Mississippi Valley asks veteran coach Rick Comegy to turn around program

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ITTA BENA, Mississippi — Rick Comegy has built his coaching career by resurrecting struggling programs like Tuskegee and Jackson State.

The 60-year-old might be in for his biggest challenge yet.

Comegy was hired in January to lead Mississippi Valley State, a cash-strapped school in the Southwestern Athletic Conference that finished with a 2-9 record last season. Comegy replaces Karl Morgan, who was fired after finishing with an 8-35 record over four seasons.

Comegy said he's not concerned about MVSU's recent rough seasons or the small athletic budget. He said he's never been "worried about what other people have."

One of Comegy's first tasks will be to settle on a starting quarterback. The Delta Devils have five candidates fighting for the job in fall camp, including returning seniors Patrick Ivy and Carl Davis.

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Here are five things to watch for Mississippi Valley next season:

THE COMEGY ERA: Jackson State surprisingly fired Rick Comegy in January, but the veteran coach didn't stay unemployed long. Rival Mississippi Valley scooped him up in a hurry and the Delta Devils hope he can bring consistent winning to a program that has traditionally struggled.

QB SHUFFLE: Mississippi Valley is searching for answers at several positions after a 2-9 season. Maybe the most important position battle is at quarterback, where five candidates, including returning seniors Patrick Ivy and Carl Davis, are fighting for playing time.

DIFFICULT SEPTEMBER: Mississippi Valley will have a tough September, stepping out of conference to face Illinois State before important conference games against Alabama State and Alcorn State. That stretch will probably go a long way toward determining if the Delta Devils can be competitive this season.

STAFFORD MAKES BIG PLAYS: The MVSU offense will lean on Julian Stafford, who has been the team's most consistent receiver and special teams player over the past two seasons. He had 52 catches for 694 yards last season. He also scored a touchdown on a kickoff return.

DON'T PICK ON BOYKIN: The Delta Devils hope Avery Boykin can duplicate a breakout performance in 2013. The cornerback led the SWAC with six interceptions and also made 57 tackles.

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