By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
It’s an age-old adage: defense wins championships.
The trouble for Fairmont State University is right now the Falcons aren’t worried about winning titles, just games. And the offense simply isn’t scoring enough to do so.
It has put just seven points on the board in the last eight quarters, and the Falcons dropped two in a row. The defense, meanwhile, has scored two touchdowns during the same stretch.
The Falcons (1-2; 0-2 Mountain East Conference) will try to right that trend today when they host West Virginia State (0-3; 0-3 MEC) at Duvall-Rosier Field. Game time is set for 1 p.m.
“On offense with a new staff and a new system, it takes a while,” first-year coach Jason Woodman admitted. “Usually the last thing that happens is you get in-sync on offense. If we ever get to that, we're going to really be in a good situation.”
When the Falcons announced that freshman quarterback Cooper Hibbs would take the majority of the snaps this season, the logical next step would be to lean heavily on the running game and Daniel Monroe, a junior who ranks eighth in school history with more than 1,700 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in two seasons.
That plan was derailed before it could be put into motion when Monroe, a USA Football Preseason All-America honorable mention player, went down with a knee injury. He has missed all three of the Falcons’ games, and Woodman said it is still “wait and see” for the future.
The backfield was further depleted when sophomore Shad Alexander tore his ACL in the second series of the first game, ending his season.
“That whole position has been beaten up. We've lost three of the top four guys,” Woodman said, noting that the Falcons also lost a freshman back during the preseason. “It's one of those positions where you can't ever have enough depth because they're going to take a beating and get worn down. We have to be cautious about how we handle the situation because our depth isn't that good.”
Of the four that Woodman mentioned, the one remaining back is Dawrence Roberts. The senior has done most of the heavy lifting for the Falcons this season, but has been limited to just 214 yards on 61 attempts.
So plan A hasn’t exactly panned out. Plan B? Throw the ball to Chris St. Hilaire, a top 10 wide receiver in FSU history with 117 career receptions and more than 1,500 yards.
The Falcons were able use the 5-foot-9 senior effectively in the early part of the season. But he too went down with an injury (ankle) in the second quarter against Shepherd.
“He's a vital part of what we were trying to do on offense,” Woodman said. “He was the deep threat, the senior figure that you could depend on to go up and make a play when you needed it.”
Woodman’s offense has been unable to find a reliable target to replace St. Hilaire. Proof of this fact is that St. Hilaire is still the team’s leading receiver (10 receptions, 177 yards and two touchdowns) even though he’s missed half of the young season.
Woodman admitted as much.
“We're lacking that one guy who can make a play when he shouldn't,” he said. “That's what Chris was for us.”
Despite the key losses, Woodman said he is pleased with the direction his team is headed. He said the team will move forward despite injuries at key positions.
“Right now we're focused on the guys that we've got on the field,” he said. “We're not worried a whole lot about the guys who we are missing, because there's not a whole lot we can do about it.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.