Urbana University (2-4, 1-4 MEC) hopes to keep its offense operating at a high level as it gears up for a Week 7 matchup against West Virginia Wesleyan (0-6, 0-6 MEC) Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Ross Field located in Buckhannon, W.Va.
UU will travel for the second straight week, the only back-to-back road games of the season, which bodes well for the Blue Knights.
In three road games, UU is 2-1 and averaging 300 more yards on offense (430.0) than it does in the same amount of games played at UU Stadium this season. UU also averages 25 points on the road, and just 2 points per game at home.
“This year, I’d rather be traveling every week,” UU head coach Tyler Haines said. “We’ve played a lot better on the road for whatever reason. But every week is a new week, and we just need to focus on what we’ve done and how we can improve.
“Usually a young team, a team that’s not used to winning, doesn’t know how to react to win or a loss. So that’s my job as the head coach to carry over that momentum.”
Most recently, the Blue Knights fired on all cylinders in a thrilling 33-30 comeback win at Lake Erie. The backfield made up of Deonta Rudasill and Cedric Presley exploded for 201 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns to lead the way.
“We’ve got to maintain success running the football. If we can run the football, things will open up for us,” Haines continued. “Offensively we came to life a little bit, and that’s attributed to our offensive line.
“When you’re able to run the ball like that, it opens up opportunities for (QB Eric) Pelfrey and the pass game to get going. This offense is based on the ability to run the ball, and then we create answers off of that.”
Haines also discussed the progression of Pelfrey, who completed a career-high 14 passes on 21 attempts with two touchdowns and no interceptions in last week’s win.
“He’s a competitor. He took it as a challenge to be the starting quarterback and he’s developed considerably well over these past few weeks.
“There were times in that (Lake Erie) game where he stepped up and made plays on his own that we desperately needed. I’m proud of his effort and progression.”
Obviously, the key for any football team to be successful lies in its ability to limit turnovers. Last week, UU played its first mistake-free game after entering the contest with a minus-seven turnover margin. According to Haines, the team’s focus and key this week will be aiming to produce the same result in the turnover column.
On defense, linebacker D’Gary Wallace, who was named Mountain East Conference Player of the Week on Monday, leads the conference and ranks fifth nationally in total tackles (88). He made a huge fumble recovery last week to prevent a touchdown, along with racking up 19 tackles.
“I’d just like to see us get back to our aggressive style of play,” Haines said. “They [Lake Erie] had us on our heels a little bit last week, so I’d like to see our defense get back to pinning our ears back and playing the defense that I’ve seen earlier in the season.”
West Virginia Wesleyan enters the contest winless, but the Bobcats have improved tremendously.
In a narrow four-point loss last week, WVWC signal caller Ryan Deal passed for 473 yards and four touchdowns against Fairmont State, which limited the Blue Knights to minus-three yards.
The Bobcats have had struggles on defense, allowing 43 points or more in the opening four games. But over the previous two weeks, they’ve held both opponents under 40 points.
“They are much improved, we’ve seen them getting better every single week,” Haines said. “They took Fairmont all the way to the wire last week and they’ve been able to score points every game. I see an explosive offense that can score at any point in the game, and their defense has improved. We’ll have our hands full.”
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