Bye week may be cure for BlueCats
04/16/03 Jeff Gregory
The Evansville BlueCats were confident going into Saturday night’s game against the Tennessee RiverHawks at Roberts Stadium. Confidence waned as the game moved on as the Hawks gave Evansville their fourth loss in as many games, 32-23.
Running back Brandon Walker led the way, for the Tennessee with an 81-yard, 2-TD effort. His counterpart, Levron Williams had two touchdowns and 35 yards for the BlueCats in a game marred by 14 penalties and its share of disputed calls, which kept the 8,000 faithful in the stands howling.
The ‘Cats, in both home games, started off strong by getting an early lead just to watch it dissipate. Some of the responsibility falls to the defense.
Although the BlueCat secondary has been effective, the team hasn’t been getting and effective pass rush. Evansville is still looking for their first sack of year while the rushing defense has had problems – especially of late. They have struggled in stopping opponents’ ground game this year by giving up 103 yards per game – last in the NIFL.
In addition, the offense has lost some effectiveness – particularly the passing game.
Quarterback Akili Roberson has struggled this year. He was a meager 9-23 for 52 yards against the Hawks. Despite being hobbled by an ankle injury, he battled the entire game. The injury prevented him from being as mobile as he has been. Roberson, pictured left directing the BlueCat offense, was held to negative yardage rushing while coming into the game with a 44 yards per game average.
Roberson, for the season has only produced 289 yards on a 46% passing efficiency clip. This is unusual territory for the NIFL veteran since he earned All-Star status when he quarterbacked Tennessee last year.
Most of the offense’s trouble can be attributed to the offensive line. The entire offensive line has been intact only a little more than one quarter all season. Since then, starters Seth Morris, Mario Wright, and Hans Hoag have all been kept off the turf. Even the defense understands the significance of these injuries. Linebacker Todd Basich captures the concept, “I’m a defensive player, but I will say that the offensive line is the most important position on the field.”
The ‘Cats have had three different centers in four games – two of which were not true centers. Noting the fumbles that came up in the most inopportune time during the Tennessee game, this is a situation that the team has to address. Coach Avery Atadero has been looking for help in this area – especially the center position. He is bringing in some additional personnel.
The ‘Cats get a welcomed weak off this week. Undoubtedly, it will enable some of the walking wounded to get healthier. Basich put it this way, “It (the by-week) will give us a week to get our heads straight.” Also, it will allow the coaching staff to sign and install the line help they need.
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