Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

Newark, DE- This season was billed as the year the Golden Rams flexed their offensive muscles and let their depth and experience carry them through the schedule, destined for playoff success. However, if the first two weeks of 2006 have proven anything, it is that this Golden Ram offense is in desperate need of change. Turnovers, lack of consistent play from the quarterback position and an inability to establish the run have haunted this club. Against Edinboro in week one the offense fumbled away three of its first four possessions to open the second half. Head Coach Bill Zwaan promised improvement following a solid week of practice leading up to the annual get together with the Delaware Blue Hens. There was even a shakeup at the quarterback position as Bill Zwaan JR replaced incumbent starter Matt Burdalski in week two. But it wasn’t enough. Against Delaware, West Chester surrendered two fumbles and one interception. All told, the Golden Rams have squandered ten turnovers in their first two games. “We’re not beating anybody with 10 turnovers in a game and a half, we [have] to get that straight,” said Coach Zwaan after the game.

It would be easy if turnovers were the only problem plaguing this offense. If the unit were clicking on all cylinders, one could easily overlook a fumble here and an interception there. But that is simply not the case. The highly touted Golden Ram rushing attack has been anything but.

The tandem of Brent Steinmetz and Osagie Osande were supposed to be the focal point of an offense predicated on running the ball to set up the pass. Instead, it has been opposing defenses that have cut through the Golden Ram offensive line and stifled the rushing attack. Through two weeks the two headed monster that is the Golden Rams running game has amassed just 249 yards on the ground. By comparison, at this time a year ago the Golden Rams mustered 289 yards rushing and one of those games was against Division II powerhouse North Dakota, on the road. It is imperative that both of these backs see the field at the same time, leaving defenses scrambling in an effort to stop the run.

The passing game has yet to take flight either. The inconsistency at quarterback has left this offense sputtering. It seems though, as soon as the offense develops any sort of rhythm, either Coach Zwaan replaces quarterbacks, or the starter at the time falters. It is also obvious through two games that this offense is too centered on standout wide receiver Mike Washington. Saturday night’s game is a perfect example as Burdalski threw into double coverage in the endzone not once, but twice looking for Washington, overlooking a wide open Cody Clark underneath. The second of said passes was intercepted by Kyle Campbell.

Granted, Washington is the key to this team’s success, and rightfully so following his 9 reception 136 yard two touchdown performance in the opener. However, the other receivers and tight ends need to step up and take on a share of the load. Likewise, the quarterbacks must make a conscious effort beginning next Saturday against Clarion to spread the ball around. Coach Zwaan knows that this must happen in order for his team to be successful “There’s no question that our quarterbacks look to Mike right away, and we [have to] get other guys involved, that’s the only way our offense works is to get more guys involved.”

In fairness, the Golden Rams have played two of the toughest opponents on their schedule to open the season. Edinboro was the top defense in division II football a year ago, and Delaware is a perennial powerhouse in Division I-AA. However, the defense has performed admirably; they simply have been put in poor starting field position, and thrust into action far too often following turnovers and mental mistakes by their offensive counterparts. It is imperative that West Chester get into a rhythm early on next week against Clarion and carry that momentum into future weeks. otherwise a season that began with much hope and promise will slip away and fade into the memory alongside other broken promises

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