Here’s a little secret: In a 21-6 loss at Southern earlier this season, Alabama A&M did not look like a very good college football team.
Then there was last week. The Bulldogs played solid defense, pounded Grambling for 258 rushing yards and scored late to take home a 20-14 win. Alabama A&M is back in the Eastern Division race. Grambling is in danger of falling out of the Western Division race. What in the name of Eddie Robinson is going on here?
Just another week in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Some notes, quotes and other doodads in a trip around SWAC land:
PRAIRIE VIEW: Everyone had a chance to watch Prairie View’s humiliating 63-14 loss to Bethune-Cookman in the season opener on ESPN. The Panthers are 2-1 since then. “We’re a young ballclub. You never know where they are emotionally at times,” coach Heishma Northern said. “So I just tell my guys, ‘Coaching is overrated. It’s more about you guys making plays.’ ” … A win this week could send Grambling to 1-3 in conference play, all but knocking the Tigers out of the Western Division race. “I’m not really concerned with burying Grambling. I’m concerned with us keeping pace,” Northern said. “We put enough bullets in our foot the last couple of weeks, and we’re keeping the blood-pressure medicine companies in business, if you’re a Prairie View fan.”
TEXAS SOUTHERN: Anyone who dismisses the Tigers as a one-year wonder might have to think again. After one month, TSU leads the nation in total defense, and its rushing offense, with Martin Gilbert and Marcus Wright, is brutally effective, to the tune of 203.7 yards per game. “There’s no doubt that our eyes are on a certain shore … that we’re looking forward to reaching together,” interim coach Kevin Ramsey said.
GRAMBLING: The Tigers’ defensive line was supposed to be an asset this season, not a liability. And while they have a respectable 10 sacks, they got pushed around against Alabama A&M in a 20-14 loss last week, and they’re allowing a SWAC-high 185.0 rushing yards per game. Coach Doug Williams said that’s partially because star tackle Jomarcus Savage was “nursing injuries” last week, and also because “we had a couple guys that academically didn’t make it. But you can’t use that as an excuse.”
ALABAMA STATE: You looking for big, big wins? Alabama State just got two of them, back-to-back, on the road. The first was at Grambling, a place the Hornets have not typically fared well. Last week, they toppled Jackson State at Veterans Memorial Stadium. If there was any doubt before that ASU is the team to beat in the East, that doubt is gone now. “Naturally, everybody likes a winner,” coach Reggie Barlow said.
JACKSON STATE: All those turnovers finally bit JSU. The Tigers had 10 giveaways in two wins against Tennessee State and Southern, but couldn’t overcome seven more turnovers in a 21-14 home loss to Alabama State. Star quarterback Casey Therriault threw six interceptions. “We knew that if that would continue to occur, that a good football team was going to come in and beat you,” coach Rick Comegy said. JSU leads the nation with 19 turnovers.
ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF: Times are good at UAPB. Running back Adrian Moore is turning into a powerful rusher (he has 307 yards), and the Golden Lions are off to a 2-0 start in conference play for the first time since 1997. But they shouldn’t feel too good just yet. “You slip and lose a couple two or three games, all of a sudden, you’re out of the picture,” coach Monte Coleman said. This week, his team faces Alabama A&M, which, as we discussed before, just picked up a big road win at Grambling.