Rock seeks redemption against Kutztown

Published by adviser, Author: D.J. Vasil - Rocket Contributor, Date: September 28, 2012

One thing is very clear for Slippery Rock University’s football team as they enter this Saturday’s matchup with defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference-East Champions Kutztown University – they cannot afford to lose.

A loss to Kutztown (1-3, 0-2) this weekend would lessen the chances of the Rock (2-2, 1-1) making an appearance in the Division II National Playoffs.

The game will be a rematch of last year’s PSAC Championship game, a game that resulted in a Rock loss 21-14. A sense of urgency to win is one of the feelings amongst the Green and White heading into this weekend’s matchup, according to defensive coordinator Shawn Lutz who spoke for head coach George Mihalik on Wednesday. Mihalik was unavailable due to personal reasons.

“It’s a crucial game,” Lutz said. “We can’t have a two game skid. We have to have some momentum going into next week against IUP. Since we played poorly against Mercyhurst, we have to have something positive going into next week. I’m glad we play them. I want to know how we stand against a good quality opponent.”
The Rock defense struggled against the run last week against Mercyhurst, but this week they will have to contend with a high-powered Kutztown offense that is averaging 368 yards passing a game.

Kutztown is lead by senior quarterback Kevin Morton. Morton was a first-team all-PSAC-East performer and the PSAC-East player of the year last year.

Morton, however, will be unable to play against SRU due to injury.

Freshman Josh Luckenbaugh will take the reins for the Golden Bears. Luckenbaugh has filled in nicely for Kutztown, having thrown for 522 yards so far on the year.

“Kutztown is a lot like Mercyhurst,” Lutz said. “On offense, they return 10 out of 11 starters from last year. Along with trying to stop the pass they can run the ball as well. They run a spread type of offense. We have to come out ready to play early and have to make big plays in the beginning of the game. We need to create turnovers at the beginning and we need to jump on them early.”

Leading the way in stopping the Kutztown passing game will be redshirt junior cornerback Anthony Saunders. Saunders is having a good season to this point, having recorded two interceptions, both of which were returned for touchdowns.

“We have to come focused and ready,” Saunders said. “We are watching film on them and have to be prepared for whatever they throw. I want to keep the defensive backs focused and not let them get down if they give up a big play, also keeping them alert and ready.”

The Rock defense most likely will be without starting safety Isaiah Coleman, who leads the defense in interceptions with three.

“We all need to step up,” Saunders said. “I’m hoping we all do our part on defense. With Isaiah being gone, we all have to step up a little bit more.”

Offensively, the Rock will look to take an advantage of a Kutztown defense that has struggled against the pass, having given up an average of 264.8 yards a game. The Golden Bears also give up an average of 35.8 points per game.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jared Buck is in his first year starting under center for SRU. One thing that has plagued the Rock offense this year has been getting off to slow starts. This is something Buck is looking to change this week.

“I think we need to come together as an offense,” Buck said. “We need to know what we need to come out and do it. In the past three games we’ve started off slow in the first half and have not done much. In the second half, we play great. I think we need to realize we have to come out ready to play and help out the defense.”

Slippery Rock will resume PSAC-West play next weekend and hit the road next week to take on Indiana University of Pennsylvania (3-1, 1-1) at Miller Stadium. Game time is set for 2 p.m.


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