Calling RMU football’s return to in-game action last weekend against Kennesaw State anything other than troublesome might be a stretch. The Colonials quickly fell behind and were held to next to nothing on offense en route to the 35-0 loss.
Colonials’ quarterback George Martin took his first snaps in the Big South and threw a 75-yard pick-six to really turn the tide in Kennesaw State’s favor. Martin and his receivers struggled to connect throughout the game as a whole, with the redshirt junior throwing for just 51 yards. The aggressive Owls defense served as a reminder that RMU was playing a higher level of competition than they were in their old home, the Northeast Conference.
“When we were in the NEC, obviously, we played against multiple good defenses and a few good defensive players who could make it to the next level,” said Martin. And I think, coming to the Big South, those defenses just got bigger, and better and faster. Those players, same thing, bigger, better, faster.”
A speedy Kennesaw State offense executed its triple-option to perfection in the opening half, contributing mightily to the early lead. Bernard Clark reflected on what went wrong defensively throughout the first 30 minutes that put his team in such an early hole.
“You have to be disciplined,” said Clark. “You have to know who you’re taking, you have to take that guy on that pull-in time. If you watch our first half, we weren’t doing that. And, in the first half, we just weren’t doing what we were supposed to do when it came to the option. We were just making the wrong selection. We only gave up seven points in the second half, but we waited too long to get it going.”
The second half might have led to some improvement on both sides of the ball, but the Colonials were kept out of the end zone after their promising 71-yard drive in the fourth quarter ended with a fumble. Offensive miscues and defensive struggles plagued Robert Morris last week, and though Clark knows his team hurt themselves, he realizes how tough the task at hand was given the circumstances.
“When you have a month off and you play against the number seven team in the nation, and they’re running an unorthodox offense that you’re not used to facing and you’re struggling a little bit, things like that happen.”
This week presents RMU with a chance to get into a rhythm thanks to their opponent being a fellow winless team in Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers opened their season against Kennesaw State with a 24-19 loss but kept the game much closer than RMU did when matched up against the Owls. Clark cites the defensive line for Charleston Southern as a focal point heading into Saturday’s contest.
“The defensive line really concerns me. Their defensive line, they have all-conference guys upfront, very good players. And, right now, we’re hurting a bit with our offensive line.”
Charleston Southern quarterback Jack Chambers has thrown for a total of 501 yards this season in just two games. With three touchdown passes and a 63.38% completion rate, Clark wants his defense to hone in on pressuring Chambers throughout the game. Aside from that, the Buccaneers average just two yards per attempt on the ground through their two games, making RMU’s efforts to slow down Chambers even more crucial.
Focusing on certain players and position groups are not the only parts of the team’s preparation. The travel arrangements between this week and last week will be much different. Instead of taking a plane like last week, the Colonials are taking a two-day bus trip, beginning on Thursday, and will arrive early enough to familiarize themselves with the facilities and give themselves the opportunity to conduct a few walkthroughs. Clark sees this week as a way to immediately wipe the negative thoughts from last week’s games from their minds.
“I think, either way, it’s going to be a good trip. I think our guys are excited about this, we’re ready to get that bad taste out of our mouth. Not winning or losing, but just playing bad. We just felt like we didn’t put a great product on the field last week.”
That product will be put to the test, yet again, while in search of their first win of the season and in Big South play. Catch the action on Saturday at noon on ESPN+.