As Towson football coach Rob Ambrose chatted with former Tigers coaches Carl Runk, Gordy Combs and Phil Albert on Wednesday morning, he unintentionally uttered a fitting description for the 2018 Tigers — “restless, not tired.”
In the program’s 50th season, Towson is looking for a resurgence from a frustrating 5-6 record and a seventh-place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association.
A team-first mentality Ambrose has seen develop among his current players is the reason he calls this the second-best Towson offseason in recent memory, one that could lead the Tigers into a brighter era.
“Everybody’s hungry for it again,” he said. “It’s human nature. You screw it up enough, you finally own up and you change.”
Two weeks after reports that there would be a second Flacco quarterback in the Baltimore area, Ambrose confirmed Wednesday that Tom Flacco, the younger brother of the Ravens’ Joe Flacco, would be playing for Towson this fall.
“I’m excited, and it’s not because he’s Joe’s brother,” Ambrose said. “It’s because of who he is. Different type of player, different style. Both leaders, but the young one, he’s a little different.”
After transferring to Rutgers last summer, Flacco sat out this past season because of NCAA transfer rules, and before that passed for 188 total yards and averaged 8.9 yards per carry as a freshman and sophomore at Western Michigan.
Regardless of how many purple Flacco jerseys are worn in this state, Ambrose won’t be handing the reins to the younger simply because of his pedigree — part of the Tigers’ larger strategy of wiping out the individual mindset.
“The guys don’t let guys be individuals anymore,” Ambrose said. “They hold each other accountable. They communicate. There’s a maturity.”
Flacco will have to wrestle the top spot from the incumbent, redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Stover, and incoming freshman Jeff Miller, a two-star recruit out of Murrieta, Calif.
“I told the guys after spring that the competition was completely open, that we didn’t do enough at the quarterback position to solidify that,” Ambrose said. “[Flacco’s] going to have a little bit of a chance. We’ll see how it ends up.”
More of a throwing team last season, Stover went 189-for-341 with 2,001 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
Towson ranked 11th in CAA scoring offense and seventh in passing offense. There wasn’t a single statistical category in which the Tigers led the conference.
The younger Flacco is better known for his legs than his older brother, but Ambrose said pigeon-holing the new Tiger into the running-quarterback identity is shortsighted.
“He has run before, but I’ve gone to watch his previous film,” he said. “A lot of his running had to do with the fact that nobody blocked. He still made positive plays on people screwing up, a skill that we could use.”
Flacco isn’t the only Tiger bearing a famous name. Coby Tippett, son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, is a sophomore defensive back.
“[Tippett] grew up under the umbrella of what will be considered one of the most historic football programs in the history of the world with the Patriots, and clearly, there is no individualism there, there’s just team,” Ambrose said. “Both of those kids come from strong, family foundations that understand the game of football. They know it’s not about them, it’s about us.”
Towson’s first game is set for Sept. 1, against local rival Morgan State.