G-Men to open season at Arkansas State

Hue Jackson will lead the G-Men into today’s opener at Arkansas State.

By T. Scott Boatright

Nearly nine months of anticipation finally comes to fruition this weekend as the initial Grambling State football game under first-year head coach Hue Jackson, is played in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Kickoff for the GSU vs. Arkansas State game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Bank Stadium. 

Grambling will finally be able to fully put last year’s 4-7 in the past as they play their first game under Jackson, former head coach for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns  who took over the Tigers’ football program last season.

Jackson and his Tigers are just as excited as GSU fans to get the 2022 season underway.

“We are looking forward to it and are anticipating a big crowd at Arkansas State,” Jackson said. “We are looking forward to a big crowd there and are anticipating a good turnout for us. I think we travel pretty well. People want to see what we are doing and what we are trying to accomplish, so we’re looking forward to it.”

Maybe the biggest question for the Tigers is who will start at quarterback for GSU against the Red Wolves. Jackson declined to name a starter during a weekly football press conference earlier this week and a pregame release sent out by GSU Athletics on Thursday didn’t name a starter.

But Jackson did say that he would be comfortable putting any of the four candidates — Chance Amie, Julian Calvez, Amani Gilmore and Quaterius Hawkins — out on the field.

“I’m very happy with those guys,” Jackson said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve met the demands that we’ve asked of them, so it’s close to time to put these guys out there and let them play.”

Amie is a junior transfer from Syracuse. Hawkins is a JC transfer from Jones County Community College in Mississippi, Gilmore is a redshirt freshman transfer from North Texas University and Calvez is a freshman from Orlando, Florida.

Jackson did specify one quarterback along with a pair of freshmen running backs that have surprised him during Monday’s press conference.

“The young quarterback, Julian Calvez, has really impressed me,” Jackson said. “He’s going to be a sensational player and has done a lot of great things. I’ve watched him.

“I look at Tahj Martin, one of our young offensive linemen who has done a great job and we have two very talented young runners that are here in Floyd Chalk and (Chance) “Lamborghini” Williams.

“So we do have some guys that I’ve looked at and been impressed by. But at the same time, they haven’t been under fire as much as some of their teammates. But we’re looking forward to watching those guys compete in the future.”

Arkansas State also has a new coaching staff, so Jackson and Co. don’t have much to go on as far as knowing what to expect, so instead they’re looking inward.

“I think it’s really about us,” Jackson said. “My main focus has been about our football team and making sure we do the things we need to do to put us in the best position to win. 

“Obviously anything that’s a negative — penalties and mental errors — we’ve got to work against those things and make sure we’re ready to play in all three phases of the game. Arkansas State will be a big challenge, but I think we’re up to it.”

While Grambling did win its final game of the 2021 season in the Bayou Classic against Southern, Arkansas State dropped its final two games of the season, concluding the 2021 season at 2-10.

Jackson said starting fresh is a point of emphasis for the season opener.

“I don’t know what’s gone on in the past, all I know is what we’re doing right now,” Jackson said. “I think we’re creating an environment for our players to understand the opponent better, to understand how we want to attack the opponent and how we perform offensively, defensively and special teams-wise. Those teams are so important for a football team.

“And then it’s how you travel. How you handle your football team on the road. This is a business trip for us. And we’ve got to make the guys understand that we’re going in trying to take care of business.”

But that doesn’t mean Jackson wants to make the game a “make or break situation” for his players.

“You don’t make it bigger than what it is,” Jackson said. “We want to compete. I think our guys are excited about that. But we also have a lot of young players, and they have to understand that they have to stay in the moment and not get outside of that moment. 

 
 


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