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Special Mid-Week Update: Some early stat-totals crack grins, while others raise eyebrows

September 23, 2009

So far in the 2009 regular season, its no secret that the Lions are absolutely dirtying up the stat sheet.

While securely tucking away victories in its first two contests, the team’s manufactured some gaudy categorical totals–a few of which linger among the best in all the land.

Its second-consecutive 300+ rushing performance against FDU-Florham solidified the Lions’ spot as the nation’s 5th-best rushing offense (325.5 ypg), of course translating to the team’s ludicrous 52.5 ppg scoring average–2nd to only Springfield of D3’s Empire Eight Conference.

The defense has allowed its opponents to illuminate more scoreboard light bulbs than D.C. Matt Hamilton would like. But the unit’s four takeaways–in conjunction with Fort Knox-worthy ball security–have contributed to the squad’s more-than-attractive turnover margin, tied for best in the conference (+2, Rowan).

But here’s another stat for you–the team also strained itself to average 107.5 ypg elsewhere in the statistician’s notebooks.

Penalties.

Eric Hamilton's Lions have been flagged 18 times for 215 yards so far in '09

Eric Hamilton's Lions have been flagged 18 times for 215 yards so far in '09

Erupting off of the starting block, the team has drawn 18 flags for a conference-worst 215 yards, in what’s seemed comparable to the 19.19 seconds it takes Usain Bolt to run as far. In its season opener against the Bengals of upper-New York’s Buffalo State, the Lions surrendered 104 yards on eight penalties, only to outdo itself two weeks later versus FDU-Florham, prompting the dirty-laundry-toss a reprehensible 10 times for 111 precious yards.

And as the team moves forward toward the beef of its schedule, head coach Eric Hamilton is plenty privy to the urgency needed to address the situation.

“I’ll say this to you. We can’t afford two things:  Turnovers and penalties. We’ve been good with the turnovers, but we haven’t been good with the penalties. And that’s going to bite us in the rear end if it goes on and the competition gets better.”

Though he admittedly isn’t happy about the malignant trend, he’s optimistic that the problem can be remedied.

“There were definitely more [penalties] than you would like,” Hamilton said Tuesday, via phone interview. “But it begs the question, ‘are they correctable?’ I think the answer is yes.”

In his 33rd season at the helm of the school’s football program, Hamilton’s well-conditioned to diagnosing the causes of chronic hindrances that inevitably pop up–especially early on.

“I think you need to look at where the games were,” he said, alluding to the blow-out fashion in which the team’s grabbed its W’s.

After decimating opponents so early in its first two contests, Hamilton’s taken full advantage of the opportunities as learning experiences for some of the team’s unrefined talent. And he’s aware that its yielded growing pains.

“Some of the ones on Friday night were just a lack of concentration at that point in time,” he said. “But the ones against Buffalo State were more out of aggression, there were a couple personal fouls in there. I think in both cases the majority of the penalties are correctable. It’s not like they’re from a lack of concentration, like offsides or illegal motion or those types of things.”

In his 33rd year as Lions' top-dog, Hamilton expressed optimism that hard work and eliminating late-game laziness and over-agression will trim the robust average yardage his team's forfeited so far

In his 33rd year as Lions' top-dog, Hamilton expressed optimism that hard work and eliminating late-game laziness and over-agression will trim the robust average yardage his team's forfeited so far

As the team readies itself for this Saturday’s conference match-up–to be played in Lions’ Stadium against Morrisville State–Hamilton’s well-aware that he’s welcoming the Lions’ most physically gifted opponent to step foot on the turf inside the liberal arts college campus. Hamilton’s confident that the prerequisite for such a battle–high-intensity preparation for the entirety of the week–will double as Cheerios what’s become his football team’s high cholesterol.

“We’ve just got to keep practicing. I think everybody knows [about the penalties] but I think you’ve just got to work hard not to put yourself in those situations. And that’s on both sides of the ball. We can’t give up yards, and you can’t give teams yards that they don’t need. Our teams know, don’t give them anything free–make them work for it.”

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