In spite of Grambling State University’s dismal last football season (1-10), should we have high expectations for the G-Men?
Of course we should! It’s Grambling football!
“We started practice on Aug. 1, with one goal in mind, and that is to play in the championship game and I’m sure everybody else looks at it from the same stand-point,” said head coach Doug Williams during Grambling’s Media Day press conference.
Coach Williams is thrilled about the team’s defensive improvement.
“Our defensive play, especially at linebacker, has improved tremendously from last year,” said Williams. “Number one, we have three guys from junior college with some playing experience.”
Transfer linebackers Aaron Reed, Rod Stevens and Steve Orisakwe as well as the defensive line, all played a vital role in sparking energy for the defensive side of the ball.
“All our DBs. (defensive backs) are going to surprise some people this year,” said junior starting quarterback D.J. Williams.
In the scrimmage before the Media Day press conference, the defense totaled nine sacks and a number of big hits. Coach Williams describes his defense as aggressive and enthusiastic.
Although the defense “dominated” the scrimmage, according to D.J., the team as a whole improved this off season.
First and fore most, expect an end of the Tigers’ kicking woes. Last year Grambling State University lost three games by three or fewer points, and in each game there was a missed kick, either field goal or extra point.
Freshman kicker Jonathan Wallace from Rayville showcased a solid performance during the scrimmage by converting a 37-yard field goal to start the G-Men’s scoring. Freshman kicker Juan Vasquez from Princeton, Texas, also will also contribute to the kicking game. Wallace and Vasquez made all of their extra point attempts.
“It’s always important to have a kicker,” said coach Williams. “A kicker is just like your quarterback. If you don’t have your quarterback you’re in trouble; if you don’t have your kicker you’re in big trouble.
“We were fortunate enough to come up with two guys this year in Juan and Jonathan, so we feel pretty good in our kicking game.”
Coach Williams said the team’s ground attack will be in pretty good shape if all of his running backs can stay healthy.
Juwan Martin is named the starter, but he will share the duties with Cedric Skinner, Justin Fortson and Jeremy Runner.
D.J. also raved about the Tigers’ depth and versatility at the running back position.
“I love all the running backs,” said Williams. “They all can run and they all have different styles of running but they all pick up yards and that’s all that matters, so I feel like our running game will be good this year.”
D.J. added that the variety of running styles will serve as a lethal weapon on the offensive side of the ball by often confusing defenses.
Also, expect to see more plays being made at the tight end position. Coach Williams said the tight end position is just as deep as the running back position.
“I feel pretty good about our tight ends,” said coach Williams.
“When you can go in a season with three pretty decent tight ends, and four or five different backs, it kind of gives you some options, and I like the options that we have.”
Four different tight ends made plays in the scrimmage.
And last but not least, expect a solid season from D.J.
During the summer, he participated in the Peyton Manning quarterback camp where he said he learned how to be a pro, and how to be persistent and consistent.
His maturity was on display during the in the scrimmage as he was very decisive and with his intermediate passes.
D.J said the biggest difference in this year and last year is his level of focus.
“This August, I’ve been paying attention to detail- going through a losing season last year, a terrible season on my part- I felt like paying attention to detail and getting back to fundamentals.”
Last year, GSU’s football team was in the history books for all of the wrong reasons.
Although history often repeats itself, and records are meant to be broken, don’t expect it to happen this year.