Pioneer Football Update

Pioneer Football Update

Justin Valentovic , Staff Writer

Week two has come and gone for William Paterson football and thus far the team has been plagued by a few of the same problems from a year ago.  With that being said however, the Pioneers (0-2, 0-1 NJAC) have displayed flashes of a promising future.

Here are the biggest takeaways on both sides of the ball thus far on the young season.

Quarterback Committee

Much like last season the Pioneers are continuing the unfortunate trend of instability at the quarterback position.  In their season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson University, WPU played three different quarterbacks, before settling to just one in the second half.

Junior, Mike Yarosz got the start for the Pioneers and completed just one pass  for seven yards out of four attempts while throwing two interceptions.

Following a pair of drives lead by Yarosz  which resulted in turnovers, Coach Dustin Johnson inserted Stevens University transfer,  Tracy Fudge for a drive where he would complete his lone pass attempt for a loss of a yard, before exiting due to injury.

The Pioneers then turned to junior, Cornelius Kinchen who completed 18 of 34 passes for 242 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Kinchen was given the opportunity to play the entire second half and showed signs of being the future starting quarterback. He marched the Pioneers down the field, leading to a pair of scoring drives.

Week two saw the Pioneers open their NJAC slate as they traveled to Rowan University to take on the Profs in their annual “Saturday Night Lights” game. WPU fell to Rowan by a score of 22-6.

After his week one performance, it appeared Kinchen had earned the role as the starting quarterback heading into week two, however it was instead a healthy Fudge that was under center for William Paterson.

Fudge would go on to complete 22 of his 40 pass attempts, for 227 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.

Based off the small sample size of the first two weeks, it is apparent that the Pioneers have two adequate options at the quarterback position, however to develop long term success and consistency, Coach Johnson will have to name a starter in the upcoming weeks.

Defense

Just by taking a look at the box scores from a year ago, you would think that it would be evident that the Pioneers defensive unit was a siv, based on the unfathomable point totals they had surrendered. However, this is not the case as the defensive unit was one of the team’s strength last season—something the Pioneers are looking to build upon in the 2018 campaign.

One of the biggest challenges coming into this season was the large amount of  first year players (58) on the Pioneer roster. This will put even more of an emphasis on the play of senior linebacker, Charles Faulkner who was a second team all-NJAC selection a year ago.

Through the first two games of the season, the Pioneers giving up an average of just 81.5 rushing yards per game and 273.5 passing yards per game. One thing that has been impressive for the Pioneers defense this season has been their ability to close in on the ball carrier.

There were multiple instances in the Pioneers week one loss to FDU in which Pioneer defensive backs reacted quickly to short, sideline passes, while limiting yards after the catch. Along with having great speed to the ball another strength of the Pioneer defense has been their pass rush. On the season they have three sacks to go along with 16 tackles for a loss.

The Pioneers will travel to Dover, DE to take on #7 Wesley College in a NJAC matchup on Saturday, Sep. 22 at 1 p.m.