Landeta kicks around his thoughts on Towson football turnaround

Former All-American Tiger punter calls this season 'amazing'

November 18, 2011|By Chris Eckard, The Baltimore Sun

As Sean Landeta gathered his thoughts about his alma mater Friday, he found just one word that truly captured Towson's breakthrough football season.

"Amazing," said Landeta, a former All-American who punted for the Tigers from 1979-82. "For them to turn around and do what they've done, not only with the record they have but beating the top-quality teams in the FCS division is just amazing."

No one — not even the program's most distinguished alumnus — would have predicted the type of turnaround the Towson football team has experienced this season.

With a win Saturday at Rhode Island, the Tigers (8-2, 6-1 Colonial Athletic Association) would clinch a share of the conference title and set a program record for wins as a member of the Football Championship Subdivision.

Before the season they were picked to finish at the bottom of the CAA after finishing 1-10 last year.

"I don't think anyone outside of them would have predicted this kind of turnaround," Landeta said. "It's just the players are clearly better. … They're playing like an absolutely totally different group that you've seen the past two years."

Landeta, who punted for five NFL teams and now splits his time between New York and Philadelphia, said he's been able to make it out to two Towson games this season, and he's hoping the Tigers secure a first-round home playoff game on Dec. 3.

He noticed the change early in the season, when the Tigers dismantled Colgate in its Homecoming game a week after upsetting then-No. 10 Villanova. Suddenly, Johnny Unitas Stadium was starting to fill up with students.

"The team has given them something to cheer for," said Landeta, who played for the Tigers when they were in Division II. After going 9-1 in his first year, Landeta's teams went .500 his sophomore and junior seasons before a 7-4 season his senior year.

"There's a million alums that played football here that always knew what this could be," coach Rob Ambrose said. "We've finally been allowed to drive the thing forward, and now it's just an awesome time to be here."

The Tigers have knocked off six nationally ranked FCS programs this season, including a 56-42 victory over then-No. 7 New Hampshire last week. True freshman running back Terrence West rushed for 261 yards and four touchdowns. His program-record 25 touchdowns this season lead the FCS.

"I shudder to think what the future holds for us," Ambrose said. "And I can't even bother to looking that far ahead, we just have one day at a time."

Ambrose contends his players have learned to temper expectations after they fell to Delaware in late October, saying he hasn't looked forward to the potential of an NCAA tournament appearance.

"We're ridiculously focused on just going up to Rhode Island and just playing our hearts our, and we'll see what happens after that," Ambrose said. "We are just going to keep playing football until they won't let us play anymore."

Landeta, though, isn't holding back. He's ready to see his Tigers host a playoff game.

"It's great, first and foremost for the players and the coaches, but also the students, all the alumni, and its just great for the area," Landeta said. "Winning the way they're winning brings good in a lot of different ways."

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