Game #3: Lafayette vs. Bucknell
By Michael Kelley '14
Published: Friday, September 21, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 21, 2012 15:09
“I remember two things about last year: it was snowing and we got our butt’s kicked.”
Head Coach Frank Tavani is referring to last year’s 39-13 loss to Bucknell, when Lafayette allowed 235 yards rushing and turned the ball over seven times in several inches of snow. But that memory isn’t one that Tavani and his squad are hung up on.
“Everybody keeps asking me about revenge,” Tavani said at Tuesday’s media luncheon. “The only thing I care about is 2012 because this is a different football team, they’re a different football team and this game’s on national TV and it’s something to be excited about opening up the Patriot League.”
Bucknell Head Coach Joe Susan may be hoping for a repeat of those snowy conditions, though.
“You didn’t hear? They’re calling for six to eight inches,” Susan said, laughing.
But Tavani is right when he says this is a different Lafayette Football team. With a win on Saturday, Lafayette will be 3-0 for the first time since 2008. The past two seasons, they have gone a combined 6-16.
Last year, the Lafayette defense forced a mere 12 turnovers. Through two games, they have recorded ten turnovers, and boast a turnover differential of +7.
That turnover differential is in large part due to the cohesiveness of the defense, starting with the defensive line and spreading to the linebackers and secondary.
“When we’re dropping back for passes and [the defensive line] is getting pressure, it makes the quarterback have to react fast and hopefully make mistakes in our favor,” linebacker Colton Kirkpatrick ‘15 said.
Last week, the defense tied a school record with seven interceptions against the University of Pennsylvania in a 28-21 win.
Back for Lafayette (2-0) this week is starting quarterback Andrew Shoop ‘13, who was suspended for last week’s game against Penn for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Shoop, whose captaincy was revoked by the coaching staff, is itching to get back on the field and his coaches can sense it.
“I don’t know who’s spending more hours watching film, him or us,” Tavani said. “I know he’s chomping at the bit to come out and play and I wouldn’t want to play him because he’s got an attitude going and wants to show everyone that he’s here and he’s leading us.”
Interestingly, Shoop had his most successful high school game at Bucknell’s Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Against Lewisburg High School, Shoop threw for six touchdowns and 380 yards in a 42-39 win.
“Hopefully, I can duplicate that,” Shoop said, laughing. With his hometown 10 minutes down the road, there will be over 100 of Shoop’s friends and family in attendance.
Last year against Bucknell, Shoop threw two interceptions, but thinks things will be different this time around.
“They try to confuse you a little bit and show you things you might not have seen before,” Shoop said. “We have much more of an understanding about what Bucknell is going to do to us.”
Out for Bucknell (1-1) is running back Tyler Smith ‘13, who rushed for 212 yards against Lafayette, almost a third of his season total.
Smith, a multi-combo back, takes some pressure off the Lafayette defense in multiple ways.
“A running back in this offense is much more than just a ball carrier,” Susan said. “The thing that [Tyler] does best is helping us in protection and Lafayette does a great job with their pressure scheme so we’ll miss him.”
Instead, Lafayette will have to keep an eye on Bucknell quarterback Brandon Wesley ‘14, a dual-threat who can throw and run.
“It’s hard to pin your ears back when your quarterback is running the power and the draw and then scrambling,” Tavani said.
It’s been a long trip home for Bucknell, who are playing their first home game in 11 months. Kick off is scheduled for noon and game coverage can be found on the CBS Sports Network.