Bears look to bounce back in 2010
The football team finished last year with a 4-6 record, its first losing season since 1992. In those six losses, however, the team was blown out only once: a 46-0 thrashing at the hands of Wittenberg University.
“We know that the season’s record was subpar, but we did do some good things last year, and we are focusing on them,” said senior tailback Jim O’Brien, one of five captains. “We are confident in our skills and capability. We just have to perform and stay positive. We have to trust each other and stay sharp. We have a good nucleus of returners and have a talented freshmen class.”
Despite those losses, the team’s chemistry is anything but lacking. Last season’s disappointment coupled with the promise of a new year has locker room mood “at an all-time high,” according to O’Brien.
“[Success in a game] has everything to do with developing chemistry,” head coach Larry Kindbom said. “If we don’t develop some chemistry, it is going to be tough to win that football game. If we develop chemistry, all that is going to do is give us a chance to compete against a team that is in the top 25.”
In his 22nd season as the head football coach, Kindbom possesses a career record of 130-80, making him the winningest coach of program history. This season, however, looks to be one of his most challenging.
“It’s going to be a good schedule,” Kindbom said. “That’s the way we play here over the years. I can’t remember when we didn’t have a schedule without two or three top-ranked teams.”
Of the 10 teams on the schedule, seven finished last year with a .500 record or better. Two teams are nationally ranked, Wittenberg University at No. 8 and Wabash College at No. 24. Conference foes Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University received multiple votes.
“There are going to be 10 make-or-break games this year,” Kindbom said. “It is always going to be the next game because if you make it, then the game after is always going to be that make-or-break game. Most people would say that the best team on our schedule is Wittenberg, but to me, if we don’t do the things we’re supposed to be doing here, it has nothing to do with winning or losing.”
Seventeen starters return from last year’s team, including eight on offense. Kindbom expects the maturity that comes with this kind of continuity to influence the season’s outcomes.
Additionally, the secondary defense is extremely deep this year, especially at cornerback. Senior Brandon Brown was named a preseason First-Team All-American earlier this summer, and graduate student Nick Vom Brack is returning for his final year of eligibility.
“We have good corners,” Kindbom said. “I feel good about really not just the starters, but we have four or five corners that we think can play football. It’s great to have that as a strength. It allows you to blitz and play man, it allows you to go back and play base zone. It’s kind of fun when you have a bunch of these guys you say can all play.”
On the offensive side of the ball, O’Brien is currently seventh on Wash. U.’s career rushing yards list, needing 821 yards in his senior campaign to become the leading rusher in Bears’ football history.
“The offensive line is mostly returning, and I thought they played exceptional last year,” O’Brien said. “They go out everyday to fight for me and the other backs. I try to keep this in mind as I play: that I have guys all around me willing to do whatever they can do in order to help me, so I know I have to give my all for them.
“At the end of the day, we know that we have the ability to be a top-ranked team. We just have to go out and do it.”