t coach to lose.”
The Tigers enter McKinney’s fourth full season with the deepest roster they’ve had during his tenure.
“A couple of years ago, we played 40 freshmen. Those guys are older and more mature,” he said.“Their bodies are more developed, and they have a better understanding of the SWAC and what the coaching staff expects from them.If you have quality depth throughout the roster, then you can feel really good. We have some good pieces to the puzzle, and if we can play smart football and take care of the ball, then everything else will take care of itself.”
The roster depth was evident during spring practice, with multiple players out for various reasons.
“We saw our depth firsthand during the spring,” McKinney said. “We have some guys that weren’t able to participate in spring practice, and we’re still two or three deep at every position.
“We’ve done a really good job of recruiting. We started recruiting the high schools when we got here and developed some good players. Consistency has been the key to our improvement.”
Another key for the improvement and raised expectations is the return of quarterback Andrew Body, who is preparing for his junior season after throwing for 1,799 yards and 13 touchdowns last year while adding 576 yards and four touchdowns rushing.
“He’s one of the best in college football,” McKinney said. “He’s been a leader from the day he stepped on campus, and this will be his third year in our system.He understands what we ask him to do, which allows him to relax and play.”
There’s no doubt that a player of Body’s caliber would gain interest from a plethora of FBS schools if he entered the transfer portal. However, Texas Southern provides everything that Body needs to thrive.
“He’s a great kid, and the city of Houston is a place he loves,” McKinney said. “Andrew is the face of our program and the face of the university. He cherishes the spotlight, and he’s not just one of the guys. He already has everything he could get at another place here in Houston.”
Body could cement his legendary status at TSU with a win over rival Prairie View A&M in the Labor Day Classic. The Panthers have won eight consecutive games in the series and 16 of the last 19 contests.
“It’d be nice to get a win against Prairie View in the opening game because it would give us a leg up on the rest of the SWAC West,” McKinney said. “But the season is more than one game, so we have to keep our focus on every game. We lost the first game last year and still had a chance to win the division.”
Based on the trajectory of Texas Southern’s program since McKinney arrived, do not be surprised if the Tigers represent the West Division in the SWAC title game.
This is the year Texas Southern fans have been waiting for since the arrival of Clarence McKinney, who has worked tirelessly to help the Tigers have the depth needed to make a run at the SWAC title. TSU displayed a championship-level defense last season, allowing an average of 25.3 points per game last year.
The Tigers need more from the offense led by quarterback Andrew Body. The offense should be improved this year,and they are returning four starterss on the offensive line. An inexperienced wide receiver corps last year is older and ready to help TSU take the next step forward. The cohesiveness of the offensive line and the experience at wide receiver could propel the Tigers into the SWAC title game.
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