Centre ready for showdown with Trinity

October 24, 2003|MIKE MARSEE

It's almost certainly the biggest game Centre College will play this season, but coach Andy Frye said the Colonels are doing their best to treat it like it's no big deal.

There are no crazy motivational ploys, no unusual practice tactics, no gimmicks designed to drive home the point that Saturday's game is something special.

Frye said Centre prepared for its showdown at Trinity, the battle for first place in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, just as it prepares for every other game.

"Honestly, we're not approaching it any differently," Frye said. "We all know it's a big game, but it's not like we're changing anything in our practice style or our approach."


But there is one thing that will be different on Saturday: Any margin for error Centre might have enjoyed in their first seven games will be gone. Frye said the quality of the opposition demands that the Colonels play their best game.

"The big thing here is you can't let up for one play," Frye said. "There are roughly 70 plays on each side of the ball, and each one can be a momentum changer.

"One of the things we're trying to stress is every play you have to play with intensity. You can't make a mistake when you're playing a great football team."

Centre will be trying to topple the undisputed king of the SCAC. Trinity has won or shared the last 10 conference championships, and the Tigers made it all the way to the NCAA Division III finals last year before falling to seven-time national champion Mount Union.

Within the conference, they haven't lost a home game since 1995, when Centre pulled a 17-7 upset.

"They come with a huge swagger, but that's deserving," Frye said.

Many of the key players who were part of Trinity's playoff run are gone, especially on offense. The Tigers averaged 44.3 points per game and had arguably the best offense in all of Division III, but they lost seven starters from that unit.

"Trinity is still a very good football team, but they don't have the offensive weapons that made them the best team in the nation," Frye said.

Tigers are SCAC's top offensive team

Trinity still leads the SCAC in scoring offense (33.7 points per game to Centre's 31.3, passing offense (301.8 yards per game) and total offense (432.2 yards per game).

The Tigers' new quarterback, Dan DesPlaines, seems to be a capable replacement for All-American and three-year starter Roy Hampton.

DesPlaines has twice been named SCAC offensive player of the week this season and is the league's top passer, having completed 65 percent of his passes for 1,695 yards, 14 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

"He reminds me a lot of Hampton, except he doesn't have the experience," Frye said.

The same could be said about much of the Trinity offense, which lost even more experience after All-America lineman James Flowers was lost to a season-ending injury and running back Matt Federle suffered an injury that has sidelined him for the past three games.

Still, Frye said the Tigers are more than capable of putting up big numbers on offense.

"To beat a Trinity, it really comes down to you have to outscore them," he said.

Trinity is more experienced and still as strong as ever on defense, where the Tigers allow just 15.7 points per game.

Frye said Centre is much better prepared to match up with Trinity than at the start of the season, particularly after the Colonels' loss at Washington & Lee in week four.

Centre has scored 84 points in its last two games and comes off a shutout of Maryville (Tenn.) last week.

"We've gotten momentum out of the last two games," Frye said. "Our defense has stepped it up, and offensively we're starting to put points on the board."

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