By T. Scott Boatright
Grambling State University will try to make it two straight gridiron wins as the Tigers travel to Mobile, Alabama, to take on Alabama State in the inaugural Port City Classic this weekend.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The G-Men stand at 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference after snapping a two-game losing skid last week with a 28-14 win over Bethune-Cookman while Alabama State enters the game at 4-3 and 3-2 in the SWAC.
“We were excited to get back in the win column last weekend against a very scrappy Bethune-Cookman football team,” said GSU coach Hue Jackson. “It was exciting to send our seniors out on Senior Day with a win and we’re looking forward to continuing this journey this weekend as we go down to Mobile, Alabama, to play Alabama State.”
That win over Bethune-Cookman came following a bye week for the Tigers that Jackson said he felt was beneficial in his team’s win over the Wildcats and especially the way GSU held BCU to 2.4 yards rushing per carry.
“During the bye week we really focused on some things we needed to do better,” Jackson said. “I thought our front seven did extremely well and thought the secondary had a lot to do with that as well as far as them being involved in the run game, filling in the right gaps and making sure we stayed on top of their offensive players.
“So I thought it was an all-around good effort and a great job by our defensive staff to come up with the right game plan.”
Jackson knows his Tigers face an even bigger challenge this weekend against Alabama State.
“They’re a very good football team,” Jackson said about the Hornets. “They’re very good defensively. Obviously their head coach is a defensive guy and was a great defensive player in the league when I competed against him, so I’m looking forward to it being an unbelievable matchup for us and to see us play our best football.”
“It’s about taking things one game at a time, finishing strong and taking every game — these next three — like it’s our last and we’re going to prepare as if it’s a one-game season,” Jackson said. “So we’re going to prepare like it’s our last game and make sure we’re prepared for it as if it’s going to be the last one we’re going to face. So we’re going to make sure our guys are preparing that way.”
GSU quarterback Myle Crawley completed 11-for-22 passes for 142 yards in the win over Bethune-Cookman, hitting six different receivers with Robinson leading the way with six receptions for 73 yards.
Crawley is a junior transfer from Alabama State but Jackson said he’s not worried about any distractions surrounding Crawley going up against his old team.
“I tell him to just go play football,” Jackson said. “He’s still got a lot of relationships there and knows a lot of the coaches, but at the same time he’s got to be focused on what we’re trying to do, block all of that out and go play good football for us.”
Chance Williams led GSU rushers last week with 119 yards on 17 carries while Floyd Chalk IV ran for 80 yards on nine attempts
“His speed, his toughness, his elusiveness,” Jackson said of what makes Williams such a good rusher. “Deuce is, we also call him Lamborghini around here, he’s ‘Motion,’ so he’s got a lot of names — a big-time running back for us. He’s the first player I went to go see after I became head coach here.
“He’s living up to his billing and doing an outstanding job. He’s made a lot of big plays for us this year and he’s got to continue to do so. But we’re glad we have him and Floyd Chalk. Both of those guys in the backfield, they’ve both done a great job and we need them to continue to. This is the time (of season) where you’ve got to run the ball. It’s getting colder and a little tougher so these guys have to show up, and they have.”
Jackson knows the G-Men will need an even stronger offensive effort to get past Alabama State.
“They’re a good looking, athletic team,” Jackson said about ASU. “They’re very well-coached. They know exactly what they’re doing and know how to do it.
“We’ve got to play our best football. That’s what it comes down to. We’ve got to take care of the football. We’ve got to be able to control the ball and we’ve got to do everything we can to score points. We’ve got to score touchdowns against these guys because they do a very good job. They limit you quite a bit so we’ve got to be at our best. We understand the challenge and are looking forward to it.”