ALBANY — Mike White compared it to a “Christmas gift” when the Albany State Rams found out late Sunday afternoon that their season would continue.
“We’re all excited,” said White, who was watching the Division II playoffs selection show online with his wife.
“North Greenville came up first, and then our name came up. I just said ‘yes’ and cut it off.”
As soon as it was announced that the Rams (8-3) would play North Greenville (9-2) in Saturday’s first round of the Division II playoffs, White’s phone started lighting up with calls and texts from the Rams, who were stunned in last Saturday’s SIAC Championship game against Miles and feared it would eliminate them from playoff consideration.
The Rams’ mood has since changed from celebration to preparation, and for many of the players, preparation started Monday morning with a trip to team trainers and doctors.
Saturday’s game will be ASU’s 12th straight without a bye week, and the grueling schedule has tested the team’s depth.
Several players received X-rays and MRIs on Monday morning, and White said he will get updates on all of their conditions today. The only player expected to miss Saturday’s game is starting wide receiver Michael Nelson, who hurt his knee before the SIAC Championship game.
“The rest of the guys I think will be OK,” White said. “After having that tough game (against Miles), I was worried about (the injuries) without us having an open week. But more than injuries, we just have guys that with a days rest and some treatment will be fine.”
ASU’s depth has been challenged all season, starting with a defense that lost six starters from last season.
On offense, there was a season-ending injury to projected starting running back Kareem Hess in the preseason; the loss of preseason All-SIAC offensive linemen Norris Byrd and captain Mike Mavromichalis, who were ruled academically ineligible before the season began; and the recent loss of preseason All-American wide receiver Octavius Staton, who suffered a season-ending leg injury Oct. 15 against Morehouse.
The Rams simply can’t take any more hits.
“We are in a situation where we would have to move two or three players to cover for one position if somebody goes down, but we have been like that for a while,” White said.
TICKETS AVAILABLE ONLY ON GAMEDAY: Tickets for Saturday’s game between Albany State and host North Greenville can only be purchased on the day of the game, school officials reported Monday.
Tickets for the game are $15 for adults and $5 for students in grades K-12 and ASU students with valid school identification. All tickets for ASU fans will be sold at the gate on gameday. No tickets will be sold in the Albany area for the game that will be played in Tigerville, S.C., at Younts Stadium on the North Greenville campus.
“The Golden Rams are very excited about the opportunity to extend our 2011 season. Two great teams will be in action for a shot at the national championship title on Saturday,” ASU Athletics Director Richard Williams said. “The Ram Nation is ready for a great game.”
The game will be played at 1 p.m., not at noon as was originally announced by the NCAA. There will also be no complimentary tickets.