Albany State starting LB Jamarkus Gaskins and the Rams’ defense could be on the field a lot today if Lane continues to force turnovers the way it has so far this season.
JACKSON, Tenn. -- Turnovers haven't just given Lane College an identity this season -- they have resurrected the Dragons' program.
Lane entered the season on a 21-game losing streak that dated back nearly three years, but the Dragons have already forced a staggering 25 turnovers this season, have an overall record of 2-3 and are looking to upset Albany State (4-1, 2-0 SIAC) when the two teams clash today in Jackson, Tenn.
The good news for ASU?
Lane has never beaten the Rams in their series that dates back to 1965 with Albany State owning a 10-0-1 record -- including 10 straight victories.
ASU coach Mike White, however, knows how important it will be to protect the ball against a team that is averaging five takeaways per game.
"We have to create our own turnovers, and we have to make sure they aren't forcing us into any," White said. "If we lay the ball on the ground, or if they punch it out of our running backs' hands, or if our quarterback makes mistakes, they will take advantage of it."
Lane has recovered 17 fumbles and intercepted eight passes, ranking the once lowly program third in the country in turnover margin per game (2.2).
If the Dragons want today's game to be even close against the 12th-ranked Rams -- who are averaging 40.8 points per game -- then Lane will need ASU to cough it up at least once or twice.
And that's something ASU quarterback Stanley Jennings understands.
"We need to stay composed and stay away from trying to get the big plays and just take what they give us on under routes and stuff like that," said Jennings, who is first in the conference in both passing efficiency (142.2) and passing yards per game (252.6).
"Lane is pretty talented," Jennings continued. "They have a lot of talent over there. Their cornerbacks are pretty fast, and they like to come at your face. They have a little swagger."
Defensive swagger is exactly what Albany State is looking to find today in its third SIAC game of the season. So far, the ASU defense has impressed few. The Rams have given up at least 28 points in each game this season, but defensive leader Jamarkus Gaskins is confident today's game will be the beginning of something different.
"I think it will be a defense coming out party," Gaskins said. "(Our defense) is hard hitting and fast. We are going to get our hands on that ball and put it in the end zone. We aren't worried about what Lane does, more so than what we do on the field."
White agreed that his defense needs to get its hands on the ball. If Lane is able to create turnovers, then the Rams need to do the exact same thing, the coach said.
For the Rams, that starts with tackling -- a fundamental part of defense that the ASU coaches have been less than pleased with this year.
"We play like we are on the field by ourselves, instead of my teammate forcing (the ball carrier) to me or me forcing (the ball carrier) to my teammate," White said. "That's what we have been failing at. We have been working a lot on that this week."
Lane's wins so far have been against NAIA schools Edward Waters College and Point University. Against SIAC foes --- Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Stillman --- the Dragons are 0-3.
DONE WITH THE WEST: Today will be ASU's last regular-season game against an SIAC team from the West Division. The Rams have already beaten Kentucky State and Miles, and will not play West Division leader Stillman or Tuskegee in the regular season.
ASU and Morehouse are currently tied atop the East Division standings with 2-0 conference records. ASU faces Morehouse next Saturday, kicking off a four-game stretch where the Rams will play each East Division opponent.
The other East Division teams and their SIAC records are Clark Atlanta (1-1), Fort Valley State (1-2) and Benedict College (0-2).
Want To Listen or Follow Online?
WHO: Albany St. (4-1, 2-0 SIAC) at Lane (2-3, 0-2 SIAC)
WHAT: Rams' sixth game of the season, third in the SIAC.
WHEN: 3 p.m. today.
WHERE: Jackson, Tenn.
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
FOLLOW ONLINE: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.