During the Elon University football team’s bye week, the coaches littered the meeting room and locker room walls with signs reading “Four-Game Season.”
“It’s really been the focus,” said redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Christiansen. “I think it’s awesome because everything that happened in the last seven games doesn’t matter. It’s these next four games that will.
“If we win out, we’ve got a chance to make the playoffs.”
After the first of the four games left on the schedule, a 21-7 victory over Stony Brook University Oct. 31, head coach Rich Skrosky is proud of the way his team embraced the mentality of a fresh beginning.
“There was a re-energized freshness about our play,” Skrosky said. “The bye week helped in setting that mindset, and we played well. Now, we need to improve these last three weeks.”
For Christiansen, who threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Demetrius Oliver in the first half, the “four-game season” could not have started any better.
“That was awesome, and it was a lot of hard work showing off,” Christiansen said. “That was definitely the way we wanted to start.”
Skrosky saw the energy as an intangible difference, but noticed two tangible keys in the victory.
“If you win the turnover battle and the big-play battle, you’re going to win the game,” Skrosky said. “When you’re plus-2 in turnovers and plus-7 in the big plays — and their biggest plays were just 15 passing and eight rushing — I would have to think the probability of winning is in the 90-percent range.”
This week’s game against the No. 12 College of William & Mary provides Elon with one of the toughest challenges of the season. Skrosky sees the Stony Brook game and the William & Mary game as a clash in playing styles.
“The hard thing with [William & Mary] — you can load up the front against Stony Brook and they drop some balls, but William & Mary is not going to do that,” he said. “So we need to play as effective as we did in the run game, but at the same time, we can’t be exposed in the pass game.”
The Tribe defeated No. 14 James Madison University 44-41 last week, and Skrosky noticed the way that William & Mary went with “the ebbs and flows” of the game as something Elon should try to emulate.
“They were behind pretty much the whole game — somewhere between 12 and five points — and they never really panicked,” Skrosky said. “That’s the sign of a veteran team, and we need to be doing the same thing.
“If we go down a little bit, no big deal. Handle that ebb, if you will, and react to it and be good on both sides of the ball. We’re going have to score points, there’s no question about it.”
Skrosky has been striving for big plays from the offense, and was pleased with the three scores on plays longer than 20 yards. Each quarterback — freshman starter Daniel Thompson and Christiansen — threw a touchdown pass against the Seawolves, leading Skrosky to say there is no system set for playing time.
“We really don’t have a formula with the quarterbacks,” Skrosky said. “They both practiced well going into the game, and they both played well. They both did some good things. I think you’re probably gonna see both of them [against William & Mary] unless something crazy happens.”
Skrosky wishes he could predict when each quarterback would play each series, but beyond the first few drives, the decision is “a gut instinct” for Skrosky. Christiansen is not as concerned with the playing time or the opponents left — he feels confident in his teammates and in the team’s chances for the last three games.
“As long as we play our game, and as long as we go out there and not let the opponent get in our head,” Christiansen said. “We just got to play our game and play to the best of our ability. As long as we can do that, I think winning these next three games is a very strong possibility.”