Posted: Oct 30, 2012 7:42 AM by AP
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - It's been a while since Jackson State has beaten Grambling State on a football field.
That last win came in the 2007 SWAC Championship game, before any players currently wearing JSU's blue and white arrived on campus. And so, as JSU (4-4, 4-2 SWAC) prepares for Saturday's trip to Grambling to play a GSU team that is 1-7 overall and 0-6 in conference play, it does so knowing better than to take these Tigers lightly.
Having dropped five in a row (Grambling beat JSU twice in 2008) and 12 of the last 14 in the series, defensive coordinator Darrin Hayes said players are reminded "every single day" of JSU's deficiencies in this series.
"One thing we can never never do is take that team lightly," Hayes said on Monday. "Records to us never meant anything. No guy on this team can say they've ever beaten them."
Asked to pinpoint a common theme in JSU's losses to GSU, Hayes was blunt.
"They've beaten our butt," Hayes said. "We just want to get past that common theme."
The JSU players know that by winning their remaining games - at GSU, home against Alabama A&M on Nov. 10 and at Alcorn State on Nov. 17 - the Tigers will win the SWAC's Eastern Division title. So the "one-game-at-a-time" mantra that has served JSU well these last few weeks remains the company line.
"We know that it's a tough game and they play hard no matter the records," Hayes said. "You throw the records out the window."
Still, there's no denying this GSU team is a far cry from the championship teams from coach Doug Williams' first stint as Tigers coach. GSU leads the league in time of possession (33:01 per game) but not much else. GSU is averaging 16.6 points per game, third-worst in the conference, and its run defense ranks 106th nationally.
Last week in a meeting of one-win teams, GSU managed just 30 yards rushing and lost 23-20 to Texas Southern despite holding a 20-14 fourth-quarter lead.
"We've got a bunch of guys that didn't quit," Williams said. "As a coach, that's the most important thing. They didn't roll over and say it's over with, they fought until the end and when you see that, you know there're brighter days ahead."
In a season that has seen more bad than good - GSU's only win came against tiny Virginia University of Lynchburg - Williams said this Tiger team has only pride to play for.
"It's about pride more than anything right now," Williams said. "That's all that's left for us."
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com