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October 18, 2012

RMU vows to fix pass defense

It was as big of a game as the Robert Morris Colonials football team had all year, and the secondary knows they came up short.

"Not reading keys correctly, reacting too late, and not trusting our judgment," were all keys to the secondary's poor performance last Saturday at Bryant according to junior safety D.J. Myers.

In the previous game against St. Francis (PA), only 190 passing yards and ten points were surrendered. At Bryant, however, the script was different. Bulldogs quarterback Mike Westerhaus went 22-for-35 (63%) for 350 yards and four touchdowns. While Westerhaus did have two interceptions, one of which was returned 55 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Brad Banas, it still was not a good day for the Colonials secondary.

"After watching film, we noticed that a lot of times our corners were breaking early, but there was a hesitation," Myers said. "Tuesday we came out and focused on not hesitating on breaks. This team, they do a lot of double moves, so we have to break on the man and not the ball; just eliminating that hesitation is going to be critical for us this week."

One of the bright spots in last week's game was freshman cornerback Brian Jones. Jones, a 5-foot-10, 180 pound freshman from Gateway High School in Monroeville, said it felt good to get in and make a play.

"I kind of knew going into the game, even though I don't start, if I got in I was going to get it because I was getting them in practice," he said. "I was getting one or two per practice, so I knew it was going to happen."

Despite his interception, Jones knew the secondary did not have a good game and concurred with Myers' assessment that there was hesitation throughout the secondary. Jones felt that a lot of the mistakes will go away with more experience.

"There are some young guys and some people aren't so sure about the coverage. People are more worried about what other guys are doing. If you stay comfortable with what you do, you're going to make the play," Jones said.

Consistency has certainly been an issue this year for RMU. In week three, the Colonials secondary allowed only 75 yards passing the entire game. The game after that, 268 yards were gained using the passing attack. Myers, a veteran in the secondary, knows being consistent starts with preparing off the field.

"Getting in the film room is critical. A lot has to do with getting in the film room and trusting what we know is about to happen," he said.

Jones said he feels staying consistent starts with just calming the nerves and not getting too greedy. If everyone sticks to their assignment and doesn't do more than they're asked, the secondary will be fine.

The Colonials' next opponent, Central Connecticut State University, likes to run an option attack and only averages 129 passing yards per game. As Jones noted however, the potential is always there for the big play. The Blue Devil's offense has three receivers 6-foot-2 or taller and winning jump balls and sticking to assignments in the disciplined option attack is going to determine the outcome of the game.

Myers thinks you're going to see a revived and optimistic secondary this upcoming Saturday.

"You're going to see a lot of broken up passes. Hopefully we get some turnovers and get some scores too," he said.

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