By ANDY WOLF
Airion Kosak likes to think of himself as a deep threat.
“The first person is not going to tackle me,” he said.
The 5-foot-10, 193-pound senior wide out is just of several potent offensive weapons on the University of Findlay football team.
Kosak, a Vandalia Butler graduate, spent his first two collegiate years at Miami (Ohio) before transferring to UF for the 2015 season.
“Of course I am confident in my abilities, I always want to be able to impact the team,” Kosak said. “They welcomed me in pretty quickly so I think, yeah, it was a pretty good transition.”
He’s since shown the ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands.
Despite scoring just four touchdowns in 22 games, Kosak averages 15.2 yards per his 61 catches over the last three seasons.
His scores have gone for 51, 23, 21 and 43 yards.
While he’s only caught four passes (91 yards) this season, his growth is a bit harder to quantify.
“Just the little details and becoming a receiver, (using your) break foot and that,” Kosak said. “Also with growing, you start to learn the run game, what you need to do to help the running back and just help the team in general.”
Kosak has put in the mental reps off the field to get the best of defenders when, even at the Division II level, nearly everyone is a tremendous athlete.
“When I don’t rely on physical ability, I rely on studying the opponent, understanding what they do, understanding their weaknesses, what they’ve been beat on in the past,” Kosak said.
UF head coach Rob Keys has seen it too.
“He’s cleaned his game up a lot,” Keys said. “It’s like with anybody. As they progress through the program, they don’t just run routes. He’s gotten better at down field blocking. He’s gotten better at running the right depths of routes.
“If you get the ball in his hands, that’s why he’s back on punt return and kick returns, here’s a guy that has big-play capability. We want to get the ball in his hands as many times but of course he has matured as a person.”
Lately the focus hasn’t been who is touching the ball, but how the offense can put up more points.
Findlay (2-1) topped 30 points for the first time last week in a 55-17 victory over William Jewell.
Kosak and the Oilers aim to duplicate that production against a stout defensive team in Tuskegee (2-1) 1 p.m. Saturday at Donnell Stadium.
“Everybody doing their job, everybody focusing on the play that they’re in,” Kosak said. “Executing. That’s all we have to do is execute and we’re going to put points on the board.”
HISTORICALLY: Tuskegee and Findlay have never met before.
The Golden Tigers have been members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 1913 and have a league-best 29 conference titles.
Their only NCAA tournament appearances have come in the each of the last four seasons with three playoff victories in that span.
Tuskegee coach Willie Slater has put together a winning team in nine of his 10 seasons, eight of those with at least nine wins.
The Oilers, meanwhile, begin their league play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference for the first time next week.
They’ve had a winning year in five of six seasons under Keys.
SEASON TO DATE: Both teams suffered their only blemish to nationally ranked teams in Week 2.
Findlay has topped Tiffin (28-13) and William Jewell but fell to No. 2 Ferris State (48-27).
Tuskegee scored a win over Division I FCS school Alabama State (14-6) that vaulted them in to the polls at No. 22 only to lose to then No. 16-ranked Albany State 20-7. The Golden Tigers defeated Clark Atlanta 30-16 last week for their first SIAC win.
Tuskegee is allowing only 14.0 points per game — 11th nationally.
Senior linebacker Osband Thompson landed on several preseason All-American teams and has a team-high 41 tackles, four for loss, with both two fumbles forced and recovered.
RUNNING WILD: Tuskegee has run the ball twice as many times as it has thrown it.
The same can almost be said for the Oilers who have 136 rushes to 71 pass attempts.
Though the production hasn’t quite been there for the Golden Tigers at just 2.8 yards per carry against daunting defenses.
Hoderick Lowe has a team-high 90 rushing yards — 71 coming on one touchdown run against Albany State. Three other Tuskegee players have carried at least 12 times.
Sophomore Ahmad Deramus made his first career start at quarterback in last week’s win over Clark Atlanta in place of the injured Jamarcus Ezell.
“They mix in the option well. They run some load option and they have some other types of opting they run,” Keys said. “You’ll see iso and power, you’ll see some belly — they’ll give it to the fullback. It’s a very downhill, in-your-face offense, physical up front, physical at the point of attack.”
For UF, Daouda Sylla is 11th in the nation with 397 rushing yards.
Fellow senior Chauncey Bridges (148 yards), a 1,000-yard rusher last year, missed the trip to William Jewell due to “getting banged up in practice” according to Keys.
Keys said Bridges went through practice Tuesday and “hasn’t missed a beat from a running perspective.”
MILESTONE MARKERS: Senior running back Daouda Sylla needs just 11 yards to top 1,000 for his career while junior wideout Jason Moore is 17 yards away from surpassing 2,000.
Two more scores by Moore would also make him the third UF player with 30. His six touchdowns are the most nationally.
Football: Kosak about making things happen
By ANDY WOLF