MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays looking to get back on track against CLWORTHINGTON — Following a 28-9 loss to Ridgewater on Saturday — the team’s first of the season — Minnesota West head football coach Jeff Linder addressed his team.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Following a 28-9 loss to Ridgewater on Saturday — the team’s first of the season — Minnesota West head football coach Jeff Linder addressed his team.
“What I told them after the game was this, ‘The sun is going to come up tomorrow,’” Linder said. “You’re going to feel probably like you do right now and it’s going to take you a day. You need to not get excited and over worked and panicked about what’s going on. We’ve got everything we need within the team and the system to be successful, just like we were the first four games. But we need to be more productive in practice and not take things for granted.”
The Bluejays are currently 4-1 overall and 0-1 in the Southern Division, and third in the standings with five points.
“What I told the guys was we’re not 0-5, we’re 4-1,” Linder said. “We don’t have to hit the panic button. We just need to make our time on the practice field more productive and make sure we understand exactly what we need to be doing and when we need to be doing it and doing it hard. I think if that would have happened on Saturday, it would have been a completely different game.”
Ridgewater (5-0, 2-0) leads the Southern Division with seven points, while Central Lakes (4-1, 2-0) is second with six.
The Bluejays had rattled off four consecutive victories to start the season, but couldn’t overcome a deficit —something they’ve done in previous games.
“We’ve gotten to the point where we can bring ourselves back in a game where we’re started flat, and I don’t know if we thought we could overcome anything,” Linder said. “And I still believe, no matter what the score was on Saturday against Ridgewater, our guys played all the way to the end. Nobody gave up, nobody pointed fingers, we played hard to the end. That’s all you can ask of your team, especially when things aren’t going your way.”
MW was held to 48 yards rushing Saturday. Quarterback Greg Gainey, who was making his first career start, threw for 161 yards.
“All those factors came into play. We didn’t protect like we should have,” Linder said. “We didn’t run routes like we were supposed to, we made poor choices or wrong choices at the quarterback spot from time to time. There was not one area on the offensive unit that you could point to that needed to be corrected, we just did not execute and do what we were practicing to do all week long leading up to the game.”
Defensively, the Warriors were able to rattle off long drives, including a nine play drive that covered 78 yards.
“They were able to rush the ball rather well. Some of that came off of us being misaligned defensively,” Linder said. “We did have some good defensive stops later in the game and we had some great plays by our defense. Again, when we did get a turnover or had something positive happen, we did not capitalize on it offensively. We’ve been able to do that all year, make thing happen when our defense makes something happen for us. We didn’t just get anything going.”
The bottom line for MW was the team didn’t play very well, according to Linder.
“To put it bluntly, we just didn’t execute,” the coach said. “They are a very good team and I’m not going to take anything away from them. They made plays when they needed to. We had opportunities and didn’t capitalize on those. We didn’t execute what we were supposed to do properly. It was an overall team loss. There was no specific area that you can point at, including the coaches, that did their job correctly all day. It was a total team loss, so we just need to get back to the drawing board and get after it again.”
The Bluejays will face another tough test today as Central Lakes comes to town in a division battle.
“It doesn’t matter what the records of the teams are. At the college level, there is no easy game,” Linder said. “This certainly will not be an easy game. Central Lakes will be prepared for us. We need to make sure we’re prepared for them. They like to run a 3-4 or 3-5 defense. Offensively, they will spread you out or tighten you back up in an I formation. They are a pretty balanced offense and they are not afraid to use trickery on special teams. We’ve seen it last year and we’ve seen it in years past. We need to be prepared in all aspects of the game and make sure we know what we’re doing and get after it.”
Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. at Trojan Field.
“Fortunately we’re at home and they have a long drive,” Linder said. “But that does not mean they won’t be ready. They’ll be ready and it’s going to be a tough contest for us.”
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