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Bowdoin vs. Wesleyan: The Underdog’s Perspective

This post was written by Adam Lamont, a sophomore at Bowdoin. Lamont is a former member of the Bowdoin football team.

The mantra of the NFL is that on Any Given Sunday an underdog is capable of rising up and taking down a powerhouse. The NESCAC does not have the same parity as the NFL, but football can be a funny game where one or two bounces can alter the course of a game. Wesleyan’s close win last week shows they are not the unbeatable juggernaut that ran through the first half of their schedule. They are a very good, disciplined team with few weaknesses that managed to escape a late surge by Amherst in the fourth quarter. This is a potential let-down week where coming off of the high of the Amherst win, the team might have a bad week of practice before taking a long road trip. A subpar performance by Wesleyan will lead to trouble against a frisky Bowdoin group. This Bowdoin team has shown it can hang with anyone for stretches and has been improving on offense. Despite the devastating loss of middle linebacker and captain Griffin Cardew, the two other senior linebackers, Joey Cleary and Brian Glazewski, will rally a defense that looked shaken after Cardew left in the middle of the Trinity game.

The best thing an underdog can have going into a game is a whole lot of pride. Though the team has struggled in recent years, there is still a lot of pride on that Bowdoin sideline. Pride underscores the idea that an underdog believes not only that they can win, but that they will. Head Coach Dave Caputi stresses to his team before every game that football demands the best out of each individual. Not putting forth that effort is an insult to the game, your teammates, but mostly yourself. The most common expression he uses especially before playing a team like Wesleyan is to do your job and trust your teammates. Big plays by Wesleyan will kill any chance of an upset. This Bowdoin team is not meant to outscore teams, but they can keep games close and control possession. All that an underdog wants is the ability to be close in the fourth quarter where one big play has a magnified impact.

Three Keys for an Upset

Much will be asked of Bowdoin linebacker Joey Cleary Saturday

Much will be asked of Bowdoin linebacker Joey Cleary Saturday

1. Force 3rd and long: Jesse Warren has been superb at QB for Wesleyan, but clearly the strength of the Wesleyan offense is on the ground. Wesleyan will go right at new middle linebacker Brendan Lawler to see if he will fill the void left by Cardew. Also out for Bowdoin is run-stuffing defensive tackle CJ Johnson. This is a front seven deep in talent, so they still have a good shot at least of slowing down the Wesleyan attack, much like Amherst was able to do for long stretches last week. They will rely on big games from Joey Cleary and Brian Glazewski.

2. Play with emotion, but play smart: This is true for every team, but I expect this Bowdoin team to come out especially pumped up early on. The worst possible thing that could happen is an ill-advised penalty that costs Bowdoin early. Also crucial is not allowing that emotion to slip away if Wesleyan does get up early. Frustration spreads quickly on a sideline. Bowdoin needs to stay together if something goes wrong early.

3. Make a big play on special teams: Lee Corso’s favorite deciding factor in a close games is special teams, and it’s true that a big return or blocked kick can be huge. Dan Barone has been very good returning punts as he continues to grow into a prominent role in his sophomore year. Bowdoin also has had an Andrew Murowchick punt downed at the one yard line, which led to a safety against Middlebury. Expect Bowdoin to sell out for a blocked kick on Wesleyan punts. Any underdog has to create its own luck in a game like this one.

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