Big-play ability a big strength for Wittenberg


For years and years, Wittenberg coaches have posted sheets of poster board outside the locker room. Every player sees them just before turning in their dirty practice clothes or uniforms.

They see charts with all the offensive, defensive, special teams and team goals. There are dozens of specific goals: zero turnovers and 60 percent pass completion percentage, for instance, on offense, or on defense, a third-quarter shutout, no touchdowns after a sudden change and eight negative-yardage plays.

The first goal on every poster board is: Win. That’s something the 18th-ranked Tigers (4-1, 4-0 North Coast Athletic Conference have done in each of the last four weeks as they prepare to host Wooster at 6 p.m. today.

If the Tigers haven’t been winning pretty, they have shown moments of beauty. For example, after Denison tied the score at 17 with just over a minute left in the first half Saturday, Wittenberg needed just three plays and 27 seconds to regain the lead.

Reed Florence completed passes to Zac Wilson for 28 and 22 yards and then found Brendon Cunningham for a 13-yard touchdown strike. Wittenberg never trailed again in a 38-20 victory.

Wittenberg has big-play capability. That can make up for many shortcomings. Florence averages 10.2 yards per pass attempt, which leads the NCAC by more than two yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

“It’s nice we have the ability to do those things,” Wittenberg coach Joe Fincham said. “Once you rely on big plays to bail you out, you’ve got a big problem. (Big plays) show what you’re capable of doing. We haven’t played with consistency, and it’s been frustrating. Coaches are frustrated. I think our players are frustrated. The only way we’re going to get rid of it is to go out and continue to work hard and play with more focus.”

Wittenberg is 21-3 against Wooster (3-2, 3-1) in NCAC play, and the Scots have lost 17 straight games in a Springfield. Their last win on the road against the Tigers was in 1949.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

Hartsock: Siri extends streak in dramatic fashion
Hartsock: Siri extends streak in dramatic fashion

Jose Siri didn’t waste any time extending his hitting streak in Lansing Wednesday night. The Dragons outfielder slammed the first pitch of the game over the left field wall, pushing the longest streak in baseball this season to 31-games in a row. The blast was Siri’s 17th home run of the season, and the 11th since the streak began on June...
Are you ready for some football? The Bengals are just about back in business
Are you ready for some football? The Bengals are just about back in business

With the Bengals less than 24 hours from reporting, players and coaches alike are buckling down for the big adjustment to full-time NFL life that will begin when training camp opens on Friday. As cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick Tweeted Tuesday @DreKirkSWAG, Life changes dramatically for NFL players and coaches once the season begins, and when the Bengals...
Reds rumblings: Hunter Greene’s pro debut more than a week away, and he may hit before he pitches
Reds rumblings: Hunter Greene’s pro debut more than a week away, and he may hit before he pitches

If you’re eagerly awaiting the professional debut of Reds first-round draft choice Hunter Greene, you’d better not be holding your breath. The pitcher/shortstop has said that he’s more than a week away from the diamond, and suggested that he’ll swing a bat before he throws a pitch. Greene, the No. 2 overall pick of the MLB draft...
Ohio State Buckeyes get early start in preseason camp
Ohio State Buckeyes get early start in preseason camp

The NCAA eliminated two-a-day practices for college football teams this summer. That doesn’t mean the Ohio State Buckeyes, who start practice at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, won’t suffer in the heat as usual. “You can’t ever take away those dog days,” said Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley on Monday at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago...
Williams hopes to be all-conference performer for Flyers
Williams hopes to be all-conference performer for Flyers

All the members of the Dayton Flyers men’s basketball team see two Atlantic 10 championship trophies every time they visit the coaches’ offices at the Cronin Center. The nets, cut down in 2016 and again in 2017 at UD Arena, still hang over the trophies. Dayton had never won two straight conference titles until this March. Dayton’s...
More Stories