Rivalry Week in college football is typically filled with the most anticipated games of the season for many collegiate programs. For many schools, the CFB Playoff isn’t within their horizon, so their respective game with their rival program is where all the chips are put into the middle of the table. Whether it’s “The Game”, the “Iron Bowl”, or the “Sunshine Showdown”; this particular week is where your season matters regardless of your record. In the FCS however, not as many rivalry games are as coveted as their FBS counterpart, except one matchup. The “Bayou Classic” held its 44th annual showdown yesterday in the heart of New Orleans, and anyone with a taste for deep rooted tradition or for the grand ol’ HBCUs were focused on this matchup. Grambling State (9-1) were looking to gain more momentum before their even bigger matchup next week with Alcorn State for the SWAC Championship. As for Southern U (7-3), this would be their final game of the season, and what would be a better way to cap it off than to recapture supremacy in the Classic after being defeated the previous two seasons by the Tigers.
The Southern Jaguars did not start off the ball game in the positive matter that they had probably hoped for. Sr. Quarterback Austin Howard threw an interception the opening play of the game to Ja’Terious Pouncy. This would exalt Grambling with the momentum that they would carry throughout the first half. Grambling’s quarterback, Devante Kincade had another impressive showing in this game as a dual threat in the air and on the ground. His only 2 touchdowns of the game came in the first half. First, on a 9 yard run off a speed option on the opening drive; and then later in the half on a scrambling 10 yard completion to running back Martez Carter. Carter had a stellar game himself, despite a fumble and a minor injury in the 2nd half, he put on a solid performance. He led the game with 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground, along with the aforementioned receiving score in the first half. In the 2nd half, the Jaguars assembled an intriguing comeback by capitalizing on a couple key mistakes offensively by Grambling. Southern took their sole lead of the ball game here, 21-20 with 5 minutes remaining. Ultimately, Grambling would put away the game and win their third straight Bayou Classic with a final score of 31-20, improving to 10 wins on the season.
This game was truly the DeVante Kincade and Martez Carter co-hosted show, much like their entire careers at Grambling. These two players definitely have the flaws in their game to polish up if they are looking to see succees at the next level; but they were evidently the two most talented players on the field all evening. Kincade looked like an efficient dual threat QB prospect. He possesses dazzling arm talent and appeared to have a firm grasp of the offense and controlled the tempo of the game when on the field. What he’ll have to focus on for his NFL stock value to be draftable is his steadiness within the pocket. Like many dual threat QBs, the instinct to “run first” is evident whenever pocket pressure arises. Kincade will be a solid prospect to follow if he can maintain his poise, I can see him as a 5th-6th grade right now.
For Martez Carter, his potential area of improvement is connected with his patience while carrying the football. Carter in this game was always looking for the home run play, and while that isn’t necessarily a major ding in his prospect evaluation, his focus needs to be shifted from a lateral to a vertical running mindset. Other than that, Carter was as advertised in this game. He is a thick bodied back who has all the physical and athletic tools to potentially be a dynamic impact in the NFL. I also see him as late round guy who will see a potential as a 3rd down asset for an NFL team next season.