Delaware can only get better after opening loss

NEWARK — The sun actually did come up in Newark on Sunday morning.

There were no coach’s tirades or player tantrums in the locker room after Delaware’s 62-0 football thumping at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Indeed, the Blue Hens made it a point to keep things business as usual as they went back to practice on Sunday.

“You can’t have guys hooting and hollering, huffing and puffing around, losing their minds just because we lost,” said senior guard J.D. Dzurko. “But I don’t think it’s something you have to go out of your way to do. We have a lot of the right guys on our team.

“Is it upsetting? Yes. And it’s OK to be upset on the bus ride home and in the locker room. I mean, who wouldn’t be? But coming in on Sunday, there weren’t a lot of ticked off, upset faces. It was just, ‘Hey, let’s get treated, let’s watch the film, let’s figure out what’s going on and go out and practice.’ It was more of a ‘Let’s move on to the next one mindset.’”

Delaware (0-1) will get the opportunity to shake off that nightmarish opening-game loss when it hosts Delaware State (0-1) at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the sixth edition of the Route 1 Rivalry. The Hens are 5-0 in the all-time series.

Delaware’s 62-point loss at Pitt was its most lopsided since the 1921 Hens fell to Pennsylvania, 89-0. And, statistically, it actually got a little worse after it was over.

A mistake in Pittsburgh’s stat keeping cost the Hens seven yards. That left Delaware with just 57 total yards, four yards shy of the modern school record of only 53 yards against Richmond in 2008.

Also, Delaware’s total of five first downs was one short of the school mark while the shutout snapped a streak of 220 straight games in which the Hens had scored, the longest in the Colonial Athletic Association.

While Delaware had trouble across the board, it was the Hens’ offensive woes that were the most disturbing for them. Coach Dave Brock said his team was “fundamentally poor” on offense.

But he also said he believed the Hens lacked a sense of urgency on that side of the ball.

“You make an assumption that it’s going to happen the next time,” said Brock. “(But) the mindset has to be there’s no next time. It has to happen this time. We have to have a little more resolve in that area.

“We have to go out and earn it and not take for granted that we’re going to be a good offensive football team because of anything that’s happened here in the past.”

Despite the fact that the Hens have three new starters on the offensive line and another at running back, Dzurko said it wouldn’t be fair to blame the Hens’ offensive problems on their inexperience.

“After watching the film, that wasn’t the issue,” he said. “We were all on point on our assignments. Despite the atmosphere, despite was going on, we were all communicating effectively. We were all on the same page.

“At this point it’s more about execution in our techniques — we’ve got to pull around faster, we’ve got to get lower, strike better. It’s not because there’s new players. I had plenty of plays where I did poorly. I’m actually kind of cheered up by how well they (the new starters) did and how well they performed.”

“Saturday was a humbling day,” Brock concluded. “You own it and you move on.”

Hens lose two

As expected, Delaware lost starting outside linebacker Derek Battle for the season to a leg injury suffered against Pitt. But Brock also said that backup defensive tackle David Tinsley is probably out for the year because of a reoccurring arm injury.

In Battle’s place, the Hens will start either true freshman Donte Raymond or redshirt freshman Larry Spears. Both players saw their first collegiate action at Pitt.

In all, Brock now says there were 24 Hens who played in their first college game on Saturday. Delaware is tentatively slated to have five first or second-year freshmen in the starting lineup against DSU.

“There was a lot of energy,” he said. “Certainly it wasn’t the result that you want but I’m excited about those guys. … We’re going to bring those guys along and push them, shove them – whatever we have to do to help this senior class get what they deserve.

“It’s going to be a work in progress but it’s going to be a good work in progress.”

Silver linings

Despite the one-sided loss, Brock said there were some players who had good games against Pitt.

Brock said senior tight end Nick Boyle was one player who stood out on film.

“He did everything we asked him to do,” said Brock. “He was a terrific in-line blocker, he ran good routes. … Nick played really, really hard and he played really well.”

Brock also said that redshirt-freshman safety Simba Gwashavanu “played terrific” in his first college action while senior Andrew Opuku’s energy on special teams was evident.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227
or walter@newszap.com.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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