In just two weeks of this season, two different teams have donned the maroon and white for Alabama A&M.
There has been the dominant Bulldogs, the ones who jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead in the season opener against Hampton.
Then there have been the downward Bulldogs, the ones who have been outscored 42-6 in six quarters of play, starting in the second half in Chicago (a 21-20 loss), and most recently, ending in Baton Rouge, a 21-6 loss Saturday night in A.W. Mumford Stadium.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Alabama A&M tight end Bobby Goldsby said. “We are confused.”
Confused or not, something has to change for A&M. Saturday night, Southern torched the Bulldogs secondary. Southern sophomore quarterback Dray Joseph passed for 308 yards — 242 of that in the first half alone — and three touchdowns.
On the first play from scrimmage, Joseph hit LaQuinton Evans on a quick pass toward the Southern sideline. And Evans did the rest, outrunning the secondary for a 72-yard score.
Immediately following the touchdown, on Alabama A&M’s first series, quarterback Deaunte Mason fumbled after being pressured by a swarming defensive front. The Bulldogs regained possession, but it was this play that was indicative to how the night would unfold for A&M.
“They threw the ball well and made some nice catches,” Alabama A&M coach Anthony Jones said. “They made plays that we weren’t able to.”
One missing element of A&M’s offense was its running game.
The previous week, the Bulldogs finished with 162 yards on the ground and figured to establish the rushing attack as Southern allowed 342 yards in a 32-7 season-opening loss to Tennessee State.
Alabama A&M wasn’t aggressive enough running the ball, Jones said, and it showed. The Bulldogs averaged just 1.8 yards per carry, with lead tailback Kaderius Lacey rushing for 21 yards. Dual-threat quarterback Mason did not fare much better. Mason rushed for 31 yards on 16 carries.
It was that kind of night for A&M.
The Bulldogs’ best drive came in the second quarter when Mason drove A&M 63 yards on nine plays but had to settle for a 27-yard Chance Wilson field goal.
“Our level of execution went down, and we made mistakes,” Jones said.
Last season in Normal, Ala., it was a different story for both teams.
Alabama A&M had its way with Southern, gaining 455 yards of total offense, 25 first downs and dominating the time of possession, nearly doubling the amount of time the Jaguars held the ball.
So, what changed from over a year ago? The intensity, Goldsby said.
And as the 6-foot-4 junior said, Alabama A&M simply didn’t match Southern’s desire to win.
Ten months since their last victory, a 21-7 victory over Mississippi Valley State in November 2010, A&M knows the task at hand when they play host to Tuskegee next Saturday.
“Come Monday, we know what we have to do, so let’s do it,” Goldsby said. “We have to play four quarters.”
As the Bulldogs travel back home to Hunstville, Ala., coach Jones has a simple message for his team.
“Try not to go 0-3,” Jones said emphatically. “That’s the message.”