Friday, September 9, 2016

"Dissa and Data:" Delaware at Lafayette football

Some 50 years ago, my father was involved in a bowling league for which he kept track of scores and wrote a short column. He called it “Dissa and Data.” He was very proud of that piece. He made me read it often. 

In honor of him, because he always said he wanted to have the kind of job I had at The Morning Call – even though he died before I got half way through my career, here’s some “Dissa and Data” about the Lafayette-Delaware football game.

It must be nice to have the  luxury of pulling aside a kid who last year rushed for 795 yards and telling him, basically,  sit it out, son, we’re red-shirting you for 2016. No questions asked.

If I were Kareem Williams, I don’t know how thrilled I’d be at the thought of such a thing, but that’s what’s happening.  The former Parkland High School star, who ran for 93 yards to lead the Blue Hens a year ago against Lafayette,  is not on the two-deep. And in the game notes, it is written, “is expected to red-shirt this season …”

Kevin Tresolini, a long-time friend who covers Delaware for the Wilmington News-Journal reminded me that Williams was supposed to red-shirt in 2015, but when Wes Hills was injured in the Blue Hens’ season opener, Williams suddenly became the next man in. So much for the red-shirt at that point.

Hills, who ran for 212 yards in Delaware’s 2016 opener last week, is a red-shirt junior, so he’ll have one more season remaining after this one. “Nobody’s moving ahead of Wes. He’s a solid No. 1,” Tresolini wrote to me in an email when I asked about the Williams situation.

If things go as planned for Williams, he’ll have two seasons remaining at UD. But, it is pretty much a given that he will not start next year if Hills remains healthy.  And even 2018 could be iffy because red-shirt sophomore Thomas Jefferson is a 6-2, 210-pound kid who is getting action this year – he had 70 yards against Delaware State.  “They’re loaded in the backfield,” Tresolini wrote to me.

Joe Walker, a red-shirt sophomore, is the Hens’ quarterback. He also played against Lafayette last year, going 4-for-15 for 58 yards, hardly a sparkling effort. But in that game, Delaware ran 53 running plays.  It ran the ball 61 times last week against DelState and passed only 11 times. He hit eight of them for 92 yards.  Walker ran for 68 yards against Lafayette in ’16, and he scored a rushing touchdown last week as well.

BLOWN OPPORTUNITIES – We’ve heard a lot about how maybe Lafayette should have won last year’s game in the rain at Delaware.  Take a look at some squandered chances to make that happen.

First possession of the game – Leopards get a first down at the Hens’ 12. A sack on third-and-12 resulted in the Leopards’ settling for Jacob Bissell’s 40-yard field goal.

Second possession of the game – Lafayette has a first down at the Delaware 14, but on second-and-8, Blake Searfoss’ pass is intercepted at the 7 and run back 21 yards.

Third quarter—1—Lafayette has a first down at the Delaware 31, stalls … Bissell 40-yard FG.

Third quarter--2 – Delaware gambles on fourth-and-1, loses 18 yards on fourth down, Lafayette has  ball on the UD-30, stalls. Bissell 47 FG.  Delaware 13, Lafayette 9.

Third quarter –3—Lafayette recovers an onsides kick. Gets only one first down, eventually punts.

Fourth quarter—1 – Lafayette gets to Delaware 37, stalls, punts.

Fourth quarter—2—Lafayette gets two first downs, but fumbles at the Delaware 47 on a first-down play.

The game truly was there for the taking. 

A FAMILY PACKAGE – Troy Reeder started at linebacker in all but two of Penn State’s 2015 football games, had 67 total tackles, including 42 solo. But when his brother, Colby, decided to accept a scholarship from Delaware, Troy decided to transfer from Nittany Lion territory to back home in Delaware. Troy, a 6-3, 235-pound red-shirt sophomore, had five tackles and an interception in his first game as a Blue Hen. Colby didn’t play, which makes me think he’ll be red-shirting this year unless some kind of emergency changes things. For a story announcing Troy’s decision, Troy told Tresolini, “From the outside, I know a lot of people won’t understand why I’m doing it. Ultimately, you’ve got to do what makes you happy and I see a great opportunity to play here at the University of Delaware with my brother in front of my home community.”

SOME PERSONAL HISTORY – As some of you know, this is my second stint as the Lafayette football beat writer. The other started in the late 1960s when Harry Gamble was head coach and continued through 1977 with Neil Putnam.

Well, I have a bit of personal history with the Delaware football program – or at least one of the icons of the program, Harold “Tubby” Raymond. Some of the guys on the Lafayette Sports Fan Forum will remember these things, too.

In 1971, Delaware romped to a 49-0 victory over the Leopards. Raymond called two timeouts inside the Lafayette 10-yard line in order to have the time to score the final TD. The next year, Delaware won 27-0. The Hens recovered a Lafayette fumble on the ‘Pards’ 23-yard line late in the game. Instead of simply running out the clock, Delaware scored its final touchdown with 33 seconds left – on an eight-yard pass play.

I alluded to those two examples and several others in a column prior to a Delaware-Lehigh postseason playoff game in 2000. Raymond was not at all happy with me.   

After Delaware put a 47-22 whoopin’ on Lehigh in the game, Raymond, in his postgame press conference, was flying high. At one point he said: “I have to be very careful about what I say because I understand that people write the things down that I say in here and bring them up years later. I got nailed for things I said back in 1972! I didn't know anybody was that old. I surely thought there was a statute of limitations somewhere along the line. So I went out there and I yelled at the end, ‘Call a timeout and throw a touchdown pass.' The kids didn't hear me. I tried to get it to them." He was being funnny. I think.

One guess as to whom he was referring. When I said hello to him at the end of that press conference, I made a remark that neither of us would be around 30 years from that point, to which he replied, “I might be, you never can tell. All right, good to see you. God bless you. You’re not as old as I am, right? Hang in there.”

Raymond retired in February of 2002. He will celebrate his 90th birthday in November.  For the record, I’m 76.

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