It’s not always a great formula, following an emotional rivalry win with an opponent that, at least on paper, doesn’t look like it will pose much of a threat. University of Charleston football coach Pat Kirkland isn’t about to let the energy from last week’s win over West Virginia State lead to a letdown against Concord.
“We know each week, especially in this [Mountain East] conference, you have to prepare extremely hard and play extremely well to give yourself a chance to win,” Kirkland said. “It was a good win for us and we played extremely well … but the effort and the passion was there.”
The Golden Eagles (6-3, 5-3 MEC) never trailed against the Yellow Jackets. Now they host the Mountain Lions at 7 p.m. Thursday at UC Stadium, facing an opponent, Concord (1-8, 1-7 MEC), that needed until last weekend to get its first win of the season, a 28-24 victory over West Virginia Wesleyan.
Concord sits at or near the bottom of the MEC in most major statistical categories — last in the 11-team conference in points scored (16.6 per game), 10th in points allowed (37.1 per game), last in yards gained (283 per game) and ninth in yards allowed (434.7 per game). Yet receiver Brandon Plyler is one of the Mountain East’s more prolific pass-catchers at 53 receptions on the season, and the Mountain Lions have a hold-nothing-back attitude on offense.
“They do a little bit of everything,” Kirkland said. “They throw in about four to six real trick plays a game to try to catch a team being undisciplined. Anytime a team does that, you have to prepare for that and make sure you’re playing disciplined football.”
UC doesn’t hold back much offensively, either, averaging 448 yards and 35.2 points per game. The Golden Eagles are one of the nation’s top passing teams — quarterback Brant Grisel is seventh nationally with 2,751 yards and tied for 10th with 23 touchdowns, and receiver Mike Strachan is second nationally in both receiving yards (1,081) and touchdowns (16).
But not to be overlooked is running back Tyreik McAllister. Despite missing three weeks this season to injury, he has 724 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and averages 6.8 yards per carry. His 253 rushing yards against WVSU was the second-best single-game total in UC history.
“He’s just really athletic,” Kirkland said. “Once he breaks through the line of scrimmage, he’s tough to catch. Early, he was running the ball like a track guy. Now he’s getting better vision about where the cut is supposed to come. He’s reading it better, which is making him much more effective.”