MW FOOTBALL: Bluejays make long journey to Mesabi today
WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Linder isn't worried about what the stats show. And that's a good thing. When Linder's Minnesota West football team travels to Mesabi Range today, the statistics don't point in the Bluejays' direction. The Norse enter today as...
WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Linder isn't worried about what the stats show.
And that's a good thing.
When Linder's Minnesota West football team travels to Mesabi Range today, the statistics don't point in the Bluejays' direction.
The Norse enter today as the top-ranked offense in the Northern Division. MW, meanwhile, is ranked last in the Southern Division in defense.
"It doesn't worry me," Linder said. "It worries me that in the three previous games, we didn't do our job as good as we should have. I would say the staff included. Regardless of what you think, the staff is a part of that preparation. Maybe we didn't do as good of job as we thought we did."
Last week, MW (2-1) gave up 406 yards to a quick Fond du Lac team.
While every yard was equally important, 18 of those were especially tough to handle.
That's how many the Thunder picked up on a fourth-and-15 play in the final minute to extend what proved to be the game-winning drive.
"We had some breakdown in our coverage," Linder said. "I don't think it was any one man. I think we didn't redirect receivers very well, they ran pretty much free. When we didn't redirect, we didn't give our front four an opportunity to put pressure on the quarterback.
"I think the biggest lesson that the players learned was that it's not over until it's 0:00 (on the clock). They had a long ways to go and they did everything they needed to do to get it done. And we didn't do everything we needed to do to stop them."
Two plays later, FDL found the end zone, capping a 32-26 victory.
"It's just a tough loss to swallow," Linder said. "We also have been telling them to remember how it felt so they don't have to go through that again. So they've been working real hard and the captains have been leading real well as far as getting the team mentally prepared for the contest (today)."
Today, the Bluejays will try to get back on track against Mesabi Range.
"We actually had a really good week of practice," Linder said. "We were pretty down on ourselves after Saturday's loss, which was a tough loss to take. It's something we need to work through and remind them that there's nothing we can do except keep taking steps forward instead of looking backward. The attitude has been really pretty good."
The Norse have 1,022 total yards this season (591 rushing, 431 passing) and have scored 82 points in three games, sporting a 2-1 record.
"They are good," Linder said. "They are the No. 1 offense in the North and the No. 2 defense in the North. They have weapons and they spread you out. On defense, they run a 3-4.
"The 3-4 causes problems because it automatically puts seven guys in the box with the threat of seven to come. Without max protection with a tight end, that leaves six to block seven. We've worked on some blocking schemes to help protect."
Avery Walker has rushed for 331 yards and five touchdowns this season as the top running threat for MR.
Meanwhile, the MW running game is just as effective. Joe Harris has run for 328 yards and six touchdowns this season.
But for today's game, MW will have to do something it hasn't done all year -- rebound from a loss.
"One loss does not make a season," Linder said. "It's how you react coming off that loss is what's going to determine what type of season you have. I think that kind of set in their mind a little bit. Not only are we going to remember how it felt, but let's not go there again. It could happen, but if you know that you did everything you could, you're working hard, the mistakes are minimal and a team just beats you, they beat you."