In the FCS Huddle: Hard to fathom two-way players today
By Craig Haley, FCS Executive Director
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Gordie Lockbaum laughs that he gets the same phone call every year.
And the topic he talks about - a football player contributing extensively on both offense and defense as a two-way player - rarely pans out.
"I give an interview every summer of a kid who's going to play both ways," Lockbaum said, "and nobody ever does. It's such a huge commitment to try to use a guy both ways."
It's been 25 years since Lockbaum first became a national folk hero as a star running back and cornerback/safety for Holy Cross. The media got behind the so-called small-college standout as a Heisman Trophy candidate and he finished fifth in the balloting as a junior in 1986 and third as a senior in '87.
A generation later, a true two-way player, like Stanford fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic last year, is a remarkable rarity in Division I football. Generally the multi-skilled players specialize on one side of the ball and moonlight a little on the other side of the ball.
The two-way description pertains strictly to offense and defense. Special teams don't count, although Lockbaum also played them as a 60-minute man.
As Lockbaum suspected, no player on the FCS level - Division I-AA when he roamed across fields - fits his mold again this season.
Holy Cross got to see Colgate's Jordan McCord last weekend. He's been an outstanding running back for the Raiders and made their first carry of the season, but he's basically switched over to defense as a full-time safety.
All-America cornerback Jeremy Caldwell of Eastern Kentucky has been inserted as the Colonels' third wide receiver this year and fits the description as well as anybody.
Montana's Trumaine Johnson, another All-America cornerback, also can play wideout, but only does so in cameo appearances.
Matt Hamscher started his Penn career as a running back, but now is an All- Ivy League cornerback. Still, the Quakers think so highly of him that he should play some wide receiver this season.
There's also players such as Murray State's Dexter Barnett, a backup wide receiver and third-string cornerback; Eastern Washington's Cody McCarthy, a backup at middle linebacker and a fullback in two-back sets; and Southern Illinois' Tanner Crum, an offensive guard who adds to goal-line packages on defense.
It's always a lot of this and a little of that, nothing like what Lockbaum did in the first two seasons of Patriot League football, when Holy Cross went a combined 21-1. Their exceptional 1987 team won all 11 games by a combined 511-110.
"I think it would be a lot easier as you go down to Division III or II," said Lockbaum, who provides color commentary on Holy Cross radio and lives in Worcester, Mass., where the college is located.
"I think the real commitment comes from the coaches. You have coaches on each side of the ball whose job is dependent upon on how their players perform each and every week and how well they're prepared. If I go out there and don't make plays or if I go out there and make mistakes, it's going to reflect on the coach. So there's a huge tug-of-war from week to week as to who's going to get enough time to prepare a player to do what needs to be done. I'm still amazed that we were able to do it. I had some really good coaches that I was playing for offensively and defensively at that time, guys that are in the pros and have done extremely well. So they were very creative, they packaged things and pulled stuff out of my repertoire that they felt I didn't need to know and they really accentuated things that they felt were going to be necessary."
That the 44-year-old Lockbaum runs marathons today reflects how his body didn't wear down as a two-way player.
Back then, the NCAA allowed for more practice time. Lockbaum's coaches - Mark Duffner was the head coach, but offensive coordinator Tom Rossley spearheaded the idea in the spring before Lockbaum's junior season - broke up practices in a way the 5-foot-11, 195-pounder could participate in the most possible reps on both sides of the ball.
"It helped me being an offensive guy to play defense because I knew what they were thinking, I knew a lot of the adjustments coverage-wise," Lockbaum said. "I knew what they were trying to exploit against a certain defense and what their adjustment was going to be.
"Same thing on the offensive side, the defensive backs and the linebackers - even if they doubled me - I knew where they had to shade me, so I could try to work that area and try to defeat that defense."
"To have the ability to go both ways now, you have to study it up on offense, you've got to study up on defense, you've got to know all the different changes they package with groups of people - a lot more so these days - so there's definitely a lot to know."
The legendary Lockbaum got the call into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Next summer, he'll be ready for another call. The usual one about two-way players.
WHERE'S THE LOVE, ODU?
Old Dominion football has played its share of regional opponents since it restarted its program in 2009, including four within the state of Virginia - Virginia Union, VMI, William & Mary and Hampton.
The question remains, is enough word escaping from Norfolk about ODU's overall excellence?
