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DePauw readies for conference opener at Centre

Friday, September 19, 2008

In DePauw's week one win over Anderson last Saturday, head coach Matt Walker got just the right combination from his team to keep them hungry for improvement this week. Sure, his team got a 52-17 win over the visiting Ravens, but the coach also saw areas the Tigers need to improve.

DePauw senior defensive end Michael McNelis has been named to the D3football.com Team of the Week for his performance in the Tigers' 52-17 win over Anderson.
"We didn't play as well as our score indicated," Walker said. "We need to work on consistency."

Areas of concern for the Tigers include getting a good start -- they turned the ball over in their first two possessions -- and the running game, where they averaged just under 2.5 yards per carry.

In fixing the running game, Walker will look to his offensive line. Coming into the season, the coach saw the line play on both sides of the ball as the strength of the 2008 squad. However, Saturday's numbers didn't back that up. With a veteran line, though, Walker thinks this will change quickly.

"I would be very surprised if our offensive line didn't come out with a little fury," Walker said. "Maybe they came out (last week) expecting to roll over people."

But whatever happened last week, the coaching staff is determined to grow from the sub-par performance.

"We're going to turn it into a positive. I trust those guys," Walker said. "It's way too great of a group not to respond."

In the backfield, freshman Jon Ellis and sophomore Derrick Karazsia will continue to share the load for the Tigers. However, another freshman keeps getting noticed as well. Chris Collins ran eight times for 44 yards and a touchdown against Anderson.

Walker said it's challenging to try and keep a stable of young running backs happy with their carries, but thinks he has a good group for it.

"It's a good problem that we have," Walker said. "They're all good kids. They understand the big picture and get it."

As for the early turnovers, they lie on the capable shoulders of junior quarterback Spud Dick. The first drive ended with an interception, while the second ended with a fumble by the QB.

But from there, the junior went on to complete 23-of-31 passes for 254 yards and four touchdowns. The performance was good enough to earn Dick the nod for SCAC Offensive Player of the Week.

The DePauw defense was solid, particularly on the rushing side, as they allowed just 18 yards on 32 carries.

The pass defense allowed 209 yards on 23 completions, but held Anderson to under 50 percent on completions. The defense also picked up six sacks.

The DePauw special teams also got into the act, as Chris Gasbarra returned a blocked punt seven yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The special teams score really broke things open in DePauw's 31-point second quarter.

"Any time you can score in special teams, it's almost a bonus," Walker said.

Week two could be an entirely different animal for DePauw, though. They travel to Centre to take on the Colonels (1-1), who dropped a 20-17 heartbreaker to Maryville last Saturday. Going on the road and opening the conference season will add pressure to this game for the Tigers.

"It's always been a tough place to play," Walker said. "That concerns us, especially with the slow start we had last week."

DePauw defeated Centre 38-7 last season in Greencastle. Walker thinks this fact, coupled with the Colonels' week one loss, will make them a hungry and dangerous team.

"They're going to be playing with some anger," Walker said. "I would imagine they're telling their kids they owe us."

In the Maryville loss, Centre rushed for just 39 yards on 20 carries. In the passing game, they were 14-of-33 for 149 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

It's on the defensive side, though, that Walker expects the Colonels to be especially proficient. Of their 13 returning starters, seven are on defense, and one is linebacker Adam Hay, who was a preseason All-American selection.

The Colonels have always been a tough opponent and they finished the year strong in 2007, winning five of their last seven games. DePauw's coach expects a tough contest.

"They play really hard," Walker said. "They're going to be hungry to beat us."

DePauw visits Centre at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on 91.5 WGRE.

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In the first paragraph, it says DePauw won 25-17. I thought they won 52-17, which is it?

-- Posted by HelloMcFly on Fri, Sep 19, 2008, at 8:26 AM

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