If you’re Grambling coach Doug Williams, how do you rebound from the most uncharacteristic season in school history?
“We’ve put it in the rearview mirror and are looking forward,” he said. “We’re not looking back.”
After claiming the SWAC title in 2011 in Williams’ return to the sideline, Grambling dropped its first six games last year en route to a 1-10 record, the worst in the program’s storied history.
Half of Grambling’s 10 losses came by a combined 17 points. In the first three weeks, the Tigers dropped a pair of one-point losses to Alcorn State (22-21) and Alabama State (19-18). There was a three-point loss at Texas Southern and a 24-17 setback to Arkansas-Pine Bluff before the season ended with a thud, falling to rival Southern 38-33 in the Bayou Classic.
“The thing about last year, I think, would have been a little tougher for myself if it had happened early in my career instead of coaching for eight years and winning four championships,” Williams said. “You look at it from a different perspective where the law of averages caught up with us. The good part about it is that we had a bunch of young guys that went out and played, and they played their hearts out and didn’t bow their heads.”
Grambling will rely on quarterback D.J. Williams, the coach’s son, to direct an offense that finished 101st nationally among FCS schools in total offense (306.0 yards per game) and 104th in scoring (18.2 points). Cedric Skinner returns to lead the ground game, and Anthony McGhee is back after finishing second on the team with 42 receptions.
Tyree Hollins recorded a team-high 61 tackles in 2012 with linebacker/defensive end David Smith adding 42 stops, including 2.5 for loss. Centerio Ford is slated to help clog up the middle in Dennis “Dirt” Winston’s 4-3 defense, and a trio of junior-college transfers — Aaron Breed, Steve Orisakwe and Rod Stevens — are expected to contribute at linebacker.
The kicking game, a sore spot in 2012, will get a much-needed boost with the addition of Rayville native and two-time all-state performer Jonathan Wallace along with Juan Vazquez.