#21 Grambling State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Grambling State Tigers

Overall Rank: #21
Grambling State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Grambling State Team Page


It took a little time for Grambling State to readjust to life with Coach Doug Williams at the helm. Coach Williams was the head coach of the Tigers from 1998 to 2003 and came back for another go at it in 2011. The result was an extremely slow start, but a seven game winning streak to close out the campaign. There are some big holes to fill, but a year in the system will get rid of that slow start and have Grambling State ready to win another SWAC title.

2011 Record: (8-4, 7-3)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Doug Williams (61-21 at Grambling State, 61-21 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Vyron Brown
Defensive Coordinator: Andre Robinson

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Dawrence Roberts, RB, 1,102 yards
Passing: D.J. Williams, QB, 1,102 yards
Receiving: Damian Jefferson, WR, 221 yards
Tackles: Naquan Smith, S, 71
Sacks: Jomarcus Savage, DE, 8.0
Interceptions: Naquan Smith, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: OL Sanford Banks, LB Jacarde Carter, OL Andre Gunn, OL Clint Marsh, CB Edward Patterson, OL Julian Wyndon

Key Losses: CB Bruna’ Foster, LE Cliff Exama, DL Stuart Hein, DL Antonio Leonard, WR Mario Louis, DL Antione Rogers, DB David Stuckman

The offense certainly failed to put up good numbers in 2011, but running back Dawrence Roberts had a great sophomore season. Heading into the season, Grambling State had very little experience in the backfield and Roberts literally took the ball and ran with it. He rushed for 1,102 yards and eight touchdowns and should be the workhorse again this season. However, Coach Williams may look to the air a little more this year if his son, quarterback D.J. Williams, can emerge as a more consistent passer. The younger Williams threw for 1,102 yards and 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Considering all of the turnovers this team commits, seven interceptions in 148 pass attempts is pretty reasonable. Frank Rivers stepped in for Williams and threw for ten touchdown and ten interceptions. Rivers had a great spring and while Coach Williams says his son is the starting quarterback, there will be plenty of calling for Rivers if Williams struggles. And both quarterbacks may struggle early without receiver Mario Louis. Louis had a record breaking year, catching 51 passes for 1,129 yards and 18 touchdowns. The next leading receiver caught 13 passes for 221 yards. Damian Jefferson is a rising star, but he had a quiet offseason. That leaves players like Anthony McGee, Robert Bailey, Bakari Maxwell, Musa Mahmud and Richard Wilson needing to step up. None of them will likely be the next Louis, but few saw Louis making such a huge impact either. This team will throw, so somebody has to catch the ball. The offensive line should help the offense improve on last year’s numbers. There are holes to fill, but Sanford Banks and Clint Marsh are All-SWAC caliber players to build around.

The defensive line lost three starters and quite a bit of depth from last season. However, the one player returning is a stud defensive end. Jomarcus Savage tallied 8.0 sacks and 13.0 tackles-for-loss and will cause nightmares for opposing SWAC quarterbacks this year as well. But he will be far less effective if the rest of the line struggles. There are experienced options coming in, most notably junior college transfer Antoine Gardner and North Texas transfer Kyle White. And Coach Williams hopes some of the other players who were stuck down the depth chart are ready to step up. The story is pretty much the same at linebacker where Cliff Exama is gone after leading the team with 136 tackles. Jacardi Carter is a great rush linebacker who can get into the backfield, but Grambling State will need to find a new leader in the middle of the defense that can be a sure handed tackler. The secondary was the worst unit on the defense in 2011, but could turn into a strength in 2012. Edward Patterson is a fine cornerback at this level and sophomore Tyree Hollins is a rising star with a slew of potential. However, freshman De’Vontay Hogan is a great prospect as well. Those corners may be young, but they are talented. Safety Naquan Smith can help out the young corners. He is the team’s returning leader in tackles and interceptions and will need to emerge as a leader not only of the secondary, but of the defense.

The Bottom Line:
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. That will be the difference between a disappointing campaign and a SWAC title. The Tigers lose too much on defense to win  if they commit as many turnovers as they did last season. Interceptions were a problem that should only get better now that Williams and Rivers have a little more experience, but fumbles were just as big of a problem. The Tigers fumbled 31 times during the 2011 season. That is a lot of fumbles. They lost 18 of those fumbles. On the other side, they recovered just 11 fumbles and picked off just ten passes. For those keeping track, that is a -1.08 turnover margin. It cannot get much worse than that. In fact, it could get much better if the ball just bounces the right way every once in a while and the skill players stop holding the football like a loaf of bread. If that turnover margin drops to anything close to even, Grambling State will be in a great position to take the pressure off of their inexperienced defense and win the SWAC.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 123.17 (84th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 175.50 (83, 8)
Total Offense: 298.67 (104, 8)
Scoring Offense: 24.17 (72, 5)
Rushing Defense: 143.17 (42, 5)
Pass Defense: 220.67 (81, 10)
Total Defense: 363.83 (63, 7)
Scoring Defense: 20.83 (25, 4)
Turnover Margin: -1.08 (108, 8)
Sacks: 2.50 (27, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.92 (92, 5)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#42 Tray Rabon