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Hawks Lose in Quarterfinals, Finish 12-1
The UW-Whitewater football season came to an abrupt end on Saturday, losing their NCAA Playoff Quarterfinal Game 31-14 to John Carroll University. The Warhawks finish their season 12-1. Without a doubt, everyone felt the sting of falling short of their ultimate goal. The 2016 team showed amazing resiliency, finding a way to win many close games throughout the season. While the season didn't bring the consistency the Warhawks expect of themselves, they showed the heart of a champion week after week. After winning their three non-conference games, including a 35-21 victory over the nation's then #2 ranked NAIA team, Morningside College.
The Warhawks then won three consecutive conference games in which they trailed in the fourth quarter. They opened conference play with a 30-24 win at Platteville. When Platteville took a 24-20 lead with 10:41 remaining in the game, UW-W responded with a 15 play, 71 yard drive to re-gain the lead. The drive was capped by a four yard TD pass from Cole Wilber to Canton Larson. Will Meyer expanded the lead and Colin Buck sealed the win with an interception on the Pioneers final possession in the Warhawk 30-24 victory. The next week, the Warhawks faced UW-Oshkosh. The Titans took the lead 14-10 with 7:54 left in the game. But a 16 yard Drew Patterson run with 55 seconds left in the game gave the lead back to the Hawks and the defense held, giving the Warhawks the 17-14 win. The following week, once again finding themselves trailing in the fourth quarter, the offense again rose up with a long scoring drive. UW-W drove 75 yards on six plays, culminating with a 13 yard Drew Patterson touchdown run. The Hawks converted the two point conversion, added a WIll Meyer field, goal and held the Eagles scoreless the rest of the way in their 32-22 victory.
The Warhawks moved to 5-0 in the WIAC with two convincing victories, beating Stevens Point 24-2 and at Eau Claire, 48-6. Then came their overtime thriller against UW-River Falls. The game was tied 20-20 after regulation time. On their first overtime possession, senior quarterback Chris Nelson gained all 25 yards as the Hawks scored on three plays. On River Falls' possession, the Falcons moved inside the 10 yard line before Matt Seitz recovered a fumble to seal a 27-20 Warhawk victory. The victory clinched the Warhawks' 35th WIAC championship. The next week, the Warhawks outscored UW-Stout 24-0 in the second half propelling them to a 34-16 win. Cam Maly carried 36 times for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. With the win, the Hawks' made sure they didn't share the WIAC title, finish undefeated in conferece play.
After decisive playoff victories over Lakeland and Wittenberg, the Hawks ran into a hot John Carroll team who had previously ended the University of Mount Union's 112 game regular season winning streak on the Purple Raiders' home field. And while the end of the season was disappointing, the accomplishments of this team are not. Being an undefeated WIAC Champion is a phenomenal accomplishment. So while 2016 may always feel like a season that ended too early, it will also be seen for what was accomplished by a team that showed the heart of a champion all season long.
Round Three Preview: John Carroll Defense
The Blue Streaks of John Carroll will invade Perkins Stadium Saturday afternoon with the reputation of having one of the best defenses in the nation. JCU advanced to this national quarterfinal game via wins over Olivet (37-12) and Wesley College (20-17, in 2 OT). The Blue Streaks are the Champions of the Ohio Athletic Conference, ending Mount Union’s 25 year stronghold on the conference championship. Additionally, JCU ended Mount Union’s 112 game regular season winning streak.
The Blue Streaks’ vaunted defense starts with the defensive front seven. JCU runs a 3-4 defense but will give multiple looks. According to a D3football.com article posted this week, JCU rotates up to 11 players on the defensive front. Sophomore defensive tackle Ray Brown (91) leads the Blue Streaks in sacks (12.0), tackles for loss (19.5), and QB hits (9). The leading tackler for John Carroll is junior linebacker Mason McKendrick. McKendrick has 85 tackles, 11.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, and two QB hits. Along with a strong front seven, JCU has a secondary comprised of four seniors. Safety Jovon Dawson (1) is the third leading tackler with 58 tackles, including 10 tackles for loss. Cornerback Mike Hollins leads the Blue Streaks with six interceptions.
