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Bulldogs trying not to panic despite disappointing start
The season is not even a month old, yet Alabama A&M, off to its second worst start in coach Anthony Jones’ nine seasons, already finds itself in a precarious situation.
The Bulldogs are 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and have looked woeful in lopsided road losses to Tennessee State and Texas Southern.
Despite that, Jones and company says they’re not pushing the panic button.
“As a coaching staff, we’ve been in this situation before,” said Jones, who has won seven games or more in his eight previous seasons. “We don’t have any room to mess around. We have a lot of football ahead of us. We’ve got to get ourselves ready and our kids ready.
“We can’t afford to play supbar football any more. We’ve got to play our brand of football and we’re not doing that right now.”
A&M, which has used a punishing ground game and an above-average passing game during Jones’ tenure to win a SWAC title and play for three more, doesn’t have either right now.
The Bulldogs, who have been outscored 59-23 in their two losses, are averaging just 271.7 yards per game, 103 yards rushing and 168.7 yards passing.
“We’ve got to get on the same page,” said wide receiver Torey Smith, who is averaging a team-high 19.8 yards per catch on five receptions. “We’re beating ourselves. We’re talented on offense. We’re going to get it turned around.”
The Bulldogs, picked to repeat as Eastern Division champions, haven’t looked the part through their first three games. As a result, defensive tackle Frank Kearse said Saturday’s game against Southern is a must win.
“I think so,” Kearse said. “Right now, everybody has written us off … in the polls and in the paper. I know we’ve got to stick together as a team and get accomplished what we set out to accomplish.
“Most of it is assignments and execution. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do it, but do you know how to do it and do you understand what it takes to get it done. Everybody has to put forth the same amount of effort in the game. If we can do that and execute, I think we can win more games.”
A&M started 0-2 in Jones’ first season in 2002 and won eight of its next nine games and reached the SWAC championship game. The next year, the Bulldogs started 1-2 and won seven of their next nine games and finished 8-4. Because of that, left guard Russell Jackson says they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.
“We’re not going to panic,” Jackson said. “It’s just one (SWAC) loss. We still control our destiny as far as where we go and how we end our season.”
By Reggie Benson, The Huntsville Times