Kitchen’s Keys: Robert Morris vs. Dayton

Analytics guru Dan Kitchen takes a closer look into the RMU/Dayton matchup on Saturday

Dan Kitchen, Staff Reporter

Robert Morris travels to Dayton, Ohio this Saturday still looking for their first win of the season. Both teams are coming off lopsided losses from the previous week: the Colonials (0-3) just underwent a 50-3 drumming at the hands of the Lafayette Leopards, while Dayton (1-1) lost 33-13 to NEC foe Duquesne. The sting of each loss will have both teams fighting hard for a positive mark on the schedule, and here is what RMU needs to focus on if they want to be the ones victorious.

1. Stop Connor Kacsor

Against Duquesne, Connor Kacsor ran the ball 20 times for 84 yards and a touchdown. For a running back, that’s a good but not great performance. The week before in Dayton’s opener against Georgetown, Kacsor ran 34 times for 301 yards and a touchdown. That is well beyond a good day for a running back – that is a once-in-a-lifetime type of game. Having a 27 carries per game average heading into Dayton’s matchup with RMU, Kacsor is clearly a centerpiece of the Flyers’ offense (if not THE centerpiece). If Robert Morris allows over six yards per carry Saturday (they have in two of their three games this season), I’m sure Dayton will happily feed Kacsor the ball all game long. RMU needs to stop Kacsor and force Dayton to find other options on offense.

2. Force Dayton to pass more

This builds off the point I mentioned directly above. Dayton has found more success running the ball this season than passing it. Sure, they may average 178 yards passing per game and rotate two quarterbacks, but they only have one touchdown compared to four interceptions. Against a Robert Morris team that has forced five interceptions in three games this season, Dayton likely won’t want to risk a turnover if running the ball gets the job done. Stopping the run forces Dayton to pass if they want longer drives; from there the Colonials just need to play their game. They are allowing barely over 50% of passes to be completed against them, and with a large amount of incompletions will come errant throws that the Colonials can force turnovers with.

3. The passing game needs to rebound

11-23 with 60 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. That was the statline for Robert Morris quarterback Luke Brumbaugh in their 50-3 loss to Lafayette last week. All aspects of the RMU pass attack simply need to improve if they want any success against Dayton. The Colonials threw the ball over twice as many times as they ran it in their opener, and last week against Lafayette was an almost even split between rushing and passing. Dayton has allowed almost 200 yards a game through the air (397 total through two games), as compared to 211 rushing. That is not to say that rushing is irrelevant going up against Dayton, but the Colonials seem to want to emphasize the pass as much or more than the ground game, and Dayton is more susceptible to a passing attack than a rushing one. The game against Lafayette is in the past. The Colonials need to believe in their passing game and do a complete 180-degree turn from last week throwing the ball.

4. Execute

The point seems overly simple, but sometimes simplicity is what’s needed after a 47 point loss. Consider this week a blank slate. Last week reset the gameplan to zero; now the team gets to settle down and plan for Dayton. The defense has two jobs: keep the game close and don’t allow Dayton to run all over them. The offense needs to execute the gameplan, convert in tough situations (they were 0-16 against Lafayette on third down conversions), and take advantage of everything the Flyers’ defense will give them. If both sides execute (the word of the day), this game should end better than last week’s.