Hornet Notebook: Coming off bye, DSU faces big challenge at Missouri

DSU football coach Kenny Carter

DSU football coach Kenny Carter

DOVER — A bye week didn’t necessarily mean a week of rest for the Delaware State football team.

Coach Kenny Carter said the Hornets were going to go at it hard for two weeks of practice before the upcoming game at Missouri on Saturday.

With such a young team that is making mistakes based on inexperience, that’s what DSU has to do in the open week, especially since most of the squad does not have any injury concerns.

“There’s no worrying about trying to get healthy because we’re healthy,” Carter said. “Sure, there’s some guys dinged up a bit, but they’ll be fine. We’re going to work. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we can’t afford to take time off. Young people, and we’re young, they need to learn how to grind.”

And the Hornets (0-2) will need to grind if they want to have a positive experience against a team from the SEC.

Missouri enters the contest at 1-2 overall, with a one-point defeat to No. 12 Georgia last week and a 26-11 loss at West Virginia in the season opener sandwiched around a 61-21 blowout of Eastern Michigan. Saturday’s matchup will kick off at 4 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network.

Delaware State hasn’t had much luck in games against FBS competition in recent memory. The Hornets’ best result in the last few years was when they fell 23-7 at Cincinnati in 2013. Since then, the Hornets have lost to Temple 59-0 in 2014 and to Kent State 45-13 a year ago in Carter’s first season.

The trip to Missouri after last week’s open date is the final nonconference game of the season for DelState, which begins MEAC play Saturday, Oct. 1, with a visit to rival Morgan State.

Not so special teams

In what has become a familiar sight at Alumni Stadium, the Hornets struggled with their special teams play in the loss to Monmouth, 34-21, two Saturdays ago.

The Hornets had a pair of punts blocked, a blocked field goal and a missed extra point.

Carter said the blocked punts were because of incorrect movement by players in the protection.

“It really comes down to technique by two people,” Carter said. “Two people did what they’re not coached to do. It’s not the scheme. If you don’t do what you’re fundamentally supposed to do, bad things happen. Both those things are correctable and it’s a dang shame. We take a lot of pride in being able to block punts and not get punts blocked. We’ve got to win the kicking game.”

Receiver group becoming clearer

The Hornets entered the season with no clear No. 2 wide receiver behind senior Aris Scott.

Mason Rutherford staked his claim to that spot in the first game of the season with six catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. But Rutherford was injured late in the game on a punt return which forced him to sit out against Monmouth.

Jerimiah Williams took advantage of the opportunity and caught a 46-yard touchdown. Rutherford should be able to play against Missouri, Carter said, which means Williams will slide into the third receiver spot for a Hornet offense that combined for just 97 passing yards against Monmouth.

“He did a nice job,” Carter said. “He got open for us in the middle of the field. … I’m really excited to get No. 18 back (Rutherford). We’ll have him back for the next game. Our quarterbacks have to give our receivers chances to make plays. They have to get it in the vicinity where the receivers can attack the ball. It’s not just the receivers, it’s the quarterbacks too.”

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