By JEFFREY ZUPANIC | Alliance Review
Johns Hopkins knows it will be facing a challenge when it comes to Mount Union Stadium this afternoon. However, head coach Jim Magraff isn't sure what will be the biggest concern, because he believes Mount Union is as advertised.
"We are getting ready to play the best defense in the country, at least statistically I thought so, but then I watched them on film and that's what they are," Margraff said.
The Purple Raiders sweep the board in terms of defensive categories, but face a Johns Hopkins team that isn't too shabby on offense. The Blue Jays (11-1) are 10th nationally in total offense with more than 540 yards per game. The offense starts with quarterback Robbie Matey and wide receiver Daniel Wodicka.
Matey has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 2,301 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, he's had trouble keeping the ball out of the opposition's hands with 12 interceptions in 11 games. Wodicka has 87 receptions for 826 yards and three touchdowns.
The Blue Jays (10-1) featured a balanced attack in their 40-17 win against Washington & Jefferson, with 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards.
"We were excited with how our guys played (against W&J). We came out fast and were pleased with that," said Margraff. "I thought we played well on both sides of the ball, especially offense. We got 300 yards and 200 yards while playing against a good secondary."
Now Margraff's team will face an even better defense and duplicating last week's offensive balance will be the key to any success Johns Hopkins hopes to have today.
As good as Mount Union's defense has been, the offense has been equally potent. The team has not been held under 33 points this season and have hit the 50-point mark eight different times, including a postseason-best 72 points last week against Christopher Newport.
"We started fast on offense. We hit some big plays in the first quarter that allowed us to get off to a fast start," said Mount Union head coach Larry Kehres. "Then we were able to continue at that pace for the rest of the game."
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke completed 11-of-15 passes for 264 yards, playing only the first half. Senior running back T.J. Lattimore almost had 100 yards rushing (97) on nine carries, while senior wide receivers Jasper Collins and Julius Moore both surpassed 100 yards receiving before halftime.
"We rotate a bunch of guys on defense to stay fresh," said Margraff. "That hopefully will help us out against a faster pace team (like Mount Union)."