A lot on the line this week for Grambling

Jobs will be won and lost this week, the last cycle before Grambling gets into a game-day schedule.

“After next week, you look at the calendar, and our first game is right around the corner,” said cornerback Nigel Copeland. “All of a sudden, it’s game week.”

Still at issue:

–Protection problems up front, something that has stymied the promise of an offense returning 10 of 11 starters from 2008.

“We’re pass blocking and getting pushed into the quarterback,” third-year Grambling coach Rod Broadway told me. “It’s just bad football.”

–Receivers who have not found a rhythm with starting quarterback Greg Dillon – leading to a series of jarring drops.

–A still-fluid competition at defensive tackle, which lost two starters to graduation. Coaches upped the ante over the last few practices, moving new faces into the rotation – and Kendall Robinson, an end, inside.

“I’m still worried about the interior,” said Grambling defensive coordinator Cliff Yoshida, “and we’ve already made some changes there. This will be a key week. They will have to learn fast.”

–Finally, there’s a critical injury to starting cornerback Kenneth Anio, which moves Desmond Lenard to his spot – and opens up the nickelback position to competition.

“We’re going to evaluate the tape, and we will be looking at everything and everybody,” Broadway said. “If there are some changes to be made, we will make them now. Just because you played last year, you didn’t inherit the right to play. It’s a weekly thing around here. We’ll get somebody else ready to play.”

The pressure to improve is only heightened by a difficult early schedule, beginning with the MEAC-SWAC Challenge game against South Carolina State.

“We’ve still got a chance,” Broadway said, brushing off whatever disappointment he’s endured. “I hope that the offense will carry its weight. We can’t wait five or six games, like we did last year. Everybody knows the defense carried us early last year, but we’ve got to do better than that this season.”


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