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Cougars expect Taylor to try something new

– Saturday’s football game between Saint Francis and Taylor will be the 12th time the two teams have met, and the 10th consecutive year for the in-state rivalry. But as familiar as the Cougars are with the Trojans, chances are there will be something new when they meet at noon at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium.

While Saint Francis was thumping Siena Heights 31-7 last Saturday, Taylor was enjoying a bye week.

“They’ve had two weeks to prep,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said. “It gives them time to scheme like crazy and come up with new wrinkles and that sort of thing.”

It’s “that sort of thing” of which the Cougars are unaware.

“It’s the unknown,” Saint Francis offensive coordinator Pat Donley said. “You’ve got to be alert to see what it is, get it drawn up, and get it covered pretty quickly.”

Last week was the second open date for Taylor (3-5). After a season-opening 46-0 victory over Anderson, the Trojans took the week off, then came back to beat Iowa Wesleyan, 41-14.

A four-game losing streak followed until a 34-7 victory over Concordia on Oct. 13, and that preceded a 55-31 loss at Saint Xavier, Taylor’s last game.

While Taylor has lost four of its last five games, Saint Francis has won four of five, with the only loss in that span coming at No. 1 Marian in a 45-38 game after Saint Francis bye week.

Since giving up 45 points to Marian, the Cougars defense has allowed 19 points to previously No. 5-ranked William Penn and seven to Siena Heights.

Saint Francis defensive coordinator Warren Maloney is certain that Taylor’s offense, led by quarterback Nick Freeman, who has 16 touchdown passes this season, will try to find a different approach against the Cougars.

“They’re not going to change their system in a week,” Malone said. “They’ll do what they do.

“You can’t anticipate. We always say we’re not going to defend a ghost. If we haven’t seen it, it doesn’t exist. We’ll just deal with it on game day. We’re not going to try to project what they might do or what they might not do. We’re going to go by what we’ve seen.”

And the same applies to the Saint Francis offense that could see coverages it hasn’t seen Taylor do on film.

“We’ve mentioned it,” Pat Donley said of the bye week. “Truthfully, with our group, we feel it doesn’t matter who we play or what the circumstances are. It’s about what we do and how we do it. It really, really is.

“We feel we can move it and score points against anybody and play to our full potential.”

stwarden@jg.net

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