Grambling State 101: Tigers bring lots of O

IN THE AFTERMATH OF Hurricane Katrina, the Grambling State Tigers were one of three Louisiana football teams, along with LSU and the Saints, to give their home state something to cheer about last week. Unlike the other two, though, the Tigers needed no last-minute heroics. They routed SWAC rival Alabama A&M 44-0. Although Katrina kept them from playing their scheduled opener against Alcorn State the week prior, the G-men showed no signs of needing practice.

Cougars vs. Grambling State
4 pm Pacific Time

67,000-seat Qwest Field, Seattle


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This is the first meeting.

Cougars 41, Grambling State 14

With All-American quarterback Bruce Eugene leading a high-powered passing attack, the G-Men roll into Seattle looking to again raise spirits back home. Washington State fans may make their way to Quest Field to watch the legendary Grambling Band, but make no mistake, the Tigers are here to play ball.


Players to Know:
Bruce Eugene, QB: With 87 career touchdown passes and 9,397 career passing yards (both school records), Eugene has been an offensive juggernaut over his college career. Despite his 260-pound frame, Eugene scrambles well, with over 1,000 career rushing yards with 16 scores. An ACL tear sidelined him the entire 2004 campaign, but he showed little rust last week passing for 275 yards on only 8 completions. He sports a 19-6 record as a starter.

Moses Harris, WR: Harris missed last season
with an ankle injury but is expected
to take a prominent role in the passing game this year. He had 50 catches for 713 yards in 2003.

Jonathan Banks, LT: At 6-8 and 360 pounds, Banks is an absolute monster of a blocker and protects Eugene's blindside with authority.

Overview: Despite losing Eugene and Harris to injuries before the season, Grambling went 6-5 in 2004 under first year head coach Melvin Spears. They have speed on the outside and a huge offensive line featuring three seniors and average 326 pounds per man. The G-Men operate mostly out of a pro-set formation, but have aired it out with a vengeance, leading Division I-AA in passing yards for the past three seasons in a row, with 322 passing yards per game last year. They'll probably try to run the ball early on more than in the past, but can also go quickly to the spread with one or no backs, or two backs with no tight ends.

Strategy: The presence of Eugene alone is reason enough to respect the Tigers' offense. He likes to throw the long ball and prefers to operate from the shotgun. His mobility combined with the sheer size of his protectors could make him difficult to pressure, so the Cougar secondary had better be ready to play some solid defense.


Players to Know:
Dimitri Carr, LB: The team's leading tackler last year with 75 stops. The senior had nine tackles and a sack last week.

Jason Hatcher, DE: Power rusher with good size and athleticism. Hatcher led the defensive domination of A&M last week with seven solo tackles and three sacks. He had five sacks and ten tackles for a loss last season. An outstanding player.

Overview: The Grambling defense operates out of a base 4-3 formation. The G-Men held the Bulldogs to just 157 yards of offense last week and racked up 10 sacks. They have a pair of solid pass rushers at defensive end and a couple of big defensive tackles clogging up the middle. Their back seven is a little undersized but has good speed. As with the offense, the G-Men look for the big plays with the corners playing man-to-man, apt to blitz, but not to press on the WSU receivers.

Strategy: Grambling regularly dominates the SWAC offensively, but the presence of a stifling defense should give the Cougars reason for concern. It is unclear how much to take from the Tigers' lopsided victory last week, but WSU does not want Grambling hanging around heading into the second half or they could be in for a real fight. Brink and company need to display the balanced and potent offense that woke up in Reno last week.

Amidst an otherwise perfect performance, Tigers had some trouble with their place kicking last week. Junior kicker Shawn Millson missed a 22-yard field goal and one of his six extra point attempts. Freshman punter Tim Manuel managed a respectable 39.5 yards per punt in his first collegiate game.

WSU: WR Michael Bumpus (ankle), questionable; DE Adam West (concussion), out; DE Lance Broadus, questionable.
Grambling: Unavailable

It has to be hard to focus on football when New Orleans is in ruins -- many Grambling football players are actually housing their families in their apartments at the moment. It's somewhat remarkable that the Tigers were able to put on the kind of performance they turned in last week. This is a team playing with a lot of heart and pride right now. The Cougars should win the football game, but expect Eugene and the Tiger offense to put up a good show for their fans. They've got more talent than your standard Division I-AA school and they continue to be motivated to send plenty of good news back home.

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