Grambling State head coach Broderick Fobbs wanted to make one thing clear before we sat down at Tuesday’s preseason SWAC Football Media Day in Birmingham. He wanted no questions about the pandemic-shortened 2021 spring season.
That’s really no surprise as the vaunted G-Men struggled through the stops-and-starts of a frustrating 0-4 season. It was the first winless season in Grambling history and first in Fobbs’ eight years leading the Tigers.
Close but no cigar
Close losses to Jackson State (33-28) and Prairie View A&M (17-10) were followed by stunning blowout losses to Arkansas Pine Bluff (48-21) and to chief rival Southern (49-7) in the season-ending Bayou Classic (played in Shreveport, La.).
Grambling overhauling offense
Fobbs had to make major changes after his team averaged a paltry 16.5 points per game and gave up over 36 points per contest. Two offensive coordinators left in the course of the spring season.
He brought in Eric Marty, a successful California junior college coach, as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Bryant Ross, who played at Alabama A&M, is the new offensive line coach. Ross spent the last two years as an assistant offensive line coach with the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns.
But the Tigers were anemic on both sides of the ball and were near the bottom in just about every statistical category. Eric Rhodes, who coached on the 2016 SWAC and Celebration Bowl winning Tigers’ team, is back to handle the defensive backs.
Grambling’s play will do the talking
Fobbs and the players he brought to Media Day – returning quarterback, junior Elijah Walker and grad senior, safety Dan Fields – were particularly tight lipped about their plans for the season. None of them would divulge names and only spoke generally about goals for the season. The players clearly intend to do their talking on the field.
Fobbs likes Walker’s intelligence, temperament and athleticism. “Elijah’s a very smart young man and understands he has to stay on a certain level. That’s just who he is. That’s what we need if we’re going to have a consistent offense. Gone are the days where you play with a guy that has no athleticism,” he said. “Defenses have become so tough that it forces you to use your feet. He has that skillset.”
Rushing leader Lyndemian Brooks transferred to division rival Prairie View A&M. Receiving leader Darrell Clark (17 rec., 1 TD) is back. Linebackers Treylan Dunn and Lewis Mattews and defensive back Kenan Fontenot join Fields leading the defense. Fontenot was the only Tiger voted preseason all-SWAC, to the second team.
F-E-E, Focus, Effort and Execution
“The most important thing is to make sure we’re ready to go,” said Fobbs. “We feel like we’re ready to play football, finally. It’s about having the best talent, having the right players, and putting together the right scheme. And that’s what we’ve done.
“We feel our offense is stellar, our defense is stellar and we’ll be really good in the kicking game. At the end of the day, we just have to stay healthy and do things the right way in order to achieve our goals.”
“Our goal is to ‘pay the F-E-E’ – focus, effort and execution,” said Fobbs.