Grambling has a lot of work to do, as game against aggressive Alabama A&M looms

The template for Alabama A&M, traveling for Grambling’s home opener this weekend, is clear: “Pressuring our young quarterback.”

That’s Doug Williams, head coach and former Super Bowl MVP passer, framing the obvious: In Grambling’s last two games, both losses, freshman quarterback D.J. Williams has been sacked a staggering 11 times. Some of that can be chalked up to inexperience at the position, a challenge that trickles down to a youthful Tigers offensive line, as well.

There are predictable consequences, as the pocket collapses — in particular around first-year starters: They try to do too much. A case in point is D.J. Williams, who threw two interceptions in a 35-7 loss to FBS Louisiana-Monroe, then three picks in a 31-17 loss to fellow Southwestern Athletic Conference foe Alabama State last week.

“The worst thing when you have a young quarterback, is it can break his confidence,” Doug Williams says. “It’s forcing them to try to make plays they can’t make, and that’s when you get in to trouble. It becomes a forced situation, because of what they have been through. The quarterback has to grow out of that — and the offensive line has to do a little bit better job.”

That quick maturation is desperately needed this week, Doug Williams says, as Grambling prepares for what has always been an aggressive, complex Alabama A&M defense in the Anthony Jones era.

“They’re going,” Williams admits, “to throw the kitchen sink at us.”

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