G-Men begin SWAC play in search of first win

Alabama State has faced GSU 11 times over the course of the series. Jada Stokes/The Gramblinite

Coming fresh off a bye week, the Grambling State Tigers are still in the hunt for their first win.

They’ll head to Birmingham to face a 1-2 Alabama State University Hornet team.

The Hornets are coming off of a 35 point loss from a matchup versus the Kennesaw State Owls in which the final score was 42-7. 

This game begins SWAC play for both teams and will be the 11th matchup in school history.

Grambling leads the all-time series with six wins to four losses.

That includes last year’s game, where the Tigers shutout Alabama State in a 34-0 victory, which marked Grambling’s first win of the 2018 season.

With adequate time to rest the heavily worked starters, the G-Men look ahead with plans to repeat their success rom last year.

The Hornets have been outscored this year in total points by their opponents by over 30 points per game, which should excite the Tiger offense who typically earn more yards, but  have been unable to convert against opponents.

Last week versus the LA Tech Bulldogs, the Grambling running core put up 216 yards using their fast paced, no huddle style of offense.

It is a new scheme offensive coordinator Mark Orlando has implemented to help confuse defenses and keep them on their toes.

Dual-threat quarterback Geremy Hickbottom will have to continue using his legs and arm to gain yardage for the offense if the team plans to leave the game with a victory.

Hickbottom is averaging 63 yards carrying the ball and just under 200 yards through the air.  

The Hornets leading rusher Duran Bell is averaging just 61 from scrimmage, so if the Tiger defense plays well, they can limit his effectiveness.

The same goes for Alabama State quarterback Kha’Darris Davis, who is averaging 205 yards passing for the season.

Defensive efficiency will ultimately play a large part in determining the victor of Saturdays game.

The Tiger defense is known for making late surges and stopping offenses from scoring through the entire game.

If they can hold their own for the duration of the game, they can do their part in gaining a win. 

For the Hornets, if they can get their defensive line to close the inside pockets and force Hickbottom to throw, it may give them a better chance to stop the Tiger offense from scoring. Keeping Hickbottom throwing may give the Alabama State secondary a better chance to cause turnovers and give themselves a better chance to add to the win column. 

This game could be the turning point for either team, Grambling looking to record their first win and keep the momentum or for Alabama State, it could secure their second win to get them back at .500 for the season.

What is certain, is that this matchup will have heavy implications of how both teams will fare in SWAC play and for the remainder of the season.