Around the Region
Mount Union can play defense, too
|There might as well be a no-fly zone in place around Mount Union safety Alex Kocheff.
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com
At nearly 54 points per game, Mount Union has one of the nation's top offenses. Naturally, the Purple Raiders get plenty of headlines for their explosiveness.
Statistically speaking, though, Mount Union's defense can claim it is the country's best. The Purple Raiders rank at the top of nearly every defensive category and it's not even close in many cases:
Total yards per game: 1. Mount Union (136.3), 2. Linfield (179.3)
Rushing yards per game: 1. Mount Union (44.7), 2. Wabash (49.7)
Passing yards allowed per game: 1. Mount Union (91.6), 2. Linfield (116.1)
Points allowed per game: 1. Mount Union (3.4), 2. Linfield (6.8)
Opponents third down conversion percentage: 1. Mount Union (18.3), 2. Husson (19.7)
Well, you get the idea.
"We take tremendous amounts of pride in not letting people in the end zone and scoring and holding them to minimal yards passing and rushing," MU senior defensive end Tom Lally said. "When we are able to come out and do that, we feel like we have a great shot at making a run in the playoffs.
"The key to us being able to dominate is that we come to work every day. We lock it in during practice. We have a lot of talented players and our defensive coordinator, Chris Kappas, does a great job getting the plays in and the right plans to go against each team," he continued. "We don't change too much for each opponent; we stick to our base stuff and we come to work. We are a blue-collar defense and hang our hats on getting after the quarterback and stuffing the run."
Chemistry has played a big part in the Raiders' defensive success this year, too.
"We're all one big group of friends. I have never been a part of a group like this before where there aren't any cliques or anything. In years past, we might have had some cliques and different groups of friends, like most teams do. I think this year, we've just really meshed well. We have the right guys in the right positions to make plays," Lally said. "This year, everything seems to be all coming together for us. We have a lot of talent on the field, but we all have the same goal and that's a national championship. We're all together and we're all looking to get to the same place."
Head coach Vince Kehres has noticed the defense's closeness.
"We always want to have 11 guys on the same page. You need them to act together as one unit in order to have a good defense," he said. "With so many seniors, these guys have been together for four years and they work well together. They provide great leadership to the younger players as well."
Heading into the postseason, chemistry is enormous for a defense. If the players aren't all on the same...
Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.
2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic
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