Photos courtesy of Athletic Communications
The two previous seasons Lafayette football started its season 0-3 under head coach Frank Tavani, it finished 2-8 and 2-9, in 2001 and 2009, respectively. This does not bode well for the winless Leopards, who enter their bye week looking for answers.
After the week off, Head Coach Frank Tavani’s program faces their Patriot League opener against Bucknell on Homecoming weekend.
“Should of, could of, would of, it doesn’t matter,” Tavani said. “We’re 0-3. We are all accountable and it starts with me.”
“It’s disappointing, but not discouraging to me. We have a lot of work to do.”
Players last week spoke of their undefeated record in league play. Linebacker Dion King ‘14 said, “that’s the way you have to look at it.”
Tavani opted for a different perspective.
“I don’t try to sell just league play,” Tavani said adamantly. “It’s become an eight game season because of the bye where it is. You can’t panic, you can’t get down, you have to keep working.”
Tavani said his team is focusing on three key areas this week: blocking, tackling and making plays in its simplest forms. Specifically, he referenced a play from Lafayette’s game against William and Mary in which the Colonials were pinned on their own one-yard line, but missed tackles led to a 55-yard quarterback sneak.
Asked how he will go about addressing such broad issues, Tavani replied, “We need to practice harder and put competition in place. That’s the problem we’re having with lack of depth. There is not enough competition to push everybody.”
Depth is certainly an issue, as injuries have played a factor over the first three games. Lafayette lost four offensive linemen in preseason. At Tuesday’s practice, just four defensive backs practiced – two safeties and two cornerbacks.
Safety Jared Roberts ‘15 and defensive back Shane Black ‘15 have been injury plagued all season. Roberts played for the first half against Penn, but his hamstring flared up, forcing Tavani to sit him the rest of 27-21 loss. The coaching staff planned to have Black back against Bucknell, but learned on Tuesday that he most definitely has a stress fracture in his foot, forcing him to miss the next three weeks.
Defensive lineman Andy Labudev ‘17 broke his leg last week in practice and is out for the season.
The news is not all negative, however. Defensive lineman Matt Rothrock ‘17 has returned and is expected to play against Bucknell. Linebacker Kasheem Hill ‘14 is now eligible to play after serving disciplinary probation.
“To his credit, he’s really turned it around,” Tavani said. “He talked to our young people about making mistakes and the price you pay when you don’t think of the consequences of your actions.”
The quarterback situation Bucknell hinges on Zach Zweizig’s ‘15 health. Zweizig suffered a concussion against Penn last Saturday and is a non-participant this week. Beginning Monday, he will undergo day-to-day evaluation.
Filling in last week was sophomore Andrew Dzurik, who completed 12 passes for 157 yards against Penn, but had two interceptions. He did lead two scoring drives in the fourth quarter to bring Lafayette within six.
Whoever it is will be thrust into an important game at this stage of the season.
“You have Homecoming, inauguration – it’s a good time to get back on track,” Tavani said. “I know everybody is upset. The alumni are upset. I know what’s going on. I still have confidence this football team can certainly do something.”
That something could be another two-win season if something doesn’t change.