SIX POINTS: TDR’s take on Grambling’s Mississippi Valley win

Six points from on Grambling’s homecoming week of 2009 football, including a victory over Mississippi Valley State:

Though Grambling’s red-zone problems continued against Valley (more on that in a moment), Greg Dillon at last looked like his old self again.

You finally saw the eye-popping athleticism that sparked the Tigers to a championship last season — notably when Dillon streaked in for a score from the 8, helping establish a commanding 36-0 lead with 14:12 remaining.

Dillon emerged from GSU’s overmatched blowout at Oklahoma State with a bum ankle, and it indelibly altered this attack over the ensuing month or so: “Greg Dillon’s strength is putting pressure on people and getting on the corners,” Grambling coach Rod Broadway said.

People questioned it when Broadway complained about playing a BCS Top 25 team for the cash. But the mobile junior quarterback’s injury in that game was devastating.

Does Grambling lose to Prairie View with this Greg Dillon? I say: No.

Grambling was one blown assignment away from a shut out against Valley, something a defense that’s seen its share of surprising struggles this season badly needed.

Eddie Ivory, in for Valley after its starter left with a concussion, hit Chris Williams for a 68-yard touchdown pass with 13:52 left in the final period to put the Devils on the board.

“We gave up one really big play, but for the most part we played a lot of better defensively,” Broadway said. “I think we still need to learn to play a little bit harder and a little faster. When we do that, we are pretty good defense. When we run to the ball, it’s a good sight to see.”

Grambling added two more late touchdowns to complete the scoring at 50-7, the first time the Tigers have put up half-a-hundred since homecoming against Texas Southern in Broadway’s first season at the helm.

Danny Reyes, Grambling’s New White Tiger, saw some late playing time under center in the final period, as well. The 2009 signee from Tarpon Springs (Tampa, Fla.) High completed all three pass attempts for 34 yards and a touchdown in his debut.

Reyes racked up the second highest yardage among Tampa Bay-area prep quarterbacks last season, according to MaxPreps. Tarpon Springs advanced to the regional quarterfinals as Reyes passed for more than 2,400 yards, completing 61.6 percent of his attempts.

He hit camp at Grambling in the fall and quickly seized the backup role from second-year player Justin Higgins, who himself led the state of Louisiana in passing as a senior in 2006.

The score, by Broadway’s count, should have been 62-0. First, there was the defensive stumble. Then, there were the ongoing struggles for Grambling inside of opponents’ 20-yard line.

The Tigers were forced to kick three red-zone field goals in the first half — including one on a late-second quarter drive that started, incredibly, as a first-and-goal from the Valley 1 after a GSU interception.

“The one right before the half was really discouraging,” Broadway said. “We have to do a better job of getting ball in the endzone in those kind of situations.”

He said the Grambling staff would tear apart its playbook, and get deeper into film study in an attempt to combat this lingering issue. One possible solution: Running out of the spread formation more often, he said.

“We need to look and see what we are doing,” Broadway said. “We have to come up with a better play. I don’t think we can bunch it up and run two tights. We need to spread it out and attack the corners. We are still cutting it up and looking at it. We are doing some self scouting to see what we need to do.”

Mississippi Valley coach Willie Totten, a valiant fighter in his collegiate playing days as a record-smashing quarterback for the Devils, sounded emotionally spent after the Grambling defeat.

“I don’t have much to say,” Totten said, quietly. “We got beat and we just have to get ready to play Texas Southern.”

Asked who would start for the Devils at quarterback, after his starter went down with concussion, Totten simply said: “I have no idea.”

Valley also lost its top cornerback to a broken ankle.

Got my first look at the signage honoring Fred Hobdy in the Grambling assembly center over the weekend, a moving experience.

Hobdy, who played a key role on Coach Eddie Robinson’s famous 1941 “un-” team, later led the GSU basketball team to nearly 200 wins as coach. That’s still tops among Louisiana men’s college coaches. He is also the only one to win a national title: the 1961 NAIA championship. Hobdy was an assistant football coach for Rob, too, and was on the staff for Grambling’s only other undefeated football team, in 1955.

Yet he has remained a figure so often overlooked in the great Grambling lore, until this weekend. Hobdy finally got his moment on Friday — first with the dedication of the arena and then with the announcement, during gala GSU Hall of Fame induction ceremonies later that night, of a new endowed professorship in his name.

His widow, the ailing Mary Hobdy — pictured on Friday with her family in red above — stood in quiet, resolute triumph as the crowd rose to its feet in thunderous applause. She’d fought cancer as hard as she’d fought for this moment: To see the Frederick C. Hobdy honored at the school he helped establish as a national name.

There were many, including me, who wanted more — namely, the naming of the building rather than simply the basketball court inside. Maybe it’s not as grandiose as Hobdy so richly deserves, and maybe I’ve come to lower my own expectations through this long battle.

But standing there, seeing Mrs. Hobdy — so important, in her own way, to the legacy as former secretary to second school president Ralph Waldo Emerson “Prez” Jones — drink in the crowd’s acclaim and, then, looking up at the new sign, I was touched.

I thought of what Fred would say, when you called his office back in the day: “Hobdy here!”

See a new photo gallery from TheDerisoReport featuring images from homecoming weekend, including the GSU Hall of Fame announcement of the new Hobdy endowed professorship.


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