Pass Defense Serving as Bright Spot for Robert Morris


Dakarai Cabell (20) and the rest of the defense celebrate a big play in the game against Dayton Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

Nathan Breisinger

After 10 games, it is hard to pinpoint something that has gone right for the Robert Morris football team. The Colonials rank in the bottom tier in a multitude of categories in the FCS and, with one game left in the 2022 season, are still looking for a win.

However, one area that has been overshadowed and underappreciated throughout the course of the season is the pass defense. In the Big South, the Colonials sit just out of the number one spot in pass defense, averaging 190.8 yards and ranking 28th in the FCS.

It may be hard to imagine the pass defense performing well, especially with the Colonials allowing 34.2 points per game. While RMU has been susceptible to the run game, the air defense has held up over the course of the season.

With a secondary built with some veteran leadership along with several underclassmen, the Colonials have worked together to form a viable back-end defense.

“We got young guys that are capable to make plays,” graduate senior Gregory Young II said about the young defensive backs. “It doesn’t matter who comes in, everyone can make plays.”

Transferring into the Robert Morris program this season from Stony Brook, Young II has made an immediate impact with a veteran presence. On the season, the 5-foot-11 defensive back has totaled 29 tackles while also snagging an interception earlier this year against East Tennessee State.

On the field, Young II works alongside another veteran leader in Sydney Audiger. In his third season with the program, Audiger has stood out in his senior season with 59 total tackles. In ten games this season, Audiger also has an interception, along with two forced fumbles and recoveries.

Audiger has made some big plays this season, including forcing a fumble when he punched out the ball from Gardner-Webb running back Narii Gaither who was nearing the goal line on a 66-yard run. Audiger then returned it toward midfield. With those plays, Audiger mentioned that he focuses on the little details.

“Just trying to stay focused and do what I’m supposed to do,” Audiger said. “Just play fast and physical.”

Other notable names in the secondary include Dakari Cabell, William Barber and Louis Shakespeare, who have all stepped up throughout the season for the defense.

Another player who has also gained recognition this season is Cosey Scarebrook. The freshman provided a scoring spark to the defense when he returned an 81-yard pick-six against Charleston Southern a few weeks ago.

Amauri Floyd pressures the Dayton quarterback in the home opener (Photo by Ethan Morrison)

“Literally, before that play, we talked about it, he was like, ‘I could’ve made that play in the first half.’ To see his growth in the second half and see that opportunity to come again and being able to capitalize is the development we need from game to game,” Young II said.

Along with Scarebrook’s pick-six, the defense as a whole has recorded eight interceptions on the season, showcasing the playmaking ability. The pass defense has prided itself on making those plays.

“We just always challenge ourselves and try to win every rep we can,” Audiger said.

The pass defense has also shown the importance and development of chemistry when going up against opponents.

“Trying to build on communication,” Audiger expressed. “Make sure we are fundamentally sound.”

With one game left, the Colonials will have one last shot to avoid a winless season, and who better for that opportunity to come against than a former Northeast Conference foe and best passing offense in the Big South.

As the Bryant Bulldogs roll into Joe Walton stadium, they own a passing offense that averages 312.2 yards per game and a team that scores 33.1 points per game.

The Bulldogs are led by sophomore quarterback Zevi Eckhaus who has carved up defenses this year, throwing 2,887 passing yards and 22 touchdown passes.

Eckhaus will pose a major threat to the solid Colonial pass defense and with that last game remaining, Robert Morris will look to sustain that top-tier pass defense.

“Our goal is to finish in the top 20 pass defense,” Young II said, “It’s definitely a goal from day one and it never deterred us from our process.”

The last opportunity will come on Saturday with a kickoff between Bryant and Robert Morris at noon.