The Urbana University Blue Knights return home to UU Stadium Saturday for a noon kickoff against a strong opponent in the University of Charleston, which has won five straight. The game has been tabbed “Youth Day,” with hundreds of local youth football players expected to descend upon UU’s campus.
UU (2-5, 1-5 MEC) looks to rebound again this week, after a disappointing 34-7 loss at West Virginia Wesleyan last Saturday.
After entering the locker room tied at 7-7, the Blue Knights gave up 27 unanswered points in the second half to the then-winless Bobcats.
“We knew going into it that they were a good football team,” UU head coach Tyler Haines said. “Even though they had no wins, we knew they were a dangerous team. They came out with a trick play, and credit to their staff and players for executing that, but it put us down on the first play of the second half and we weren’t able to regroup after that.”
The Blue Knights know they have their hands full in Week 8, especially at UU Stadium, where UU is 0-3 and has not scored a single offensive point. Haines expressed that practice leading up to those games hadn’t been up to par, but there’s been major improvement this week.
“Tuesday was the best practice we’ve had all year,” Haines said. “To lose like we did last week really opened our eyes, and we’ve started hammering home the fact that we need to work harder.”
One area that UU has worked hard on improving is the turnover column.
Two weeks ago, the Blue Knights entered their matchup at Lake Erie with a minus-seven turnover margin. Entering Saturday, that number is now down to minus-two.
With the reduction in turnovers and a defense that leads the MEC in red-zone scoring, the Blue Knights are well equipped to come out with a win this week – if the offense can get rolling.
The UU offense has struggled to sustain drives this season, and enters Saturday’s game averaging 263.3 yards and 12.7 points per game.
Look for Haines and company to establish the run with running backs Deonta Rudasill and Cedric Presley.
Charleston is near the top of the MEC, and features a pair of outstanding quarterbacks. Whether it’s Jeremy Johnson (131.2 Eff.) or Mason Olszewski (140.6 Eff.) behind center, UC will be a force offensively.
The Golden Eagles average 36 points and 456.7 yards per game.
Fortunately for the Blue Knights, UC has allowed some decent yardage with opponents gaining 429.3 yards and scoring 32 points per game.
UU will look to get back on track, and with a strong week of practice, the Blue Knights are confident they will come out strong Saturday afternoon.
“Even though we’re not the most talented team in the conference, we’re going to do things the right way. We’re just continuing to develop a culture of winning football here,” said Haines.