Former Rams player Azeez Akande is proud to see his team’s success this season.
“We’re making progress,” said the sophomore psychology and Christian studies major. “It kind of shows like even though last year was kind of slow it’s like the tortoise and the hare type of thing. Once we have time to really bond with each other we’re able to do better.”
The Rams head into their third game in the Sooner Athletic Conference against Langston University at 7 p.m. Saturday after a bye week.
While the Rams’ 2018 record of 1-3 may not be great, they started strong in conference play on Sept. 15 with a 36-7 win against Texas College and, on Sept. 22, a 36-29 near miss against Arizona Christian University, a team that was ranked second in the SAC pre-season poll, and which beat the Rams by more than 50 points in 2017.
“I felt that we should have won the game; we made some mistakes that cost us the chance to pull it out,” head coach Joe Prud’homme wrote in an email about the near-victory over Arizona Christian last month. “I told them that none of us are happy with the loss, but that I was proud of the effort of scoring 22 unanswered points to erase their 21-0 lead. It showed me that we can play anybody if we eliminate the mistakes.”
While the Rams didn’t get the win, on-air announcer Jimmy Christopher wrote in an email that the team won with their attitude.
“My excitement for the season was validated by the Rams valiant effort in Arizona,” he wrote. “They proved that there is definitely a change in culture with their no quit attitude. Last year ACU beat them 63-7 in Fort Worth.”
Christopher wrote that he’s seen the improvement on the team this year.
“The offensive line is better and run blocking and pass protection,” Christopher wrote. “The quarterback play is vastly improved with Donovan Isom. The defense, which was good last year has picked it up a notch with added playmakers. Special teams have improved in the kicking game and return and coverage units.”
Christopher wrote one of the big improvements was specifically on offense.
“It starts with the quarterback,” he wrote. “Donovon Isom has made a huge difference on offense. He has some nice receivers like La’Mant Monroe. Plus the O-line is better as witnessed by the consecutive 100 yard games by brilliant running back Jemarcus Jones.”
Senior cornerback Diamond Williams said the improvement on offense is a result of the growing bonds between the players.
“They (the offense) have made a big turn around,” Williams said. “Everybody’s not playing for themselves any more. They’re playing for each other. When we play for each other there’s growth. Jermarcus being one of the leaders has brought them closer together to lean on each other.”
Williams said the change started over the summer.
“It started in the summertime with the returners,” Williams said. “They saw the returners buying into the system which made the freshmen buy into the system. If we get everybody buying into the system, we’re just going to grow.”
Williams said he felt the game against the ACU was a good motivator for showing the team their potential.
“Arizona was a good team,” Williams said. “Knowing that and coming from what we had last year to now, it was a great feeling even though we didn’t get the win.”
With the upcoming game against Langston, Williams feels that if the team puts in the effort and work then the victory should be theirs.
“We’re going to work hard this off week,” Williams said. “We’re going to come work hard the following week and go out and get this W. There’s no way no how that we shouldn’t come out with a win for this game and the rest of the season.”
Prud’homme agrees that there is potential for good things to happen this Saturday.
“We capitalized on opportunities the last two weeks. Our special teams have scored the last two weeks and created good field position,” Prud’homme wrote. “If we continue the current trend and eliminate the big plays on defense, I feel really good about (this) week.”
Christopher also sees the potential for a victory.
“The next two games with Langston and Panhandle State will be tough,” he wrote. “But with the near upset of ACU and playing at home, the Rams could pull off an upset.”
The Rams play the Langston University Lions at 7 p.m. Saturday at Farrington Field. For more information go to ramsports.net.