By Brian Willwerth | @BriWillwerth
With three games remaining in their 2019 campaign, the Tufts University football team sits at 3-3, in the middle of the pack in the New England Small Colleg Athletic Conference (NESCAC).
On Thursday, we caught up with head coach Jay Civetti to talk about the state of the Jumbos.
“When you graduate all five of your offensive linemen (from last season) … I think we knew coming into (the current season that) it would be a challenge,” said Civetti, who also mentioned losing last season’s co-offensive player of the year in quarterback Ryan McDonald.
“It’s a challenge to get that prepared and ready to play,” he added.
But other players have stepped up, especially up front. Also, wide receiver OJ Armstrong is starting to pick it up, coming off a game where he racked up a season-best 142 yards and three touchdowns in their win over Bowdoin College.
“(He) had a breakout game last week, and we’ve been waiting for that to happen,” said Civetti when discussing Armstrong’s impressive play against the Polar Bears.
On defense, the front seven is pretty much the same from a year ago, but Civetti says some guys in the secondary have stepped up, including Johnathan O’Neal and Brandyn Jones. Civetti says he’s been impressed with what he’s seen thus far from the defense in the past couple of weeks.
One player who is not a newcomer but is the team’s leading tackler is senior linebacker Greg Holt, who has posted 62.0 total tackles in six contests this season. Holt is currently second in the conference in total tackles and tackles per game (10.3).
“He’s been an all-league player every year,” said Civetti of his senior linebacker.
“There’s really not any team that can ever really quantify how special a leader he is on the field, and just a remarkable person off the field, too.”
Tufts has two of its last three games at home, starting with a matchup against another 3-3 team tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 26th) against Hamilton College. The Jumbos have beaten the Continentals in their last two meetings, including in 2017 when Tufts needed overtime to score an opening day win against the New York squad in Somerville.