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October 28, 2011

Pregame: Colonials battling injury bug on defense

Robert Morris knew it'd be young this year, but the Colonials felt they had quality depth at every position.

Some of that depth will be tested on Saturday. Robert Morris could have two new starting linebackers on the field against Sacred Heart, with more getting action due to the variety of formations the Colonials use. Normal starting linebacker Brad Banas is out with a thumb injury, and fellow starter Andrew Douglass is doubtful with a knee injury.

Sanchez Faugue, Anthony Caperelli, and Mark Centofanti are expected to fill in the most, but others could find their way into the lineup. Jon Krepps could always slide outside, with Mike Cook stepping in at middle linebacker alongside Kyle Cooper.

The injury shuffling isn't exactly what the Colonials could use at a time when they're trying to find a balance between their pass defense and run defense.

"We're young but we have a lot of depth. I think when those guys step in, they'll fill the void fine," safety D.J. Myers said. "We just have to get used to each other. Obviously it's a different playing style with different linebackers, but we'll be able to fill that void."

The linebacker injuries aren't the only issues. Defensive tackle R.J. Cook remains out, and defensive end Connor Sullivan is questionable with a shoulder injury.

The one bonus is that many of the backups already have significant playing time due to the Colonials' use of multiple formations. Chris Thompkins has become a solid pass-rushers with Sullivan hurting, and Mike Cook's already played plenty at linebacker.

It's to the point that Myers believes youth and inexperience can no longer be an excuse, especially in the secondary, where things have remained relatively intact.

"We're just putting people in position to make plays, that's all. We're all learning on the move," he said. "The whole (idea) that we have no starters back in the secondary, that probably got old three games in. We're young, we're not that experienced, but we can't keep using that excuse and hanging our heads on that. It's time to play ball and make some plays."

MORE CHANGES

With Ethan Mengle doubtful due to a head injury, Robert Morris is without an experienced backup center. Freshman Nick Faraci, who has been working mostly at guard, could be the next man up.

THE KING

Tight end Shadrae King needs one touchdown catch to pass Tyjuan Massey for the school record in touchdown catches. The two are tied with 21 career scores. If King and Jeff Sinclair hook up for three more touchdowns before King's career is done at the end of the season, they'll become the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandem in Robert Morris history. The two have connected for 15 touchdowns, two behind Massey and Drew Geyer.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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