ALBANY STATE NOTEBOOK: Rams gear up for Valdosta State Blazers

Albany State players ready to see someone new

Albany State freshman wide receiver Quadrey Simmons hauls in a pass during practice on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

Albany State freshman wide receiver Quadrey Simmons hauls in a pass during practice on Tuesday. (Staff Photo: Tim Morse)

ALBANY — It’s been a little more than three weeks since Albany State University began practicing for its 2014 football season. But to some, it seems like light years since the Rams defeated Miles to win the SIAC championship last November.

And for the Rams, Saturday night’s season opener at Division II powerhouse Valdosta State can’t get here soon enough.

While the positive momentum from last season’s conference championship and five-game winning streak has carried over into this season, the Rams are tired of hitting and scrimmaging each other.

“It’s been a long, long camp,” senior offensive lineman Danny Bunch said. “I’m tired of beating up on my teammates.”

When the Rams tackle Valdosta State Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium, it will mark the 16th all-time meeting between the two programs. However, it will be the first meeting since 2011.

WHITE LIKES LEADERSHIP: Albany State coach Mike White said one of the biggest positives he has seen during fall practice this season is the leadership the Rams have displayed.

He said as the season begins, the offensive pace is ahead of the defense.

“Not that that’s a surprise, but to see some consistency there makes me feel good,” White said.

The longtime coach singled out several members of his team – quarterback Frank Rivers, offensive lineman Victor Moli and linebackers Tavarius Washington and Larry Whitfield – for their leadership in practice.

“Our leadership right now is going good … we’ve got a lot of leadership on the field which helps us out,” he said. “The guys have been working hard. I think we’re fortunate that we haven’t had anything major in terms of injuries, so we all should be raring to go this week.”

VSU STILL SMARTING: Albany State’s defense will have its hands full Saturday night trying to slow down a Blazer offense that averaged 35.7 points per game and 430 yards of total offense in 2013.

But at the same time, the Blazers allowed opponents to score 30 points per game and gain 427 yards of total offense per game.

That’s good news for an Albany State offense that potentially could score a lot of points.

“I think this year is a good year to be playing those guys again,” White said. “Both teams are coming off 6-4 records and ready to get back on the field and seeking to improve.”

THIS AND THAT: Saturday night’s game at Valdosta State will mark the first of three night games for the Rams this season. Albany State will play host to Miles in its home season opener on Sept. 27 at the Coliseum, then entertain Lane College on Oct. 11.