Greg Banes, the starting tailback and leading rusher for a Howard University football team that managed only 117 yards running in its last game, is ailing and will not make the tirp to Jacksonville, Fla., for Saturday's important Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game against Florida A&M.
Coach Floyd Ketih made the decision last night after Banes suffering from a bruised right knee and still sore from other wallops inflicted in the Bison's past two games, could not practice in pads for the third straight day. bKeith said that Banes also was sick.
Ivan Thompson will replace Banes.
"Sometimes you have to go with the player who practiced," Keith said. "When you don't practice, you fumble."
Banes, who practiced only lightly last week, did not start against S.C. State and had a crucial fourth-quarter fumble deep in Howard territory, leading to the winning touchdown two plays later. Thompson carried the ball seven times for 33 yards, including 15 on one carry.
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Thompsonmay be more durable than the 5-10, 175-pound Banes. But Banes, with his slashing style, is a scoring threat every time he takes a handoff or catches a pass. He is fourth in the MEAC in rushing (248 yards, 5.9 average) but has played one fewer game than two of the three ahead of him. Banes is the biggest reason the Bison are third in the six-team conference in rushing.
When Keith wasn't worrying about Banes' health, he was worrying about the fact that the films of FAMU's Saturday loss to Gambling weren't scheduled to arrive until just hours before the Bison departed for Jacksonville. The game films Keith and his staff studied yesterday were of Howard's S.C. State loss, which revealed several flagrant, overlooked fouls by State players at pivotal points in the game, the coach said.
"We were raped, that's about all I can say," said Keith. "The amount of holding that went on in that game that was missed was ridiculous. I was amazed. These weren't borderline calls. They were flagrant.
"I don't like to complain about the officiating because officials are human. Errors are going to be made. I'm the first to tell my players, 'You gotta make your own breaks, don't wait for any.' But it's tough for me to look at those films and say they did a good job. It was gross."
But, Keith said, that's history and the Bison must prepare for FAMU's quick defense and a Rattler offense that is expected to test Howard's rushing defense that yielded 350 yards to S.C. State. Howard is last in the MEAC in rush defense.
The Bison pass defense is the best in the conference, but that may be because teams realize they don't have to throw on Howard to score.
The offense is third best in the conference, with placekicker Howard Ward the leading scorer and split end Tracy Singleton its top receiver with 12 catches for 245 yards. Senior Quarterback Ron Wilson is the runaway leader on total offense with 539 yards (5.4 yards per play.)