Albany State prepares for Mississippi College this weekend

ALBANY, GA – The 2021 SIAC champions, Albany State, will begin its championship reign Saturday against Mississippi College, and head coach Gabe Giardina said the Golden Rams are ready.

“I think we’re extremely excited to play,” Giardina said. “I think we still have a couple finishing touches to put on the gameplan, but first game is always going to be a few things that are out of the ordinary, so we’re just getting our routine down and getting our legs back but excited to go out there and play our first game. That’s what we signed up to do.

“It’s exciting for us to finally get out there and hit somebody with a different jersey on, and it’s exciting for our first game of the season to be a home game. It’s been a few years since we’ve done that, so I’m looking forward to seeing Ram Nation out there.”

While the team is returning around 18 starters from its 2021 championship roster, there are still new faces on the ASU roster heading into 2022, more so on the coaching staff. Jalen Bush (defensive backs), Jeremy Atwell (defensive coordinator), Charlie Skalaski (quarterbacks coach), Michael Welch (defensive line), and Da’Quaun Jamison (safeties and special teams) will all be entering their first year with the Golden Rams, but Giardina said the players have been adjusting well.

“I really think our coaches have done a great job of trying to win the hearts of the players,” Giardina said. “I think any time you do that you’re going to have great player-coach relationships, and I think our players have been open to receiving love from new guys. Sometimes that’s tough to do, but it didn’t happen in a day and it didn’t happen in a week. Since February, I think our coaches – and even some of our new players – have done a great job adapting to our culture here.”

This will be the third matchup between ASU and Mississippi College, with the Choctaws winning the first matchup in 2019 and the Golden Rams shutting them out in 2021. However, Giardina said they will be going into this matchup with a different gameplan.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s the first game of the season or the last game of the season, you always use last year’s tape a little bit just to see what you did good or see what you did bad,” Giardina said. “We have a totally new staff now, so there will be some different philosophies that we use to try to stop what Mississippi College does and we got to be ready to veil those changes. But our players have done a great job of adapting to those and making sure we’re in the right places.”

As Giardina mentioned, will be the first time this year the Golden Rams will host the Choctaws, as the two previous matchups have been on the road. While ASU won the 2021 game 24-0, Giardina mentioned how playing them at home this year has its advantages.

“I hope that we have a great advantage with our 12th Ram out there,” Giardina said. “Everybody that comes and supports us, from the folks that sit up there in the quarterback club to everyone in between.”

This will also be the first time since 2019 the Golden Rams will start the season at home, and hope to give their fans a Week One win.