Morgan State was unable to slow Air Force's offense or get their own going in a season-opening 63-7 loss, a task made more difficult because the Bears went into the game minus several players.
On Friday, the university announced that an NCAA review showed shortcomings in mandated academic requirements, and at least 10 players were ruled academically ineligible. That included six
five starters: junior running back Herb Walker Jr., redshirt junior wide receiver Thomas Martin, sophomore right guard Matthew Thompson (Perry Hall), senior outside linebacker Joel Scott (Joppatowne), redshirt junior outside linebacker Ta’Quon Jackson and junior strong safety Antonio Jefferson.
The losses forced the Bears to take 40 freshmen and sophomores to Colorado Springs for Saturday's game, and nine freshmen, sophomores and redshirt freshmen started in that contest. Coach Lee Hull acknowledged that the team was undermanned against the Falcons.
"It was a big impact," he said Tuesday morning during a conference call organized by the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. "Like I said, we brought 40 freshmen and sophomores. We were just short-handed playing a great offensive attack like that. Great team. They won 10 games like the last two or three years in a row."
Morgan State held a tryout on Thursday, but Hull said it was not connected to Friday's announcement.
Hull side-stepped a question about whether he was disappointed that the players ruled academically ineligible appeared to be let down by a university system that was supposed to ensure that the athletes remained in good academic standing.
"Obviously, just losing that many players the week of the game is hard regardless of what the situation is," he said. "It was just tough trying to get prepared for a game, especially an opponent like Air Force."
Hull said the loss of players has added to his concerns about the team's depth.
"We were one-deep, playing a lot of young guys, true freshmen and true sophomores and in some cases, redshirt freshmen," he said. "So we didn't have a lot of depth, and I was very concerned about that. But on the positive, we came out injury-free, which was good."