GRAMBLING — Maybe part of the struggles of Grambling’s football team this season simply has to do with demeanor.
“We’ve got a great bunch of guys who are maybe too nice,” said coach Doug Williams about the Tigers, who are winless in five games and mired at the bottom of the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Western Division at 0-4. “We need a little more toughness.”
The Tigers will try to upgrade their toughness factor Saturday when they play Mississippi Valley State in a 2 p.m. game at Willie Totten Stadium in Itta Bena, Miss.
It will be Grambling’s third road trip in the past four games, the latest ending in a 34-14 loss to Prairie View A&M at the Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas last Saturday.
One factor in the Tigers’ slowest start since the 1940s is an abundance of youth.
“When we travel, we have 63 players on our roster,” Williams said. “Of that number, 42 are either freshmen or sophomores. So we’re going through some growing pains.
“But even with the tough start we’ve had and all, these guys haven’t quit working and practicing hard.”
They are here early every morning in the weight room, working out and preparing for the next game. They haven’t quit.”
In the loss to Prairie View A&M, Grambling fell behind early, 7-0, came back to tie it, but then was shut out in the final half.
And again, one major mishap for the G-Men dealt with an inability of having any success on third-down conversions.
“We’ve got to make some plays when it comes to third downs,” Williams said. “And that’s on both sides of the football. We’re struggling on offense and defense during that time and we’ve got to improve in that area..”
A bright spot, however, for the Tigers was the continued solid running of freshman Cedric Skinner.
He ended with a team-leading 126 yards on 37 carries and accounted for the team’s first touchdown on a two-yard run.
“Cedric has done well and is going to continue to get a lot of carries,” Williams said. “If we can get him the football 40 or more times a game, we’ll do it because he’s shown he can get some yards for us.”
Quarterbacks D.J, Williams (11-of-23, 159-TD) and Frank Rivers (six-of-nine, 74) combined for 233 yards against the Panthers.
“We just need more weapons for our passing game,” Williams said. “We just haven’t had anybody to step up yet and say, ‘I’m the man to go to, get me the football’. But we’re still looking.”
Just as the Tigers will still be looking for their first win on Saturday.
Copyright © 2011, Capital City Press LLC • 7290 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810 • All Rights Reserved