The 11,639 in attendance last night were treated to the Omar Cuff Show, as the senior University of Delaware running back torched the Tribe defense for a total of seven touchdowns, six of them rushing and one receiving. It will take a minor miracle for Cuff not to be on an NFL roster this time next year, as a back with his speed, vision and power will be hard to pass over, even if he does come from a lesser football program. The NFL scout sitting two seats down from me during the game serves as proof enough that the runner is on the radar of teams around the league.
p. While Cuff is an exceptional player, the Tribe defense should still be concerned with their performance. In addition to Cuff running wild throughout the game (finishing with 244 yards rushing on 30 carries), the defense couldn’t defend a screen pass the entire game and were consistently overmatched in short yardage situations. The talent of this young unit is apparent, however, as they showed plenty of energy and laid more than a few nasty hits on their opponents. Their performance is likely to improve when they don’t have to face a runner of Cuff’s caliber.
p. As a whole, the offense was impressive. Junior Jake Phillips put on a good showing at the quarterback position, finishing with _____ yards on _ of _ passing. His footwork was excellent as he made several nifty moves to avoid the defensive pressure that came at him much of the game. He threw a couple of dangerous passes, and he failed to get the ball out quickly enough to junior wideout D.J. McAulay in the end zone on their first possession, but for the most part he was accurate, a playmaker and very much in control of the offense. Graduated running back Elijah Brooks’ absence was felt very strongly in this game, as the College failed to establish a power running attack.
p. One of the biggest bright spots for the Tribe this game has to be the amount of athletes the Tribe has at its disposal on the offensive side of the ball. Senior tight end Drew Atchison overcame a couple of early drops to provide a reliable, big (6’7”) target for Phillips. Junior running back DeBrian Holmes and McAulay are both very dangerous in the open field, as is redshirt freshman running back Courtland Marriner, who surprised with some electrifying moves, including one kickoff return during which he shook off a monster hit and sped down the sideline up past the 40-yard line.
p. As difficult as it is to remain optimistic following a game in which they gave up seven touchdowns, the Tribe has plenty of hope to fall back on. This is a young team at almost every position, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and it is likely that this squad will need a few weeks of game action to get their feet wet. Next up on their schedule is a road contest with Virginia Military Institute Sept. 1, followed by a home night game against Liberty University. If they can win both matchups with these traditionally-poor programs (although Liberty nearly stole a game from the College last season), put on a respectable showing in what will almost certainly be a loss in the Sept. 22 Virginia Tech game, the College will be in decent shape at 2-2 heading into the meat of their conference schedule. With the talent they have, the Tribe should be able to use a little experience and confidence to raise their play to another level. Just maybe not quite to the level of Omar Cuff.