SCHENECTADY — The Union College football team’s schedule features four first-time opponents. With that, it means learning more about them and more film study.
But the first-time team the Dutchmen face Saturday is different. They will be facing Gallaudet University at noon in Washington. Gallaudet’s team is almost entirely comprised of players who are deaf or hard of hearing.
“They’re tough. They’re a tough team,” said sophomore linebacker Vincent DiCaterino, who was named to the Liberty League honor roll after collecting three sacks in Union’s 28-7 win over U.S. Coast Guard Academy last Saturday. “They come ready to play, no matter what the circumstances are. We’ve got to be ready to play, because we know they’re not going to quit.”
Union coach Jeff Behrman is treating this week like any other week. He doesn’t think preparing for Gallaudet is any different than preparing for other teams.
“We approach every week the same, regardless of who the opponent is [or] where they’re located,” Behrman said. “It’s the same type of planning, no matter what. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the players and the coaches at Gallaudet. Just to overcome some of their disabilities and be able to do what they do, we talked to the team about that.
“I have as much respect for them, if not more, than any other opponent we play.”
The Bison (0-2) won’t be vocalizing signals. The Dutchmen, particularly on defense, will have to be more cognizant of focusing on the football and when it’s snapped.
“I’m just watching the ball,” junior cornerback Tucker Newman said. “I don’t think [the lack of vocal signals] is going to affect [anything]. You can definitely play football deaf. We won’t have a problem on our side.”
Another challenge for the Dutchmen is the Bison’s triple-option offense. It’s an offense based on the option run, but uses three players who could run the ball instead of the two used in a standard option run.
“We prepare for a lot of teams, and a lot of teams run the spread [option],” Newman said. “So [with the] triple option, we’ve got to a lot of different things to prepare for that. But we have great coaches and great players on defense, so it will be a real easy transition for us.”
On offense, the Dutchmen aren’t planning to alter their game plan.
“We’re going to try to do everything normally,” junior quarterback Nick Cascione said. “We’re going to treat it like another game. Although they can’t hear, we’re not going to change our game plan. I’m sure they’re not going to change their game plan. You’ve got to treat them with respect, more or less, but we just have to keep up and be ourselves.”
The Dutchmen are looking to build off last week’s victory over Coast Guard as they begin a stretch of three straight games on the road. They visit Curry next Saturday and Morrisville State Sept. 28.
Union has the added incentive of snapping a 16-game road losing streak. The Dutchmen’s last win away from Frank Bailey Field was Nov. 9, 2013, a 27-14 victory over U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
“We like to build off of that win last week,” Behrman said. “But it’s all about going on the road and taking care of business. We’re still looking to win our first road game here.
“It’s an important week for us to learn how to win on the road and try to string two wins together.”