Grambling set for home opener against FMU

Grambling State running back Chance Williams rushed for 106 yards on seven carries last weekend at LSU. (Photo by Peter Forest)

By T. Scott Boatright

In football terms, it’s called a trap game — a contest in which one team faces an opponent generally deemed to be easy to defeat. 

But Grambling State University head coach Hue Jackson isn’t buying into that line of thinking as his G-Men prepare to play host to Florida Memorial University at 2 p.m. Saturday at Eddie G. Robinson Stadium on the GSU campus.

Florida Memorial, based in Miami, revived its football program in 2021 after a 64-year hiatus.

Prior to returning to the gridiron in 2021, Lincoln Memorial’s last football game played was a 14-8 win over Albany State in 1958 when the school was known as Florida Normal and Industrial Institute.

From 1945-58, the Lions compiled a record of 41 wins, 25 loses and six ties (they did not play during the 1949 season).

Since returning to the football field in 2021, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics program has gone 6-20, and stands at 1-1 this season after opening with a 50-47 loss to Bluefield (Virginia) University before defeating Edwin Waters College 38-21 on Sept. 2.

Jackson said he’s not about to take the smaller school program lightly.

“They are another football team on our schedule,” Jackson said. “They can score. They’ve demonstrated that. They can play defense. They’re going to put 11 out there and we’re going to put 11 out there.

“Anytime you’re playing against anyone on a field, anything can happen. They’re a team that can make plays all over the field and we’ve got to do everything we can to get them stopped.”

Grambling (1-1) is coming off a 72-10 loss at LSU after opening the season with a 35-31 defeat against Hampton in the Brick City Classic in New Jersey.

 Jackson feels good about his G-Men heading into today’s game. 

“Obviously we didn’t have the result I wanted but I thought our guys battled extremely hard and played as well as we could,” Jackson said about the game at LSU. “It was a great experience for our football team to go into Death Valley and compete. We see where we need to get better, we see where we need to grow as a football team. That was obvious and we’re looking forward to our next contest.”

Jackson said his team’s performance against LSU early in that contest is something he hopes his Tigers will build on.

“I think we showed we can compete,” Jackson said. “We feel like we can compete with anybody. We’ve just got to sustain it for more than one quarter. Games are four quarters, so we’ve got to continue to grow that way, and I think we will.”

And despite the lopsided score, Jackson said his team learned some things from playing against LSU.

“It shows us where we are,” Jackson said. “Obviously there are some things we know we have to grow from after playing that game, but at the same time there was a point in that game where we felt like, ‘Hey, we’re competing at a very high level and I think our players know that we left a lot out there.’

“That will help us. There will be some great lessons from the LSU game that will help us through the season.”

Junior Myles Crawley, a transfer from Alabama State, will be making his third start at quarterback for Grambling.

Crawley connected on 14-of-25 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown against LSU while also being intercepted. On the season, Crawley has completed 39-of-63 passes (61.9%) for 450 yards and three touchdowns with that lone turnover against LSU. 

“He’s done a good job of taking care of the football,” Jackson said of Crawley’s play so far. “Even though there was a turnover (against LSU), that was a dropped pass. He’s done a really good job of spreading the ball around and getting everybody involved. I think that’s really important on the back half of this as we head toward our conference schedule because we’re going to need everybody on our offense to play well if we want to do what we intend to do.”

Sophomore running back Chance Williams was another bright spot against LSU, rushing for 106 yards on only seven carries.

“I think he did extremely well,” Jackson said about Williams. “But me knowing Chance, I think he’s going to thank our offensive line for blocking really well downfield.

“He’s a really talented player in our system. He’s the first running back I visited when I became head coach here. And I knew he was going to be special. I think we’re just starting to see the best of Chance.”

On the season, Williams has averaged 10.2 yards per carry, rushing for 143 yards and one touchdown on 14 attempts.

One thing Jackson said he knows his team has to clean up is a plague of penalties.

The G-Men have been flagged 22 times for 183 lost yards in their two games so far this season.

“I think it’s a big factor, absolutely.” Jackson said about the penalties called against his team. “I think our football discipline is something we’ve talked about as a team.

“We had nine penalties the first game, and then 13 (against LSU), and that’s something we’ve talked about as a team, knowing we have to get better at this week.”

Jackson said he isn’t concerned about his team’s 0-2 start. His only focus is today’s game against Florida Memorial.

“I don’t look at anything as a ‘must win.’ We want to win them all, if we can, right? So we’re “I’m looking forward to playing, and playing at home,” Jackson said. “I think that’s the most important thing for our fans.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re in the process with our fans, our administration, our families and everyone that supports us gets to experience it, so let’s see if we can get a win at home.”