Football commentary: Role reversal as defense collapses at home
October 25, 2011
It was supposed to be a victorious homecoming, and Towson was supposed to lose quietly. Towson (6-1, 4-0 CAA) had only won one game last season, and had never beaten William and Mary.
800 yards and 65 points later, the Tribe (4-4, 2-3 CAA) left a sold-out Zable Stadium wishing for more. With four losses in the CAA, the College now faces an even more challenging — if not impossible — road to the playoffs.
All season, fans have been waiting for the development of what has been a fairly anemic offense. A carousel of quarterback changes kept the team from finding a consistent rhythm, creating a one-dimensional attack.
Senior running back Jonathan Grimes had been the only real threat for the Tribe thus far this season.
Saturday marked a change, however. With the exception of the U.Va. game, the 27 points scored would have been enough to win every game this season. Grimes ran for 133 yards and six different receivers hauled in a pass.
Sophomore quarterback Michael Graham didn’t miss a step after a two week absence, and the offense displayed an impressive ability to drive the length of the field when necessary.
For once, the Tribe offense outshone its vaunted defense. Missed tackles, especially in the backfield, allowed Towson to keep drives alive. Unlike last week against New Hampshire, the defensive line didn’t create much pressure. There wasn’t a single spectacular effort throughout the duration of the game.
Missed opportunities came back to haunt the Tribe defense. What should have been an interception for senior linebacker Jake Trantin turned into a first-down for the Tigers. It’s difficult to compete in a shootout game when the offense is sitting on the bench.
Give some credit to the Tigers offense though. Sophomore quarterback Grant Enders displayed an ability to find the soft spots in the College’s secondary. An enormous O-line posted a combined 341 pound weight advantage over the Tribe’s front four and paved the way for 224 total yards on the ground. Again, Towson managed to keep Graham and company off the field when it mattered most.
Beyond the surprisingly porous defense, a more ominous worry arises. All week, head coach Jimmye Laycock had spoken of the Tigers’s run game. Going into the matchup, the storyline seemed clear: Towson running game vs. the College’s run defense.
With so much focus on the run game, fans have to question how the Tigers managed to run almost at will.
With the clock ticking down in the fourth, Towson simply pounded the ball up the gut of the Tribe defense. With a week to prepare for such an onslaught, surely the defense would be prepared to shut down the running attack.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Instead, the defense looked frustrated and consistently behind the play. Despite holding Towson three for nine on third-down, the Tribe gave up five touchdowns. A team simply cannot give up 38 points and hope to win with an unproven offense.
Looking ahead, Saturday’s game delivered far more concerns than remedies. Sure, the offense looked decent, but still couldn’t come away with touchdowns when they entered the red zone. On special teams the kick returns looked sharp, but the unit yielded a first down on a fake punt. And on defense, well, there were problems across the board.
At a crucial point in the season when every game is virtually a must-win, questions aren’t going to help a playoff push. Good teams get hot at the right time; the Tribe seems mired in its own struggles. One game, the defense is lights out and the offense can’t string together more than three plays. The next game, the offense actually scores some points and the defensive unit can’t make open-field tackles.
A thrilling game took place at Zable, but thrilling losses won’t launch the College into the playoffs.