Nothing to sneeze at, as Grambling holds first scrimmage of spring 2011

Most things haven’t surprised Doug Williams upon his return to Grambling.

After losing so many starters on offense — including record-smashing runner Frank Warren — and changing schemes, the defense dominated a weekend scrimmage. That’s expected. This group returns both coordinator Clifford Yoshida and linebackers coach Andre Robinson, not to mention standouts like Ed “Bud” Patterson and David Stuckman — both of whom, along with E.J. Terry — pulled down interceptions on Saturday’s session.

What Williams forgot was how much his allergies acted up during these Louisiana springs. Gone since 2004, when Williams accepted a front-office job with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the former Grambling quarterback and coach battled cold-like symptoms all week — even as a trio of players battled to nail down the starting role at quarterback.

“It’s a good feeling,” William said, of being back on the sidelines, before stopping to collect himself through a sneeze and a cough. “It’s good to be back on the field, watching the kids work, watching the coaches coach.”

No word yet on who will emerge under center. Anthony Carruthers, the 2010 starter, is having to adjust to Williams’ move away from the spread-option, which favors his shifty athleticism. D.J. Williams, the coach’s son, is also in the mix. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” Williams admitted.

He had to be encouraged by a couple of slashing runs by Grambling running backs Payton Jason and Greg Hudson, each of whom made big plays on Saturday. But turnovers remain a deep concern: Jomarcus Savage also had a fumble recovery.

Grambling’s spring sessions resume at 3:45 p.m. Tuesday. The annual Black and Gold spring game is set for 5 p.m. April 9 at Robinson Stadium on campus.

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