Centre Football: Centre hopes to make the most of fewer opportunities at Sewanee
Centre College defensive back Eric Vogelsang (23) makes a tackle during the Colonels' loss to Millsaps last week. Vogelsang and the Centre defense will try to stop Sewanee's veer offense Saturday in hopes of giving the offense more opportunities to score. (Hal Morris / October 5, 2012)
The Colonels will face an opponent capable of condensing the game when they visit Sewanee on Saturday, and coach Andy Frye said they’ll have to make the most of the few times their offense will have the ball.
Good work by the Centre defense gave the Colonels 10 possessions in its win over Sewanee last year, but Frye said the number could be much lower Saturday.
“You could really be outplaying Sewanee, and it still could be close,” Frye said. “You might only get six possessions, and of those six you’d better score on four or five of them. There’s no question on film that we have talent, but the scheme they use puts them in position to play with anybody they play.”
Centre (3-2, 0-1 Southern Athletic Association) had the ball 13 times last week in its league-opening loss to Millsaps, but the Colonels reached the end zone only once. There were five fumbles, and they were stopped twice on downs and sent away scoreless on two of four trips into the red zone.
“I think the thing that we learned from the game is that when you play good football teams, those mistakes will get you beat,” Frye said. “There were a lot of little things, but the best thing is that we can correct those mistakes.”
The key for the Colonels on Saturday could be stopping Sewanee (2-3, 0-0) to get their offense on the field.
The Tigers run a veer offense from which their two quarterbacks rely heavily on option plays, moving the ball downfield just a few yards at a time in long, clock-chewing drives.
This is their second year under coach Tommy Laurendine — they went 5-5 last year — and their second year in that system, and Frye said they appear to be executing better this season.
Sewanee has generated 90 percent of its offensive yardage on the ground this season, averaging 327 rushing yards and 362 total yards per game with totals of 336 rushing attempts and only 31 passes.
The Tigers’ quarterbacks figure prominently in their scheme. Junior Curtis Johnson is their second-leading rusher with 342 yards and four touchdowns, and freshman Cody Daniel has 189 yards and two TDs.
“The younger one is a lot quicker. I don’t know that he makes the best decisions, but he’s more athletic,” Frye said.
Sewanee’s leading rusher is senior Sergio Acosta (346 yards).
Frye said game-planning for Sewanee is difficult not only because the Colonels don’t face option offenses very often, but also because most of the responsibility is in the hands of the quarterback rather than the offensive coordinator.
“You’ve got to really put pressure on the quarterback by making him not make good decisions with the ball. You’ve got to constantly give him different looks throughout the snap and pre-snap,” he said.
“And we’ve got to really work hard on field position. In the veer, you can’t give them short fields. You’ve got to keep them pinned.”
Centre is a more balanced team, averaging 211 passing yards and 210 rushing yards per game, and Frye said the Colonels’ offense match up well with Sewanee’s defense.
“I still think our offense has the ability to be very good,” he said. “We’re putting yards up, we’re putting points up. It’s just all in the red zone where we’re not moving.”
Quarterback Heath Haden passed 34 times and ran 34 times against Millsaps even with a case of the flu. No Centre player has had more carries in a game in the past 12 years than Haden, who has thrown for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns and is the Colonels’ top rusher with 362 yards.
Frye said Haden’s is still fighting the flu, but he was expected to return to practice Thursday. Running back Monte Scotton (324 yards, five TDs), who missed Centre’s Sept. 22 game with an injury and had only nine carries last week, is being held out of practice this week but is expected to see more action Saturday.
Defensive back Erich Vogelsang leads the Colonels’ defense with 45 tackles, and defensive end Grant Poston has 4 1/2 tackles for losses.
Kicker-punter Jordan Gay was named the SAA special teams player of the week for the second straight week after kicking a school-record 53-yard field goal against Millsaps.
Centre has an open date following this game, and Frye said that comes at a good time with both the vice presidential debate and the school’s fall break coming late next week. He said the Colonels will practice through Wednesday before clearing out of their offices and locker rooms in the Sutcliffe Center, which is being used as the media center for the debate.