September 1, 2011

Monmouth wants consistency in 2011

More news about: Monmouth

    A rash of injuries last season – including a season-ending injury to record-setting quarterback Alex Tanney (Normal, Ill./Lexington) among others – resulted in a new starting lineup each week. So much for consistency.

      Tanney is one of four Scots granted an extra season after missing the majority of last year due to season-ending injuries. A preseason All-American, Tanney is within striking distance of three NCAA Division III records and needs just 30 touchdown passes to set the new standard. With 10,382 passing yards in his career, he'll need 3,224 yards to set the new mark. That's within range when figuring he's averaged nearly 310 yards per game over three full seasons.

      If Tanney is to set any records, he may be looking for help from senior receiver Mike Blodgett (Northfield, Minn./Appleton North). Hampered by a preseason injury in 2010, Blodgett didn't suit up at all last year, but has returned to campus healthy and anxious for one more season. Like Tanney, Blodgett is also making an assault on the DIII record books. He's caught a pass in 33 consecutive games and if that streak continues through the end of the regular season, he'll pass former teammate Matt Shepherd and move to within four games of the national record.

      Running back Nick Law (Heyworth, Ill./Heyworth) and linebacker Marcus Ruff (Avon, Ill./Avon) round out the Scots who were granted an extra year. Each was lost during the regular season last fall and brings extra experience to the lineup.

      "Right now, it's not about what we do," said Bell. "It's more about how we do it. Our seniors know this is it. We've got to pull our teammates along with us and raise everyone's level of play. We've got to have our top-level guys play at their peak down in and down out. We need that consistency."

      Bell is hoping for consistency from an offensive line that gained valuable experience a year ago. Senior center Matt Wright (Canton, Ill./Canton) anchors the group that will be opening holes and protecting Tanney. Senior All-Midwest Conference lineman James Allen holds down one guard position and junior Todd Groth (Oswego, Ill/Oswego) has laid claim to the other. It's a battle at the tackle positions where sophomore A.J. Ulrich (Morris, Ill./Morris) has staked his claim, but as many as four others are battling for the one remaining spot.

      "The main thing we gain this year is the experience our core group got last year," said Bell. "We should know what we're doing by now. They've got to be consistent every snap."

      In the backfield, five players who combined to gain more than 1,500 yards return. Three sophomores saw plenty of action and gained significant yardage in last year's injury-riddled season. Trey Yocum (Bushnell, Ill./Bushnell-Prairie City) played in seven games and led the team with 385 yards after Law was lost for the season with 333 yards. Brik Wedekind (Princeton, Ill./Princeton) – forced into a starting role in the fifth quarter of last season at quarterback – was second on the team with 351 yards, but will return to his understudy role this season as Tanney's backup. Stefan Flynn (Colchester, Ill./Illini West) was just 15 yards shy of the 300 yard plateau and his 81 carries ranked third on the team.

      "We've got some talented backs," reported Bell. "There are some freshmen who are challenging. Our job as coaches is to find three running backs that can play every game. It's a similar situation at receiver in that we need to identify five or six guys who can contribute every game."

      Bell may be halfway there in his receivers search. Blodgett is the veteran of the group and will be joined by three players with at least 11 receptions and two others who gained more than 100 yards. Senior all-conference tight end David Milroy (Toulon, Ill./Stark County) is the only non-wide receiver to log over 100 yards, grabbing nine passes for 111 yards. Evan Banks (Fulton, Ill./Fulton), Austin Peterson (Wyanet, Ill./Bureau Valley), Spencer Brown (Milan, Ill./Sherrard) and Michael Davis (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) each accounted for more than 100 receiving yards. Brown was second behind the graduated Shepherd with 18 catches for 210 yards.

      Added to the mix is senior Nick Byom (Gilson, Ill./Knoxville). An All-American high jumper in track, Byom will debut on the gridiron as a tight end, giving Monmouth quarterbacks a big target.

      "Nick's about 6-5 and obviously is a great leaper," reported Bell. "His size and ability gives a quarterback a much larger margin of error. He's very athletic and can run like a deer. That gives us two very capable tight ends."

      The Scots expect to be in good hands on the defensive side of the ball, where they lost just three starters. Up front, the line put in numerous hours in the weight room adding muscle to their considerable experience. Senior Mike Kettmann (Coal City, Ill./Coal City) and juniors Jake Willis (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria), Nate Van Metre (Bartlett, Ill./South Elgin), Sam Hoster (Seneca, Ill./Seneca) and Joel Burger (New Berlin, Ill./New Berlin) form an indestructible wall.

      "We bring back a multitude of players who got significant playing time last year," claimed Bell. "It's a case right now of deciding who is a starter and who is a role player. But when you get right down to it, it doesn't matter who starts, they'll all get plenty of time."

      The Scots also have plenty of depth in the linebacking corps. Seniors Adam Hoste (Colona, Ill./Geneseo), Cory Bishop (Bryant, Ill./Lewistown) and Rod Ojong (Oswego, Ill./East) accounted for a quarter of the team's solo tackles last season. Hoste – an all-conference pick last year – logged a team-high 99 total stops and recorded six interceptions, returning two for scores.

      Senior defensive back Erik Weber (Mendota, Ill./Mendota) played like a linebacker, making 66 tackles to rank third on the team and picking off five passes for the No. 2 spot. He's joined by fellow senior Shane Reschke (Geneseo, Ill./Geneseo) as the only returning starters in the secondary. Andre Taylor (Urbana, Ill./Rantoul), Wes Kindurys (Ft. Walton Beach, Fla./Leroy) and Ryan Flannigan (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) all got plenty of reps, seeing action when the Scots went to their nickel and dime packages, but they may be called on to play significant roles this season.

