WILLIAMSTOWN — College football teams like to view road games as business trips. As NESCAC road trips go, Williams' excursion this weekend is one of the more unusual.
"For us, it's another Saturday. We leave Friday, obviously," Williams coach Mark Raymond said. "But we try to approach each week the same."
The Ephs will spend Friday night in a hotel and then travel on to Waterville, Maine on Saturday to play Bates in week three of the NESCAC season. Both teams are 0-2, so somebody will be very happy on Saturday night.
The Bobcats of coach Mark Harriman are coming off a 12-7 defeat at the hands of Tufts last week. Williams enters play having lost to Trinity 38-13.
Williams heads to Maine packing a seven-game losing streak, and a two-game losing streak in Lewiston. The last time Williams won at Bates was 2010.
Not only is this a business trip unlike any other for the Eph football team, it's a business trip to play a team that is difficult to prepare for.
The Bobcats run a triple-option offense that uses a lot of misdirection. It's much different than most NESCAC teams that run out of a spread formation, with some throwing the ball to six or seven receivers.
While the Ephs don't see an offense like the one Bates runs, Raymond said he is more than familiar with it.
"We've seen triple option I think in every year of my coaching," said Raymond, who came to Williams from St. Lawrence in the Liberty League. "In the Liberty League, we saw three teams who run it — RPI, Springfield and Merchant Marine. In my time at Ithaca, we saw Springfield every year.
"So we've seen our share."
The Bobcats are 10th in NESCAC in passing offense but third in rushing. Running back Peter Boyer is seventh in the conference in rushing and fourth in rushing attempts.
Frank Williams and Mickoy Nichol operate out of the slot with Sandy Plaschkes at quarterback.
"They have some good speed at their slots. I think their quarterback is young, but he can handle the football, and they have a very good wide receiver," Raymond said. "They're getting comfortable with their system."
Getting comfortable is what the Eph players continue to do, as they learn the intricacies of the new offense and defense.
"There were some points in the game that we wish we had back," Raymond said about last week's game against Trinity. "We gave up too many plays on defense.
"We saw some improvement in several parts of the game and we need to build on those positive things."
The first-year Eph coach ticked off a few of the positives from the coaches' tapes.
"We're starting to trust each other more on each side of the ball. We're understanding schematically what we need to do," he said. "I think we're just getting a little more disciplined."
Raymond is running his team's defense, and he said the improvement moves up incrementally. He did say that there are a couple of items that would help the Ephs.
"We need to tackle better obviously," Raymond said. "I think the two main things are to tackle better and we need to be more physical at the point of attack.
"We need to get off blocks and be more physical when we do that."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.