Whitworth’s second test of the young college football season is similar to its first.
The Pirates are on the road again, taking on a nonconference opponent they’ve never faced with a first-year head coach. Today’s assignment is the Whittier College Poets, a member of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCIAC), at Memorial Stadium.
Whitworth, even with quarterback Bryan Peterson battling an injury, handled St. Scholastica 28-13 last Saturday. The Pirates played solid football, committing just three penalties and holding a 13-minute edge in time of possession while dominating all three phases (offense, defense and special teams).
Whittier is playing its season opener under new head coach Todd Stratton, the offensive coordinator a year ago. The Poets return 10 starters, including quarterback Chris Lopez, from a squad that went 2-7, 1-5 in the SCIAC. Whittier has only had two winning seasons, in 1997 and 1998, since 1986.
The Poets didn’t release a two-deep roster and declined to exchange game video. Whitworth has one video from a 2011 Whittier-Puget Sound game.
“It looks like they’ve brought in some big transfers on the offensive line, so they’ll be 300-plus across the front,” Pirates coach John Tully said. “I think they’ll spread it out and the quarterback is mobile and athletic with a really good arm. I’m not sure what they’ll do (on defense), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to pressure us.”
Peterson, bothered for weeks by a pulled muscle on his right side, completed 9 of 14 attempts last week. Back-up Michael McCune tossed a touchdown pass to Jake DeGooyer late in the third quarter to put the Pirates up 28-0.
“There were certain throws he couldn’t make, but he’s getting better each week,” Tully said of Peterson. “The nice thing is Michael got a lot of reps with the ones in fall camp and he really improved.”
Whitworth was content to run the ball with Ronnie Thomas (161 yards, three touchdowns) and DJ Tripoli (62 yards) behind an offensive line breaking in three new starters.
“That was actually some of the better line play we’ve had in the last couple years, especially against a solid defense with a lot of guys back,” Tully said.