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Rockford College ready to turn football program around

Wednesday, September 01, 2010  
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By Jay Taft
Posted Sep 01, 2010 @ 12:50 AM

— First-year Rockford College head coach Patrick Babcock explained it like this: "We’ve decided to scrap just about everything we did a year ago.”

He was talking about the Regent offense, which managed 151.6 yards and 6.4 points a game and was shut out three times. But he also meant the overall team’s performance during a 1-9 season.

"They were ready for the changes. They bought into all of it — I mean all of it — from the beginning of camp,” Babcock said. "They want to erase what happened last year and turn it all around now.”

The Regents were also 2-8 in 2008, but they bottomed out last year while scoring just 64 points and allowing 398. They were 0-8 before holding off Maranatha Baptist 16-12 on Nov. 7. They were then drubbed 38-0 in the season finale, and head coach Randy Schrader stepped down this summer.

Now it’s Babcock’s team, and he has a plan.

"No more three-back sets on offense. We’ll go with two backs, sometimes one, and we’ll spread the field and see where that gets us,” Babcock said. "Defensively, we’re going to try and create some confusion, create some lost-yardage plays, and create turnovers.

"We expect to be a little more exciting this year.”

Babcock, a former standout at Stillman Valley and four-year offensive line starter at Illinois, is in his first year as a head coach on any level. He’s in his fourth season at Rockford and has an interim tag for now, but he insists his focus is on getting this year’s team used to winning again.

He has plenty of veteran help on defense, with senior linebackers Brent Alexander and Josh Ross leading a group that returns seven of the 11 starters. They have a lot of work to do, however, after giving up 235.1 passing yards and 145.4 rushing yards a game.

"That was then, and this is our chance to start something new and try and get this thing turned around,” said Alexander, second on the team with 74 tackles and two interceptions last year. "Most of us were here and went through that terrible season last year. We want to get that taste out of our mouths.”

On offense, quarterback Tyler Baran returns after suffering a torn labrum in his nonthrowing shoulder and missed two full games and a piece of another in ’09.

Babcock said Baran "showed glimpses” last year while throwing for 348 yards in eight games. But he had just one TD pass and seven interceptions, completing just 35.8 percent of his passes.

"He’s learned a lot and made a lot of progress. The big thing is he’s accepted that leadership role and is ready to lead this offense, which we needed to see,” Babcock said. "We’re starting over from scratch. We know we have to make plays in the passing game to win with this schedule, and we think we have the guys to do it.”

Rockford opens Thursday against Dubuque, a team that hammered the Regents 60-7 in last year’s opener.

This story appeared at on September 1, 2010.

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