David Kooi has been sharp since reassuming the starting quarterback role for the Rams.
WHO: Benedict (1-4, 1-7) vs. Albany State (5-3, 4-1).
WHAT: Augusta City Classic, East Division showdown.
WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday.
RADIO: 98.1 FM.
LIVE UPDATES: Log onto: twitter.com/AlbHeraldSports.
ALBANY — The Albany State football team hasn’t lost in four weeks, and Rams quarterback David Kooi hasn’t thrown an interception in four weeks.
ASU coach Mike White doesn’t think so.
“Us playing better has to do a lot with the lack of turnovers,” White said Wednesday. “I just think (Kooi) is a good quarterback, and the more he plays the better he is going to become.”
Kooi, a senior transfer from Division I Florida Atlantic, joined ASU less than a month before the season opener and struggled to mesh with the offense in the early stages of the schedule.
Through his first four games with the Rams, Kooi threw two touchdowns and five interceptions. In the past four games, all of which have been ASU victories, Kooi has thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions. His completion percentage has improved as well, going from 47.2 percent in his first four games to 56.4 percent in the past four games.
“I’m settling in,” Kooi said Wednesday. “Like I said, as we go, we are going to get better. Every day at practice I feel like we get better and better and get more chemistry. If we just come out here and work hard, then good things happen.”
Kooi threw at least one interception in each of his first four games, and backup QB Keenan Grissett replaced Kooi in the starting lineup in game No. 5 when the Rams played Kentucky State in Chicago — partly because of Kooi’s performance and partly because he was battling nagging injuries.
Grissett, however, left the Chicago Football Classic with an injury late in the first half, and Kooi returned under center to help the Rams begin their four-game winning streak.
And he hasn’t slowed down since.
“It’s always fun to win,” Kooi said. “It’s fun to make plays with your teammates and be able to talk about it without holding your head down with a loss. It’s always good to just get out there and win.”
Grissett returned from his injury last week and was active for Saturday’s Homecoming victory against Clark Atlanta, but the dual-threat QB never saw the field.
“That probably has to do more with (Kooi playing well),” White said about keeping Grissett on the bench. “David has been playing extremely well, so it’s hard to come off that. Even though we were trying to get a running game going with Keenan, I think David has really, really played well.”
No one has benefited more from Kooi’s recent success than sophomore receiver Jessie Atkins.
Atkins, a Camilla native and former Mitchell County star, is the Rams’ top receiver with 27 receptions for 449 yards and two touchdowns, and he led the team Saturday with six catches for 67 yards.
“With each game the connection has gotten stronger,” Atkins said. “We are still learning each other’s style of play. Every game I am learning something new about David, and every game he is learning something new about me.”
PLAYOFF PICTURE: The Rams (5-3) debuted at No. 10 in the Division II regional rankings this week, but White said on Wednesday that he’s not worried about the poll, which determines which teams appear in the playoffs.
“We just have to beat Benedict,” said White, referring to Saturday’s game in Augusta. “I am so far away from thinking about (the playoffs). That is so far down my list. We have to show improvement offensively. We have to show a little improvement each week to get to that.”
The top six teams in each of the four Super Regions earn automatic bids into the playoffs, and ASU will likely need to win out to advance to the postseason for the ninth consecutive year.
The Rams end the regular season Nov. 3 against Fort Valley State, and a win in the season finale would advance ASU to the conference championship game likely against Miles on Nov. 10. Both Fort Valley State (No. 6) and Miles (No. 1) are ahead of ASU in the regional rankings, giving ASU a clear path to move up in the poll.