Morgan State's two-game losing streak has coincided with a downturn in the team's ground game.
The Bears (3-4 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) have posted two of their three lowest rushing totals of the season in the losses to Hampton on Oct. 17 and North Carolina Central on Oct. 24.
In the 20-10 setback at home to the Pirates, the offense gained 135 yards on 36 carries, but did not score a touchdown and senior quarterback Moses Skillon and redshirt sophomore running back Orlando Johnson each lost a fumble.
In the 20-17 loss at the Eagles a week later, Morgan State scored a rushing touchdown and did not cough up the football, but finished with -11 yards on 31 attempts.
Bears coach Lee Hull acknowledged that the program has to revive its running attack quickly.
"We've got to finish blocks," he said Tuesday. "We're targeting, and we're on the right guys. We're just not finishing plays, and that's the biggest thing on offense. We've got to finish blocks and finish our plays and try to give Orlando Johndon and [junior] Marcolm Banks room to run, and that's not just meaning the offensive line. Tight ends, receivers, everybody who is blocking have to finish, and that's a big emphasis for us this week."
The sudden lack of punch on the ground seems to be linked to the absence of redshirt junior tailback Lamont Brown III, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the third quarter of a 42-3 thrashing of Savannah State on Oct. 10 – Morgan State's last win.
"Obviously, Lamont's a great back, and without him, you do lose something with him," Hull admitted. "But again, it's more about us finishing blocks and staying on our blocks than who is running the football."
Saturday's opponent, Bethune-Cookman (7-2, 5-1) ranks fifth in the MEAC against the run, surrendering 179.6 yards per game and 13 rushing touchdowns. Hull said the Bears' ability to make gains on the ground will be critical to giving senior quarterback Moses Skillon time and room to find receivers in the passing attack.
"We have to run the ball," he said. "I want to run the ball. We have to figure out a way to run the football to alleviate some of the pressure on Moses and our passing game to win games and also help keep our defense off the field. Time of possession is huge in games like this. So we're going to have to figure out a way to run the football and give us a chance to win."