The Utica College football team scored 66 points in its first two games to topple both St. Lawrence University and Buffalo State, forming a start of 2-0 on the season for the fourth-consecutive year.
Utica’s 66-point total so far is just shy of the team’s 74-point mark in the opening two frames of the 2016 campaign. A 33 point-per-game average for the Pioneers is double the opponent average in 2019.
Stats speak for themselves for head coach Blaise Faggiano’s team. A source pointed out the Pioneers’ success on third and fourth down, which is 10% over the opponent average.
“We practice third downs multiple times per week,” Faggiano said. “It is an emphasis such as black zone, red zone, two-point plays and two-minute drill situations.”
When in the red zone, the Pioneers are finding points at an 86 percent success rate while also having a perfect score on fourth down conversions out of three attempts.
Offensively, Utica is almost putting up identical passing and rushing yards. On the ground, the Pioneers have put up 364 total yards while running back Jamarious Morgan has collected 164 yards in 21 attempts.
In the air, sophomore quarterback Logan Wilcox has tossed 374 yards and 20 completions in the first two games.
A versatile attack is a foundation for Faggiano’s offense. Multiple rushers and passers keep opposing defenses guessing.
“Week one we had six ball carriers and six receivers,” Faggiano said. “We believe in a balanced attack. Balance makes it harder for defenses to defend.”
Being defensively strong is another pin in the fabric of the Pioneers’ success so far. The secondary defense has been responsible for four interceptions in the first two games for a total of 63 return yards; three of which came from the home opener against St. Lawrence.
Utica’s special teams’ numbers are also all above the opponent average at the moment.
As a result, a 2-0 start for Utica puts the team tied for first place in the Empire 8 conference with the likes of Alfred, St. John Fisher and SUNY Cortland. Utica will face all of these schools this season.
The stem of success according to Faggiano is the team’s close-knit environment. It’s a locker room filled with chemistry that starts off the field and works its way back into gameday.
“Our team is very close,” Faggiano said. “We start the process of building team chemistry back in January with our Accountability Program and the Recruiting Process.”
The team also employs the use of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success. At the base of this model includes values of industriousness, loyalty, friendship, cooperation, and enthusiasm.
“The foundation for success provides the key ingredients for success in all aspects of our guys’ lives, academically, athletically, and socially,” Faggiano said. “When talent is equal, teams with chemistry and discipline are successful.”
Utica will look to continue to spread out their success on the road for the next couple of weeks at Cortland and RPI before heading back to Charles A. Gaetano Stadium for a date with St. John Fisher.