By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.
The Golden Bears of Miles College were the definition of an up-and-down football team in 2016.
Coach Reginald Ruffin’s squad alternated wins and losses in its first six games last season. Miles then won two games in a row before ending the season with back to back losses.
“Last year, we came off a 2015 [Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference] championship and you’re picked to be No. 1 in ’16,” Ruffin said. “I just thought we were very complacent, from me as the head coach, assistant coaches all the way to the players. I thought we had a good team, that we could win the close ones. That goes to show you have to battle every week. Everybody’s going to bring their A game.”
Alabama NewsCenter posed five questions to Miles’ Ruffin, whose team opens the season on Sept. 2 at Alcorn State of the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
Alabama NewsCenter: What is the outlook for this season?
Reginald Ruffin: The biggest thing is replacing our two-year starter at quarterback in David Whipple. We’ve got to find the guy who’s ready to drive this Cadillac, this offense and lead this team. It’s a battle. We’ve got a couple of newcomers who are fighting for the position. We have three returners all fighting for the position also.
This year’s team, our strength is our offense. Our strength is also our special teams. Our All-American kicker Nick Christiansen is back for his senior season. We definitely have the pieces. We just have to formulate and put them all together.
ANC: What is your team’s strength?
RR: It should be offense and special teams. We’re returning everybody on our offensive line. Any time you have the offensive line intact, all the receivers and all the running backs, we’ve just got to find the right triggerman to lead the offense. We’re very excited about our offense.
ANC: Who are your team’s standouts?
RR: Trey Smith, our junior receiver, is the leader of our team. We return Ger’Kerry Jackson at running back. We have the transfer De’Rell Freeman from the University of West Georgia. (On the offensive line, there is) Curtis Mack, a four-year starter; Chris Ruffin, a four-year starter alongside Derrick Tucker, a four-year starter. We’re definitely excited about having guys who have been in the program for four years.
ANC: What game do your fans have circled on your schedule?
RR: Everybody’s got Alcorn State, an FCS program. That’s the first game. You never look ahead. All games are big. We’re all excited and all getting ready to play Alcorn State on Sept. 2 at their stadium. It’s big for our institution, playing an FCS school and seeing how we match up.
ANC: What is your lingering question?
RR: The biggest thing is: Can we finish? Can we finish the job? Our motto is, ‘Do your job.’ No excuses. Do your job. That’s the biggest question we ask ourselves each and every day. It’s all about doing your job. We just want to finish. It’s all about finishing. That’s what we’ve worked toward – being a finisher, being a closer.