Conducting team meetings by Zoom, not having played a game in almost a month, Grambling’s football team has adjusted to a COVID-19 shutdown. Now, the question is, can a few days of practice get the Tigers teed up for Saturday afternoon’s Bayou Classic battle in Shreveport against Southern?
Grambling got in a couple on-field practices last Tuesday and Wednesday for the first time since a March 20 homefield loss to UAPB. Most of the Tigers were able to participate, although a significant chunk were still sidelined, in quarantine, after the virus apparently spread from Prairie View during a March 13 matchup.
At least six G-Men tested positive following the UAPB contest, and resulting contact tracing forced the shutdown, cancelling the following two games and two weeks of practice. Coach Broderick Fobbs danced around specifics in his media Zoom call Monday, but was upbeat after admitting last week’s personnel shortages made a traditional practice structure impossible.
“We were not a full roster,” Fobbs said, eagerly awaiting test results that could clear more sidelined Tigers to return to workouts.
He said last week’s practice routine was altered to provide frequent rest periods for the Tiger linemen, especially on the offensive side. Only two offensive line starters and four safeties were available, he indicated.
With the majority of the squad cleared, Fobbs had to get the Tigers back on the field.
“It’s almost like being a pastor. If you’ve got one person out there to do some work, that’s one person who can be improving and getting better.”
Fobbs was pleased with what his squad accomplished in the workouts. He’s hoping to get more done, with more players on the field, this week.
“We are good (in terms o available squad size heading out of the weekend). We are still waiting on 10-15 guys who were in quarantine, in significant areas in most cases, in order to be where we need to be,” he said. “Most of those guys should come off by (Tuesday) if I’m not mistaken.”
That would provide three precious afternoons of practice to prepare for the most anticipated opponent in any Grambling season.
BASEBALL: Grambling is 0-9 all-time against LSU, all contests played at Alex Box Stadium. Tonight at 6:35, they bring their big bats to the Box hoping to make history.
Before bowing 10-3 Sunday, the G-Men were averaging over 11 runs in their previous seven games.
The game can be seen on SEC Network Plus, accessible at Watch ESPN.com and the Watch ESPN app.
LSU (20-12) and Southern (11-16) each won their conference series over the weekend, winning the first two games. Kentucky spoiled LSU’s sweep in Lexington while Southern averted the broom treatment in Grambling.
“We’ve played Grambling nine times since 2009 and it’s always a very competitive game,” said LSU coach Paul Maineri. “They’re playing really well right now.”
Grambling has won 11 of its last 15 games, including an impressive 15-3 demolition of visiting ULM two weeks ago. The Tigers are hitting .268 and have 42 doubles and 25 home runs. Coach James Cooper’s club has stolen 52 bases in 64 tries.
Outfielder Jahmoi Percival leads the G-Men with a .340 average, owning 22 RBI. Infielder Cameron Bufford is batting .295 with team-best figures of six doubles, six homers and 23 RBI. Outfielder Joseph Gunn has cracked five homers, most in the past two weeks.
LSU is third nationally with 52 home runs, just two shy of the lead. The Tigers have posted dominant wins in their last two mid-week games, 14-1 over McNeese last Tuesday and 11-1 over South Alabama two weeks ago.
Grambling goes to Alabama State for a SWAC series beginning Friday.