The Urbana University football team will look to keep its momentum rolling into a home matchup against West Liberty University Saturday afternoon at UU Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m., with live video and audio on UUBlueKnights.com.
The Blue Knights (1-2, 1-2 MEC) are coming off a 21-15 win at Concord last week, headlined by a defensive effort that shut out the Mountain Lions during the second half.
“Give credit to Concord, they had quite a few yards offensively, but our defense showed how hard they are willing to work by keeping Concord out of the end zone,” UU Coach Tyler Haines said. “We were fighting some extended drives, especially on that final drive of the game. Two weeks ago, we would’ve surrendered a touchdown there. Our guys are learning and I’m proud of the defense for their attitude.”
A major key to UUa’s success has been red-zone efficiency, despite averaging the least amount of offensive yards in the Mountain East Conference. The Blue Knights enter Week 4 ranked 29th in the country in red-zone defense and 34th on the offensive end. UU has scored on 8 of 9 trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
UU will head into Saturday’s game against the Hilltoppers averaging 287 total yards on offense, while giving up an average of 444. West Liberty, which is hoping to avoid an 0-4 start, has allowed 347 yards to opponents while gaining 350 yards per game on offense.
Additionally, it’ll be the second week in a row that UU’s opponent comes off a loss to Fairmont State. The Hilltoppers lost 21-20 to the Fighting Falcons last week, which marked their second straight one-point defeat.
“What I’m looking forward to is a change in expectation from our team,” said Haines. “We need to expect to win a game like this at home. I’m excited for our guys and look forward to our preparation leading up to Saturday.”
Who To Watch
Leading the charge on offense for UU is senior quarterback Cale Burdyshaw and junior wide out Trevon Saunders.
Burdyshaw, who has accounted for six touchdowns in the past two games, showed his biggest improvement last week by taking care of the football. It was the first time in his last nine appearances behind center that Burdyshaw did not throw an interception.
The 6-foot-4 signal caller has displayed a great ability to extend plays outside of the pocket, which has helped him to post a 124.07 efficiency rating with a 53-percent completion rate.
Saunders remains unstoppable from the slot receiver position. He has caught a touchdown in five consecutive games, including a pair last week, and is only getting stronger after tying his career-high reception total with seven catches for 73 yards.
UU fans should also keep an eye on running back Trey McFadden. The sophomore has improved his production each game so far, and is coming off a career-high 82 yards on 22 carries. Getting McFadden going early, along with Fred Crow, will be key. UU is averaging 151 rushing yards in its three wins under Coach Haines, as opposed to averaging 74 rushing yards in losses.
On defense, the linebacker corps of Josh Dillard, Carlton Rematt, Duray Hall, and safety Andre Cliff, have combined for 48 percent of the total tackles.
Special teams has proven its strength in the early going for UU, which was rewarded this week with punter Brandon Purk earning MEC Player of the Week.