Monday, April 15, 2024

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Elon needs loud homecoming response

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

There was lots of noise coming from an Elon football practice earlier this week.

The Phoenix needs the energy high.

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“People tired,” linebacker Brandon Tyson said. “Tired of losing. Everybody is ready to go.”

Elon has lost back-to-back games heading into Saturday afternoon’s homecoming matchup with Monmonth.

The most-recent setback came with a 21-0 loss Saturday at Villanova.

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Elon’s Brandon Tyson, left, warms up with teammate Trey Alsbrooks prior to Saturday’s game at Villanova. Photo Courtesy of Elon Athletics.

“We need to do a better job of bouncing back from a loss. That’s not who we are,” coach Tony Trisciani said. “For us, it’s all about who we are going to be this week. We have to pour everything we have into this week’s preparation.”

The Phoenix (3-4 overall, 3-1 Coastal Athletic Association) has been a banged-up team and the wear and tear has been showing.

Elon’s offense had only 38 snaps in the game on a rainy day compared to Villanova’s 73.

Quarterbacks Will Lankford and Justin Allen filled in for injured Matthew Downing, producing a total of 46 passing yards.

Downing could be back this week along with tight end Johncarlos Miller, whose injury prevented him from making the trip to Villanova.

In the last two losses, running back Jalen Hampton has compiled 13 and 19 rushing yards.

“We need to improve our efficiency in the run game and Jalen Hampton is an important piece of that,” Trisciani said.

Injuries created a situation with Arthur Nwandu, who moved from tight end to defensive end during the offseason, playing both ways Saturday.

Nwandu had a reception for 6 yards on Lankford’s lone completion and made a tackle late in the game.
“I didn’t expect it,” he said of such a dual role developing.

Trisciani said Nwandu, who’s in his fourth year in the program, remained involved in some offensive packages.

“He’ll continue to be prepared to play both sides of the ball for us when we need him,” Trisciani said.

That’s fine with Nwandu. “I’ve been with the offense so long it’s kind of hard to forget those things,” he said.

Tyson, a redshirt freshman, posted a career-best 14 tackles in the Villanova game.

Elon’s only likely path to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs is by winning the CAA, so the Phoenix can’t afford slip-ups and might have to depend even more on defense as its offense seeks to pick up.

“Puts a little more stress knowing we can’t give stuff up,” Tyson said. “We try to treat every week like it’s the moment.”

Monmouth (3-3, 2-1) and Elon will be meeting for the first time. The Hawks drilled Lehigh 49-7 and Hampton 61-10 in their last two games. Quarterback Marquez McCray, a graduate transfer from Sacred Heart, has thrown for 12 touchdowns with three interceptions for Monmouth.

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