October 2, 2014

Top-ranked Maroon defense to protect unbeaten record

At this point last season, the University of Chicago football team was undefeated and prepared to visit Rhodes in what has been dubbed The Blues Bowl. The Maroons would go on to fall just short of a victory in Tennessee, losing 41–34. Now, Chicago (3–0) is again undefeated and taking on the Lynx (4–0), this time on their home field.

Fourth-year quarterback Patrick Ryan claims the Maroons have learned from last season.

“This year is different because we are fully aware what can happen when an undefeated record rolls into the school year,” Ryan said. “Last year at this point things began to go downhill. This year we have really locked in and our focus and preparation is at an all-time high.”

The Maroons began their season with two blowout wins against Beloit and Concordia, winning 28–6 and 38–0, respectively.

In their third game, the Maroons faced off against rival Elmhurst (1–2). Chicago boasts the top-ranked defense in the nation—allowing only 160 offensive yards per game—and this was never more evident than against the Blue Jays. The defense garnered three sacks and one interception in a hard fought 29–17 victory.

So far this season, Ryan has been an anchor. In his first year as starting quarterback, he is averaging 133 yards per game and has not thrown an interception since the Maroons’ season opener. Ryan is also protected by a veteran offensive line that includes returning fourth-years Jake Winkel and Isaac Stern, as well as third-year Brock Appenzeller.

“My success as a quarterback is more of a reflection of our offense as a whole,” Ryan said. “I attribute it to our players’ trust in the offensive game plan week in and week out. I think our team is as talented as ever. We don’t have any one star, but we have a lot of depth and experience amongst our skill units as well as our line.”

Another stark difference from last season has been special teams. The Maroons’ special teams struggled in tough games in the 2013 season. This year that has turned around as a result of a deeper focus on that aspect of the game. Fourth-year kicker Karol Kurzydlowski was recently named to the team of the week and also named the University Athletic Association (UAA) Co-Special Teams Player of the Week.

This concentration on special teams will be imperative for the Maroons this weekend, as it was their Achilles heel in the Blues Bowl last year. Ryan briefly touched on the game plan for the upcoming game.

“The offense is going to try to piece together a similar performance to last year when we scored five touchdowns on Rhodes,” Ryan said. “As far as the defense, they are the best at what they do in the country, and they know if they can force turnovers we can win the game.”

The second annual Blues Bowl between the Chicago Maroons and the Rhodes Lynx will be held at 12 p.m. tomorrow at Stagg Field.