Scouting the Enemy:
The College of Wooster Fighting Scots
The opponents that the Fighting Scots have faced thus far could not be any different. Wooster opened the season with a 56-10 loss to nationally ranked Washington and Jefferson College and then rebounded the following week with a 28-13 win over lowly Allegheny College in their North Coast Athletic Conference opener.
Leading the way for the Fighting Scots early in the season has been a duo of first-year running backs. Antonio Bailey and Russell Boston have both split the rushing duties equally. Bailey led the way in week one, running for 83 yards and a touchdown. Boston rebounded after a tough opener to run for 97 yards and two scores last weekend in the Fighting Scots’ conference-opening win.
Unlike DePauw’s opponent last weekend, Wooster has proved adept at forcing turnovers. The Fighting Scots have forced six turnovers--four fumbles and two interceptions--in their two games so far this season.
The Fighting Scots have been better at stopping the run than the pass. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Fighting Scots have given up less than 85 yards on the ground compared to over 200 yards through the air.
After a 53-0 win over Earlham College in the season opener, the Tigers return to Greencastle to open the home portion of their schedule. The Quakers didn’t really pose much of a threat for the Tigers, and DePauw’s starters didn’t stay in the game very long. With Wooster coming to Blackstock for the program’s conference-opener, expect to see players like sophomore quarterback Matt Hunt play the full game.
Against Earlham, the Tigers were up big early and kept Hunt in check to avoid running up the score. Hunt only let it loose 12 times on the night, completing seven passes for only 85 yards and two touchdowns. Head coach Bill Lynch also kept a tight leash on his running backs last weekend. The top two backs, junior Jason Kirchhoff and senior Amen Galley, carried the ball only 20 times combined for 200 yards.
The Tigers will be missing a key piece on defense, however. Senior defensive lineman and team captain Michael Mitsch broke his fibula and dislocated his ankle in practice on Tuesday and will likely miss the rest of the season. That leaves the DePauw depth at the defensive line weaker as the season progresses.
Wooster Key Players
David Smith, QB, Sr.: Smith completed over 60 percent of his throws last weekend against Allegheny but hasn’t thrown for many yards yet this season. He threw for only 113 in week one and then followed that up with a 107 yard performance last weekend. The Fighting Scots will likely need to have Smith step up in the passing attack and be a more dynamic threat instead of a game manager if they’re going to pull off a win against the Tigers.
Antonio Bailey, RB, Fr.: Bailey leads the Fighting Scots in all purpose yards so far this season, averaging nearly 80 yards on the ground and 30 receiving yards per game. Mitsch’s absence from the DePauw defensive line may mean there is more running room up the middle for Bailey and his counterpart Russell Boston.
Patrick Johnson, DB, So.: I would expect the Tigers to come out and throw the ball a lot after keeping Hunt reigned in a little bit last weekend. That means that Johnson will have to play a big game for Wooster in the secondary. The sophomore already had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception on the season and it could be a big play like that to keep the Fighting Scots in this game.
Matchup to Watch: Wooster quarterback David Smith vs. the DePauw secondary
Much like the Tigers have done with Hunt, Wooster hasn’t let their starting quarterback air much out in the early part of the season. If the Fighting Scots are going to stay in the game, Smith will likely have to let it fly a little more and take some chances. Smith doesn’t have a receiver with more than 100 yards yet on the season and the Tigers have some experienced players lurking in the secondary. It will be interesting to see if Smith can put up a big game for the Fighting Scots.
DePauw wins if…
They keep things simple. Looking at the statistics on Wooster, there isn’t really anything there for the Tigers to worry about. They don’t really have a dynamic quarterback or receiving core and if the Tigers can take away the running game, I don’t see a way for Wooster to keep up with a solid DePauw offense. Defensively, six of Wooster’s seven turnovers on the year came against a very weak Allegheny squad, so if the DePauw offense avoids silly mistakes, they should win this game.
I don’t see this being as big of a blowout for the Tigers as last weekend was, but the Tigers should win this game rather handily. Having all this hype around their season, I would expect the Tigers to come out energized and to feed off what should be a good crowd with parents weekend and the new student section. The two-headed monster of Kirchhoff and Galley should take care of most of the work on the ground with Matt Hunt pitching in where he’s needed. Defensively for the Tigers, I would expect them to take away the running game in an attempt to make Davis beat them through the air. It’ll be an uphill battle for the Fighting Scots all day long and I’d expect DePauw to be 2-0 by the time it’s all over. DePauw 35, Wooster 10.