The opening game of Rod Broadway’s regime at Grambling State University will either raise some eyebrows or drop some heads. Broadway will be expected to accomplish a feat that no coach in Grambling history has accomplished, win the Bayou Classic and win the SWAC Championship in his initial season. The expectations might not be fair, but life isn’t either.When GSU has the ball:
Brandon Landers returns for his second consecutive season as Grambling’s starting quarterback, and he MUST improve. He passed for over 2,100 yards and 17 touchdowns last season; unfortunately, he had 11 interceptions and only completed 51.2 percent of his passes.
Landers’ favorite target returns this season in Clyde Edwards, who is closing in on some major records at GSU. He needs only 53 receptions and 10 touchdowns to become the all-time leader in receptions and touchdowns for wide receivers.
He may face double coverage if the rest of the receiving core doesn’t command respect. Grambling has some talented receivers, but other than Tim Abney, none has proved to be consistent threats.
Without a veteran offensive line and starting a true freshman in the backfield, things will be very interesting for the Tigers early in the season.
The Braves return six starters from a group that led the conference in sacks last season. Linebackers Antonio Cooper and Lee Robinson return after leading the team in tackles in 2006. However, the Braves must find a way to keep teams out of the end zone. Alcorn State ranked ninth in scoring defense last season giving up 25.6 points per game.
When ASU has the ball:
Returning senior wide receiver Nate Hughes, one of the most versatile players in the SWAC, had 40 receptions and four touchdowns, while garnering 1,100 all-purpose yards in 2006. Hughes is also joined by senior running back Vernardus Cooper.
However, the key to Alcorn State’s season will be quarterback play.
Tony Hobson and Chris Walker shared the duties last season, and that trend will continue this year.
For the first time in the 21st century the Grambling’s defense is actually projected to be the strength of the team. Under the leadership of new defensive coordinator Clifford Yoshida, the Tigers have a new defensive scheme. 8 starters return, who are led by pre-season first team selection Zaire Wilborn. Jason Banks and Melvin Matthews will anchor the front four, while Jeffrey Jack and DeMichael Dizer will roam in the secondary.
Although Broadway won’t openly admit it, Grambling has the tools to make a run for a SWAC title in his first year as coach. The Tigers will have some believers after week one.
Alcorn State 14