Heading into last Saturday’s matchup against Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opponent James Madison University, the Elon University football team had picked up just 454 yards on the ground on 183 rushing attempts, good for a measly 2.5 yards per carry.
With a rushing offense ranked 119 of 123 Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams, head coach Rich Skrosky said to this week that getting the ground game going was a top priority for the team going forward.
Even after the Dukes ran over Elon to the tune of a 51-0 shellacking, Skrosky was still able to find some positives to pull from Elon’s ground attack.
“I think early on we did some decent things in the run game,” Skrosky said following the defeat. “[Junior running back] B.J. [Bennett], who was our primary runner, [had] nine [rushes] for 38 [yards], so he’s over four yards [per carry], he had a couple zone reads. Looked like [freshman running back] Malcolm [Summers] ran the ball fairly hard again.”
Early in the game, when the contest was still within a couple possessions, the Phoenix offense was able to string together some semi-productive drives. The best quarter rushing was the second, when Elon carried the ball seven times for 47 yards (6.7 yards per carry). Bennett broke off the longest run of the day when he found a hole in the trenches and let loose for 19 yards.
Once the score became more lopsided in James Madison’s favor, handing the ball to a running back became counterproductive for Elon, as running the ball takes time off the clock.
“You know, when the score gets to where it got,” Skrosky said, “It’s got to be close, it’s got to help your play action and all those things.”
The offensive line, which features three freshmen, isn’t doing the Phoenix’s three-headed running attack any favors. The abundance of young players on offense is keeping Skrosky and the team realistic.
“I said this to the team at halftime: You try to keep things in perspective,” Skrosky said. “We talk a lot about how do you refocus, how do you regroup. We just have to be able to execute over a period of time.”
With a bye week ahead of the Halloween matchup against Stony Brook University, Elon plans to focus on fixing the problems with running the football.
Skrosky is acutely aware of the fact that his team desperately needs another dimension offensively. The last four games will give them a chance to see it play out on the field.