ALBANY — For the first half of Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage, the University at Albany football program’s defense overpowered its offense.
As the scrimmage continued into the second half, though, the offense began to pick up some speed. Great Danes head coach Greg Gattuso knew what the difference had been.
“We got Karl Mofor the ball in the second half,” Gattuso said, “and, all of a sudden, things changed.”
That’s the kind of impact UAlbany needs from Mofor next season, especially with the offseason loss of Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks. Mofor and Ibitokun-Hanks split time last season at running back, and the Great Danes will need more from Mofor now that he’s the unquestioned No. 1 on the depth chart at his position.
“When the defense has to respect a power back like Karl, it’s a lot harder to pass rush and do some of those things,” Gattuso said of the sophomore. “The offense pushed back [in Saturday’s scrimmage] a lot.”
UAlbany’s offense, as it often has been in recent years, is very much a work in progress. Freshman Jeff Undercuffler projects as the team’s starting quarterback, and it took the Great Danes until the second half of Saturday’s open scrimmage to get going.
“We took a little break, and we just got to talk, and get together and just keep pushing,” Mofor said. “Eventually, something’s going to happen in the game.”
Mofor has been indispensable to the team since he began his college career, leading the Great Danes in rushing when he was a freshman and Ibitokun-Hanks missed all but one game. Last season, Mofor was the team’s second-leading rusher with 596 yards.
With Ibitokun-Hanks leaving the program this offseason, the spotlight is now on Mofor — and he is confident about stepping into that role.
“I feel pretty good about the transition,” he said. “I’m just ready, and every day I know that I just have to bring it because I’m the No. 1 person.”
The experience of sharing his position in the beginning of his time at UAlbany has helped ready him to be a player that his teammates can rely on.
“I’m prepared because I had two years of it,” Mofor said.
Gattuso and Mofor believe that with Mofor settled in as the team’s primary running back, the Great Danes can go into the fall season with a balance of good defense and offense. The team’s offense, he said, is ahead of where it was at this point last year when it was learning a new system.
“Last year, around this time , we were just learning a new offense,” Mofor said. “It takes some time to learn everything and have everybody on key.”
He added: “Everybody has a year experience and we’re just getting better every day.”
Hanna Smith is an intern at The Daily Gazette. Smith is a student at Hudson Valley Community College.