The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!
We are midway through the HBCU football season, and that means it’s time for midterm grades.
For time’s sake, I will give grades to the teams who won conference championships last year. I encourage you to hit me up on Twitter @boxtorow and give me your thoughts on my grades or give me your team’s midterm grade and I will read them on FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW.
Grambling State (0-5, 0-4). The record speaks for itself. Now in all fairness, had the Tigers had a kicker in the one point loss to Alcorn State to open the season or the one point loss to Alabama State, their grade probably would have been better. Still, that is not the major problem with this team. The Tigers have not gotten consistent play from quarterback as the position has completed just 49 percent of its passes with just four touchdown and four interceptions. The running back position has not fared much better and All-SWAC running back Dawrence Roberts is out for the season with a knee injury. Defense was a concern for head coach Doug Williams coming in and one can see why as the unit is giving up 33 points per game and 433 yards of total offense. Any chance of the Tigers repeating as champions was all but erased after their 31-14 loss to Prairie View A&M in the State Fair Classic last Saturday. Midterm grade: F
Norfolk State (2-4, 0-3). The likelihood of the Spartans losing their first three MEAC games to start the season was, well highly unlikely. But that is precisely what has happened as Norfolk State lost to a surging Howard team 37-36 in overtime at home, was blanked 14-0 by a Norfolk State team that is down this year and lost Saturday at home 20-17 to a much improved Delaware State team. Quarterback Nico Flores has not played well since the Howard game and backup Jake Basmagian has been given the starting position, while Flores has been moved to wide receiver. Flores was more of a running quarterback, whereas Basmagian fits more of what Coach Pete Adrian has been used to from the quarterback position, a pocket passer, along the lines of last year’s MEAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Chris Walley and two years ago in Dennis Brown. The running game has been good led by freshman Brendan Riddick (62-347-6) and senior Takeem Hedgeman (69-321-1). While on defense the numbers would indicate that the unit is solid only giving up 281 yards per game, it’s not the same opportunistic defense from last year with only nine turnovers through six games. Their turnover ratio is -8 which is next to last in the conference. Midterm grade: D