Morgan State ranks second in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against the pass, allowing just 146.1 yards per game through the air. But the lofty ranking masks a troubling issue.
The Bears (2-6, 2-2 MEAC) have just 11 sacks this season, fewest in the league. At their current rate, they are on pace to finish 2013 with 16 1/2 sacks.
The defense failed to get to Howard junior quarterback Greg McGhee during Morgan State’s 28-14 loss to the Bison last Saturday, and coach Donald Hill-Eley said passers like McGhee are becoming faster and more adept at getting the ball out of their hands.
“The thing that’s happening in the pass rush is we have to get guys to the ball,” Hill-Eley said Tuesday. “This week, we went against a guy who has probably the quickest release in Division I. When he sets his feet to throw, and as soon as it hits his hands, it’s coming off. With these other teams and the different packages that they’re playing, you’re getting guys close, but the thing that’s happening is we’re not coming away with the sacks. We’re going against guys that are pretty much getting the ball in their hands and getting it out.”
Junior outside linebacker Christopher Robinson (Dunbar) leads the Bears with three sacks, but that’s a far cry from the team-leading 8 1/2 he had last season. Sophomore nose tackle Demarco Bisbee has one sack after recording 3 1/2 in 2012.
The defense switched from a 4-3 alignment to a 3-4 front to create more turnovers and generate a more unpredictable pass rush. Although the formation has yet to produce more sacks, Hill-Eley preached patience.
“You don’t throw your scheme out,” he said. “You try different things to get pressure. We’ll look at the protection and things of that nature, and if we can find ways to get more pressure, we’ll find ways to get more pressure through blitzing and adding guys to the box.”