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One Year After Appearing In Championship, Towson Football Struggles With Details

October 16, 2014

The No. 4 has been a significant figure for the Towson University football team. 

As a Division I football program, the Tigers have only made the playoffs when they've lost fewer than four games. Through the first half of the 2014 season, Towson has already dropped five games.

According to head coach Rob Ambrose, only a handful of plays have decided the Tigers' fate. Red-zone penalties, critical errors in the key moments of games and poor attention to detail have been the difference-makers and through the first six games of the Tigers' 12-game schedule in 2014, Ambrose only points fingers at himself for the Tigers' slump.

"Once everything is equal," Ambrose said, "and you got guys and they got guys, and you got players and they got players, the difference between winning and losing is the details. And right now, that's on me. I'm the head coach. We are not detail-oriented on either side of the ball in critical situations, and that is the reason we are not 5-1."

Conversely, the Tiger head coach points to an extreme attention to detail by certain players that has led to individual success, namely sophomore running back Darius Victor.

Issue 202: Towson Football 2014: Darius Victor
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

"He is a different guy," Ambrose said. "He's a mature guy. There are kids that see part of playing college football, despite the fact that they love the game, as an obligation. He sees every second that he gets to put a helmet on as an opportunity. People like that in this world are kind of rare."

After rushing for 194 yards and three touchdowns in one of the best games of his career, a 31-20 win against North Carolina Central Sept. 20, Victor summed up his attitude toward the game of football quite simply. When asked about carrying the load of the offense late in the game with a lead, Victor said his attitude did not change from the first snap of the game, but he did feel a difference in his opponents.

"It felt the same as the first quarter," Victor said. "[Defenders] just fall a little easier towards the end."

While Victor has made the most of his touches in 2014, the Tigers' offense as a whole has not been able to compete with the elite of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Tigers have ranked close to the bottom if not dead last in passing offense all year long. 

While Ambrose has seen growth in quarterback Connor Frazier, Ambrose said "the difference between where he is and where we need him to be is quite a distance."

Towson Football 2014: Connor Frazier (throwing)
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox

And in the Tigers locker room, no position is safe. After overhauling most of the offensive line early in the season, Ambrose knows the discussion of replacing his starting quarterback will come if the Tigers cannot win with him under center.

"The reason that he got the job, the reason that he won the job, is his ability to run the offense," Ambrose said, "to move the ball up and down the field and keep from losing games. Now that we're in this position, there's going to be a serious conversation moving forward as far as how much we're going to let him do that."

But it seems the tone of 2014 has shifted for the Tigers. Every win in 2013 fueled the discussion about the Tigers' lofty goals and expectations to win a national title. The conversation this year has since shifted internally.

Ambrose said he is not so much worried about making the playoffs, but rather for the Tigers to begin playing like a team that has a shot at the playoffs.

"I would've told you coming out of camp, to be honest, I don't know if we could win a game," Ambrose said. "We were really bad and I'm impressed with the growth we've made in all three phases of the game. I'm grateful for the staff that's got us to the point where we're in these games with a chance to win them. But we need to take care of the smallest details and we need to do it consistently. And that doesn't happen on game day -- that happens tomorrow. That happens on Monday when they have a day off and they go to class, but they want it so bad they come in and watch film on their own. It happens on Tuesday when they study the game plan and the scouting report, and they know these guys to the T, and they don't have to think about the opponent anymore. All they have to think about is the smallest details, so when the time comes and third-and-whatever or fourth-and-whatever, they don't have to think, because they already know. And they can play to their God-given abilities. But until we get to that point, we're going to be really frustrated."

Issue 202: October 2014