MW FOOTBALL: Minnesota West opens season today
WORTHINGTON -- Head coach Jeff Linder doesn't know what to expect. Not only from his own team, but from his opponent, as well. The Minnesota West football team opens its season today against the Vermillion Ironmen at St. Cloud State as part of th...
WORTHINGTON -- Head coach Jeff Linder doesn't know what to expect.
Not only from his own team, but from his opponent, as well.
The Minnesota West football team opens its season today against the Vermillion Ironmen at St. Cloud State as part of the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Kickoff Classic. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.
For the third time in four years, Vermillion has a new coach, meaning Linder and his staff don't know what to expect from a team coming off an 8-3 season last year. Minnesota West returns just a few seniors from a team which finished 7-3 last year.
"It's never fun going into a game blind like that," Linder said. "You have to prepare for everything. It is what it is. They can pull off our conference library and look at every game we played last year and figure out if we kept anything in there, they'll know what we like to do out of it. But we don't have anything."
Darren Visser enters his first year at the helm of the Ironmen. Last season, the Bluejays defeated Vermillion 35-26. Both schools went on to win their respective divisions.
But with a new team and a new coach, the Bluejays don't have much to go on.
"Unfortunately for us, they have film on us and we don't have anything on the new coach," Linder said. "Which, in the last four years, we've done that three times and it's not fun. It's really not fun at all to try to prepare for a team you know nothing about. You can go back to where he was -- he was at a high school -- but you can't gauge because his coordinators have changed."
The two did talk earlier in the week in an attempt to prepare for today's game.
"We don't know much," Linder said. "We do, but we don't. We called each other and we kind of told each other what formations we were going to run offensively and what we're going to run defensively. No plays or routes or anything like that."
Offensively, Linder expects to see just about anything from the Ironmen.
"We're going to see a lot of trio sets with three wide receivers and one flex, so we'll have four-receiver sets," Linder said. "Then we'll see some double slot. He did say he was going to run some two-back stuff, but what does that mean? There are a lot of things that can happen out of two back. There is just a lot to prepare for."
On the defensive side, the Bluejays did have to make some adjustments.
"Defensively, they're working against the same type of things that we've been working against all year in a 4-4," Linder said. "He was telling me he was going to run some 3-4, which threw a little kink in some things. Now you have a guy on the center, so we had to make some adjustments this week and work on that."
But no matter what West sees on the other side, Linder said it will be good for the players to hit someone else for a change.
"Even more so than last year, we had a week less, the kids are really getting wore out from hitting each other, seeing the same stuff day after day, doing the same stuff day after day and again, I understand all of that," Linder said. "It's just part of the game, and they know that. We need to play a game. I'm sure every other college in the country is saying the same thing. It's time to play because we need to find out where we're at. Not only as individual players, but as a coaching staff."
While the defense has a large group of returners, the Bluejays will have many new players on the offensive side. With players new to the system, Linder estimates he has put in less than half of his total playbook thus far.
"We need to get real good at some things," Linder said. "We have a lot of freshmen, and we don't have as many sophomores as we did last year, and that makes it very difficult. The learning progression slows down because you don't have sophomores in every position who have gone through it, understand the system and can be a coach right next to the kid. It's just growing pains from high turnover."
Against a team the Bluejays know little about, today's game will be a good gauge for the young team before Southern Division play begins.
"It'll be a good day to hit somebody else for once and find out where we're at," Linder said.