Something’s got to give for Hens, Tigers

 

NEWARK — Winning is easy — or at least dealing with it is.

But coping with a losing streak takes character.

With his Delaware football team mired in a five-game losing streak, interim coach Dennis Dottin-Carter says he’ll find out what his players are made of.

“I think you learn who you are,” Dottin-Carter said on Monday. “It’s easy to be ‘The Man’ when you’re on top. It’s easy to come to practice, it’s easy to go to class when everybody is patting you on the back. It’s easy to wake up in the morning and do the right things when things are going right because you feel like you want to keep it going.

“It’s really, really hard to get up and look yourself in the mirror when things don’t go the way you want them to go. … You have a choice to say, ‘Hey, you know what? Regardless of the situation, I’m going to be about my business. I’m going to continue to work to get better.’”

Delaware’s defense swarms Stony Brook QB Joe Carbone in Saturday’s loss to the Seawolves. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware’s defense swarms Stony Brook QB Joe Carbone in Saturday’s loss to the Seawolves. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware’s opponent this week, Towson, knows just how the Blue Hens feel.

As luck would have it, both Delaware (0-4 CAA, 2-5 overall) and the Tigers (0-4, 1-6) come into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. Colonial Athletic Association contest stuck in five-game skids. The game is UD’s homecoming.

The fact that both teams are struggling brings its own kind of intensity to the matchup. Of course, the Hens and Tigers also consider themselves rivals because of the proximity of the two schools.

“A lot of guys could have gone to either Delaware or Towson and ended up choosing the other,” said sophomore cornerback Malcolm Brown. “Guys know each other’s coaches, we know players on the other team.

“It’s going to be a competitive game. You look at both of our records, both of us are really hungry for a win. Somebody has to come out on top.”

In Delaware’s case, it’d be easy to argue that this is the Hens’ last solid chance to get a victory this fall.

They finish the season with games at Albany and Richmond before hosting Villanova in their finale. All three squads have been nationally ranked this year.

Of course the last thing Delaware’s players want to do right now is look ahead.

The Hens haven’t won fewer than four games in a season since 1967, when they finished just 2-7 in Tubby Raymond’s first season as head coach. Their five-game losing streak is also the program’s longest since 1939.

“This team is full of competitors,” said Brown. “This team is full of guys who want to win. We all did a lot in the off-season to prepare to win these games. Obviously we haven’t gotten the result we’ve wanted.

“But I don’t think there’s been a lack of motivation or lack of effort.”

QB play uneven

It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for QB Joe Walker the last couple weeks.

On one hand, the Hens’ sophomore ran for 109 yards and a TD against William & Mary and has completed a combined 21-of-45 passes for 246 yards in the last two games. That’s relatively good passing production for Walker.

On the other hand, though, he also threw two fourth-quarter interceptions against the Tribe before losing three fumbles in Saturday’s 28-3 loss to Stony Brook.

Dottin-Carter said he didn’t plan to replace Walker as the starting quarterback. But he did say he and his coaching staff will be looking at senior Blake Rankin and redshirt freshman Pat Kehoe in practice this week.

“Last week, Joe came in as the quarterback,” said Dottin-Carter. “I wasn’t going to make a change last week. We’ll evaluate and find out. … I’ll talk to Coach (Sean) Devine and we’ll make a decision on who we think gives us the best opportunity to win on Saturday.

“Up to this point, Joe’s been the guy. I honestly don’t see a reason why it would change going forward. It doesn’t mean that it won’t or can’t.”

Giving it away

Walker’s three fumbles were part of a bigger problem for Delaware, which lost five fumbles in the contest.

The Hens put seven fumbles on the ground altogether in the game after fumbling the ball just six times (and losing only three) in their first six contests.

Dottin-Carter said two of the turnovers simply came on handoffs to a running back — a problem that Delaware got straightened out during the game.

“We’ve got to get that fixed, we cannot have that problem,” said Dottin-Carter. “We run the football. … We can look back and say we could have worked on it more during the week. But we’d only had six fumbles up to this point.”

Dottin-Carter also said Stony Brook linebacker John Haggert deserves some credit. The junior was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week after forcing three fumbles while collecting three sacks and 11 tackles.

“He’s a competitor,” said Dottin-Carter. “He won some one-on-one situations, caused some fumbles and did a good job.”

Extra points

Delaware’s top receiver, Diante Cherry, didn’t play against Stony Brook after breaking team rules. Dottin-Carter said the junior’s situation will be evaluated again this week. … Delaware, Towson and Rhode Island (0-5) are the only CAA teams without a league victory. … Stony Brook has allowed only six points in its last two games and gone 10 straight quarters without giving up a touchdown. The Seawolves’ defensive coordinator is Delaware native Lyle Hemphill, a former Blue Hen assistant. “Coach Hemphill’s ‘The Man,’” said Haggert. “He’s the reason why we’re all crazy savages every game.”

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