Six points from TheDerisoReport.com on Grambling’s third week of football, which included a 27-17 win over Jackson State in a rematch of the last two Southwestern Athletic Conference Championship Games …
Grambling’s anemic offense has begun to frustrate fans. Rod Broadway shares your frustration, and vowed in comments to me after the Jackson State victory to fix it.
No matter who has to go.
“We’ve got to go back and rethink some things,” he said. “We’re going to make some changes on what we are doing and who we are doing it with. If we can’t get the results we need, then we’ll just move on. It’s getting frustrating. We’ve got 10 starters back and we’re not producing right now.”
A knock on Grambling’s game-changing defense has been that it sometimes misses on a fundamental here and there in pursuit of the gut-shot moment. Broadway has been careful to couch his praise for Christian Anthony, in particular, with an admonishment to stay within the scheme.
“Chris is a big-time player who makes big-time plays,” Broadway said. “If the guy ever learned how to play gap control a little better, but that’s what you give up sometimes. Playmakers make plays for you and sometimes they hurt you too. We’ve got to get in position to where he’s not hurting us quite so much. But he’s going a great job. I’m so proud of him.”
Getting outside the scheme is how a defense, for instance, surrenders two seven-play drives covering 100 total yards late in the fourth quarter, and two touchdowns, when the contest is already decided.
Jackson’s offensive numbers, in fact, were deceptively lopsided: 187 of its 200 passing yards came after 2008 starter Trae Rutland returned to the ball game in relief of redshirt freshman Dedric McDonald with 8 minutes left in the third quarter against Grambling.
Fourteen of its 17 points were scored after the 2:25 mark in the fourth period, once the fans and band — and the team, apparently, too — had already begun celebrating.
That’s a lesson to Grambling, which still must learn to close out games.
“It’s no big secret, we need to start playing better,” Broadway said. “Even late in the ballgame, all we need to do is get a couple first downs and they don’t score. We can’t even do that.”
To illustrate how little the score reflects the way that Grambling manhandled its Saturday opponent, Jackson was held to:
Five yards in punt returns.
12 yards passing in the first half.
Zero — yes, 0 — yards rushing for the game.
Greg Dillon doesn’t look anything like last year’s Bayou Classic and SWAC Championship Game offensive MVP. Really, he more closely resembles the former walk-on trying to juggle too much information who we first saw battling J.P. Tillman for the starting position over the first month of 2009.
I’m not certain that this isn’t a result of the staff’s efforts over the offseason to make him a pocket passer.
Though he entered the preseason bursting with confidence, on game day Dillon seems to be thinking too much, then trying to do too much when things break down. By then, it’s often too late to use his feet, and too late to force a pass — leading to bundles of turnovers.
Dillon had found a rhythm by late in last year’s title run. He still made the odd head-scratching mistake — see Broadway explanation, above, about playmakers — but he moved with a confident fluidity that you’re not seeing right now.
He seems alternatively rooted to the ground, or running for his life. I think the space between those two actions is now dominated by an overexamination of what he’s been taught to do, versus what comes naturally. And it’s hurting his ability to be the playmaker he used to be.
Let Greg Dillon be Greg Dillon, I think, and you get your offense back, Grambling.
First, I want to stress that I didn’t use the word “ugly” after the game. Didn’t even use its alternative, “pretty.”
I just asked a question about a return to winning early-season games with the defense.
We’ve been through this ugly thing, and I’m not looking to go back there. Honest, Coach.
He said it, not me …
“It wasn’t as pretty as we would like,” Broadway told me after the game, “and we didn’t execute as well as we would like, and we didn’t score as many points as we would like — but we won the ballgame. Winning is hard. We can’t take any thing for granted. We need to enjoy these wins when we get them.”