By: Anthony Garcia
The Wittenberg Tigers football team will look to get rid of what senior quarterback Reed Florence called, “a sour taste,” on the road at Depauw University on Saturday, Sept. 21.
The matchup with Depauw will be Witt’s first opportunity to rebound from a 49-24 defeat at Butler on Sept., 7.
The Butler Bulldogs were able to score in various fashions, including a fumble recovery, a deep pass, and a returned interception, all in the first half. Wittenberg turned a 39 point deficit at halftime into a 25 point, 49-24, loss with the help of three touchdowns from Florence and only allowing the Bulldogs one more touchdown. Butler competes in the Division I FCS, while Wittenberg routinely plays other Division III schools.
The loss serves as the first time the Tigers have lost a season opener since Sept. 1, 2007, when they were shut-out against Capital. Wittenberg went on to post an 8-2 record that season and earned a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) title.
When Wittenberg travels to Greencastle, Ind. this weekend to face-off against Depauw, it will be their first game in 14 days. The football squad was on a bye week this previous weekend but will have a game every weekend until the fourth week of November from here on out.
The home team won “the Battle of the Tigers” (the two schools have the same nickname/mascot) last year at Edwards-Maurer Field in a 52-14 abomination. But, Depauw has a completely new coaching staff this seasons.
“We haven’t seen much from them. But, we’re excited to see what they’ve got,” said Florence who had 340 total yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers in last year’s game.
Depauw comes into the contest with a 0-1 record. Sewanee (Tenn.) was able to defeat Depauw in their season opener by running a two-quarterback system. Neither team had exceptional offensive numbers but wide receiver Barry Flynn proved to be a weapon for the Tigers, catching eight balls for 90 yards.
This upcoming road game in Indiana will be Wittenberg’s seventh away game in their last eight contests. Florence did not seem fazed by the idea of having to get their first win on the road, saying that the team was “used to it” by now.
It helps that 16 returning starters have the experience of all of those road games from last year. Florence says that, being a senior, this season “definitely” feels different. “You got guys looking up to you,” says Florence, “but we got a big group of senior guys who have taken that role in the locker room.”
The 2013 football season will be the first year of a new conference schedule for NCAC teams, which include both Wittenberg and Depauw. All of the schools will play each other for the first time in conference history. Because there are 10 teams, conference play will account for 90 percent of the regular season schedule instead of 70 percent. As Florence pointed out, “you get to see who’s really the best now.”