Determined Blue Hens eye third straight win vs. Spiders

NEWARK — They had every reason to pack it in a couple weeks ago.

Delaware’s football coach, Dave Brock, had been fired and the Blue Hens’ playoff dreams had vanished.

Yet here Delaware’s players are, still looking as if they have something to play for,

That’s because, the Hens say, they do.

“When we break down (a huddle) and say, ‘family,’ we truly believe it,” said Blue Hen junior defensive tackle Bilal Nichols. “Everything we went through, our confidence was never hit.” (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

“When we break down (a huddle) and say, ‘family,’ we truly believe it,” said Blue Hen junior defensive tackle Bilal Nichols. “Everything we went through, our confidence was never hit.” (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

“For the love of the game and for the love of each other,” junior defensive tackle Bilal Nichols said about Delaware’s motivation.

“When we break down (a huddle) and say, ‘family,’ we truly believe it. Everything we went through, our confidence was never hit. That’s why I love this team so much because we battle until the end.”

Dennis Dottin-Carter

Dennis Dottin-Carter

On Saturday, the Hens (2-4 CAA, 4-5 overall) will take their two-game winning streak to Richmond to face the eighth-ranked Spiders (4-2 CAA, 7-2) at 3:30 p.m. (Comcast SportsNet-TV).

A third-straight victory would give Delaware the program its longest winning streak since early in 2014. It would also get the Hens back to .500 and keep alive their chances of avoiding a losing season.

Delaware hasn’t posted back-to-back losing seasons since 1935-39.

“We just want to continue to go out and show that we’re capable,” said sophomore receiver Jamie Jarmon, a product of Indian River High. “I mean we’ve had a couple letdowns but we’re more than capable of winning games in this league.” (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

“We just want to continue to go out and show that we’re capable,” said sophomore receiver Jamie Jarmon, a product of Indian River High. “I mean we’ve had a couple letdowns but we’re more than capable of winning games in this league.” (UD sports information/Mark Campbell)

Then again, interim coach Dennis Dottin-Carter said this group of players doesn’t seem to need a lot of outside motivation to work hard.

“These guys love football,” said Dottin-Carter, whose team is now 2-1 with him as head coach. “They like to practice and they want to win football games.

“All we’re trying to focus on is the task at hand. … We’re trying to focus on doing the right things at all times. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the football field or off the football field. … When you have a group of guys who love each other the way that these guys do, who care about the game and the program like these guys do, it’s not very hard to get
them motivated to go out and play.”

With Delaware’s last two opponents, Richmond and No. 9 Villanova, the Hens can still make a name for themselves.

Sophomore receiver Jamie Jarmon said he likes the fact that Delaware is facing a pair of tough squads.

“We’d rather play against a good team any day,” said the Indian River High grad. “I feel like the best in other teams brings out the best in us.

“We just want to continue to go out and show that we’re capable,” said Jarmon. “I mean we’ve had a couple letdowns but we’re more than capable of winning games in this league.”

“It doesn’t matter what situations we’re faced with, we’re going to fight for each other,” said Nichols. “At the end of the day, you’re going to fight for the man next to you because we know what work we put in and we know what we deserve.”

Reeder honored

Troy Reeder’s performance in Delaware’s 33-17 win at Albany on Saturday was the kind of day the Hens pictured when the former Salesianum star linebacker transferred from Penn State in the off-season.

The sophomore was named the Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Week after forcing a pair of fumbles, one of which he recovered, intercepting a pass and collecting five tackles.

“He played lights out,” said Nichols. “I love playing with him. Along with his talents, he brings leadership. Troy is a vocal leader on and off the field.

“He plays with an anger that we need on defense. And we feed off of it.”

Dottin-Carter, too, said Reeder’s preparation during the week rubs off on his teammates. He’s now second on the squad with 54 tackles.

“When you watch the film, you see No. 9 — as big as he is — running from sideline to sideline,” said Dottin-Carter. “He’s fast. He’s an imposing figure out there. I think any back or receiver who’s watching that, they know that. That’s in their mind.

“He doesn’t always get to the football to make the tackle, but he’s almost always there. He’s just always around the football.”

Ball control

Perhaps the most remarkable stat from Saturday’s win over Albany was that Delaware had the ball for 40 minutes and 59 seconds.

Of course, that’s the kind of dominating time of possession that Brock envisioned with Delaware’s run-first offense.

It’s the third time in the last two seasons that the Hens have held the ball for over two-thirds of a contest.

Against Albany, while Delaware ran 64 offensive plays, the Hens’ defense had to face only 40 plays.

“I was pretty much fresh the whole game,” said Nichols. “I definitely noticed it. I felt good the whole game.”

“It’s huge,” said Dottin-Carter. “We didn’t have to defend many third downs, we didn’t have to defend many plays. Some people will try to argue that makes your defense cold and takes them out of the flow, but I don’t think any defender will ever tell you that that’s a bad thing — when the offense is just on the field, eating up the clock.”

Extra points

Jarmon has only nine catches for 46 yards this season. But he has seven catches for 39 yards in the last three games. “I think there’s been more of an emphasis of getting the ball out to people on the perimeter, in space,” said Jarmon. … Running back Wes Hills now has a team-high 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in essentially just five games. His yardage ranks him fourth in the CAA despite having only 81 carries. … Delaware hasn’t had a three-game winning streak against CAA teams since 2013.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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