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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Countdown to Kickoff: Gameday Preview


Case Western Reserve’s offense is one to the best in the nation, ranking 35th with 439 yards-per-game. Unfortunately for the Spartans this yardage hasn’t always amounted to points. CWRU is averaging 27 points-per-game, a tally that, while respectable, has been hindered by both the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of the Spartans opponents. While the Spartan offense has been thwarted by the likes of Rochester, it has also had the chance to run rampant over Denison. Nevertheless, head coach Greg Debeljak’s team needs an opponent like Allegheny who can put pressure on the quarterback Joey Baum to rack up points. Allegheny’s defense is ranked No. 33 in the country, meaning Baum and the wide receiving corps will need to bring their best on Saturday.

The Spartans rushing attack will be key in moving the chains. CWRU averages nearly 200 yards-per-game, and establishing an early ground presence will be crucial later on. Senior running backs Billy Deitman and Derek Bush both average over 4.5 yards-per-carry and will need to work the ball inside to play-action opportunities for Baum.


While the Spartan offense is eye-catching, junior tackle Dale English and the defense are even better. Allowing just 242.7 yards-per-game, the Spartans utilize a strong front line in their game plan. English is the key man on the defensive line, with two sacks and three tackles-for-loss agains the Big Red. Next to English is defensive end Richard Doolin who leads the team with three sacks. Linebacker Jacob Adams is the head of the second line of defense for CWRU, leading the team with 31 tackles. Adams is quick and strong, allowing him to get to the ball-carrier in just moments while being able to make the tackle without assistance.

CWRU’s cornerbacks have given up just 123.3 yards-per-game in the air, good enought in the nation. Leading the Spartans in interceptions is free safety Zachary Hass who has two picks in just three games. Hass has a nose for the ball, assisting on 11 tackles for the Spartans, good enough for second on the team.

Coaching Staff:

Greg Debeljak has been the catalyst for the Spartan’s return to glory on the field. In the midst of hise seventh season as head football coach, Debeljak has a career records at CWRU of 44-20. Having lead the Spartans to three consecutive undefeated regular seasons, NCAA postseason appearacnes and University Athletic Association crowns, Debeljak has become at CWRU institution. Debeljak and his coaching staff have won the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year for three straight season, as well as four of the last six years.

Marucs Macalla is the team’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Macalla coached with Debeljak in the 1990’s at John Carroll before coming to CWRU in 2001. Macalla took over the role of defensive coordinator in 2005 and since then has given the Spartans defense a remarkable resiliency.

35 and counting…:

On Oct. 2, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans will try to extend their win streak to 35 games against Allegheny College. Denison University, who was previously undefeated, posed what appeared to be a challenge for the Spartans. A staunch defense and big plays on offense deflated the Big Red’s game plan and CWRU went on to a dominating 37-7 victory. The Spartans need to continue their undefeated streak throughout the end of the season if they have any hope for a postseason. The UAA does not receive an automatic birth to the postseason so an undefeated season is all but required for the Spartans to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

Player to Watch: Senior wide receiver Zach Homyk who is averaging 8.67 catches/game, and is ranked 14th in the nation. Homyk seriously reminds me of Miami Dolphin Brandon Marshall. Homyk’s hands allow him to be a possession receiver with the speed for deep routes. He’s the Spartans’ biggest threat in the red zone and is a critical cog in the Baum’s offensive machine.

Burning Question: Will CWRU be able to stop a team that nearly shocked one of the nations top teams?

Answer: Yes, if anything the Gators have blown the element of surprise. The Spartans have scored first in each of their games and look to continue the trend. However, if the Gators manage to get on the board first, don’t expect the Spartans to look shocked. This is one of the toughest games on the Spartan schedule and Coach Debuljak has prepared the team not to take it lightly.


Three Keys:

Minimize turnovers: The Spartans turned over the ball three times last week and they can’t afford to be as sloppy again. CWRU fumbled the ball four times during the game, while they only lost the ball twice; they can’t afford to rely on luck and the ball bouncing their way.

Control the clock: CWRU has managed to out possess each of the three teams they’ve played this season. In the past the Spartans have been known for their high power offense headed by graduate Dan Whalen, this year however the Spartans and Baum have a potent rushing attack in Derek Bush and Kenny Riordan who combined for over 100 yards during Saturday’s game against Denison. The ground game will be crucial for CWRU to maintain possession and use the clock to their advantage.

Control field position: This plays directly off the second key. The Spartans defense should be able to keep the Gator’s in check, last week the team only gave up 122 yards, the majority of which was scored after the starters had been pulled. The only touchdown the Big Red scored last week was the result of a turnover deep in CWRU territory. The offense needs to prevent mistakes and not make the defense’s life any more difficult.

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