With the annual spring game just passed, the fans got to take a look at the upcoming Shippensburg University football team as it works out its kinks and readies for another year on the gridiron.
However, with a new SU season approaching, the Raiders have positives and negatives that need to be addressed as it goes into summer camp.
First, the negatives.
SU was a terrific first half team. How is that a negative? Because its second half performances were dreadful. In the first and second quarters respectively, SU outscored its opponents 109-51 and 134-48. Those numbers dwindled in the second half. SU only outscored opponents 98-89 in the third quarter and then was outscored 89-70 in the fourth quarter.
SU had built up sizable leads in the first half but in its losses, failed to hold the lead in the second half. This needs to be adjusted if SU plans to win the PSAC this year.
Also, SU needs to convert more in the red zone via the touchdown. The Raiders boast an 80 percent conversion rate in the red zone; however, only 59 percent have resulted in touchdowns. SU has a tremendous passing game behind quarterback Zach Zulli. It needs to give him more rollouts and bootlegs so that he can use his speed to find the end zone.
If the Raiders fix their red-zone offense and play four quarters of football this next season, they will be an extremely tough team to beat. They have the leadership behind center and on the offensive line to dominate time of possession.
Now, the positives:
Where to start? Where to begin?
First, the most impressive. SU outscored its opponents 411-277 last season and averaged 37.4 points per game. The Raiders only let up 25.2 points per game, so on paper this resembles wins, wins and more wins.
Second and most important, SU is limiting its turnovers and causing even more. SU, boasted a plus 8 turnover differential last season, one of the league’s tops. SU needs to continue that this season. A team cannot win if it turns the ball over more than the opposition.
SU will try to continue its offensive dominance this year. The loss of Mike Frenette will be felt by the SU offense, but Zulli will look to continue his strong performance. Zulli set the SU single-season record for completions and touchdown passes.
Trevor Harman will be Zulli’s main target this year, and the two will look to hook-up for more completions in their spread-offense scheme.
The Raiders will see their front seven as a strength on the defensive side of the ball. They looked extremely good in the spring game, combining for 12 sacks on the game.
Look for Chris Lawshe to get some snaps behind center this year, especially with his dual threat. SU could use him in a wildcat formation.
SU looks to be the team to beat in the PSAC and will hold camp in August.