ALBANY — The Albany State football team has five games left in the regular season, and the 1-3 Rams will likely have to run the table to represent the East Division in the Nov. 16 SIAC championship game.
And thanks to a bye week following the Sept. 28 loss to Miles, the rested Rams think they are ready to turn their season around starting Saturday at Lane.
“I feel rested, but you can’t get too much rest with the kind of record we have,” ASU linebacker Marcavius Dudley said. “I really feel like this was our week to get refocused and think about what we did wrong in the past week and get sharpened up on what we were doing right.”
It was a week where the Rams didn’t focus on Lane — a team that upset ASU in 2011 in the Rams’ last trip to Jackson, Tenn. — but instead tried to fix their own problems that have caused a second straight 1-3 start to the season. After the loss to Miles, ASU coach Mike White said he was surprised by the way his team failed to handle its emotions in a game where the Rams racked up 16 penalties for 194 yards, including eight personal fouls and unsportsmanlike penalties.
“We talked about going forward as a team,” said White, whose Rams rattled off five straight wins after last year’s 1-3 start. “We really didn’t talk about Lane at all until Sunday. Last week we just had to get ourselves together with our penalties.
“We had some players talk about why we imploded the way we did against Miles. We got frustrated on the sidelines with some of the calls and started bickering back and forth. Those are the things we needed to concentrate on.”
Last week, ASU took Monday and Tuesday off and had a light practice without pads on Wednesday before buckling down on Thursday and Friday for what White called the “toughest practices we have had in a while.”
White believed the loss to Miles magnified the Rams’ lack of depth, prompting the 13th-year head coach to change the intensity of practice. Instead of separating the first-team defense and offense and having them run against back-up players, both starting units are going head-to-head against each other.
“That’s going to be the theme for a while, to worry about the quality and intensity of (practice),” White said.
ENJOYING THE REST: For the first time this season, White and his ASU players got a chance to watch college football on a Saturday afternoon.
White said he enjoyed watching Georgia’s overtime victory against Tennessee, and Rams QB Frank Rivers was glued to the TV during the Rams’ only off Saturday of the season.
“I pretty much watched every game,” Rivers said.
Of course, White also kept an eye on scores from around the SIAC, including Miles’ 27-13 win against Benedict , Lane’s one-point win vs. Stillman and Tuskegee’s 21-13 win against Fort Valley in a rematch of last year’s conference championship game.
“I watched the Georgia game and watched some other games for the first time in a while,” White said. “It was different. It wasn’t bad at all. You are on the internet trying to follow all the games … you are looking at some of the opponents you have coming up. But at the same time that was a pretty exciting game between Georgia and Tennessee.”
As relaxing as last weekend was for the Rams, they resumed a regular practice schedule Tuesday afternoon.
“Yeah it was nice, but it’s time to get back to work now,” Dudley said.