FRIDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2012
Passing fancy: JU, MSU both could get airborne
The JU defense has launched itself into the top spot nationally against the pass, but heading into Saturday’s Pioneer Football League game at Morehead State, few on the team think the lofty position is that big a deal.
“That is of little importance,’’ secondary coach Danny Verpaele said this week. “We have a lot of improvement to do and a lot of little things to work on. Talk to us after Nov. 17 (the season ender), that’s when it will matter. Stats (giving up only 116 yards per game through the air) don’t mean anything to us right now.’’
Verpaele and the secondary have closer visions in mind, namely the Eagles who are led by quarterback Zach Lewis, the MSU all-time leading touchdown thrower with 56. He has proven he isn’t afraid to throw it against the Dolphins (4-1, 2-0 in the PFL).
“They are a great passing team,’’ Verpaele said. “They throw the ball a lot, last year they threw it 50 times against us, and they have great athletes on the perimeter.’’
In fact, the Eagles, who average 305 yards per game this season, threw 52 times when the Dolphins won last year 50-14 at D. B. Milne Field.
“We’ve got to get pressure on Lewis,’’ coach Kerwin Bell said. “That’s been our MO, getting pressure on their offense. If you give them a chance to throw they can score points. He’s a veteran, he’s been around now. He is very consistent down after down and moves the chains for them and it will be a big challenge for our defense.’’
The Eagles (1-3, 0-1) are coming off a bye week after a tough 28-25 loss to Drake two weeks ago. One of their other losses was at Eastern Kentucky.
“This is a game they’ve been looking for all year and their schedule is setting up for us,’’ Bell said.
While Lewis and the MSU offense could give the Dolphins fits, Bell believes it’s put up time for his offense.
“Last week, we had to run it to be successful, this week we’ve got to throw it,’’ he said. “We’ve got to get our offense going. This is a big week for us. We’ve got to match them offensively and put some points on the board and I think our offense is ready to do that. It’s time to step up and get it done.’’
The JU offense is led by Bell’s son, quarterback Kade, who has completed 62.9 percent of his passes the last two games after a slow start.
Kerwin Bell said Morehead is indicative of how far the PFL has come the past several years.
“This conference is probably the best since we’ve been here top to bottom,’’ he said. “This is another big game for us. It was one we used to count on winning, but not anymore. They played us extremely tough last year and they are very efficient on offense.’’ Kickoff is at 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on 92.5FM and 1010XL.com. Veteran play-by-play announcer Terry Norvelle will have the call with analyst Josh McGregor, former JU quarterback.