According to the school website, the JCU defense is nationally ranked in the following categories:
Third in Total Defense (217.5 ypg)
Sixth in Scoring Defense (12.8 ppg)
Eighth against the run (70.9 ypg)
12th against the pass (146.6 ypg)
Third in third down conversion percentage (.229)
The Blue Streak defense will be very aggressive. They have been very successful in shutting down the opponents’ run game and making them one dimensional. They have not played an opponent as big and athletic in the offensive line as UW-W in 2016. The closest they have seen is back in September when they visited UW-Oshkosh and lost 33-14. The Titans rushed for 187 yards and threw for 287 yards against the Blue Streaks. Without a doubt, JCU is playing with much more confidence than they were in September after reeling off 11 consecutive wins, including their historic win at Mount Union.
Round Three Preview: John Carroll Offense
On Saturday, UW-W welcomes the John Carroll Blue Streaks to the Perk for an NCAA D-III Quarterfinal playoff game. Kickoff is set for 12:05. JCU has a reputation for having one of the premier defenses in the country. Without a doubt, the Blue Streaks’ offensive philosophy is impacted by having a defense they can count on to hold the opposition in check. They run a pistol offense with a multiple formation look. JCU strives for balance, averaging 217.8 yards passing and 187.5 yards rushing per game.
Freshman quarterback Anthony Moeglin, 6’0” 210 lbs, has had a solid year, completing 63.4% of his passes for an average of 207.0 yards per game with 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. John Carroll employs a ball control passing attack with an occasional shot deep. Moeglin is a classic pocket passer. He prefers not to pull it down and run. Here are their leading receivers info and stats, preceded by jersey number:
9 Marshall Howell, 5’11” 170, SR. 55 catches, 533 yards, 9 TD’s.
5 Eddie Williamson, 5’8” 165 SO, 37 catches, 366 yards, 2 TD’s
8 Nico James, 6’2” 200 SR, 33 catches, 440 yards, 7 TD’s
7 Luke Vadas, 6’1” 170 SO, 22 catches 301 yards, 3 TD’s
A couple of other possibilities include tight end Mark Baniewicz. Baniewicz, a 6’3” 200 pound tight end caught four passes against UW-Oshkosh for 39 yards, but no more than two catches in any game since. Is that a well the Blue Streaks could go back to? Also, they like to swing the ball to a back. Running backs Ro Golphin and Sam Kukura combined for 24 catches for 243 yards.
John Carroll is a team that likes to establish the line of scrimmage and establish the running game. As long as the game remains close, they will continue to run the ball patiently. They are not afraid to play conservatively, patiently attempting to win the battle of field position. When they fall behind or their run is shut down, they will open up their offense and put the ball more in the hands of Moeglin. However, it should be noted, that was also the year-long pattern for Wittenberg, last week’s opponent, as well. However, Wittenberg chose to focus on a pass oriented attack, probably deciding it was futile to try to establish the run against UW-W. In spite of their identity, the possibility always exists that JCU will do the same. But everything else being equal, they prefer to establish the run. Here are the leading rushers for the Blue steaks, including their stats , preceded by their jersey numbers:
2 Ro Golphin, 5’8” 180, JR, 1009 yards, 7.4 ypc, 10 TD, 84.1 ypgame
20 Sam Kukura, 5’9” 200 SO, 760 yards, 5.1 ypc, 12 TD, 63.3 ypg
28 Arin Pruitt, 5’10” 195 JR, 278 yards, 4.7 ypc, 2 TD, 23.2 ypg
Without a doubt, JCU would love to control the ball and keep its vaunted defense as rested as possible. If they are able to shorten the game and drain the clock through sustained drives, the game will be playing out the way they hope.
The Warhawks defense prides itself on playing fast and physical and prying the ball away from opponents. They will attempt to keep the ball in front of them. They will patiently allow teams to gain yards between the 20’s, but make them pay through physicality. The Hawks will be extremely aggressive, knowing each and every snap an opponent must make in attempt to drive down the field will be another opportunity for another takeaway. The Warhawks’ defense is the only unit of all 32 qualifying playoff teams to allow teams to score less than 50% of the times they enter the red zone. The Hawks also lead the nation in takeaways with 44.
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Round Two: Wittenberg at UW-W
Notes and Observations
Since game stories are available from several sources online, our “Notes and Observations” will attempt to provide information and perspectives from the game that are not available from other sources.
