Lawrence University quarterback Luke Barthelmess is a pure passer. Right? Of course he is because the guy holds virtually every Lawrence passing record. Right?
While Barthelmess has put up prolific passing numbers in his first three seasons, he has shown during this campaign that passing isn’t his only talent. The senior signal-caller is one of the top runners in the Midwest Conference as well as being one of its best passers.
“Luke is an athlete who can throw,” said Lawrence coach Mike Barthelmess, who is Luke’s father. “Being a passer is not his greatest talent. He’s going to move the football, but I think he’s more comfortable moving the football with his legs.”
Coach Barthelmess knew entering this season that his team would have to run the football more effectively. Coach Barthelmess had lost record-setting receiver Tyler Mazur to graduation, and the Vikings have struggled defensively for the past few seasons.
“We knew we were going to have to run the football, No. 1 to keep the defense off the field and No. 2 because we don’t have a lot of speed at the receiver position,” coach Barthlemess said. “We’ve tailored our game plan, our play-calling to that.”
Using a variety of plays that call for Luke to read the defense, Lawrence ranks seventh in the conference at 166.0 rushing yards per game. With its top two running backs gone from last season, the Vikings are averaging 17.2 more rushing yards this year.
“Honestly, I think with my mentality as a football player, I’m probably more suited to play running back,” Luke said. “If I had a different body shape, I’d probably be playing running back. If I ran for a good amount of yards in the past it’s because I was scrambling off the pass.”
Luke is the top rushing quarterback in the league and ranks sixth in the conference at 108.5 yards per game. Luke has more rushing yards through four weeks of this season (434) than he had all of last season (423). He also is averaging a hefty 4.8 yards per carry.
Barthelmess also has completed 97 of 147 passes for 822 yards and ranks third in the league at 205.5 passing yards per game.
The offensive line of tackles Spencer Swick and Luke Zablocki, center Nic Bouressa and guards Nick Schubert and Patrick Pierson deserve a lot of the credit, Luke said.
“When we run the ball in games, we do a lot of read stuff so it requires our guys to be smart,” Luke said. “In general, there’s just more space to run. I don’t know how to explain it, but the offensive line is either thinking as one or selling out for each other. I don’t know, there’s something there.”
Luke also notes that he has become more comfortable over the years running the ball. He recalled a game back in high school where he took what the defense gave him and that was large chunks of yardage with him running the ball. From that point, Luke has just taken the ball and run with it, so to speak.
“From there it’s been a slow progression of running and getting better at it,” Luke said. “I’m just more comfortable having the ball in my hands and running. This summer, I did put in some work knowing I was going to have to run the ball. … I’m channeling my inner Eddie Lacy.”
While the Vikings have moved the ball effectively all season, they have had trouble finishing drives. Lawrence ranks second in the nation in time of possession at 38:22, but the Vikings are averaging only 13.5 points.
Coach Barthelmess said he needs to continue to take advantage of running the ball in the red zone to cash in on some more scoring chances. He admits he lapses into a pass-first mentality at times.
“Our strength right now is running the ball,” he said. “It’s been very much of a growing experience for me to realize as a good play caller you have be willing to take what the defense gives you and what your people are capable of.”
Lawrence football standout Andy Paider picked up a pair of honors this week in the wake of his performance last Saturday against Illinois College.
A senior linebacker from Denmark, Wis., Paider was named the Midwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week and was given honorable mention on the NCAA Division III team of the week selected by USA College Football.
Paider had a career-high 7.0 tackles for loss and had a season-best 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops. The 7.0 TFLs, which included 2.0 sacks, was a season high in the conference this season.
Paider now has 12.0 TFLs on the season and 30.0 for his career, and that ranks fifth on Lawrence’s career list.
The Lawrence cross country teams picked up the huge traveling trophy for the combined team title at the Wisconsin Lutheran Invitational this past Saturday.
Both teams finished second and Lawrence posted a combined score of 185. NAIA school Trinity Christian from the Chicago suburbs was second at 207.
Lawrence is putting together a good season with three top-four finishes for both the men and women in four meets this season. The Vikings also won the team titles at the Concordia (Wis.) Invitational earlier this season.
Soccer MASH unit
Injuries continue to pile up for the men’s soccer team as the Vikings are now without three senior starters.
Defenders Dan O’Mahoney and Kelson Warner join forward Cam Pieper and midfielder Joe Cullen on the injury report. While Warner, Pieper and Cullen are out for the season, O’Mahoney may return late in the campaign.
The Vikings have been playing as many as nine first-year players at one time this season. The good news is Lawrence is holding its own with a 4-6-1 overall mark against a quality schedule of opponents. The Vikings are 2-2-0 and in the thick of the race for a berth in the four-team Midwest Conference Tournament.
Editor’s Note: Inside LU Athletics is a notes package written by Lawrence University Director of Athletic Media Relations Joe Vanden Acker. It will feature teams and individual players, recap weekly awards or highlights and take a look at what’s ahead for the Vikings.