Two defensive statistics help explain the Towson State football team's 0-3 start. The opposition has controlled the ball 13 more minutes a game and gained 510 yards a game.
"We know what the problem is; we just don't know how to solve it," coach Phil Albert said.
Only three other Towson State teams have started as poorly. The school's first team, in 1969, began 0-3 and finished 4-4-1; the 1972 team was 0-5 in a 1-9 year; and last year's team was 0-4 in a 2-8 season.
Albert and his staff are looking for a bandage fix. Three players dTC who started in the opener and two of their backups are out with injuries, and of the five, four are on defense.
Through a variety of circumstances, Towson State has only six healthy seniors, and two of them, Chris Goetz and Rick Marsilio, play the same position, quarterback. The defensive unit includes three sophomores, all starters on the line in the 3-4 defense, and two freshmen.
"The experienced players have to step forward and make up this difference," junior linebacker Gary Worthington said yesterday. "In our defensive schemes, we each have our own responsibilities, but some of us are trying to overlap, helping out where we can."
Towson State plays at Indiana University, Pa., tomorrow, and the Division II powerhouse is up to its usual standard. It lost to top-ranked North Dakota State in its opener, but since has outscored two foes by a total of 97-7. It's ranked No. 8 in the division.
"Indiana is just another team to us. Their offense is big, with a good quarterback and a good running back, but we have played them tough in the past and expect to do it again," Worthington said.
This is the first year Worthington, 6 feet 3, 205 pounds, light for a linebacker, has started. He spent two seasons as a reserve in the secondary and at linebacker, plus had duty on the special teams.
He started the season as the outside linebacker on the strong side, but after injuries to starter Jared Freeze and backup Matt Geis on the other side, Worthington was moved over and true freshman George Mohring (6-3, 200) was inserted in his place.
"I don't think of my size as a problem," Worthington said. "Dave Meggett [5-7, 180 pounds when he starred at Towson State before going to the National Football League] was a role model for me going against bigger players. You find ways to compensate.
"The big thing I have going for me is I'm versatile," he said. "The coaches have switched me around, putting me in different positions to fill needs, but that's fine. I'm comfortable wherever they put me.
"I think my assets are my speed and my techniques, especially against the bigger guys. I got used to playing the run when I was a strong safety, and I like that better than defending the pass.
"In some pass coverages, I'm responsible for the flat, so it becomes more a matter of width [of the field], rather than depth.
"In other coverages," Worthington said, "it's being able to contain the tight end, keep him out of his pattern."
In the case of Indiana, that means Paul Kovell, a 6-1, 230-pound senior.
The Tigers lost a top player, Freeze (6-4, 215), but in Worthington's opinion, Mohring has the quickness, if not the experience, of Freeze and said, "He was the one to show he had the ability to do the job."
Worthington, who was redshirted his freshman year, remembers when he first got the chance to play. "I was timid at the start, just like in high school when it was a learning process and you looked up to the older, better players. Now that I'm starting, I'm more outgoing and accepting a leadership role. With all our young players, it's something the veterans have to do."