The loss of Zoltan Riazzo, last year’s kicker, isn’t the only reason why the G-Men (0-3) are off to a slow start this season.
Of course the hammering Grambling received from TCU was expected, but in Grambling’s two one-point losses in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, I noticed it’s more than a lack of a kicker that contributed to GSU’s winless SWAC record.
Let me say this first, according to head coach Doug Williams, the quarterback play is not the issue.
“It ain’t no quarterback controversy… D.J. is the starting quarterback; we are glad to have Frank.”
With that being said, although he’s such a fan favorite, do not get used to seeing the Tigers’ backup quarterback Frank Rivers giving the G-Men’s offense a spark as he did in the second half of the Alabama State loss.
Rivers entered the game midway through the third quarter on the Tigers’ drive which began at the 6:48 mark. He finished 14 of 19 for 173 yards and threw two touchdowns to two different receivers.
An adjustment to the quarterback position will only be made if D.J. is injured.
As I sat in the press box, I concluded that they are four key elements which contributed to the Tigers’
In the Tiger’s recent 19-18 loss to Alabama State, the Tigers entered the fourth quarter leading 12-7 but the Hornets outscored Grambling 12-6 behind running back Isaiah Crowell, the 2011 SEC Freshman of the Year at Georgia, and Hornets quarterback Greg Jenkins rushing touchdowns.
Also, in the Port City Classic 22-21 loss the Tigers squandered a fourth quarter 21-9 advantage, by allowing the Braves to score on two rushing touchdowns that came in the final 10 minutes.
Coach Williams made it evident that he wasn’t impressed with Dawrence Roberts’ performance this season by benching him in the Alabama State game. His replacement, Jeremy Runner, wasn’t doing much running either. In Runner’s SWAC debut, he finished with 13 carries for 166 yards. Grambling didn’t get half of that on Saturday night as Runner’s 17 carries only amounted to 29 yards compared to Roberts’ seven carries for 33 yards. As a team the Tigers finished with only 78 rushing yards total.
It’s bad enough that the Tigers don’t have a kicker and in addition to that, the replacement kicker Fabian Carter, normally the teams’ punter, was injured Saturday night on a roughing the punter penalty. As a result, he wasn’t able to kick on the Tigers’ point after touchdowns (PAT). In the Port City Classic, Carter went 3 for 3 PATs.
Also Jacarde Carter, the Tigers’ all SWAC linebacker, was seen limping on the sideline in the fourth quarter on Saturday night due an ankle injury.
The Tigers’ depth chart reveals 15 freshmen or sophomores on the offensive side and 15 on the defensive side. The youth explains the inconsistent play on the both sides of the ball, the muffed punts, the dropped passes, and the missed tackles.
Coach Williams is still optimistic about the weekly development of his young squad.
“To lose to a team like that (Alabama State) by one point and have an opportunity to win says a lot about this team and how it’s growing up,” Williams said.
Next week is the Tigers’ bye week and lets not forget what happened last year after the Tigers’ bye week; Grambling won seven straight en route to the SWAC championship.
Sports editor Kevin Keise is a senior mass communication major from Houston.