LOCKHAVEN - For the second time in 10 days, the Lock Haven Bald Eagle football team will board the buses and head East on I-80.
The only difference this week is that instead of continuing through New Jersey and into the Big Apple, the Bald Eagles will get off of the Interstate just shy of the New Jersey border for their meeting with the East Stroudsburg Warriors Saturday evening.
The Bald Eagles will enter the game on the heels of a 55-0 loss to Division I Fordham University, while for ESU, it will be the season opener.
"I would hope it would be an advantage for us having a game under our belt," Allen said. "Last year when we went into the Millersville game we hadn't played a game and they had a game under their belt and I think that was the difference. They executed a little bit better than we did in critical situations where in those same situations, we missed some throws and fumbled the football. Those are the kinds of things you don't want to see in first games, but you kind of expect them to happen. Having already played Fordham, I feel like we will be settled in a little better this week to the point where we won't make the same mistakes we made last week."
After suffering through the lopsided loss to the Rams in their opener, Allen is hoping that his troops have a good short term memory to put that defeat behind them and move forward as they prepare for the game with ESU.
"I think we have done a great job of just highlighting the positives from the game," Allen said. "We just concentrated on where and how we can get better. That has been the most important thing about that game. The reason we wanted to play the game was for our guys to have the opportunity to play at that level and speed and I think they understand that. We have had several practices since that game and I think our paying attention to detail is a little bit better, so I think they are looking forward to playing East Stroudsburg."
Following the game with Fordham, Allen felt good about the injury situation. After having a day or two to reassess that situation, he still sees his club in pretty good condition after having played a physical football game.
"We are in good shape," Allen said. "We came out of the game with pretty good health. We had a couple little ankle sprains here and there, but those guys will be fine this week. They were sore which is expected, but overall, we came out of the game in really good shape."
Two of the returning starters who didn't play in the Fordham game were Ben Snyder (defensive end) and Ryan Good (linebacker). Allen said that situation with those two players is looking better every day.
"Snyder is good to go and Good is day-by-day," Allen said. "It is more of a hamstring deal (with Good) and with that type of injury, sometimes the guy can bounce back quickly and in other cases, not as quick. Ben practiced yesterday (Monday) with no problems so we expect that he will be fine for Saturday."
When All-American Jimmy Terwilliger was calling the shots under center for the Warriors, the ESU approach to playing offense many times became an aerial circus. Even though Terwilliger is gone, Allen still feels that the Warriors will be comfortable with putting the ball in the air.
"You have to expect with those wide receivers who are back for them they will still put the ball in the air," Allen said. "Four out of five of their offensive linemen played last year, but you still have to feel they are going to throw the football around because that is where their strength is. I think they are going to try and run the football when they need to because they have two pretty good backs in there. Both of their quarterbacks are going to be new faces in there. One is a true freshman and the other is a little bit older. It depends on which one of those two gets the nod as to what they will try to do."
On defense, the Warriors appear to be somewhat of a question mark as three of four down linemen along with all four linebackers are among the missing from the 2011 squad. Although that adds up to seven of eight starters up front who are no longer around, Allen was quick to point out that the ESU defensive cupboard wasn't exactly left bare.
"They lost a lot of guys, but what you don't see is the guys they have coming back have played a lot of football," he said. "Although they lost a bunch of starters, they will still do the same thing because coach (Denny) Douds has been there (39 years) for a while and he isn't about to make wholesale changes on offense or defense just because a couple of players are no longer in the program. Right now we are preparing for schemes and we will make adjustments as we go."
After having played Fordham and anticipating playing East Stroudsburg, Allen feels that his troops match up much better against the Warriors than they did against the Rams.
"I really like the way we match up with them because we are a little older now and a little bit more experienced," Allen said. "They lost a lot of guys on the defensive side of the ball so I like our matchups there a lot. They have been doing this (winning) for a long time where our kids are still new and learning how to win and that is one thing we have to overcome. But again, overall, I just feel good about where we are when you match the two teams up."
Kickoff for the game is set for 6:05 p.m. at Eiler-Martin Stadium.