KEYS TO A SOLID FIRST HALF
Defense tightens up inside the 10 on opening drive. Wittenberg moved to a first and goal at the UW-W seven yard line on their initial possession, largely on completions of 27 and 28 yards. Once they got there, things got tougher. QB Jake Kennedy lined up in his familiar spot 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage and ran a keeper, gaining four yards before being stopped by linebackers Matt Seitz and Bryce Leszczynski. On second down, Kennedy ran again out of the same spot. As he glided to his right looking for an opening, Seitz undercut his blocker at the point of attack and got to his knees. An instant later, defensive tackle Todd Campbell hit Kennedy from the inside, downing him at the one. On third down, Kennedy again made the attempt to score. Again taking the ball from five yards deep. This time he tried over his left guard. WIAC Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Tamsett, who lined up over the opposite guard, made a phenomenal play, showing incredible lateral quickness and getting into the gap and stonewalling Kennedy for no gain. From there Wittenberg settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Defense locks in after game opening drive. After yielding a 74 yard drive resulting in a field goal on Wittenberg’s opening drive, the Hawks allowed only 73 total yards and no points in the remaining five Tigers first half possessions. After connecting on the field goal, Witt’s next four drives resulted in 23 total yards and four punts. In the first half, the UW-W defense allowed the Tigers just one yard rushing.
Nine points are better than none. The Warhawk offense first touched the ball with 10:46 remaining in the first quarter and a 3-0 deficit. While the defense got busy locking down Wittenberg, the offense moved the ball pretty well. On their first three drives, the Hawks gained a combined 155 yards and kept the Tigers defense on the field for 29 plays and over 11 minutes of game clock. Unfortunately, each drive bogged down inside the Wittenberg 30 for separate reasons. However, senior kicker Will Meyer made sure the Hawks put points on the board hitting field goals from 41,39, and 37 yards, the last of which gave the Hawks a 9-3 lead.
The First Half Drive the Hawks Badly Needed
Hanging on to a 9-3 lead with 5:01 remaining in the half, the Hawks took over at their own 19 yard line. Here are the key plays on the 81 yard drive that would give the Hawks a 16-3 halftime edge.
3rd and 3 from the UW-W 26- QBCole Wilber made an excellent decision in pulling the ball down and running when the Tigers rushed six defenders. He showed good athleticism and vision slicing through a crease straight ahead, gaining five yards and a first down.
2nd and 7 from the UW-W 34- The Hawks took what the Tigers gave them, taking advantage of the defensive left cornerback playing soft coverage on Marcus Hudson. Hudson ran a 10 yard out and the easy pitch and catch gave the Hawks a first down on the 44, nicely setting up the next play.
1st and 10 from the UW-W 44- This time Hudson ran a deep post. The corner bailed as the ball was snapped allowing Hudson to come off the line unhindered. With the corner’s hips turned, Hudson did a nice job of adjusting the route slightly to the inside creating separation. The line protected beautifully and Wilber did a great job of stepping up in the pocket and putting just enough air under the ball to allow Hudson to shield the defender with his body and go up and make the catch for a 46 yard completion to the Wittenberg seven.
2nd and goal from the Wittenberg 3- Taking an inside hand-off from Wilber, Drew Patterson slammed over the right guard, easily running through a defender who tried to hit him low and burst into the end zone.
KEYS TO A GREAT SECOND HALF
Immediate Response Denies Momentum
After the Hawks fumbled on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, the defense made sure it didn’t ‘turn into Wittenberg momentum. After two Tigers’ plays netted a negative two yards, Vince Mason intercepted the third and 12 pass giving the ball back to the Hawks on their own 30 yard line.
Making Wittenberg Pay
The Hawks’ offense immediately made the Tigers pay for their turnover by driving 70 yards on 15 plays and chewing up 6:24 in the process. The only gain longer than 10 yards on this drive was a 12 yard completion from Wilber to Hudson. The Hawks earned five first downs on the drive, which was the epitome of grinding it out. As has been the mode of operation lately, Chris Nelson took over at QB when the Hawks when into their goal line offense. Nelson hit tight end Brent Campbell with a 3 yard touchdown pass. What looked like a promising start to the second half for Wittenberg turned into a 23-3 deficit with half of the third quarter gone.
