WILLIAMSTOWN -- To say the Williams College football players and coaches are unhappy over the team's 0-3 start would be an understatement.
The Williams offense, traditionally a shining light of the program, has only scored 31 points in three games and only scored one touchdown in last week's loss to Bates.
"It's senior year and it's definitely frustrating," said wide receiver Greg Payton. "It's not the start we wanted to get off to. We still have a chance to make it a positive season with a couple of big ones coming up at the end of the year. We just have to stay focused on the game at hand.
"We have to get our first one and I think we'll really get rolling."
Payton, a former Mount Greylock athlete, and the rest of the Ephs are looking to end the 0-3 start and a four-game losing streak on Saturday at Middlebury.
Williams has won 14 straight games at Middlebury, but the Panthers won last year's game at Williamstown 30-13.
If, as Payton says, the Ephs can get rolling after a first win, they'll be doing it with a new quarterback.
Senior Adam Marske, who was benched two games ago, will return to the starting lineup and replace Tom Murphy. Murphy moves down to No. 3 on the depth chart, because Williams head coach Aaron Kelton said sophomore Mark Pomella will probably get some snaps in the Middlebury game.
"We keep turning the ball over and you can't keep turning it over in key situations. Tom did the best that he could while he was out there," Kelton said. "We made a change early in the year due to turnovers. The turnovers kept happening and we're not getting any consistency, so it's time to make a change. We're trying to win games."
Kelton said Pomella can throw the ball, but is a better runner than either Marske or Murphy. The coach said that the staff is putting in play packages for Pomella, but if Marske is playing well, the senior will stay in the game.
Last week, the Ephs played a Bates team that ran the triple option. This week, the Ephs will face a Middlebury offense that spreads a defense out and throws, and throws some more.
Senior quarterback McCallum Foote, the reigning NESCAC offensive player of the year, has completed more passes this year (120) than every NESCAC quarterback except for him (189) and Tufts Jack Doll (150) have thrown. Foote is second in NESCAC with a 63.5 percent completion average.
The top four receivers in the NESCAC statistics are all from Middlebury. Matt Minno, Will Sadik-Khan, Brendan Rankowicz and Joey Zelkowitz have each caught at least 20 passes. Running back Matt Rea has carried the ball only 46 times in three games.
In Middlebury's 37-16 loss at Amherst last week, Foote was 54 of 84 for 459 yards, but he threw five interceptions. That leads into one of the most glaring deficiencies for the Ephs this season. In three games, Williams has turned the ball over 11 times and have only one takeaway.
"The turnover margin is ridiculous right now against us," said Kelton. "We've got to do a better job of creating some turnovers. We're hoping that this week, we can get a hands on a few balls and maybe make some things happen."
If the Ephs can get some turnovers and turn those into points, Payton said Williams will get on a roll.
"We're right there. We get into the red zone and we're stalling out a little bit," Payton said. "I just think that we need to get the momentum going.
"We have the athletes. As long as we get guys the ball in space, we should be good."
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