/playoffs/2010/coppage-carries-warhawks

Carrying the load

More news about: UW-Whitewater

By Ryan Tipps
D3sports.com

Levell Coppage
Levell Coppage was banged up in the 2008 playoffs and during the 2010 regular season, but the Warhawks' depth allowed him to be rested for the 2010 drive for Salem.
Photo by Darryl Tessmann, d3photography.com

Levell Coppage rushed seven times on a drive that lasted 10 plays and resulted in a UW-Whitewater touchdown. On the Warhawks’ next series, he ran six times on seven plays -- touchdown again.

Those 82 yards and 12 points broke last weekend’s playoff game open in the fourth quarter. Prior to that, Whitewater was tied at 31 with Trine, an underdog that wasn’t expected to hang this long with the defending national champions.

But thanks largely to Coppage and his 300-yard game, Whitewater gets to play again this weekend.

The All-American is one of three rushers who have helped Whitewater’s ground game to more than 3,000 yards this year, a number that has crippled opposing defenses. Coppage alone accounts for more than half of that total – along with 20 touchdowns.

His trajectory this fall, though, hasn’t always trended upward. In mid-September, the junior from Oak Park, Ill., got banged up on the field and struggled. For the next month, there were glints of the Coppage fans were familiar with, but questions were raised about whether he was at full strength, culminating with  an Oct. 23 game against UW-River Falls in which he didn’t play.

“I don't think I've ever been out of my true form this season,” he said. “It’s a long season, and injuries are part of the game. But I felt that I've done a good job at battling through them. It’s frustrating at times because I always know my body can feel better, and my performance can go along with that. But I continue to stay healthy and perform the way I'm supposed to.”

As it was, Coppage wasn’t needed in that game he missed; senior Antwan Anderson had a career day then with 240 yards and three scores. But Coppage emerged from that week showing signs of being a workhorse for the team. In the final weeks of the regular season, he rushed 38, 29 and 23 times. He also had eight receptions.

Coppage and Anderson have shared time this year with Booker Stanley, who transferred to Whitewater from the Warhawks’ big brother program, Wisconsin. Still, it’s clear that Coppage is the go-to guy in the backfield, a role he solidified even further with Saturday’s performance.

“Having two running backs behind, knowing that at anytime they can fulfill the role, that I am helps me out tremendously,” said Coppage, who sports the No. 33 jersey. “They force me to work twice as hard, and I believe they help me become a better football player. It’s also crazy to know that Antwan Anderson and Booker Stanley can go anywhere in this division and be a staring back.”

A career of carries
Levell Coppage has gone over 200 yards or over 30 carries multiple times in his career, but more often later in the season.
Date Opponent Carries Yards TD
Nov. 28, 2010 Trine 38 300 3
Oct. 30, 2010 UW-Stevens Point 38 179 2
Oct. 10, 2009 UW-Eau Claire 42 386 3
Nov. 7, 2009 UW-Oshkosh 27 209 3
Nov. 28, 2009 Illinois Wesleyan 32 188 2
Sept. 13, 2008 UW-Eau Claire 42 220 1

Coach Lance Leipold said making the best use of all three of the rushers has been “a tough balancing act,” but one to which he credits running backs coach Nelson Edmunds.

“We’ve used [Coppage] a little bit in some different ways” this year, Leipold said. “I think the other two guys, especially being seniors, it’s been difficult on them a little bit. But all in all, they’ve been great team players, and they’ve handled their roles.”

Outscoring many of their opponents by 30 or more points has given Whitewater a chance to showcase each of the rushers. While sometimes, the team had to lean heavily on Coppage, the rhythm of the game dictated who would see the field the most. And for much of the first two months, Coppage being on the field late in a game was a rarity.

Coppage “has an uncanny feel for the game,” his coach said. “One thing that’s very unnoticed in him is that he’s good at pass protection and blitz pickup. He understands our concepts, and he’s a physical little player.”

Little? Don’t worry, it’s OK to say that. Coppage knows it.