      "We're pretty deep in the secondary, too," said Bell. "Wes, Andre and Ryan saw quite a bit of action when the passses were flying, so it's not like they haven't been in pressure situations. And we've got some talented youth who may make a splash, too."

      Like the other units, special teams returns a plethora of experience. If needed, the Scots have two talented punters with good legs and plenty of experience. Wedekind – who earned all-conference accolades at the position as a freshman – and Reschke – the main punter at the start of last season – will give Bell two good legs to kick on. Reschke averaged nearly a yard more than Wedekind, including launching a 79-yarder. Wedekind – a preseason All-American this fall – proved his worth in '10 when Reschke went down with an injury, filling in to land 12 punts inside the 20-yard line and bomb an 81-yard punt against Lake Forest.

      It's not much different for the place kickers, where junior Matt Batton (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) is in a battle with freshman Ace Henricks (Mt. Sterling, Ill./Brown County). Batton was perfect on field goals last season and hit a school record 51-yarder as a freshman. Henricks is living up to his name, being ranked in the top 100 nationally by Kohl's Professional Camps – a national camp for kickers, punters and snappers.

      With so many returners, so much talent and so much promise, what's the one key to putting it all together?

      "More than anything, we've got to get out to a fast start," said Bell. "We need to play at the speed at which we're capable. That goes for the offense AND defense. We need to play the 'Monmouth way.'"

      The Monmouth way under Bell has been all about tempo. A no-huddle, high-octane offense and intense defensive pressure have been the Scots' trademark and it all boils down to doing your homework.

      "Speed equates to knowledge," he continued. "If you know what you're supposed to be doing and how you're supposed to do it, then you'll play with speed. I'd also say our best players have to play their best all the time. It's a case of playing at that level consistently."

      There's an adage that says "Knowledge is power." In the Scots' world, knowledge is speed…and Bell wouldn't mind a little consistency, too.

comments powered by Disqus
Sep. 4: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Tex. A&M-Commerce
Audio
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Anna Maria at Worcester State
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Albright at Kean
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Widener at Rowan
Live Stats Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
WPI at Curry
Live Stats Live Stats
7:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Bridgewater State
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
William Paterson at SUNY-Maritime
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Ursinus at TCNJ
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats Live Stats Audio Audio
8:00 PM
Waldorf at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Dickinson at Hobart
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Holland College (PEI, Canada) at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Otterbein at St. John Fisher
Live Stats Audio
12:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
12:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at MIT
Preview Video
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
Video
12:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Johns Hopkins
Live Stats Video
12:00 PM
Cortland State at Buffalo State
Live Stats
1:00 PM
St. Lawrence at Coast Guard
Video
1:00 PM
Thomas More at Wesley
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton State
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Audio
1:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Averett
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Kalamazoo
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Wilmington at Olivet
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Alfred State at Morrisville State
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Brockport State
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Montclair State
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Southern Virginia at Methodist
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Marietta at Kenyon
1:00 PM
Merchant Marine at Apprentice
1:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Sewanee at DePauw
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Bluffton
Live Stats
1:30 PM
Adrian at Defiance
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Alma at Heidelberg
1:30 PM
Berry at Maryville (Tenn.)
Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater (Va.) at Gettysburg
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
1:30 PM
St. Vincent at John Carroll
1:30 PM
Mount Union at Bethany
Live Stats Video
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Franklin at Illinois Wesleyan
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Rhodes at Austin
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Platteville at Buena Vista
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Ohio Northern at Washington U.
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Crown at Gustavus Adolphus
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Simpson at Iowa Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Hope at Monmouth
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Lawrence at Rockford
2:00 PM
Carroll at Lakeland
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Audio
2:00 PM
Coe at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
Presentation at Luther
Video
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Maranatha Baptist
Video
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Culver-Stockton
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
2:00 PM
UW-Stout at Dakota Wesleyan
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
Ripon at St. Scholastica
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Hendrix at Westminster (Mo.)
Video
2:10 PM
UW-Eau Claire at St. Thomas
Audio Audio
3:00 PM
St. Norbert at Carthage
Live Stats Video
4:00 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Puget Sound
4:00 PM
Lewis and Clark at Whitworth
Live Stats Video
4:00 PM
College of Idaho at Pacific
Live Stats Video Audio
4:30 PM
Arizona Christian at George Fox
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Christopher Newport
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Carnegie Mellon at Case Western Reserve
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Stevenson at N.C. Wesleyan
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Butler at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Preview Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Taylor (Ind.) at Anderson
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Denison at Earlham
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Aurora at Illinois College
7:00 PM
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio
7:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at North Park
7:00 PM
Beloit at Chicago
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Howard Payne at Trinity (Texas)
Audio
7:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Millsaps
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Sul Ross State at Texas Lutheran
Live Stats Video
7:00 PM
Robert Morris-Chicago at UW-Oshkosh
7:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Dubuque
Live Stats Video
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video
7:30 PM
Central at Benedictine
Live Stats Video Audio
8:00 PM
St. Olaf at Northwestern (Minn.)
8:00 PM
Hamline at Minnesota-Morris
8:00 PM
Lake Forest at Wisconsin Lutheran
Live Stats Audio
8:00 PM
Wartburg at Augsburg
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
8:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos

What We're Reading