The defensive breakdown that led to the football team’s 20-5 loss last Saturday night against Bucknell seemed to be just as much physical as it was mental, as injuries and cramps prompted one player after another to hobble off the field leaning on a team trainer for support.
And while the Red is still waiting to see if two defensive linemen – senior Jeff Dicks and sophomore Scott Boone – will be ready to play after sustaining injuries against the Bison, the coaches have found a way to ensure other members of the defensive unit will be ready to go this Saturday afternoon against Yale.
The answer? Drink more water.
“I’m told it’s just an electrolyte imbalance,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “We just have to prepare differently. It’s a matter of sending the message to put more salt on your foods and drink more fluids.”
According to Knowles, the fact that last Saturday’s match up against the Bison was the Red’s first game of the season contributed to the lack of preparation.
“What happens is [the players] haven’t played a game in so long that they forgot what they actually have to do to prepare their bodies to play in a game,” he said. “They want to go through life like a normal, everyday person … and all of a sudden, ‘Oh, you know, I forgot this is a game. I’ve got to start pounding fluids three days before it starts.’ We didn’t think about it as a team.”
The stakes will be higher this Saturday, as the Red opens its Ivy League schedule against Yale. With the lessons learned after last weekend’s game, the message is clear to the defensive unit. Along with junior linebacker Ryan Blessing and sophomore safety Michael Boyd, junior linebacker Doug Lempa came out of the Bucknell game with cramps and admitted that he is changing his pre-game approach to this week.
[img_assist|nid=18437|title=Action Jackson|desc=Senior wideout Anthony Jackson (8) slips past a Bucknell defender in the midst of the Red’s 20-5 defeat in Lewisburg, Pa., last Saturday.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=76]
“Coach has talked to us about actively hydrating [because] we weren’t drinking enough throughout the week,” Lempa said. “I think most of our players have been trying to stay on top of that, because [cramping up is] the last thing we need. We had some injuries last week, so we need everybody out there for as long as possible.”
Besides adequate hydration, the addition of valuable game experience for younger players on the team should also help the defense defend home turf this Saturday.
“I’m hopeful that all of our younger, newer players have gotten enough game experience to perform up to their capabilities,” Knowles said. “They’re not going to be wide-eyed anymore. They’re at home, and it’s the same place they’ve practiced a lot so there will be a real comfort factor there.”
The attitude is the same from inside the lines as well.
“I think [that experience] will help a lot too. Just in case, God forbid, if there are anymore cramps, I think they’ve got some game experience,” Lempa said. “And Yale, it’s a big one. It’s our first Ivy League game so any experience will definitely help.”
The Red is also looking forward to the return of senior defensive lineman Ryan Kiscadden, who was sidelined with a foot injury against Bucknell.
“As far as I know, he’s back,” Lempa said. “And I’m definitely looking forward to it because our ends — we have depth there, but it’s always nice to have a senior defensive lineman back.”