Grambling set for home opener after long wait

IT’S BEEN A WHILE:  Grambling’s Tigers will be playing host to Florida A&M today for the first time in 31 years, and the G-Men are at home for the first time this season. (Photo courtesy of GSU Athletics Communications).

By T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT, Lincoln Parish Journal

There is a famous quotation attributed to playwright George Bernard Shaw that says progress is not possible without change.

The Grambling State Tigers are hoping a change of scenery and atmosphere can get them back on a winning track — something they haven’t done since a neutral-site “home game” on Sept. 10 against Northwestern State at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.

Six weeks into the season, Grambling will play its home opener at 1 p.m. today against Florida A&M at Eddie G. Robinson Memorial Stadium.

The G-Men – and literally, they may be that today — stand at 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference while Florida A&M heads into the contest at 4-1 and 2-1 in the SWAC.

Grambling made significant progress in last weekend’s loss to Alabama A&M — a 37-34 double overtime heartbreaker. 

So, after coming so close last week, can the mid-season change of finally playing a true home opener push the G-Men back on a winning track?

Another question is was the progress the team made in last week’s hard-fought contest enough to earn the iconic Tigers’ “G” helmet emblem that head coach Hue Jackson had removed before their fourth game of the season at Bethune-Cookman.

“There’s a standard you have to have as a Grambling State football player,” Jackson said during a press conference two days after that Bethune-Cookman game. “That ‘G’ does stand for greatness. It’s something you earn.

“It’s not something that’s given. These young men get it and they want to do everything they can to earn it and wear it the right way.”

Reports circulated Friday afternoon that the “G” might return to Grambling’s helmets for today’s home opener.

Kenn Rashaad of reported that a Twitter post made by someone familiar with the situation showed that the “G” will, indeed, return.

Jackson admitted earlier this week that he had definitely taken note of the progress his Tigers made in last weekend’s game.

“I thought our football team battled extremely hard,” Jackson said. “It was exciting to see all three phases contribute to the game, offensively, defensively and the special teams. There’s still some areas we’ve got to clean up. 

“To play a two-overtime game, on the road, was tough. We didn’t get the result we wanted, but the players fought extremely hard and I was proud of them.”

Still another question for the Tigers – more relevant to the outcome — is who’ll start under center after three quarterbacks played against Alabama A&M last weekend.

Freshman Julian Calvez made his first start and also finished the game as Grambling’s quarterback, with five-time starter Quaterius Hawkins and Chance Amie also taking snaps. Calvez connected on eight-of-17 passes for 74 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Hawkins hit on four-of-nine throws for 73 yards with one score and Amie tossed two completions on four attempts for 23 yards.

Hawkins, a JC transfer, leads Grambling’s quarterbacks in all categories and has completed 59-of-121 attempts for 859 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions while Calvez has connected on 15-of-45 passes for 159 yards with two TDs and has had three picked off.

Grambling State leads the all-time series over Florida A&M 10-6.

The Rattlers came out on top in the most recent match-up, 26-21, last year in Tallahassee, Florida.

Today’s game, the first time Florida A&M has played at Grambling, will be streamed live on HBCU GO  (carried locally by KSHV-TV) with  Jon Kelley and Charlie Neal making the call. 

The game will air on the Grambling State Sports Radio Network.

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