- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Jackson State hopes an experienced offense can help the program bounce back from its first losing season since 2009.

LaMontiez Ivy returns after throwing for 3,209 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. His top four receivers also return, including Daniel Williams, who caught 72 passes for 990 yards and nine touchdowns.

Second-year coach Harold Jackson will still have to find several new starters along the offensive line and improve a running game that ranked last in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last year with just 102.2 yards per game.

Jackson’s first season leading the Tigers was difficult, but the program did get a needed boost when it beat eventual league champion Alcorn State in the regular season finale.

Jackson State returns seven defensive starters, including Javancy Jones, who had 107 tackles last season, including 18 for a loss.

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Some things to watch as Jackson State tries to bounce back from its first losing season since 2009:

YEAR 2 FOR JACKSON: Second-year coach Harold Jackson has had a long coaching career, but hadn’t been a head coach since the mid-1990s before being hired by Jackson State. He said he anticipates better results this time around: “I feel good about what’s happening right now. You know what to expect, you know where you’re going. You know your players a little better and they know you a little better.”

IVY RETURNS: LaMontiez Ivy, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior from East St. Louis, Illinois, excelled last season, throwing for more than 3,200 yards and running for three touchdowns. Most of his top receivers are returning, including Daniel Williams, which should give the Tigers an advantage through the air.

RUNNING GAME: No matter how good Ivy is this season, he’ll need some help from the running game. Jackson State only averaged about 102 yards per game on the ground last season, which ranked last in the league. Two of the team’s top three running backs from last season return.

JONES’ DEFENSE: The unquestioned leader of Jackson State’s defense is junior Javancy Jones. The 230-pounder has moved back and forth between linebacker and the defensive line throughout his career, but he’s always been productive. Last season, he made 107 tackles, including 18 for a loss.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior Ryan Deising is one of the SWAC’s best returning kickers. He made 18 of his 23 field goal attempts last season, including a 50-yarder that tied a school record.

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