Alabama A&M’s defense has played well in each of the first three games, and it is likely to play a critical role in whatever success the Bulldogs have against Grambling.
The G-Men have a young offensive unit, and they haven’t done a good job protecting freshman quarterback D.J. Williams, the son of coach Doug Williams. Alabama State had four quarterback sacks, and the G-Men have given up 13 for the season.
“We’ve had questions and concerns about the offensive line all year,” Doug Williams says. “When you have a young quarterback, you don’t want to break his confidence and force him to make plays, plays that he can’t make. When that happens, it becomes a forced situation because of what he has been through all game long.”
Williams expects the Bulldogs to go after the quarterback with all that they have.
“They’re going to throw the kitchen sink,” he says. “They will put pressure on the quarterback. We have to prepare for them.”
Williams says he is also concerned about Grambling’s defensive performance against Alabama State. The G-Men gave up 399 total yards.
“The concern with the defense is not how many yards gave up, but how bad the tackling was,” he says. “Most of the yards came after contact. When you get 80 plays run against you, (Alabama State ran 79 offensive plays) bad is going happen to you. I attribute those yards to bad tackling and poor offense.”
Grambling only ran 57 offensive plays against Alabama State, and the G-Men gained just 12 first downs. That allowed Alabama State to control the ball and the clock. Williams expects the Jones to design a game plan for the Bulldogs that will produce similar results.
“I’ve had some history with Alabama A&M and Coach Jones,” says Williams, who coached Grambling from 1998 to 2003 before taking a front office position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “I know what they’re about. It’s just a matter of learning what they’re doing now. A lot of things won’t change. Coach Jones takes a conservative approach, but a real consistent approach to offense, and every now and then he hits you with something you don’t expect.”
The history between Williams and Jones extends beyond the football. They were teammates on the Washington Redskins, and they were roommates the night before Super Bowl XXII when Williams was named MVP. Williams says their relationship always makes coaching against Jones special.
“From an athletic standpoint, the competitiveness is always there,” he says. “Anytime you can compete against somebody you played with, you want to be on wining end. But the important thing is to keep the relationship what it is. We’re two coaches who happen to be coaching against each other.”
Jones is in his 10th season at Alabama A&M and is the dean of SWAC coaches, in terms of years of service. He and Williams talk regularly.
“I’ve always had a good relationship with Doug,” he says. “If I have something on my mind, I will call Doug and vice versa. The relationship will stay supportive of each other except when we play each other.”