Asked to sum up last week’s game at Louisiana-Monroe during the SWAC’s weekly coaches teleconference, the always-quotable Doug Williams simply said: “I can make it short: We got the hell beat out of us.”
That said, the Grambling coach isn’t grading his first-year quarterback too unkindly for the day he had against the FBS school last week. “It would be pretty tough,” said Williams, as his Grambling team tries to bounce back from a 35-7 drubbing. His Tigers travel to Montgomery, Ala., to face reigning Eastern Division champ Alabama State in a key SWAC battle on Saturday.
Freshman starter D.J. Williams’s completion percentage fell by 19 percentage points, and his total passing yardage by 43, between Grambling’s opener against fellow SWAC school Alcorn State and the ULM loss last week. The Warhawks sacked the younger Williams eight times, and he tossed two costly picks.
“The two interceptions would attest to trying to make a play when you are behind, or trying to force something,” Williams told me. “Those are things we don’t want him to get into the habit of doing. But the last game is pretty tough to grade not just for him, but also for the running game, the receivers – anybody – simply because there weren’t that many opportunities to see. In the first game against Alcorn, we can say he did some good things. In this game, he did some good things when he had the opportunity; he just didn’t have as many opportunities.”
As for the defense, Williams said it’s difficult for an undermanned lower-classification squad to hold up over a stretch of 92 plays.
“We assisted in 28 of those points, by allowing a very short field,” Williams said. “You can’t keep the defense on the field for 92 plays, and that’s how many they ran. But I also have to take my hat off to the defense. Out of those 92 plays, there was only probably one drive that they put together where it wasn’t a short field. When you are in plus-side territory, you are supposed to put up points – and that’s what we allowed them to do.”
Disappointments like that, though, are part of the growth process. Losses, Williams said, can become learning moments — in particular for a quarterback in just his second career start.
“Speaking with him,” the Grambling coach said of his young passer, “he seemed to be really understanding and realized that every day is not going to be a holiday. You’ve got to find a way to overcome those days when things don’t go as well as you liked. Of course, it’s easy for me to say — I’ve been down that road — but he’s in that position now, and it’s tough. He’s a young guy who wants to succeed, and he’s trying to find a way to get it better.”