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Belyea: With its back against the wall, Pride football should think outside the box

Eric Belyea

If anyone is looking at Springfield College’s football record, things look great. They are 4-1 with a perfect 2-0 record in conference play. But Team 128 is facing adversity.

The biggest, and probably only issue for the Pride right now is injuries. Both quarterbacks, Chad Shade and David Wells are faced with serious injuries leaving the offense with Hunter Belzo, originally a running back now under center.

Belzo has started this season at quarterback, leading the Pride to a 17-14 victory over WPI. He ran for 113 yards on 17 attempts with two touchdowns. He came in relief of the injured Shade this past Saturday, running for 100 yards on 23 attempts, and another three touchdowns. The senior offensive weapon has a strong grasp on the offense. With the Pride being thrown in a situation that most teams would crumble, they have adjusted on the fly very well.

With Belzo being a natural running back, he fits right in to the triple option offense. But other teams will pick up on it, and if the opposition’s defense comes to play, they may be able to contain, and possibly stop Belzo and the Pride’s offense. But what about throwing the ball a bit more?

Belzo has attempted a total of eight passes in three appearances this season, completing one for 36 yards. Again, the triple option is of course a run first offense, but if it is known that Belzo is under center, it will not hurt to turn to a pass play more often. As receivers in a triple option system, they become almost as offensive linemen, where their only priority is to block so the running backs and quarterback can kick it outside and turn up field. But the receivers definitely can be big time play makers for the Pride and Belzo, who has proven he can sling it when called upon to do so.

The triple option is very hard to stop, or even contain for that matter. The offense for the Pride right now seems to have the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to having their backs put their head down and run. But this team is facing something it has not in quite some time, being down two quarterbacks, so going out of the box a little bit would not hurt their chances of winning.

As Springfield gets ready to host Coast Guard this week, it is a perfect opportunity to try to throw the ball with Belzo under center. The Bears have given up 220 passing yards per game, compared to 172 rushing yards through their first four games of the season. If there is any chance to experiment with a passing game, it is this week.

By no means should Springfield start throwing the ball 30 times a game. With the personnel and play style the Pride have on offense, the triple option fits perfectly. But with their backs up against the wall, it does not hurt for Springfield to try something new.

Photo courtesy of Sam Leventhal 


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