Willie Slater shakes his head as he thinks about what might have been with his Tuskegee football team in 2018.
“It was a disappointing season recordwise,” he said of the 5-5 campaign. “We lost two (games) in overtime, but the other team had to score a touchdown at the end of (regulation) to put it into overtime.”
Alabama State drove in to score at the end of regulation to force an extra frame in one game. So did Morehouse College, which scored on fourth-and-8 at the 8 before beating Tuskegee in triple OT.
Tuskegee was up by three scores at Central State of Ohio before falling.
“We had a team that I thought could have easily been undefeated,” the coach said. “We had the personnel to do it, we had the talent to do. We just didn’t have something. We didn’t have the maturity, the ability to close at the end to do it.”
The Golden Tigers will see if they’ve got the right stuff as they begin 2019 with a 5 p.m. visit to Alabama State on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Alabama NewsCenter: What is the outlook for this season?
Willie Slater: I’m excited about this team. We lost some players that were really good players for us. We’re going to have to have some people to step up and fill in those spots. But I’m excited about this team. We have experience at quarterback. We have experience at running back and some experience at offensive line. We have experience at defensive line. We’ve got to get much better on the back end on defense, but I’m excited about this team.
ANC: What is the strength of this year’s team?
Slater: I like our defensive line. Hopefully our strength will be on the defensive side. And we have two quarterbacks with experience. Hopefully that’s going to help us.
ANC: Who are your team’s standouts?
Slater: Well, I don’t ever look at it that way. We rely on every single one of them doing their job. We’re a team, so it’s not an individual. It’s not going to be an individual. It’s going to be a team effort. That’s why I’m excited about this team. I think we have a lot of good players in a lot of positions that can help us. (When pressed, Slater mentioned defensive linemen Kali James and Christopher Faulkner and quarterbacks Jamarcus Ezell and Ahmad Deramus.)
ANC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?
Slater: I’m pretty sure they circled the first one (at 5 p.m. Sept. 7 at Alabama State) and I’m pretty sure they circled the last one (at 1 p.m. on Nov. 9 hosting Miles College). Those two are circled, I’m pretty sure.
ANC: What is your lingering question?
Slater: We have some questions. I’m not going to expose those, but we do have some questions in some areas.
Download or print a complete schedule of all 15 Alabama college football programs, including Tuskegee, here.