The Flyers football team huddles up during their last home game this season, a 20-17 loss to Marist on Oct. 16. Photo courtesy of Jamie Blodgett, Flyer News.
Peter Burtnett | Sports Editor
The Dayton Flyers football team is looking to turn around what has been a “disappointing” run during the season when they host Butler at Welcome Stadium on Saturday.
“Yeah, I mean it’s definitely disappointing,” said graduate linebacker Ben Schmiesing. “No team wants to be in the position we’re in at this point in the season, especially as a team with such expectations that Dayton has.”
Regardless of the Flyers’ start to the season (3-4, 2-3 PFL), the visiting Bulldogs (2-6, 0-5 PFL) present a winnable game on paper. But the Bulldogs are coming off a good performance against PFL-leading Davidson (49-35 loss).
“They’ve [Butler] had a tough season, but they’ve gotten better because they’ve made made personnel changes,” Flyers head coach Rick Chamberlin said. “And when you talk about (a) Dayton-Butler game, you can throw out the records… it’s an important game to the players… So on Saturday, it’s gonna be a high intensity game.”
Chamberlin said a priority emphasized since the start of the season has been turnovers and the kicking game, which were both lost against Valparaiso last Saturday.
“So we have to keep the ball to ourselves, we have to force turnovers,” Chamberlin said. “We can’t give our opponent opportunities to take advantage of our mistakes.”
The Flyers will also need to be able to stop the run against a Bulldogs team that averages nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. The attack is led by redshirt junior running back A.J. Deinhart (357 net yards, 2 touchdowns), but five other players have combined for 1,040 net yards and 11 touchdowns.
“As a linebacker, that’s our job (to plug the holes and stop the run),” Schmiesing said. “That’s something we got to do every week. I think the run defense is one of the strengths of our defense. It’s something we pride ourselves on. Just being tough. I mean, we’ve shown flashes of being a good defense, whether it’s on the ground or through the air. I think it’s just something we have to piece together and put together a complete game.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs allow 226.4 rush yards per game and 183.1 passing yards per game. Redshirt junior Connor Reid leads the defense with 23 solo tackles, 1.5 for loss, 3 interceptions and 2 pass break-ups.
Freshman wide receiver Luke Brenner, who has 8 receptions for 160 yards and 1 touchdown this year, said the approach needs to remain the same, regardless of how they are playing or who they are facing.
“(We have to) roll with the punches. I mean, we approach every practice, like we’re practicing for a championship game and the coaches come in that way and they prepare like it’s a championship game every week. I don’t think we’ve lost our passion for the game at all. I think we all still love being out there and playing. I mean, we practice 110 percent every single day and we plan to win every single Saturday.”
In his first season, Brenner has had “an experience for sure.”
“(There’s been) lots of growing with this team. A lot of great leaders that have brought us with them, taught us a lot of stuff, so it’s a great time.”
Moving into the Butler game, Brenner expects a “full four quarter game from both sides of the ball.”
Saturday’s game will kickoff at 1 p.m. at Welcome Stadium as the Flyers and Bulldogs look for a much-needed win.