Who: Grambling State (1-0) at Southern Mississippi (0-1)
Where: MM Roberts Stadium (Hattiesburg, Mississippi)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Radio: 96.3 FM (Ruston), 103.1 FM (Monroe)
Radio Talent: Santoria Black (PxP), Ossie Clark (Color), Nick Harrison (Sideline), T Lay Collins (Sideline)
By T. Scott Boatright
Grambling State faces a “giant” challenge as the FCS G-Men look to play the part of David on the road against FBS school Southern Mississippi at 6 p.m. Saturday at MM Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
GSU will be looking to win a second straight game for the time since 2019 after defeating Tennessee State 16-10 in the Black College Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Sunday.
Southern Miss is coming off a 31-7 at South Alabama last Saturday.
Grambling head coach Broderick Fobbs said that even though his Tigers have plenty to get better at, it was still good to walk away from the season opener with a game in the win column.
“The good thing about what happened is that we got the opportunity to play football in the fall with our entire football team,” Fobbs said Monday during GSU’s weekly press conference. “Even though we were able to come away with a win it was an ugly victory. Not a lot of people (think) about this, but we hadn’t won a game since November of 2019. That had a lot to do with the pandemic and being away from the game for two years, but also we had what happened to us in the spring (going 0-4 and having two other games cancelled due to COVID-19 protocols). So it was exciting to take a group of young men and get them all on the same page.
“Our coaching staff did a really good job disciplining our players and organizing our team. I thought the difference in the game was our organization, our discipline and the lack of mistakes on our part. Now we didn’t throw the ball well, we didn’t pitch and catch well. But it is a start. Of course we’re going to have to play better if we’re planning to win the league and playing to do what we want to accomplish, but it is a start and it is good to be able to correct our players and our situations from winning a football game.”
The G-Men ran the ball well against Tennessee State as he led GSU’s run game with 77 yards on 17 carries.
But Fobbs will be looking for more out of his team’s passing attack after Walker connected on only 4-of-11 passes against Tennessee State for 43 yards with one interception and one touchdown
“I thought he really did a good job with his legs,” Fobbs said of Walker. “I thought there were a few times where there was an opportunity to make throws and he elected to run anyway. We’ve got to make sure we give him confidence in the passing game. We have playmakers out there who can make plays. We’ve got to get the ball to them.”
One of those playmakers is receiver Patrick Jaye, who hauled in a 18-yard scoring strike from Walker against TSU.
Another is Greg White, who had one reception for 17 yards last week but at 6-5 has the size and speed to potentially be a big-time receiver for the Tigers.
Fobbs knows his Tigers will be in for a challenge against an angry convocation (which is what a group of eagles is called) of Golden Eagles looking for their first win in 2021.
“I know (USM head coach Will) Hall really well, he was the offensive coordinator at Tulane when my brother was there,” Fobbs said. “He was my brother’s boss at Tulane so I know Coach Hall really well. I coached against him before when I was at McNeese State University. He’s a really good offensive mind and knows what he wants to do. It’s going to be a challenge, so we’ve got to go in there and play Grambling Tiger football, play free and just play the game the right way.”
Despite being a FBS head coach preparing to face an FCS team, Hall isn’t taking Grambling lightly.
“Grambling is a really well-coached football program,” Hall said earlier this week during USM’s weekly press conference. “Coach Fobbs, I’ve known him a long time — I’ve worked with his brother. A tradition-rich program, much like us. They had the COVID year last year, which wasn’t a good year for them, but it was COVID. They had a great year the year before, they had LA Tech beat two years ago (before letting the Bulldogs escape with a 20-15 win).
“They played a really fundamentally sound game one. They’ve played one game, so have we. They played really well, we played in a humiliating fashion. Right now, they’re a little better than us and we’ve got our hands full.”
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Photo: Courtesy of GSU Athletics
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