The DePauw football team will look to continue its three-game winning streak Saturday as the Tigers host Rhodes College at 1:30 p.m. at Blackstock Stadium.
After defeating Sewanee, 34-0, last week, coach Tim Rogers is happy with the way his team is coming together.
"I think the players understand the system now," he said. "They're hitting their groove."
DePauw has certainly found a groove on both sides of the field. The Tigers are currently first in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference in both total offense and total defense, averaging 407 yards per game, while only allowing an average of 269.5 yards per game. DePauw is averaging 253.8 rushing yards per contest, with running back Jeremiah Marks leading the SCAC in rushing and scoring, averaging 126.2 yards and 15 points per game.
"He's as good as they get, I think, in this league," Rogers said of Marks. "He's one of the better in Division III and could be the best by the time it's all said and done."
Marks ran for five touchdowns against Sewanee Saturday, breaking the school record for touchdowns in a game. Marks ran for 161 yards on 28 carries, tying the school record for consecutive 100-yard games with four. He only needs three touchdowns to break the school's single-season record of 12 touchdowns set by Bart Simpson in 1973.
"He's just real comfortable with running the zone play," Rogers said of Marks. "It's not necessarily that we give him the ball and tell him to run through this gap. He has about three gaps to choose from, depending on how the defense plays the run. We get him up to the secondary level and he's just too big and physical for those guys to bring down."
DePauw also forced five turnovers, including three interceptions against Sewanee. The Tigers held Sewanee to just 185 total yards and 28 yards passing. The combination of good offense and solid defense is something Rogers will take every time on the field.
"To me a great formula for success in a football program is a great special team, great defense and a ball-controlled offense," he said. "You saw every bit of that last weekend. It's not the always the most exciting game to watch, but it works. It we could have every game go like that, we would."
Rhodes comes to town fresh off a 16-13 Homecoming heartbreaker to Rose Hulman. With only two seconds remaining in the game, Rose-Hulman's Cory Wright kicked a field goal to give the Engineers the victory. The loss made Rhodes 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the SCAC, but Rogers said the Lynx will come to town eager to get a win.
"They'll be very competitive," Rogers said. "We better be ready to play because they're going to be with their back to the wall."
Rhodes is currently ranked fifth in the SCAC in total offense and third in defense. The Lynx are averaging 348.8 yards per game, while allowing a respectable average of 332.0 yards per contest.
"I think defensively, they do a great job of coaching technique," Rogers said. "I think their system is very sound. They're one best teams in the league against the run."
Marks may be tested Saturday, as Rhodes is only allowing 131 yards rushing per game. Rhodes' senior linebacker Brian Steinert is second in the SCAC in tackles and first in tackles for a loss, averaging 11.2 tackles and four sacks per game. Rhodes sophomore defensive back Jake McCart is also having a solid season, averaging 8.4 tackles per game.
"They suffered a lot of graduation," Rogers said. "But I can tell you, watching them on film, they are very well coached."
With Saturday being the first of three home games, Rogers is happy where his team stands this season. With a 1-0 record in the conference, the Tigers will look to stay undefeated Saturday, continuing to fight for a spot in the postseason.
"I think the schedule sizes up for us pretty well down the home stretch," Rogers said. I'm looking forward to us hitting our groove, hitting our stride and really digesting the defense, offense and special teams."