Kitchen’s Keys: RMU vs Notre Dame (Oh.)

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Kitchen’s Keys: RMU vs Notre Dame (Oh.)

Redshirt senior DE Forrest Mason

Redshirt senior DE Forrest Mason

Paul Wintruba

Redshirt senior DE Forrest Mason

Paul Wintruba

Paul Wintruba

Redshirt senior DE Forrest Mason

Dan Kitchen, Contributor

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Robert Morris is not getting the praise it deserves thus far in the season. The Colonials (0-2, 0-0) are making a case to be one of the best 0-2 teams in the FCS. Their two losses have come in the final moments of each game, and even though the Colonials continually enter as underdogs, they play much of the game in a position of power as the better performing unit. The Colonials again enter a weekend as potential underdogs, as they play their Homecoming weekend matchup against Notre Dame of Ohio College (1-1). Here are some things for the Colonials to focus on if they want to earn their first Homecoming victory in three years.

1. Be ready defensively

The Colonials will face an offense this weekend that is more powerful than either team they have played this season. Notre Dame College is averaging just under 500 total offensive yards per game – a full 100 more than Youngstown State, and 200 more than Dayton. If Robert Morris doesn’t come out firing to start the game, they stand to get punched in the face by the NDC offense, possibly to a degree that RMU won’t be able to come back from for the entire game. RMU has been in the midst of a defensive revival this season, and are up to the task of stopping the best offense they may face all season. It sounds like a very vague goal, but when a team is averaging 500 yards per game, and their opponent has given up 311 per game, being prepared to play an offensive juggernaut is the biggest priority there is.

2. Get the passing game on track first

While an improvement over last season’s pass attack, Robert Morris has still not been able to get consistent performance from this year’s version. Matthew Barr is only passing for 86 yards per game through two weeks, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio that weighs on the negative side, 1-3. Normally, RMU could overcome a passing game that is on-again, off-again from drive to drive with stellar play from the strength of their offense, the ground game (averaging 121 yards per game).

Unfortunately for the Colonials, that may not be an option this week, as Notre Dame of Ohio allowed eight (that’s right, eight) total yards of rushing in their last game. They did allow over 300 yards in their first game, but momentum is on their side in stopping the run. The Colonials will likely be forced to rely more on their passing game for offense then they have in their other games this season, and they will need it to stay on the rails or else risk letting the game get out of hand.

3. If they get any chance at all to score, finish it

The first point in this article mentioned how potent the NDC offense will be this Saturday. It is a force unlike any the Colonials have faced this season, but the Colonials were in a similar situation last week against Youngstown State. Their response? The Colonials held YSU scoreless until the third quarter, a feat they also pulled off against Dayton. At halftime though, something changes for the Colonials, as they have been outscored 24-0 in the third quarter.

The Colonials will need to capitalize on every scoring chance they get, because even if the Colonials can extend their first half shutout streak to three games, the Falcons will be looking to capitalize on every snap in the second half, and likely will based on past second-half RMU performances. If that is indeed the case, Robert Morris will need to capitalize on every opportunity they get, so they have a lead that can weather a Falcon storm.

4. Let the “Mike” linebacker handle Malik

The Colonials have been led this season by a stalwart defense that has kept games close through all four quarters, and that defensive unit is led by senior captain Mike Stojkovic. Stojkovic has almost 10 more total tackles than anyone else in a Colonial uniform this season, and was just honored as the newest edition of the NEC Defensive Player of the Week.

The Colonials need to rely on their leader this week, because that offensive machine that NDC runs is led by a player who fits the exact definition of a “dual- threat” quarterback: Malik Grove. Grove has not only thrown for over 400 yards and three touchdowns (with only one interception), but has also run for 299 yards and four more scores (both more than the entire Colonials’ ground game). It will take a special kind of defensive player and performance to contain Grove, and Stojkovic is the Colonial most prepared to handle that task.

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