Bluejays ready to compete with young squadWORTHINGTON — Minnesota West has few returners from the 3-6 Bluejay team that went 0-4 in the Southern Division of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference last season for this season. The Bluejays return six offensive starters and one defensive starter for the 2012 campaign.
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota West has few returners from the 3-6 Bluejay team that went 0-4 in the Southern Division of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference last season for this season. The Bluejays return six offensive starters and one defensive starter for the 2012 campaign.
“We have a quality core of newcomers,” Minnesota West coach Jeff Linder said. “If they can acclimate to the college game quickly, it appears to be a solid group.
“Much progress has been shown in the preseason. However, the games will provide the true test.”
Minnesota West certainly did not look like a team that returned one defensive starter — linebacker Tavaras Poindexter — from last season during its 40-0 win in the Bluejays’ opening game versus Itasca Aug. 25.
Minnesota West limited Itasca to 106 yards of offense, 62 of which came on the ground and 44 of which was through the air. The Bluejays recovered three fumbles, and Michael Knight returned a 50-yard interception for a touchdown.
Two things Linder focused upon as keys to success were the defense creating turnovers and the special teams making big plays. An interception return for a touchdown and three recovered fumbles certainly handled one of those requirements.
“This was a good way to open the season,” Linder said after the win. “We played well on both sides of the ball, but we still have a lot to work on.”
Logan Massop did not look like a quarterback in his first collegiate start, going 14-for-23 for 259 yards and two touchdown passes in the victory. Massop didn’t look like a rookie because the quarterback from St. Paul Johnson technically isn’t.
“Massop redshirted for us last year, so he knows the system,” Linder said. “We have a very intelligent, strong-armed passer in Logan Massop.”
Massop found a MW veteran in Rex Johnson for a 15-yard touchdown, but many of the highlights came from Bluejay newcomers. Calvin Davidson had a 42-yard touchdown reception, and punter Tyler Smith averaged 33 yards per punt and nailed two field goals.
Linder is looking for his kicker to not necessarily create the explosive plays on special teams, but be a huge factor.
“We have a good kicker from Arizona that is really going to help us,” Linder said of Smith. “Smith is a very athletic and strong-legged kicker and should make an immediate impact on special teams.”
The rushing game will be split between Kevin Harris, who ran for 59 yards on 15 carries versus Itasca, including a 25-yard touchdown run, and DeShawn Gohl, who ran for 42 yards on 10 carries.
The Bluejays will host Fond du Lack today at noon. MW home games include Sept. 15 versus Northland, Central Lakes on Sept. 29 and Fergus Falls on Oct. 6.