Valdosta State kicks off its 2013 campaign as it travels to Macon, Ga. to take on Fort Valley State in the season opener for both teams. The game features the 21st time that the two schools have met, with the Blazers holding a 17-3 advantage in the all-time series. Overall, VSU has won each of the last nine games. The contest also marks the third time that the two teams have played in Macon, as Valdosta State claimed a 32-10 victory in 2005 and a 17-0 win in 1986.
Valdosta State, which was selected as co-favorites to win the Gulf South Conference by the league coaches, returns a veteran team, highlighted by 12 returning starters and 50 letterwinners. Eight of the returning starters are on the defensive side of the ball while the defense features four returnees. Senior quarterback Cayden Cochran, who passed for 2,710 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 350 yards and 11 more scores last year, will have a talented receiving corps to throw to, including returning starters Seantavious Jones (51 receptions, 922 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Regginald Lewis (58 receptions, 736 yards, 4 touchdowns). On defense, linebackers Jeremy Grable and Chris Pope lead the way. Pope led the team with 127 tackles last season while Grable added 102, including four sacks. The defense also returns three of four starters on the defensive line and three of four starters in the secondary.
Fort Valley State returns a veteran defense, led by All-America linebacker Leron Furr, who counted 32 tackles for loss among his 110 stops a year ago. Overall, six of the projected starters on defense for the Wildcats played in at least eight games for Head Coach Donald Pittman last year. On offense, FVSU will feature a wealth of youth as three freshmen and four sophomores are projected as starters. Running back Seth Hill returns as the units leader after rushing for 523 yards and three touchdowns while also catching 12 passes for 88 yards and another score in 12 games last year.