/playoffs/2010/finally-comfortable

Finally comfortable

More news about: Mount Union

By Clyde Hughes
D3sports.com

Lambert Budzinski
Lambert Budzinski came to campus as a linebacker but has gone from clogging up the middle to Mount Union's single-season sack leader.
Photo by Dan Poel for d3photography.com

There’s little doubt that Alfred’s offense, Mount Union’s opponent in the regional finals on Saturday, will be plenty concerned on how to stop Purple Raiders defensive lineman Lambert Budzinski.

Budzinski enters the game as Mount Union’s leading tackler (89 tackles), but more impressively has set the Purple Raiders’ single-season record for sacks with 17 for 102 yards in losses. That says a lot for a team with as much tradition and as many national championships as Mount Union.

How Budzinski ended up on the Mount Union defensive line probably says more about him as an athlete and team player. By Budzinski’s own admission, he was a fish out of water when the All-Ohio high school linebacker was asked to play on the defensive line as a freshman for Mount Union.

Defensive coordinator Vince Kehres, though, wanted to get the talented Budzinski on the field and the Purple Raiders that year already had a strong compliment of linebackers.

“When he got here he was a little bit bigger than most of our linebackers and we had some pretty decent depth there and we were thinner on the defensive line,” Kehres said. “We tried him on the defensive line and he’s got some pretty natural football instincts. We felt he could transition himself and play a lot of position. He gradually learned the position and was able to contribute for us that first year. His role for us increased more and more each year.”

Budzinski, now one of Mount Union’s captains, said he really didn’t feel completely comfortable until this year.

“All of my life, I played linebacker,” said Budzinski, who was named for Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert. “I had more time to see things develop. Playing on the defensive line was a whole new experience. It took me three years to figure out what was going on.

“This year, I’m doing less thinking and just playing and letting the game come to me and I think it’s led to my success. Without trying to force things, I’m able to just react and make plays.”

Budzinki now has 217 career tackles and 26 sacks over his career in a position he hadn’t played before attending Mount Union. Kehres said Budzinski’s success has as much to do about his attitude and willing to do what it takes to win as much as his athletic talent. He said another change moving Budzinski from inside the defensive line to the outside edge has allowed him to blossom even more.

“He’s had great attitude about the move,” Kehres said. “In spring practices, we kept him inside. It wasn’t until the summer, I would see him here every day working out and getting a little leaner. I saw him doing agility drills and his quickness.

“We had some bigger guys inside and we thought let’s give him a shot on the edge. We needed to turn someone into a pass rusher because we didn’t have any experience there and didn’t know what we had in some of our younger guys. We needed some leadership and he’s provided that. He’s a big part of where we’re at right now.”

From all of the position changes, Budzinski said one focus has remained the same all four years – winning a national championship. He said Mount Union’s tradition and an opportunity to play for a national title is what attracted him to Alliance. He said the sting of losing to UW-Whitewater has stuck with him and the entire team all year.

“We’ve had more motivation this year,” Budzinski said. “We not just trying to get back to Salem, but we want to win it. Last year made us hungrier. We’re trying to take the step each week to get back there.”

While the goal is to get to Salem, Budzinski said the Purple Raiders cannot lose focus by not paying attention to the opponent immediately in front of them, which is Alfred this week. He said the game against Alfred is the Purple Raiders' most important contest in that they can’t take the next step without the win.

“We try to block out outside opinions and take every week seriously,” Budzinski said. “Every team is trying to get to Salem just like we are. Every team we play is trying to knock us off so we know we’re going to get their best. They want to be in the championship game like us.”

Kehres said Budzinski has been able to show younger players what it takes get ready for big games like the one on Saturday.

“As coaches, we lay out the plan of what we’re going to do,” Kehres said. “They’re accountable to each other and we rely on having good leadership. Lambert’s been a great leader for us. He’s a likeable guy but at the same time he commands your respect.”

Budzinski will rally the troops once more against Alfred, from any position the coach would like him to play.

Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
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at Framingham State 29, Westfield State 14
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Moravian 20, at Juniata 17
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at Salve Regina 41, Endicott 14
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at Thomas More 63, St. Vincent 13
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at Union 28, Hobart 23
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at Hamilton 27, Colby 24
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at Christopher Newport 27, William Paterson 19
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at Ithaca 35, St. John Fisher 10
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at Allegheny 44, Kenyon 35
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SUNY-Maritime 21, at Mount Ida 13
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Middlebury 43, at Bates 14
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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at Amherst 21, Wesleyan 17
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at Trinity (Conn.) 63, Bowdoin 14
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Husson 48, at Gallaudet 21
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Wabash 35, at Oberlin 21
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at Utica 34, Buffalo State 12
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Ohio Northern 7, at Muskingum 6
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at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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at Stevenson 26, Albright 23
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Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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at Albion 31, Alma 28
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at Guilford 45, Shenandoah 20
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Plymouth State 40, at Massachusetts Maritime 14
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Wooster 58, at Hiram 25
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Washington and Lee 36, at Hampden-Sydney 6
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at Anna Maria 36, Alfred State 34
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Bridgewater 31, at Emory and Henry 23
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at FDU-Florham 49, Wilkes 31
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Lebanon Valley 17, at Misericordia 0
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at St. Lawrence 36, Rochester 14
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RPI 30, at Alfred 15
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at Curry 46, Nichols 16
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at Salisbury 42, Southern Virginia 0
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Ferrum 27, at Brevard 24
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Randolph-Macon 63, at Apprentice 14
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at Susquehanna 21, Ursinus 14
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Cortland 34, at Morrisville State 20
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at Trine 50, Hope 14
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Trinity (Texas) 27, at Sewanee 21
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Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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at Franklin and Marshall 56, Dickinson 0
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Tufts 21, at Williams 13
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Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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MIT 30, at Coast Guard 21
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at Norwich 24, Maine Maritime 22
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at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Franklin 29, at Rose-Hulman 22
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John Carroll 48, at Capital 21
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at Manchester 28, Bluffton 21
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Mount St. Joseph 71, at Anderson 27
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UW-Whitewater 20, at UW-River Falls 7
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Kean 26, at TCNJ 3
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at LaGrange 59, Greensboro 10
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at Worcester State 45, Mass-Dartmouth 40
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Muhlenberg 40, at McDaniel 13
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Western New England 45, at Becker 0
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at Maryville (Tenn.) 35, Methodist 14
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Adrian 36, at Kalamazoo 22
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Denison 31, at Ohio Wesleyan 20
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at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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at Benedictine 43, Olivet 37
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Birmingham-Southern 31, at Austin 24
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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at UW-Stout 23, UW-Stevens Point 17
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Eureka 37, at MacMurray 20
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at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Nebraska Wesleyan 14, at Buena Vista 13
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Lakeland 48, at Wisconsin Lutheran 0
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at Aurora 28, Rockford 21
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at Concordia-Chicago 37, Concordia (Wis.) 17
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at St. Olaf 29, Carleton 26
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at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Westminster (Mo.) 24, at Greenville 14
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at Loras 44, Coe 38
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Monmouth 61, at Cornell 10
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Wheaton (Ill.) 56, at North Park 0
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Northwestern (Minn.) 30, at Martin Luther 14
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Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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at Lake Forest 70, Grinnell 6
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at Millikin 56, Carroll 35
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at Macalester 47, Ripon 31
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at St. Norbert 38, Lawrence 6
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St. Scholastica 49, at Crown 21
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at Iowa Wesleyan 24, Minnesota-Morris 17
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UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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at WPI 41, Merchant Marine 7
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at Centre 42, Rhodes 35
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Hanover 49, at Earlham 14
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at Chicago 55, Beloit 12
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UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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at Dubuque 28, Simpson 27
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at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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at East Texas Baptist 68, Louisiana College 35
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at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Western Connecticut 27, at Bridgewater State 20
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Chapman 38, at La Verne 21
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Pacific 17, at Lewis and Clark 7
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Pacific Lutheran 27, at Willamette 14
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at Whitworth 38, Puget Sound 23
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Redlands 42, at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 25
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at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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Sul Ross State 52, at Howard Payne 15
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at Castleton 17, Dean 14
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N.C. Wesleyan 21, at Averett 15
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at Otterbein 37, Baldwin Wallace 29
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Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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Carnegie Mellon 42, at Thiel 10
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at Illinois College 23, Knox 13
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at Cal Lutheran 60, Whittier 34
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Cancelled
Occidental at Pomona-Pitzer
Oct. 20: All times Eastern
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at Johns Hopkins 52, Gettysburg 0
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Oct. 21: All times Eastern
Final
at Wesley 34, Rowan 3
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Final
at Frostburg State 62, Montclair State 3
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Final
Wittenberg 52, at DePauw 6
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at Springfield 68, Catholic 20
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Final
Wartburg 41, at Luther 16
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Final
Mount Union 66, at Wilmington 7
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at Marietta 44, Heidelberg 21
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Final - OT
at Washington and Jefferson 34, Westminster (Pa.) 33
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Final
Hardin-Simmons 33, at Texas Lutheran 30
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Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Belhaven 7
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Final
St. Thomas 84, at Hamline 0
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Final
at St. John's 41, Gustavus Adolphus 17
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Final
at Illinois Wesleyan 13, Carthage 10
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Final
at Concordia-Moorhead 42, Augsburg 20
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Final
Berry 37, at Millsaps 22
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Final
UW-Platteville 34, at UW-Eau Claire 14
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Final
UW-Oshkosh 42, at UW-La Crosse 28
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Final
at North Central (Ill.) 54, Augustana 2
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Final
at Brockport 45, Hartwick 0
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Final
at Linfield 12, George Fox 6
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Final
Case Western Reserve 45, at Geneva 7
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