Old Dominion is an impressive 19-5 in two-plus seasons, including six straight wins dating to last season. But the Monarchs probably feel a little overlooked in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25, as they are receiving only enough votes to be ranked 40th in the balloting.
They will have a chance to impress one more time before heading into their CAA Football schedule. When Hampton makes the short 13-mile trip to ODU on Saturday, it not only will be a battle of 2-0 teams, but the Pirates are getting more support in the poll at No. 34.
"This is a really exciting game to play for this area, with the folks down here in the Hampton Roads region," said head coach Bobby Wilder, whose team will have its 16th straight sellout at Foreman Field.
"We'll start in a couple years playing Norfolk State. It's really exciting in this area. Hampton and Norfolk State are long-time rivals. We're the new kids on the block and (it is) really exciting to be able to play not only Hampton but play Norfolk State for this region (and) the fans in this region. The high school football here is great and we're hoping that we can lend to the college football scene in this area."
ODU's offense can excel by air with quarterback Thomas DeMarco, the three-year starter and candidate for the Walter Payton Award (sponsored by Fathead.com), or by land. Sophomore Colby Goodwyn, a Hampton resident, is the CAA Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 184 yards and a touchdown against Georgia State.
Defensively, tackle Ronnie Cameron and linebacker Craig Wilkins are among the best in the CAA at their positions. Plus Wilder puts plenty of emphasis on special teams play.
SOUTHLAND CAN'T WAIT TO GET RACE STARTED
There might not be a better race this season than the one in the Southland Conference. Five of the eight teams warranted preseason title buzz, with McNeese State edging two-time defending champion Stephen F. Austin in the preseason coaches poll, Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State not far behind, and Northwestern State thinking it can be in the race like it was a season ago.
The battle royale gets underway Saturday when 18th-ranked Central Arkansas pays a visit to Sam Houston State. It's the earliest conference opener since 1999.
"I think it makes it a little more special," SHS head coach Willie Fritz said. "Everyone's goal in our conference is to win the conference. This isn't going to make or break a season, but it's certainly going to get one team up on the rest of this conference with a victory."
UCA (1-1) is flying high with a 40-point average behind senior quarterback Nathan Dick (652 passing yards, seven touchdowns), but SHS (1-0) packs a pressure defense that boasts a big-time secondary, led by junior Kenneth Jenkins. The Bearkats defense allowed only six points to Western Illinois and their offense can control the clock with impressive running back Tim Flanders.
Six of the top 15-ranked teams, including No. 1 Georgia Southern and No. 2 Northern Iowa, have byes this weekend.
In addition, No. 8 North Dakota State, No. 9 Wofford, No. 11 New Hampshire and No. 15 Southern Illinois are sitting it out.
In the Southern Conference, only three of the nine teams are in action.
Planning to mow the lawn, Coach?
FCS PLAYOFF PROJECTION ...
Once again this season, In the FCS Huddle is projecting the potential FCS playoff field. The projections are a long-range look at the season - not based off current records or rankings - and can be found at http://www.sportsnetwork.com/fcs/FCS_Bracket.pdf
AROUND THE NATION
You may have heard Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett telling his cat-in- the-kitchen story and that he's looking for his players to act like dogs (http://www.goccusports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/090711aaa.html; 18:22 mark of the video). Watch what you wish for. The 2-0 Chanticleers head to Georgia on Saturday to take on the Bulldogs ... With Eastern Washington running back Mario Brown suspended for the defending FCS champion Eagles' game at Montana on Saturday, expect senior quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell to keep airing the ball out. Through two games, he's thrown for the most completions (77), attempts (129) and yards (842) in the FCS ... Like reigning national champion EWU, 2009 FCS champion Villanova is off to an 0-2 start ... The first-ever meeting between Delaware and Delaware State in a 2007 playoff game was a big deal for