Alabama State University head football coach Reggie Barlow spoke with the media on the weekly SWAC Coaches Teleconference Monday, looking back on last week's game at Eastern Michigan and looked ahead to Saturday's home opener against Grambling State.
The Hornets played hard for 60 minutes against the Eagles of the Mid-American Conference in a 14-7 loss last Saturday. And while Alabama State allowed a pair of running backs to rush for over 100 yards in the game, the defense allowed just 14 points, forced a pair of turnovers, and made key stops in the second half. The ASU offense could not get on track in the contest, scoring just one touchdown and being unable to finish drives in EMU territory.
"Anytime you get to match up with an FBS school, it's always exciting," Barlow said. "A lot of our players feel they belong on that level and I like that confidence. It was a hard fought game. They have two really good running backs, they want to run the ball and they had a lot of success. Our defense was still solid in the passing game, coming up with big stops and turnovers. We just couldn't score offensively, and we struggled a bit in that area."
Barlow felt the trip was a positive for the program, especially being able to play in front of a large contingent of Hornet alumni.
"All in all, it was a great experience for our young men to travel there and play against Eastern Michigan," Barlow said. "We have a lot of alumni in the Detroit area, so it was great all of those people were able to come and support us."
This week, Alabama State will play its home opener against traditional power Grambling State. Former Tiger great Doug Williams has returned to GSU in his second stint as head coach. GSU is 1-1 this season, having defeated Alcorn State 21-14 in the season opener before losing to Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference, 35-7.
"When you hear the name (Grambling), the history and tradition they have there has always been outstanding," Barlow said. "They are a solid team. Coach Doug Williams is back in the conference, which brings a lot of credibility and experience and he is just a really good guy. Their defense is really good. They play fast and with a lot of energy."
The GSU offense is led by Williams' son, D.J., who naturally is a quarterback after his famous father.
"With D.J. starting there, he's a solid guy, has the pedigree and of course he has weapons around him," Barlow said. "Grambling has really dominated us here the last couple of years. We know we have a huge challenge and we'll try to get our guys ready by Saturday at 7."
The Hornets will make their first appearance at Cramton Bowl this season, a venue which became among the most dominant home stadiums in the SWAC last season. Alabama State went 5-1 at home last season, 3-0 in SWAC play.
With two takeaways last week at Eastern Michigan, the Hornets have forced at least one turnover in 21 straight games (53 takeaways over that time: 25 fumbles/28 INTs).
QBs Greg Jenkins and Devin Dominguez have combined to throw 64 passes this season without an interception.
Nick Andrews (1,826 receiving yards) moved from seventh to fifth in Hornets' history in receiving yards, surpassing Kenneth Watson (1,772) and Darryl Pearson (1,823).
Career highs vs. Eastern Michigan: FS Kejuan Riley made a career-high 11 tackles...CB Saeed Lee made a career-high nine tackles...WR Nehemiah Henry had a career-best 78 yards and tied a career-high with three receptions. His 42-yard second quarter reception was a career high.
First time takeaway: LB Winton Steward made his first-career interception in the third quarter.