Aggressive’ Rams rediscover their ground

Aggressive’ Rams rediscover their ground
October 15
00:00 2015



The prospects for Winston-Salem State’s uncharacteristic season seems to have taken a turn for the better. The Rams traditionally potent ground game had been missing in action over the first five games, averaging a little over 76 yards per game.

In WSSU’s 37-22 win over Johnson C. Smith last Saturday, the downward spiral changed dramatically. The Rams ran roughshod to the tune of 247 rushing yards. Tyree Massey, who’s back to full strength after dealing with an ankle injury in recent weeks, led the parade with 109 rushing yards and one touchdown.

Massey wasn’t the only one to benefit from the handiwork of a supremely motivated offensive line. Xavier Quick ran for 97 yards and one score on 10 carries, which equates to an eye-popping 9.7 yards per rushing attempt.

That’s an enormous turnaround from what transpired two weeks ago in a heart-breaking 27-24 home loss to Chowan. On that day, the rushing attack literally went AWOL. The Rams had minus-2 rushing yards for the entire game. Entering the J.C. Smith game, Winston-Salem State (now 2-4, 2-1 CIAA) averaged a meager 2.4 yards per carry as a team.

The front line crew of Tevin Clemmons, Kevin Ward, Jac’que Polite, Donald Reid, Trey Foggie, Tim Samuels and Josh Wormley, put together its best performance of the season. Thanks to their efforts, the Rams had their best game of the season running the football.

“Our offensive line had their work cut out for them,” said Coach Kienus Boulware of WSSU. “They took last week [the loss to Chowan] personal. Throughout the course of the week, we challenged them to get better. Tyree [Massey] stepped up his game and Xavier Quick did an outstanding job of hitting the holes with his downhill style of running.”

The effectiveness of the ground game made life a lot easier for quarterback Rod Tinsley, a redshirt freshman who has struggled in recent weeks. Tinsley paid the price for throwing into tight coverage which resulted in two interceptions. But on the other hand, he made enough good things happen to put his team in position to win. Tinsley connected on 17-of-27 throws for 234 yards and three touchdowns.

“When we can run well, it takes some of the pressure off our young quarterback,” said Boulware. “In order for play-action passes to work – which is part of our offense – we have to be successful with the run game. We were able to establish the run and make their secondary start crashing the box a little bit, which gives the quarterback more time to get the ball off.”

Massey, a 5-feet-10, 240 pound senior, played limited minutes against Chowan, which helped in his recuperation. By the end of the first half, Massey had 40 yards on 10 carries, mostly between the tackles, so it was clear that the ankle was no longer an issue.

“We came out a lot more aggressive this week,” said Massey, who had a team-high 25 carries. “We were more physical today than we’ve been all season. It was all a matter of doing what we had to do. The whole week of practice went well and everybody was motivated.”

While Boulware is pleased with his team’s most recent outing, he’s not prepared to pronounce that WSSU has fixed all of its flaws and is ready to run the table for the remainder of the season. The Rams are improving, but he’s acutely aware that there’s still much work to be done.

“We’re still making a lot of mistakes, which means there are a lot of corrections to be made,” he said. “So, we’ll go back to the drawing board. I don’t want to focus so much on what may happen down the road. We’ll approach this thing one play at a time, one quarter at a time, one game at a time. Up next is Saint Augustine’s. That’s who we’re concentrating on right now.”





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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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