Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why W&J lost

It won't take hours of pouring over stats, watching game films or discussing strategy foul-ups to figure out why Washington & Jefferson College's football team lost 14-7 to Thomas More Saturday at Cameron Stadium.
The reason is simple.
The one guy who could have saved the team from a defeat that cost a Presidents' Athletic Conference title spent nearly all the game on the W&J sidelines.
That's where Bobby Swallow watched most of the game, in street clothes.
Swallow ran out of eligibility after a record-setting career as quarterback of this team for the past three seasons.
W&J does not have anyone who can replace Swallow, at least not on a skill level to match the left-handed quarterback. In last season's 35-29 loss to Thomas More, Swallow kept W&J in the game with one of his best efforts of his career. He completed 40 of 58 passes for 390 yards and four touchdowns. He was the only offense W&J had in that game.
W&J's uses a quarterback-driven spread offense and it's served the Presidents well. Over the past decade, they have had above-average running backs but no one who could carry a team through a season.
That's what head coach Mike Sirianni expects his quarterbacks to do. This past Saturday, Gino Rometo and Steven Shumaker did not provide the spark, especially in a second half when the Presidents mustered just 18 passing yards and two first downs. It was so bad that even the basic snaps from center were an adventure. Rometo mishandled two for losses of 22 yards.
The Presidents have enjoyed a string of great quarterbacks. Swallow followed Chris Edwards, who followed Brian Dawson, and the wins and playoff appearances were a given in most of those seasons.
Rometo and Shumaker are not at that level yet, and their struggles were evident against a strong Thomas More defense. Those types of problems are easily hidden in a weak PAC conference schedule but not against the Saints.
Until W&J gets better play from the quarterbacks in these types of games, wins will be difficult to come by.

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