“I may be 5-foot-8, 180, but I play way bigger than that,” the running back said defiantly.

While Coppage’s stats this year are impressive, it’s tough to mirror those he produced in 2009. That season, he piled on 2,107 yards and 35 touchdowns. It wasn’t until Saturday’s outing against Trine that it became clear that the person behind those gaudy numbers still takes the field with a vengeance.

“Getting ready for the game I knew I had to be mentally prepared because I had been sick earlier in the week,” Coppage said. “As focused as I was, I was not surprised at all; I know the things that I'm capable of.”

And that’s good for Whitewater. The team has had the opportunity to lean more on the run game in the postseason with backup quarterback Lee Brekke, a sophomore, filling in as starter for the injured Matt Blanchard. Leipold declined Monday to discuss the nature of Blanchard’s injury, but DailyUnion.com, the website for a Whitewater, Wis.-area newspaper, has reported that the junior signal-caller injured the thumb on his throwing hand.

Leipold said that Blanchard has dressed for the games that past two Saturdays and that he has practiced more and more each week. But the coach said that the team waits right up until game time to decide whether to put Blanchard or Brekke on the field.

“We’ll take the same approach this week,” Leipold said, “and hopefully Matt will be the guy taking the first snap. But, if not, Lee Brekke has led our football team, and we’re very confident in what he can do.”

So confident, it seems, that when the game against the Thunder was on the line after three quarters last weekend, Brekke played through till the end.

“We have not modified our offensive attack at all,” Leipold said. “Lee Brekke has thrown seven touchdown passes in two ballgames. And I think that’s been outstanding. We’ve scored almost 100 points and had almost 1,000 yards of offense.”               

No matter who is under center, Coppage and the rest of his backfield rank as perhaps the team’s most dominant threats. Coppage’s 300-yard outing against Trine wasn’t even the largest of his career. He has the ability to make opponents miss tackles; he sees the hole in the line; he’s more quick than fast. Great performances from this kind of player aren’t surprises -- they’re expected.

And the team expects to drive that road all the way to Salem.

“I feel every road to success is almost always under construction,” Coppage theorizes. “So with that said, every team that we play on Saturday is a road block, and we just have to get through them.”

Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
Salve Regina 45, at Nichols 10
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Final
Mount Ida 14, at Dean 7
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Final
at Thomas More 59, Waynesburg 7
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Final
at Maine Maritime 34, Coast Guard 16
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Final
at Finlandia 27, Trinity Bible 21
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Final
Hamilton 28, at Bowdoin 7
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Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
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Final
at Olivet 47, Albion 26
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Final
at Wesleyan 41, Bates 23
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Final
Union 27, at Rochester 0
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Final
Amherst 40, at Colby 7
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Final
at Western New England 41, Endicott 14
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Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
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Final - OT
at Plymouth State 16, Framingham State 13
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Final
at RPI 27, Ithaca 14
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Final
Hobart 49, at Hartwick 27
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Final
at Ferrum 34, LaGrange 20
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at Carnegie Mellon 42, Geneva 27
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Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
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Final
DePauw 26, at Denison 17
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Final
at Trine 42, Kalamazoo 7
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Final
at Washington and Lee 47, Guilford 26
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Final
at Husson 49, Castleton 0
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Final
Gallaudet 35, at Alfred State 19
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Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
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Final
Brevard 41, at Methodist 17
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Final
at Lebanon Valley 31, Stevenson 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Buffalo State 24, at St. Lawrence 21
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Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
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Final
at Randolph-Macon 52, Emory and Henry 29
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Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
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Final
at Hampden-Sydney 58, Apprentice 28
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Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
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Final
at N.C. Wesleyan 45, Greensboro 0
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Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 49, Grove City 27
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Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
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Final
at Westminster (Mo.) 56, Crown 15
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 29, Iowa Wesleyan 7
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at Knox 56, Grinnell 14
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Final
at Widener 31, Lycoming 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 23, at Tufts 16
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Final
at Mount St. Joseph 66, Earlham 7
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Final - 2OT
Ohio Northern 27, at John Carroll 20
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Final
Baldwin Wallace 23, at Muskingum 20
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Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
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Final
Rose-Hulman 44, at Manchester 13
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Final
at Hanover 31, Bluffton 28
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Final
Defiance 45, at Anderson 0
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Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
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Final
Hiram 62, at Kenyon 56
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Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
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Final
Williams 27, at Middlebury 26
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Final
at Westfield State 33, Fitchburg State 21
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Final
Marietta 43, at Wilmington 33
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Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
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Final
Curry 40, at Becker 0
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Final
TCNJ 20, at Rowan 14
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Final
at SUNY-Maritime 51, Anna Maria 15
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Final
Salisbury 28, at Montclair State 10
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Final
at Huntingdon 28, Maryville (Tenn.) 16
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Final
at Austin 33, Millsaps 19
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
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Final
at Washington U. 55, Buena Vista 20
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Alma 27, at Aurora 19
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Final
at Rockford 29, Concordia-Chicago 14
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Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 22, at Concordia (Wis.) 19
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Final
at Lakeland 57, Benedictine 21
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Final
at St. Norbert 10, Chicago 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
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Final
St. Olaf 22, at Augsburg 20
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Final
Bethel 24, at Gustavus Adolphus 3
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Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
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Final
at Eureka 30, Greenville 19
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Final
Centre 27, at Trinity (Texas) 21
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Final
Dubuque 42, at Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Final
Central 30, at Coe 19
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Final
Lake Forest 56, at Cornell 28
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Final
at Carthage 31, Elmhurst 8
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
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Final
Millikin 28, at Augustana 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ripon 52, at Beloit 28
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Final
MacMurray 49, at Minnesota-Morris 13
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Final
Macalester 21, at Lawrence 18
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Final
at Monmouth 59, Illinois College 14
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Final
at UW-Stevens Point 26, UW-Eau Claire 3
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Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
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Final
at Wooster 38, Oberlin 28
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Final
Texas Lutheran 41, at East Texas Baptist 34
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Final
at UW-Stout 21, UW-River Falls 16
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
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Final
Sewanee 34, at Birmingham-Southern 13
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Final
at Hope 22, Adrian 3
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Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
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Cancelled
La Verne at Occidental
Final
Whitworth 17, at Pacific Lutheran 14
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Final
at Cal Lutheran 42, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 20
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Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
at Pacific 35, Puget Sound 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Pomona-Pitzer 45, at Whittier 23
Video Box Score
Final
at Western Connecticut 28, Massachusetts Maritime 21
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 56, Martin Luther 21
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Final - 5OT
at St. John Fisher 39, Utica 36
Video Recap Live stats Audio
Final - OT
at Heidelberg 48, Otterbein 45
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Final
at Shenandoah 38, Bridgewater 20
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Southwestern 60, at Belhaven 31
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
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Final
at Louisiana College 52, McMurry 34
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Final
at Simpson 38, Luther 17
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Final
at Chapman 45, Redlands 26
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Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats
Oct. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 49, King's 14
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
at Cortland 20, Alfred 17
Box Score Recap Live stats
Final
at Wesley 29, Kean 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Frostburg State 59, at William Paterson 7
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at Wittenberg 49, Allegheny 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Brockport 48, Morrisville State 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 49, at Bethany 14
Video Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 16, at Wabash 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 72, Capital 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Loras 11
Video Box Score
Final
at Berry 34, Hendrix 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Springfield 35, at Merchant Marine 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 65, Howard Payne 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
St. John's 35, at Carleton 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 30, Carroll 0
Video Box Score
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 45, at Hamline 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Case Western Reserve 63, at Thiel 28
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
UW-Oshkosh 28, at UW-Platteville 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 49, at Lewis and Clark 14
Video Box Score
Final
at George Fox 58, Willamette 12
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 35, at Sul Ross State 10
Box Score
Oct. 16: All times Eastern
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 42, North Central (Ill.) 20
Box Score Recap
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Video Video Live stats Live stats