TDR mailbag: Staying focused; opening up the Grambling playbook

TheDerisoReport examines a pair of pressing reader-submitted concerns, and how they are being addressed, as Grambling continues its Fall 2009 practices in advance of the Sept. 5 opener against South Carolina State at Orlando.

QUESTION: Can Grambling — coming off just its fifth 11-win season ever — avoid complacency?

ANSWER: I’ve never seen Broadway and Co. push a team harder in the offseason, not even in his first year — when most coaches turn attention to detail into something approaching pathology. “Last year was a good year,” Broadway says, “but that’s where we need to put it — back in last year. … We have a chance to having a very good team, but it remains to be seen.”

QUESTION(S): Can Greg Dillon become a true multiple threat quarterback? Will that open up the offensive playbook?

ANSWERS: To the second question first — last year’s playcalling was perhaps the most difficult assignment in recent memory at Grambling, with two quarterbacks of differing skill sets battling for a starting role through the season’s first month, then a talented-but-raw walk on in Dillon trying to grow into the position at game speed. Dillon, of course, ended the 2009 year as offensive MVP of both the Bayou Classic and the SWAC Championship Game, coming in second in the league for passing touchdowns, and tops for conference passing efficiency while nearly rushing for 1,000 total yards (before adjustments for sacks). Coaches have focused on pocket presence this offseason, but more impressive has been Dillon’s newfound authority within the huddle. He still needs to find a reliable target in the receiving corps, but I expect that to work itself out. When it does, look for the playbook to open up some more.

GRAMBLING STAT PACK
2007 record: 11-2 overall, with losses to Nevada and Northwestern State; 7-0, and first place, in Southwestern Athletic Conference’s West Division.
2007 postseason: SWAC Championship Game, W 41-9 over Jackson State.
Head coach: Rod Broadway, 19-6 in three seasons at Grambling; 52-16 in six seasons overall.
Starters returning/lost: 22/3; Lettermen returning/lost: 49/17.
Key 2009 dates: Season opener, Sept. 6 vs. South Carolina State at Orlando, Fla.; Home opener, Sept. 12 vs. Northwestern State; BCS-ranked opponent, Sept. 26 at Oklahoma State; Homecoming, Oct. 31 vs. Mississippi Valley State; and season finale, Nov. 27 vs. Southern on NBC.

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