The 28th annual EPIIC Symposium kicked off on Thursday with organizers hoping that the focus on global health, a change from the usual topics involving international security, will be exciting to attendees.
Tufts janitors reflect on the hard work it takes to keep the University clean, in light of their upcoming contract negotiations.
Tufts’ men’s ice hockey team reflects on difficult season, while looking forward to a strong group of athletes for next year.
Despite its predictable plotlines, USA’s “Suits” continues to please audiences with a strong second season and its well-written dialogue.
Noted scholar Joy James, a professor of political science at the University of Texas at Austin, spoke about sexual assault and racism.
Tufts’ men’s basketball team looking to beat Amherst’s Lord Jeffs in the NESCAC semifinals.
It’s Parents Weekend at Tufts as the football team takes to Zimman Field on a chilly Saturday against powerhouse Amherst, one of two unbeaten teams remaining in the conference. The Jumbos, meanwhile, are still seeking their first win and will have their work cut out for them against one of the league’s top defensive units.
Still, as Amherst’s athletics department pointed out, this game boasts eerie similarities to when the two teams met in 2004. Seven years ago, the Lord Jeffs entered undefeated and among the NESCAC leaders in scoring offense (third this season at 28.6 points per game), while Tufts’ anemic attack has struggled (ninth with 9.6 points per game), especially on the ground (ninth with 50.8 yards per game).
What’s more, the 2004 Lord Jeffs were lined up to face Trinity in a Week 6 battle of the unbeatens — as they are on Nov. 5 next week — but Tufts shocked Amherst with a 10-3 win on Pratt Field.
Here’s what to watch for on both sides of the ball, and stay tuned for the Daily’s live blog from Zimman Field:
WHEN TUFTS HAS THE BALL
It could be a carousel of sorts on offense for the Jumbos today. Starting quarterback Johnny Lindquist reportedly sustained a shoulder injury during last week’s 38-17 loss over Williams and did not practice this week, while backup John Dodds is recovering from a concussion and only practiced once. Both could play today, however, as could freshman Jack Doll and sophomore Matt Johnson, which means Tufts could be looking at a four-quarterback rotation against the Amherst defense. Anything for a win, right?
When coach Jay Civetti does run the ball, it’s typically to Ryan Pollock, tops on the team with 231 yards (2.8 ypg) and three touchdowns. Lindquist has struggled with turnovers through the air — he has six interceptions against just three touchdowns — but has still managed to throw for 894 yards on the season, 304 of which have gone to dynamic wideout Dylan Haas.
Senior kicker Adam Auerbach is one field goal away from tying Tufts’ all-time record, so look for him to have a shot at matching or breaking the mark at home in front of friends and family.
WHEN AMHERST HAS THE BALL
Amherst’s vaunted blur offense comes into Medford, Mass., ranked second in the NESCAC in rush offense and third in scoring offense. Senior Eric Bunker is second in the league with 110.6 yards per game and seven touchdowns. Through the air, senior quarterback Blake Grauer is seventh in the league with 160.0 yards per game, but he’s rarely counted on to make the big play thanks to a scoring defense that’s giving up just 11.0 points per game.
Through the air, no Lord Jeffs receiver ranks in the top 10 in receiving yards or receptions as Amherst runs the ball 62 percent of the time. The Lord Jeffs enter on the heels of a 24-10 win over Wesleyan, just the second time they’ve given up double-digit points this season.
Filed under the category of “National Media Mentions Still Make Us Proud To Be NESCAC Members” is Grantland writer Chuck Klosterman’s article on the high-speed nature of college football, which contains a passing mention of Tufts and a drastically more descriptive analysis of Amherst’s offense.
Let’s get the Jumbos’ fleeting moment of glory out of the way, because it’s short and not so sweet. Here’s what the national best-selling Klosterman had to say about Tufts’ football team:
The Lord Jeffs’ 2010 statistics aren’t as mind-warping as Maine Maritime’s, but they’re almost as dominant: They outscored their opponents by about 16 points a game (they put 70 on the board versus Tufts University).
This little nugget is embedded in a larger paragraph about Amherst’s blur offense, which was also featured in ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook’s column on Oct. 12, 2010. Easterbrook’s son played for Bowdoin, so the Page 2 columnist took his turn marveling at E.J. Mills’ offense that torched the Jumbos’ defense for a New England Div. III-record 70 points on Oct. 30.
Klosterman’s argument is that, at the Div. III level, the absence of scholarships and limited resources have birthed a more technical and philosophical game, one in which teams must rely on extreme offensive systems to succeed. Take, for example, Amherst’s “blur” offense, which averaged 410.0 yards per game despite running the fifth-most plays of any NESCAC team.
Deriving from Oregon coach Chip Kelly’s scheme, the Lord Jeffs’ new offense is a 180 from what Mills used to run:
What’s especially intriguing about Amherst is its rapid evolution from the past to the future, skipping the present almost entirely. When Amherst coach E.J. Mills took over the program in 1997, they ran a two-back, pro-style offense that mostly involved handing the ball to the tailback and eating the clock. It was almost an “anti-Blur” posture, and it was fairly successful. But one mediocre autumn was all it took to scrap everything.
“In ’07, we went 4-4. It was not a good season,” says Mills, a man who looks and talks like a noncrazy Les Miles. “I felt we’d become too easy to defend. If we couldn’t knock the snot out of people, we didn’t have much to offer. We had to spread things out. And that evolved into what we do now.”
There’s a lot of technical football talk going on courtesy of Amherst offensive coordinator Don Faulstick, all of which essentially adds up to a few simple ideas.
First, Amherst doesn’t care about the opposing defense. The Lord Jeffs just march down the field with a no-huddle offense and ram it down your throat. Second, monster playmakers like senior Ben Kettering, a 6-foot-6 receiver, allow Amherst to be asymmetrical in its system, focusing on one side of the field. Third, the QB doesn’t call out the cadence at the line of scrimmage; the center does that, which Faulstick says causes false start penalties to drastically decrease. Sure enough, Amherst ranked second in the NESCAC in fewest penalty yardage per game last season.
There’s a load more about the Jeffs’ system in Klosterman’s piece, a must-read for any college football fan, regardless of classification. Tufts doesn’t appear to be on the fast track to any Grantland mentions anytime soon, given that it’s offense this year is relatively simple and standard across all levels.
Still, the fact that a national writer like Klosterman hung out on Amherst’s campus is noteworthy. Right? Maybe not…
UPDATE, Saturday, 5:39 p.m. The best Tufts can manage out of the timeout is a fall away three-point attempt by Colleen Hart that doesn’t even hit the rim.
Amherst beats Tufts again. Final score: 49-46.
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UPDATE, Saturday, 11:50 p.m. A smattering of the postgame reaction:
Amherst coach G.P. Gromacki, on his team’s defense (courtesy Ethan Landy):
“We’ve been stressing defense. It’s been getting better, getting to where we want it. Today it was great, everything we could ask for.” Read more of this article »