- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 14 September 2016
- Written by JOHN SORCE | SPORTS EDITOR
A season ago, the Monmouth University football team made history when they traveled to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for their first ever game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school.
Even though they fell 31-10 to Central Michigan on Sept. 12, 2015, there were positives to take away as Kevin Callahan’s team saw how they competed against that level of competition for the first time.
“Going into that game, I didn’t know how we would fare. I came away from that game knowing that we absolutely do stack up well and probably the biggest difference in that game was that they had some more veteran players than we did,” Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan said during the football program’s media day in August.
“Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools have a maximum of 63 scholarships that we can have, while FBS schools have 85. They were deeper, that had more depth and they had the luxury to play two and three deep at every position, because they have that type of depth. I think that’s the biggest difference that I saw is that they were deeper.”
One positive that Monmouth was able to take away from last season’s game is that the blue and white kept the Chippewas off the scoreboard and limited their offense to 100 yards in the second half.
“We just really settled down and had a greater focus on our execution,” Callahan said last season after the Central Michigan game.
“There were some new things that we were doing in the game plan, specifically for Central Michigan. In the first half we made some mistakes, particularly in the secondary with coverage. We seemed to get those straightened out at the half and went out in the second half and executed much more effectively.”
So when the Hawks travel to Kent, Ohio to take on the Kent State Golden Flashes on Saturday, there is plenty of reason to believe that MU football can win their first ever game against an FBS school.
Like Central Michigan, Kent State is a member of the Mid-American Conference. They finished the 2015 campaign with a 3-9 record. The Golden Flashes are 0-2 to start 2016, falling to Penn State, 33-13 in week one and losing a heartbreaker to North Carolina A&T, 39-36, in four overtimes in week two.
The Hawks have plenty of playmakers on offense. Their running game, led by senior Lavon Chaney, is a big part of that. Chaney has 239 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns through the season’s first two games.
But Monmouth’s offense is at its best when redshirt sophomores quarterback Cody Williams and wide receiver Reggie White Jr. are on the same page. White hauled in 35 passes for 432 yards and five touchdowns in 2015 as a freshman and is coming off a game in which he recorded 129 yards on 11 receptions, both career highs, in Monmouth’s 34-20 win over Delaware State on Saturday. The sky is the limit for White as he get more comfortable in the offense.
The bond a quarterback shares with his receivers is important, but there is a special connection between Williams and White, who came on campus together in 2014 as key members of MU’s first recruiting class as a member of the Big South.
“Me and Reggie have been roommates since we started here. This was our third summer here together and even when we’re not together, we’re always texting each other and making sure everyone is working out and doing the right things when we’re not here,” Williams said on media day.
“When we are here, we’re just trying to take full advantage of what we’ve got, while trying to make our connection stronger and our connections with our teammates stronger. Starting those relationships and keeping them growing, that can only help this team grow.”
And coming away with a victory against the Golden Flashes on Saturday, a game that will start at 3:30 p.m. and air on ESPN3, would show immense growth for a program that is looking to take the next step.
PHOTO COURTESY of Mark Brown/B51 Photography