Football | Tufts to host undefeated Trinity on Homecoming
Bantams have won 12 straight since 2011
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 08:10
While there has been much said about Tufts’ 26-game losing streak, the facts are simple: Despite 10 losses of eight points or fewer, including a 13-10 defeat last Saturday against Bowdoin, Tufts has not won a game since opening day of the 2010 season.
But with each fall weekend comes a new opportunity to break the pattern that has dragged on over the better part of the last three seasons. This Homecoming weekend is no exception: The Jumbos will take on 3-0 Trinity at 1:30 p.m. on Zimman Field.
“It is what it is,” head coach Jay Civetti said. “But if you start making decisions because of that, you’re doing a disservice to the plan and the mission and what we’re trying to do here as a program.”
From a tactical point of view, the Jumbos will likely stick with the strategy they have employed so far. Their no-huddle, pass-first offense has helped junior quarterback Jack Doll post the second-highest passing yards per game average in the NESCAC.
On defense, meanwhile, the focus will be on ramping up the intensity in the face of Trinity’s formidable running game, spearheaded by a pair of seniors, Ben Crick and Evan Bunker.
“We’re definitely focusing on not missing tackles,” junior tri-captain linebacker Tommy Meade said. “We’ve got to wrap up better. They’ve got two very good running backs. They’re going to make their plays, but we’ve got to tackle the football and limit them as much as we can.”
Bunker and Crick are two of the best backs in the league, and Civetti anticipates that Trinity, like many other teams in the NESCAC, will look to establish the run game early against Tufts.
And although the Bantams also boast the third-best pass defense in the conference, the Jumbos will again try to come out and establish its offense through the air.
“Defenses are still trying to figure out what our offense is and how it works,” Civetti said. “We feel like we have an advantage with the guys we have on the flank, and they can make things happen with the ball in their hands. We’re going to continue to push the ball.”
Despite their success in the passing game, the Jumbos have struggled to score. They are averaging 11.7 points per game, fourth-fewest in the league. At times, the no-huddle offense can get bogged down, and quick three-and-outs have been killers both for Tufts’ rhythm and for the defense, whose rest on the sideline often is limited.
“We have to be able to get high-percentage throws in the short passing game to prime the engine and get the [offense] moving,” Civetti said. “It’s hard to say what the ideal ratio is [of run and pass] because so many of the swing passes that we run are, in my mind, like running a toss. [But] once it moves, it moves well.”
No matter the extent of the tactical mind games, there’s no doubt that Tufts is still rueing its missed opportunity against Bowdoin last weekend, which saw the team fall short in the last minute of the game after a strong comeback.
“We missed opportunities to make big plays,” Meade said. “That’s what it comes down to — it comes down to a few plays every game. We just didn’t capitalize when we had our chances.”
If Tufts is to have a shot on Saturday in front of what should be a large Homecoming crowd, the team needs to seize every opportunity against Trinity, which is riding a 12-game winning streak.
While the task ahead of the Jumbos tomorrow is a difficult one, the team can perhaps take solace in the fact that it has yet to face sub-.500 squads Williams and Colby.
Tufts has five games remaining, all against familiar opponents. That’s five more chances to get that elusive win.