Following their first loss of the season last week, the Slippery Rock football team looks to get back to their winning ways this weekend when the team travels up north to take on the Fighting Scots of Edinboro University (4-3) on Saturday with kick-off starting at noon.
SRU drops their record to 6-1 on the season which lands them in second place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West right behind Indiana University (Pa). The Rock’s last meeting with Edinboro came last season when the Fighting Scots scored with no time on the game clock after being awarded one extra play off a pass interference call in the end zone. SRU was forced to use three quarterbacks in the 37-35 home loss last season.
“I’ll tell you already, this team already forgot about IUP,” SRU football head coach Shawn Lutz said. “Basically we still control what we can do with what we need to do.”
Last week Edinboro scored 14 third quarter points and was able to hold off a last minute push by Mercyhurst University to win the game 28-25. The Rock is coming off their first loss of the season last week (34-17) against Indiana who was ranked No. 3 in the nation coming into the game.
After the loss, SRU fell to No. 17 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) coaches poll. The Rock defense’s struggle against the running game continued last week against Indiana as they surrendered 384 total yards on the ground. In total the 2017 Green and White defense has aloud opponents to rush for an average of 204 yards per game which is the fourth most in the PSAC.
“I don’t know how to be nice about it, but we didn’t tackle, like we haven’t all year,” Lutz said. “They started getting after us in the second half and imposed our will on us and we just didn’t do anything about it.”
When the team travels to Edinboro, the SRU defense will be up against the PSAC’s second leading rusher, redshirt sophomore Walter Fletcher. Fletcher has rushed for 958 yards and averages 136 yards per game on the ground this season through seven games, both second in the PSAC.
“Edinboro has a special guy,” Lutz said regarding Fletcher. “He’s quick and he’s elusive, but he’s not a power guy. He’s a guy who’s going to make those nice cuts, find a vision, and get down hill.”
Another contributing element may be the fact that redshirt senior defensive end Marcus Martin hasn’t recorded a sack in the past two games. After collecting a combined 6.5 sacks in The Rock’s first three games, Martin has recorded just three sacks in the past four games, with all three of those sacks coming against California University (Pa) three weeks ago.
“I feel like the opponents we play like to throw the ball a little more and I think he’s going to get his opportunities, but when they see our defense, who scares you,” Lutz said. “People are knowing where he’s at and their trying to find a way to take him away.”
On the offensive side of the ball, The Rock is still having plenty of success through the air, as they out threw IUP last week with 316 yards to their 225. Redshirt senior quarterback Tanner Garry still leads the nation in passing yards with 2,344 and is second in passing touchdowns with 23, which has led The Rock offense to put up an average of 336 passing yards per game this season.
The Rock continues to find themselves in close contests as each win this season has been within one possession in the third or fourth quarter, with the exception of the Kentucky State season opener. Also through seven games, the Green and White ranks fifth in Division II football when it comes to converting on third down at 51.5 percent (52-101).