Switch that Tiger

When Henry Tolbert first came to Grambling, he was recruited as a running back. Jason Hatcher, who is now in the pros, also went through a position switch. Head Coach, Melvin Spears, whether he initiated, or approved of the switch, made the transitional switches for the betterment of the team, as a whole. Tolbert has developed into one of the biggest threats in 1-AA football. As for Hatcher,…well…turning pros says it all. Now, I just named two tigers who had their positions switched; However, there are, and will continue to be, more players switched around to make the team multi-dimensionally, and diversely dangerous. Lately, I’m getting confused as to how a coach, and his coaching staff, who, in times past, made strategic switches with players, in all positions, as a measure to fortify and solidify the team, has failed to see that there is need for a switch in the quarterback position between Brandon Landers, and Larry Kerligan, Jr. You see, I was under the impression that a players’ talents, athleticism, mental disposition, or what have you, were evaluated to see where that player should be placed, in an effort to benefit that player and his team. Had this been done, in the case of Landers and Kerligan, Kerligan would have gotten the nod. All one needs to do is look at the time and opportunity each was allowed to play, and then compare the quality of their performance. Kerligan, undeniably, has done a lot more with considerably less. Let’s see…In the first game Kerligan played, he surpassed all GSU quarterbacks, that I know of, who played against 1-A opponents. Those he surpassed included Dough Williams, Randy Hymes, Kendrick Nord, and, yes,the record breaking, Bruce Eugene. That game was against Houston. In the next two games, against 1-AA SWAC opponents, Prairie View, and Valley, Kerligan was given descent playing time, and he, again, rose to the occasion. Consistent productivity in those games proved that his accomplishments were no fluke. Oh!… That was also our only, two-game, winning streak. News flash!!!…When Kerligan stays in, we win. A Simple equation. No need to hire a rocket scientist to figure it out…. Brainstormers need not apply. Just prior to playing Houston, I had almost given up on this team. Then, like a bolt of lightening, up pops Larry Kerligan. The way he played against Houston convinced me that his style of play would be all we needed to demolish the rest of our 1-AA opponents. As a matter of fact, I predicted that if he stayed injury free, and was allowed to play, that we would go 9 and 3. We were on our way. You could feel, and see, the new-found hope, even after a 0 and 3 start.. That 9 meant that we would have to win the SWAC Championship, too. But, he got hurt. On top of that, when he could come back, Coach Spears started leaning towards Brandon Landers. The lean proved fatal. I don’t know what happened, but I’ve got sense enough to see that it looked like favoritism. I stand by my convictions. I say this because Kerligan put up the numbers when he was given adequate playing time. He could move the team in an instance. He was explosive. If something wasn’t clicking on the original play, he would take off and make something happen. Eighty-three(83) yards against 1-A Houston proved that the kid could think on his feet. That’s the kind of playing we needed from the person in that position. I’m not trying to put Landers down, but the best man for the job has been on the bench. Landers didn’t put himself in the game, no more than Kerligan put himself on the bench. Those were Coach Spears’ decision. Some might say, "What do you know about coaching?" and "Where is your degree?" My response to them is that you don’t have to know how to cook in order to know how food is suppose to taste. Sometimes the ends justifies the means. We’ve got talent and skilled people in all positions, yet, we’re 3 and 6, faced with a loosing season. That’s a coaching equation. "Can one switch be that important?" Yes, it can, and is. You see, you can’t just keep going 3 and out, and throwing interceptions. You’re killing the defense when your offense continues to sputter, and can’t seem to get it going. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, and their quarterback situation. One man can make a big difference. Especially when that man is the on-the-field leader. Back to Landers. He’s slow on the take off, and his late game usually ends with a, momentum-stopping, drive-stalling, interception. Call a tiger a tiger. What else do we need to see? Not only no SWAC Championship, no winning season, either. He’s started, and played, in almost every game. I’m not impressed, and neither is the record. He plays better when assisting. Let’s deal with the facts. Landers is a good quarterback, with some impressive stats; However, I’ve seen many teams, amateurs and pros, with outstanding stats, but no "W". I’ll take the ‘W’ over stats every time. We don’t need a competitive quarterback, we need a quarter who knows how to put people away. We need someone who knows how to go for the juggler. By right, Kerligan was suppose to be the main signal caller. He was not suppose to be sharing signal calling with Landers. It wasn’t like that before Landers started having problems. Why wasn’t both starting at the beginning of the season? It looked like nothing more than a ploy to give Landers time to come around. He never did. He only won one game. It didn’t happen, and probably won’t happen. Too inconsistent. Getting yards one minute, then turning the ball over the next minute. To me, and I stand being corrected, Landers, once he lost his spot, should have stayed there until Kerligan got hurt, or just couldn’t cut it. I could see him, Kerligan, getting hurt, but not cutting it?….I don’t think so! Now, since Coach Spears insists on playing Landers, he needs to play him in quarters 2 and 3, because he has no beginning or ending game. Either that, or bench him. We’ve had enough of slow starts, and disappointing endings. Getting close, and almost hitting the bulls eye is good when you’re throwing horseshoes or darts; However, this is football. We need to "GET IT DONE!". Apparently, my sentiments are shared by others. I’m just doing what I’ve always done…If something doesn’t look right to me, I voice my opinion. Adversity builds and reveals character. If coach Spears is the coach that I think he is, he will realize that he needs people in his circle like me. True friends tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. They put honesty up front, and give you their true opinion. They also take a chance on ruining a friendship in an effort to make a friendship stronger. People, especially those in authority, often have people sucking up to them. As a result of that sucking, they won’t speak the truth because they want to be esteemed in the eyes of the sucker’. Well, I’m not that s-u-c-k-e-r! We’ve still got something to play for. State bragging rights, another chance to satisfy the home crowd, and a two game winning streak to take into next season. Ohhh! That’s what I want for Christmas…Two more wins.- Jamie HicksGSU senior