Through the first two quarters and change Saturday, the bold experiment wasn’t working.
Grambling State — a team that had stumbled along in the midst of the three-game skid — looked lifeless against defending SWAC champion Alabama A&M, falling behind 14-0 and starring down the barrel of another loss.
Over the final stanza of the first half, Grambling, by some greater force reeled off 24 unanswered points.
While the surge was led by the Tigers’ defense, hounding Bulldogs star quarterback Aqeel Glass and forcing four-game changing interceptions, it was the quarterback on the other side — the freshman Noah Bodden — who exhibited grace under pressure.
Bodden, making his first college start, did not wow in the counting stats, but remained poised after a rough first quarter to toss three touchdowns en route to a stunning 37-28 win over Alabama A&M.
“We needed this one; we needed the confidence,” said Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs. These kids are so resilient,” Grambling “The future is bright, but we want the future to be right now.”
Earlier in the week, just four days before the meeting with Alabama A&M, Fobbs named Bodden — his 3-star New York recruit the starter, explaining that despite inexperience, the true freshman gave the Tigers a fighting chance after the three quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart were only able to muster 5.6 points per game out of the offense over 16 quarters.
“We feel that we have a kid that has the opportunity to be a really good quarterback for us, Fobbs said then. “You know that’s one position that you just can’t hide.”
And Bodden made good on Fobbs’ belief with a performance against an opponent that momentarily righted a ship that had quickly been moving in the wrong direction after a winless spring and 1-3 fall start and questions about whether the scheme under Eric Marty was working.
No one knows what will happen from this point forward, with Grambling’s schedule presenting dates versus Alcorn State, Texas Southern, and Florida A&M over the next 28 days. It certainly does not get easier from here.
But Saturday’s win — and how it transpired — has given the Tigers hope that this might be the inflection point the program so desperately needed.
“He’s a gamer; he’s going to be a great one,” Fobbs said about Bodden. “We just gotta keep him upright and keep him healthy and just continue to teach him the things he needs to know.”
The potential of what Bodden is enticing, and something to watch for the foreseeable future.