IT Blog: Slippery Rock Season Review

Inside Texas' Ross Lucksinger breaks down the 2006 season that was for longtime Longhorn friends, Slippery Rock.

Kicker Ryan Daniel's potential game-winning 48-yard field goal fell short with 43 seconds left to play in the season finale as Slippery Rock fell just short of the NCAA playoffs. The Rock finished with a 7-4 record after their season-ending loss to Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference foe West Chester. It was a tough loss, but Slippery Rock walked out of Thompson Stadium with their heads high after fighting through a tough 2006 campaign.

Slippery Rock went into the season without Josh Kniess, SRU's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage and relied on a running back by committee attack of Travis Sarver (660 yards), Damarcus Cleckley (459) and A.J. Saunders (403).

The Rock's best weapon was quarterback Nate Crookshank. The third-year starter threw for 2080 yards while completing 61.6 percent of his passes. Crookshank had 19 touchdowns through the air and 14 picks, along with 162 yards rushing and three TDs on the ground.

They had the weapons on offense and defense, holding the conference third-best pass D (the Texas DBs might be able to learn a thing or two from The Rock). In the end, it was mental mistakes that did in Slippery Rock, finishing 11th in the 13-member league in turnover margin (–8) and ninth-worst in penalty yardage (52.8 per game).

Slippery Rock started the season with a 51-21 loss at Youngstown State, giving up 424 yards to the Penguins. It was a rough start for The Rock, but SRU then rattled off four consecutive victories. Wins over Millersville, Mansfield, Kutztown and Clarion had The Rock on a roll, but in early October it came to an end as Slippery Rock lost a heartbreaker to Shippensburg 28-21, in which they committed five turnovers. Another loss, this time to California U. of PA, dropped The Rock's record to 4-3.

Then they got their legs back under them with a 35-0 drubbing of Lock Haven on Homecoming and the run was back on. Consecutive nail-biting wins over Edinboro and Indiana University of PA put Slippery Rock on the verge of a playoff berth with only a single regular-season game to go. But the 21-20 last-second loss to West Chester in what was essentially a playoff game (West Chester earned a playoff bid with the win) ended a promising season for team from Slippery Rock, PA.

The players of Slippery Rock had much to be proud of in their 2006 campaign. They had a winning record and five players earn All-PSAC-West honors.

They also have much to look forward to next season. Crookshank will be back as a fourth-year starter in 2007 for Slippery Rock. Leading rusher Travis Sarver and receptions leader Colin Golden will be back as well to an offense that was fourth in the PSAC in scoring. First-team All-PSAC and first-team academic All-American offensive tackle Mike Butterworth will be back to protect Crookshanks blindside. Expect the Rock to be an irresistible force in the PSAC next season.

By the way, if you're wondering why I'm breaking down the 2006 season for the Division II Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania…ask your parents.

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