Bates better beware of the Bears
When will be the time? When will the work that the Bears have put in to football over the past years show? Here is the answer: this Saturday in Lewiston, the pieces that the Bears have put together over the year will fall together. The puzzle will be complete.
Going into this game, Bates and Bowdoin are pretty evenly matched. The Bears are winless and the Bobcats have one win on the season. For many reasons, these teams are catching each other at a great point in the season. What will equalize these teams is the evolution of Bowdoin's offense.
Over the past two years, Bowdoin has established an excellent running team. Rob Patchett '05 has been instrumental in this, as well as the veteran offensive line, which has seldom been beat by opposing defenses. However, the running game hit a bit of a hitch as Patchett went down after the Hamilton game with a broken bone in his foot. Since then, the Bears have looked to first-year running backs Mike Curtis and Andrew Plowman. Both are explosive runners but undersized. Also, with the Bears' insistence on the zone style of running the ball, it takes time to become used to that sort of system. In the last two games, the running game has not been as strong as it was when Patchett, who led the league in all purpose yards for a stretch, lined up.
A positive game came along with the fall of Patchett. Sophomore quarterback Rick Leclerc came back into the lineup. Leclerc looked impressive in preseason action for the Bears, but a foot injury sidelined him for the first five games. Against Wesleyan, Leclerc came back and the dormant passing game came alive. Long third downs became first downs. A pass on first down turned into second and short. Leclerc led the Bears to a rousing fourth quarter that brought the win within reach.
The Bears will hit Bates this weekend with a balanced offensive attack. Teams are more inclined to stuff the defensive box with eight defenders against teams with a lop-sided running attack. Leclerc, his arm, and his speed on the flanks will bring an element to Bowdoin's arsenal that has been absent all year.
Bowdoin's staple this year has been their defense. Last weekend against Wesleyan, the Bears held an incredibly explosive offense to 21 points. With the top rated quarterback-receiver combination that this league has seen in years, Wesleyan's big play potential made them a scary opponent. Bowdoin's defense prevented the big play and kept the Bears in the game.
Defensive back Mike Minogue '06 dominated the game. He tallied three interceptions and a fumble recovery in the game. Some say such a performance warrants a NESCAC defensive player of the week award. The linebacker core of Jeb Boudreau '06, Shaun Kezer '06, and Bryan Duggan '06 kept the offense in front of them and effectively stopped the run and the short passing game.
The Bears may be 0-6, but records do not matter in the CBB portion of Bowdoin's season. With final games against in-state rivals Bates and Colby, toughness supercedes record. Both games will be physical and emotional games and will be won by the team who plays the hardest. All three teams expect a bloodbath on these consecutive Saturdays. These wins will be a measure of heart, something that the Bears have never lacked. It will guide them to victory this weekend.