the First State. Delaware won that game, 44-7, and again in a 2009 regular-season game, 27-17. They meet for a third time in Newark on Saturday. Tim Donnelly should be the Blue Hens' starting quarterback for a second straight game as head coach K.C. Keeler calls Trevor Sasek "doubtful" because of a knee injury ... Arkansas Pine-Bluff linebacker Jer-ryan led the SWAC in tackles as a freshman last season. He's been slowed by a hamstring injury this season - he has one tackle - and should miss Saturday's game at Prairie View A&M. Another freshman linebacker, Bill Ross, has stepped in for Golden Lions and - presto - corralled a SWAC-best 25 tackles through two games ... It's good to have friends, eh Brad Sorensen? The Southern Utah quarterback lost his two top receivers after last season, but through two games, the top five receptions leaders in the Great West Conference are all Thunderbirds wide receivers or running backs: Jared Ursua, Brady Measom, Austin Minefee, Darryl Brown and Deckar Alexander. Each has caught between nine and 15 passes ... Running back Mike Mayhew is supposed to be the headliner for North Carolina A&T, but senior wide receiver Wallace Miles is stealing the show with his consistency. He caught seven passes for 152 yards and a touchdown in the season opener and seven passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in the Aggies' second game ... No. 14 Chattanooga visits Eastern Kentucky in a pivotal game for two playoff hopefuls who are both 1-1. EKU is still trying to find someone to replace top receiver Orlandus Harris after he suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the preseason ... After sitting out two games, Jacksonville State sophomore linebacker Clarence Jackson received his NCAA waiver to begin playing against Georgia State on Saturday. Jackson is a transfer from Ole Miss ... Missouri Valley Football Conference schools members Indiana State and Youngstown State didn't have to punt in last Saturday's wins over Butler and Valparaiso, respectively ... San Diego has been down the last two seasons after going a combined 36-6 from 2005-08. Off to a 2-0 start, coach Ron Caragher's squad is getting strong play out of redshirt sophomore quarterback Mason Mills, a former baseball player at New Mexico State. The Toreros will know a lot more about where they stand after going to UC Davis on Saturday ... Albany senior Herb Glass, with 28 field goals in his career, will set a new school record with his next one. The Great Danes host Maine on Saturday in a rematch of last year's 3-0 defensive fest decided by a Glass field goal ... With 97 career starts, the Bucknell offensive line of seniors Anthony Carter, Ian Dal Bello, Josh Phillip, Carson Rohrbaugh and Andrew Shields will go over 100 in Saturday's visit to Cornell. The Bison are seeking their first 3-0 start since 1997 ... The Ivy League will kick off its season Saturday, with all of its teams facing Patriot League opponents except for Brown, which visits Stony Brook. New to the Ivies this year is a weekly online radio show, "Inside Ivy League Football," which premiers each week at 7 p.m. Wednesday on BlogTalkRadio.com.
JUST THE PICKS
Last Week's Record: 56-17 (.767)
Season Record: 131-30 (.814)
All Times EST
Thursday, Sept. 15
Union, Ky. (0-0) at X-UT Martin (0-1), 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 16
X-Bryant (1-1, 0-0 NEC) at Sacred Heart (0-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 17
Southeast Missouri State (0-1) at X-Purdue (1-1), noon
Valparaiso (0-2) at X-Duquesne (1-1), noon
Georgetown (2-0) at X-Yale (0-0), noon
Columbia (0-0) at X-Fordham (0-1), 1 p.m.
Marist (1-1, 0-0 PFL) at X-Dayton (1-1, 0-0), 1 p.m.
X-Morehead State (1-1) at St. Francis, Pa. (0-2), 1 p.m.
Robert Morris (0-2) at X-Morgan State (0-2), 1 p.m.
Charleston Southern (0-2) at X-Jacksonville (0-2), 1 p.m.
X-Butler (1-1) at Taylor (1-0), 1 p.m.
Central Connecticut State (1-1, 0-0 NEC) at X-Wagner (1-1, 1-0), 1 p.m.
X-Norfolk State (1-1, 0-0 MEAC) at Howard (1-1, 0-0), 1 p.m.
Harvard (0-0) at X-Holy Cross (1-1), 1 p.m.
Coastal Carolina (2-0) at X-Georgia (0-2), 1 p.m.
Colgate (1-1) at X-Dartmouth (0-0), 1:30 p.m.
X-No. 10-Eastern Washington (0-2, 0-0 Big Sky) at No. 12-Montana (1-1, 0-0), 3:05 p.m.
Missouri State (0-2) at X-Oregon (1-1), 3:30 p.m.
Monmouth (0-1) at X-Villanova (0-2), 3:30 p.m.
Georgia State (1-1) at X-No. 17 Jacksonville State (1-1), 3:30 p.m.
No. 25 South Carolina State (1-1) at X-Indiana (0-2), 3:30 p.m.
