Tigers seek return to win column

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Depauw football team isn't accustomed to losing. Coming off just its fourth loss in the last season and a half, DePauw will try to get back in the win column today when it hosts Colorado College.

One piece of good news for the Tigers (4-2, 2-2 SCAC) is they tend to respond well to losses. In Matt Walker's three seasons at the helm in Greencastle, the Tigers are 5-1 the week following losses.

"It's a good thing in that we're not used to coming off losses that much. We were 8-2 last year and we're 4-2 this year," Walker said. "It's good that it feels weird coming off a loss. We just don't do it that much."

Colorado College (also the Tigers) comes into today's action at 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the SCAC. The record should fool no one, though. They run a veer option offense, which is rarely seen in collegiate football and they are also a strong defensive team.

Walker knows his team is not in for an easy day.

"Our league is good. There's not a sleeper in our conference, and there record gets a little bit tainted, in that they're playing good people all the time," Walker said. "You can't get too involved in what a record is. You know they're playing the same tough people too."

In running the veer offense, Colorado is very much a run-first team. Rushing accounts for 78 percent of their plays and 71 percent of their yards on offense this season.

Sean Farrell leads the running attack, having carried the ball 101 times for 367 yards and a touchdown this season. Quarterback Jon McDonald is second with 89 rushes for 253 yards.

McDonald leads the passing attack, going 21-of-60 for 276 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions. David Mauro has caught seven passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Mike Box has also caught seven passes for 79 yards and a score.

Colorado averages 234 yards per game while giving up nearly 330 yards per game.

On the scoreboard, they are being outscored approximately 32-7 per game.

While the statistics may not seem to add up, though, Walker is preparing his team for a challenge.

"They run a veer option, which is a completely new system for a lot of people -- you just don't see it that much anymore. Your week of preparation is unique in that you're going up against stuff you never see other than one or two times a year. We gotta get ready for that," Walker said. "They're a hungry group and they're a group that in spite of going through the losses, they play hard. Defensively, they're making some plays and doing some things. And the scary thing with option is if you get in a rhythm, it can become hard to stop."

For the home team, the key will be to score like they did in last week's 45-32 loss to Trinity, while minimizing the costly turnovers.

"It was a really good football game between two really good teams," Walker said. "We did some really good things, but Trinity's the kind of team where they're too talented for you to make mistakes like we made. They took advantage of some big mistakes we made. I'm really proud of our guys because no matter what the scoreboard said, we were fighting."

Continuing to get comfortable with its spread offense, DePauw relied heavily on the pass last week. The air game became even more prominent as they tried to come from behind.

Quarterback Spud Dick was 24-of-45 for 310 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Alex Koors and Bryan Mulligan each caught seven passes, with Koors going for 114 yards while Mulligan had 83 yards and a touchdown.

Nick Etzcorn caught two touchdowns.

The Tigers rushed 14 times for 43 yards. Mitchell Willsley ran nine times for 37 yards.

Walker is looking for a balance between the run and pass this week, knowing that his team is capable of going either way if the situation calls for it.

"Everything's going well offensively," Walker said. "The thing that we've become is because we've done the other stuff for so long that we're now kind of a multi-headed monster. We don't just jump in it to jump in it. We can get in and out of looks and be really effective because we've had to be effective out of both kinds of systems.

"It's pretty exciting what's happening offensively with what we've become and how multiple we've become with doing all spread stuff with all the power running stuff we did before," he added.

Asked if he thought playing a game coming off fall break would affect his team, Walker said the different week is a positive.

"I think fall break comes at a pretty good time," Walker said. "I look at it as a little bit of an advantage. At a place like this, the academic strain is taxing on the kids. We're here at the midpoint of the semester and guys are coming off weeks of midterms and tests. We have guys who are physically tired from studying, which sounds weird in this day and age in college football.

"Coming off of a loss, it almost feels good to have a change of pace. We're practicing earlier in the day. We're seeing our kids a little bit more during the day," he added.

DePauw and Colorado will kick off today at 1 p.m. at Blackstock Stadium. The action will be carried live on WGRE 91.5 FM.

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