Sometimes good isn’t quite good enough.
When Whitworth football coach John Tully surveys his team, he sees an improving defense and an offense that isn’t too far behind from the production of the 2007 unit. But he also sees a 2-3 record, 0-2 in the Northwest Conference.
“We’ve played pretty good football,” he said. “We’re a young team that’s growing and I think we have tremendous upside. We have some young guys stepping up and it’s been enjoyable to watch them grow. Now, we just have to take that next step.”
That stride involves finishing the deal, which Whitworth has failed to do in close defeats to NWC rivals Willamette and Linfield. The Pirates’ next opportunity comes against Puget Sound (2-2, 0-1) today at 1 p.m. at the Pine Bowl.
Whitworth’s three losses have come against opponents that have been ranked at some point this season. One of the Pirates’ wins came against Chapman, which is 3-1.
“There is a fine line (between winning and losing),” Tully said.
The two-time defending NWC champion Pirates are probably out of the title chase. In fact, Whitworth is tied for last with Lewis & Clark, but the Pirates’ remaining four games are against teams with a combined 2-4 NWC record.
Puget Sound won its first two games before falling 60-7 to Wisconsin-Whitewater, which is ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Loggers lost to Menlo in their conference opener last week. Quarterback Kavin Williams has passed for 638 yards and six touchdowns. He’s also the team’s leading rusher (232 yards, three TDs). Darrell Stewart is averaging 100.8 yards receiving per game. Freshman Wyatt Evenson (Shadle Park) kicked three field goals in the season opener, ending UPS’s streak of 42 quarters without a field goal.
UPS has an average edge of nearly 9 minutes in time of possession, which has helped take pressure off a defense that yields nearly 6 yards per play. Whitworth yields 5.4 yards per snap.