Minot State (0-3) at X-No. 5 Montana State (1-1), 3:35 p.m.
X-Illinois State (1-1, 0-0 MVFC) at Youngstown State (1-1, 0-0), 4 p.m.
Mississippi Valley State (0-2, 0-1 SWAC) at X-Alcorn State (0-2, 0-2), 5 p.m.
Northwestern Oklahoma State (0-2) at X-No. 24 South Dakota (1-1), 5 p.m.
Presbyterian (1-1) at X-California (2-0), 5:30 p.m.
X-No. 14 Chattanooga (1-1) at Eastern Kentucky (1-1), 6 p.m.
Savannah State (0-2) at X-No. 3 Appalachian State (1-1), 6 p.m.
X-Maine (1-1) at Albany (0-1), 6 p.m.
X-Elon (1-1) at North Carolina Central (1-1), 6 p.m.
X-No. 16 Lehigh (2-0) at Princeton (0-0), 6 p.m.
VMI (0-2) at X-No. 6 Richmond (2-0), 6 p.m.
Lafayette (0-2) at X-Penn (0-0), 6 p.m.
South Alabama (2-0) at X-North Carolina State (1-1), 6 p.m.
Brown (0-0) at X-Stony Brook (0-2), 6 p.m.
Northern Colorado (0-2) at X-Idaho State (1-1), 6 p.m.
X-Bucknell (2-0) at Cornell (0-0), 6 p.m.
Delaware State (2-0) at X-No. 7 Delaware (1-1), 6 p.m.
Hampton (2-0) at X-Old Dominion (2-0), 6 p.m.
Gardner-Webb (1-1) at X-Wake Forest (1-1), 6:30 p.m.
Rhode Island (0-1) at X-No. 21 Massachusetts (1-0), 6:30 p.m.
Austin Peay (0-1) at X-Memphis (0-2), 7 p.m.
Western Illinois (1-1) at X-Missouri (1-1), 7 p.m.
X-Tuskegee (0-1) at Alabama A&M (0-2), 7 p.m.
Florida A&M (1-1) at X-South Florida (2-0), 7 p.m.
Tennessee State (1-1) at X-Murray State (1-1), 7 p.m.
No. 18 Central Arkansas (1-1, 0-0 Southland) at X-Sam Houston State (1-0, 0-0), 7 p.m.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-1, 1-0 SWAC) at X-Prairie View A&M (1-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
No. 13 James Madison (1-1) at X-No. 22 Liberty (1-1), 7 p.m.
Missouri S&T (1-1) at X-Drake (1-1), 7 p.m.
New Haven (2-0) at X-No. 4 William & Mary (1-1), 7 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin (1-1) at X-Baylor (1-0), 7 p.m.
X-Indiana State (1-1) at Western Kentucky (0-2), 7 p.m.
Texas College (0-2) at X-Texas Southern (0-1) at Butler Stadium in Houston, 7 p.m.
Southeastern Louisiana (1-1) at X-Southern Mississippi (1-1), 7 p.m.
Nicholls State (1-1) at X-Louisiana (1-1), 7 p.m.
X-Jackson State (2-0, 0-0 SWAC) at Southern (1-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Tarleton State (0-2) at X-Texas State (0-2), 7 p.m.
South Dakota State (1-1) at X-Cal Poly (0-2), 7:05 p.m.
X-Tennessee Tech (1-1, 0-0 OVC) at Eastern Illinois (1-1, 0-0), 7:30 p.m.
Grambling State (1-1, 1-0 SWAC) at X-Alabama State (1-1, 1-0), 8 p.m.
Northwestern State (1-1) at X-SMU (1-1), 8 p.m.
UTSA (1-1) at X-Southern Utah (1-1), 8 p.m.
Sioux Falls (0-2) at X-No. 23 McNeese State (0-1), 8 p.m.
Incarnate Word (1-1) at X-Lamar (1-1), 8 p.m.
X-No. 20 Sacramento State (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky) at Weber State (0-2, 0-0), 8:05 p.m.
Northern Arizona (1-1, 0-0 Big Sky) at X-Portland State (1-0, 0-0), 8:05 p.m.
San Diego (2-0) at X-UC Davis (0-2), 9 p.m.
North Dakota (1-1) at X-Fresno State (0-2), 10 p.m.
09/14 12:52:19 ET