In the FCS Huddle: Delaware in the midst of identity crisis
By Sean Shapiro, FCS Assistant
Annapolis, MD (Sports Network) - Coming into Saturday's game at Navy, Delaware football coach K.C. Keeler had no idea what type of team the Blue Hens would be this season.
And after a 40-17 loss, he might as well still be scratching his head.
"I still don't know who we are," Keeler said. "And that's tough on the kids. We'll watch the tape on Sunday and move on."
Having graduated 12 senior starters from a team that almost won the national championship last season - and perhaps should have if not for a controversial spot during Eastern Washington's come-from-behind 20-19 victory - Keeler was already aware it was a reloading year, but a matchup with the Midshipmen wasn't enough for him to gauge the situation.
On offense the Blue Hens watched Trevor Sasek grow up in the first half, as the redshit sophomore quarterback shook off four drops by his receivers to lead a touchdown drive that covered 80 yards and lasted 11 plays.
However, Sasek's progress was stopped short in the third quarter as he was injured on a trick play gone wrong, twisting his right knee after taking a pass from wide receiver Rob Jones.
Sasek tested the knee again one series later, but was once again left needing help from the training staff, leading to Keeler pulling the him from the game.
"The pain was so excruciating and the first time he was able to suck it up and go in, but then the second time I said, 'You're not even going to try,'" Keeler said.
Early reports indicate there isn't any structural damage and the Blue Hens hope Sasek - who just edged out Tim Donnelly for the starting job - will be back in time for a matchup with West Chester next Saturday.
If Sasek's injury is worse and forces him to miss any more time, Donnelly will take the reins. He showed some promise in relief - with the exception of an ill-advised throw that led to an interception - completing seven of nine passes for 60 yards.
Just like Sasek shook off some drops from his teammates, Donnelly forgot about the interception and eventually led a touchdown drive of his own, a 78-yard march that ended with Andrew Pierce diving into the end zone.
"Timmy's coming in cold, but he settled in and had the drive at the end of the game where he did some good things," Keeler said.
Pierce finding paydirt was a good sign that the sophomore's super freshman season (1,655 yards, 14 touchdowns) wasn't just a flash in the pan. He finished with 119 yards on 20 carries.
Even though Pierce showed signs of brilliance, it's still up in the air whether either quarterback can continue to learn - or in Sasek's case, shake off injury - leaving Keeler with tape to watch on both. But how much analysis he can get from it remains to be seen.
"We learn whatever we can from this videotape, then we flush it and move on," Keeler said.
At least he can watch the tape on offense, with Navy's triple-option attack - which ran for 391 yards and four scores - the Blue Hens' defense never got into their base formations and will basically hit the re-do button in practice this week to adjust for "normal" offenses the rest of the season.
"This is the last offense you want to see when you are as green as we are," Keeler said. "Early on Navy did some things we hadn't seen in any of our video and we had to make some adjustments on the run.
"The problem with playing a team like Navy is we gain nothing from this nothing. We're not putting guys out in the position they normally play, so while offensively we need to make the jump from game one to game two, on defense we are basically starting over."
And perhaps after suffering a 23-point setback, starting over might just be the best thing.
09/03 23:21:58 ET