By Matt Leon
CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — If you like offense, then the team you loved to watch in 2011 was Widener.
The Division III Pride scored an amazing 74 touchdowns last season, finishing with 518 points for an average of more than 47 a game. That led the country.
Those offensive fireworks were the main reason why Widener went 9-2 last season. That scoring prowess is also the main reason why they are picked to finish second in the Middle Atlantic Conference this season and are nationally ranked in many Division III polls.
Third year Widener head coach Isaac Collins, however, doesn’t want his team spending any time reliving last year’s success.
“I’ve spent a good majority of camp and even our offseason, just kind of talking to our guys about – last season was last season. That was a different football team. Even though we have a few guys back from that team, we’re still going to be a different team in 2012. So we’ve kind of stressed the fact that we’re different.”
Widener scored at least 27 points in every game last season. They hung 70 on King’s, 60 on Albright and outscored Waynesburg 48-28 to win the ECAC South Atlantic Bowl. But Collins says he thinks his offense can perform at an even higher level here in 2012.
“I really do. I think that we’ve got to run the ball better. Obviously we threw it pretty well (in 2011) but I think we’ve got three talented running backs. Our offensive line is really kind of coming together. So that’s an area that we’ve stressed, that we’ve got to be able to run the football. Continuing to take care of the ball, and we want to get better in the red zone. We scored a lot of points, but there were a lot of explosive plays. We weren’t as good as we wanted to be in the red zone. So we’ve spent a lot of time this training camp, both sides of the ball, trying to improve that aspect of it.”
The triggerman of this impressive Widener offense is senior quarterback Chris Haupt. A former minor league baseball player in the Marlins and Blue Jays systems, Haupt was spectacular in 2011. He set a school record with 3,025 yards passing while completing 59.4 percent of his passes. He threw 31 touchdown passes, which one short of the Widener record. Haupt talks about why Widener is so dangerous when they have the football.
“We try and put the defense in situations where it’s very hard for them to win,” Haupt says. “We attach bubbles and screens to a lot of things that we do. And we try to go with out best match-ups, getting into films and seeing where we think the weaknesses in the defense are. Really just trying to exploit them on Saturdays.”
Regardless of how good your offense is, in order to be successful, you still have to get stops. Collins says he thinks his defense is ahead of where it has been.
“We’ve added a few wrinkles to the defensive package and I think the other side of it is we’ve got a few veteran guys returning that have played in the system. We’ve got some guys that have been in the system for three years now, so that kind of helps. It allows us to expand some of the things we’ve done the previous years and hopefully that will create opportunities for us to get more turnovers and that is something we’ve talked about all camp.”
The Pride allowed just a shade under 22 points a game last season.
Widener opens the 2012 season at home on Saturday, September 1st, against Western Connecticut.
Listen To Podcast With Quarterback Chris Haupt:
Listen To Podcast Interview With Head Coach Isaac Collins:
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