Towson State spent more than the normal six days preparing for last week's game at Rhode Island.
"We put a lot of time and effort into our opener," Gordy Combs said of his head coaching debut, a 36-19 defeat. "That was the focus of spring practice and two-a-days since late August. I'm just glad I'm dealing with a resilient group. They shook that game off immediately, and mentally, I think they're doing great."
The Tigers are also doing well physically, coming out of the loss with nothing more than the normal bumps and bruises. Contrast that to Bucknell, the opponent for tonight's home opener at Minnegan Stadium, and Towson State appears to be ready to win for the first time at home since 1990.
The Bison (1-1) lost to Yankee Conference foe Villanova, 34-0, last week. Five Bison players left the game with injuries and coach Lou Maranzara will be without two of his top four linebackers for tonight's game. The fourth-year coach said, "We're as physically beat up as at any time I've been here."
Bucknell still has a big offensive line and two capable sophomore quarterbacks in Travis Kopp and Rob Glus. The top receivers are David Berardinelli, a GTE Academic All-American, and Damon Garner, a junior out of Mount St. Joseph. Bucknell (1-9 last season) beat Division II Bloomsburg State in its opener before losing to Villanova.
Combs hopes new-found depth will enable the Tigers to duplicate Villanova's performance against Bucknell.
He's going two-deep on the defensive line and redshirt freshman linebacker Dan Nate was a quick read in his first college game, leading the team with eight tackles. The unit held URI to two touchdowns through the first three quarters.
There's also improved depth in the Tigers' one-back offense. Sophomore Brian McCarty showed he has recovered from a shoulder injury, carrying nine times for 45 yards. Starter Tony Vinson, a transfer from Purdue, got 20 of his 65 yards on his first carry.
With junior offensive tackles Karl Nieberlein (Mount St. Joseph) and John Loch (Arundel) recovered from minor injuries, quarterback Dan Crawley had ample protection and threw for 328 yards. Mark Orlando, a sophomore from Liberty High, had six receptions for 126 yards and Kevin Howard had seven catches for 68 yards, increasing his career totals to 109 and 1,461.