Hawks End Any Doubt
If there had been any doubts about the outcome of this game, the Hawks erased them with the next two series. After falling behind by 20, Wittenberg desperately needed a response. UW-W didn’t allow it. The Warhawk defense stonewalled Wittenberg, allowing only one yard in forcing a three and out. After a Tigers punt, the Whitewater offense took over at their own 21 with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter. Not ready to sit on their lead, the Warhawks struck on a 17 yard pass play on the first play of the drive. With the ball on the left hash, Whitewater split three receivers to the right. UW-W split tight end Tony Gumina wide to the left and lined up Canton Larson in the slot to his side. Larson went in pre-snap motion to the right. With that motion, Wittenberg’s right linebacker moved three steps toward the middle. At the snap, Gumina, a 6’3” 260 pound junior with rare athleticism, came off the ball four yards and slanted inside the cornerback. With the linebacker being taken out of the play by the pre-snap motion, Wilber had a clean throwing lane and threw a strike to Gumina, hitting him in stride at the 30. Gumina caught it and the corner got just enough of him to put him off stride. Gumina advanced to the 38 before sliding down. After a seven yard Wilber pass to Mitchell Dess, Whitewater struck with a play that defines the dynamic Josh Ringelberg has added to the running attack. Ringelberg lined up directly behind Wilber. Wilber was five yards behind the line, Ringelberg seven. Wilber handed off to Ringelberg, who then headed directly towards the spot left tackle Jordan Mueller lined up. Mueller locked up and sealed off the linebacker who had lined up outside his left shoulder. Left guard Spencer Shier buried the inside linebacker who lined up on his inside shoulder. Shier’s block took him to the ground. Center Nate Trewyn was able to stand up the defensive tackle who lined up over him. Trewyn turned him so effectively, he created a wall that sealed off both defensive tackles from being able to slide down to the hole. Right guard Austin Jones immediately got to the second level and caught the off-side linebacker who was flowing to the middle of the field. Jones’ block drove him past the play. Meanwhile, Ringelberg’s exceptional feet and vision took full advantage of the line’s superior blocking. The freshman running back cut back on a dime behind both pursuing, but engaged, linebackers. Then, nine yards downfield, Ringelberg and the free safety were heading towards a head on collision. Ringelberg put a move on him and the safety completely whiffed and Ringelberg was off to the races for a 28 yard gain. Seven plays later, Drew Patterson barreled into the end zone and UW-W upped their lead to 30-3 with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter. At this point, Whitewater held a yardage advantage of 415 to 146. After Wittenberg’s opening 74 yard drive, UW-W outgained the Tigers 415 to 72 over the next 37:57.
The Fourth Quarter: How it Played Out
One of the few disappointing aspects of the afternoon occurred the next time the Tigers had the ball. Wittenberg drove 69 yards for a touchdown. The disappointment in that lies in the fact that UW-W penalties gifted them the score. Three crucial penalties bailed Wittenberg out and kept the drive alive. Wittenberg threw an incompletion on third and five from their own 36 yard. A UW-W offsides penalty gave them the first down. Then from their own 44, Witt completed a pass, but it lost two yards and would have put them in a third and 21 situation. But the Hawks were flagged for a personal foul on the play, giving the Tigers another first down. Then from the UW-W 43, Todd Campbell sacked the quarterback and forced a fumble which was recovered by defensive end Merrill Stott. However, the Hawks were flagged for defensive holding on the play, giving Witt yet another first down by penalty. Three plays later, the Tigers scored their only touchdown of the game. After the teams exchanged punts, Whitewater put together a long scoring drive to close out the scoring. With Chris Nelson now at the helm at QB, the Hawks drove 80 yards in 10 plays and burned over four minutes off the clock. On the drive, Nelson completed three of five passes for twenty five yards, including a four yard scoring strike to Manny Jones. Josh Ringelberg rushed for 46 yards during the possession. The Tigers gave the Warhawks a second chance on the drive when they roughed kicker Will Meyer on a field goal attempt. Two plays later, Nelson hit Jones in the end zone. Meyer's extra point provided the final margin in the Hawks' 37-9 victory.
SECOND ROUND OPPONENT: Wittenberg Tigers (Special Teams)
This is the third of our three part look at the Wittenberg Tigers through the lenses of their prospects against UW-Whitewater in the three phases of football. UW-W hosts the Tigers at noon on Saturday at Perkins Stadium
Last week, UW-W faced a team in Lakeland that had not tried a field goal all season long. The Warhawks’ second round opponent, Wittenberg, has attempted 27 of them. And who can blame them when they have one of the most potent kicking weapons in the nation in Will Gingery. Gingery leads the nation with 22 made field goals, including two from 50 yards out and another from 48. In last week’s First Round game, Gingery made four of five goal attempts, including three in overtime, leading the Tigers to a thrilling 33-30, four overtime victory. Along with his field goal kicking prowess, Gingery is the fifth leading punter in the nation with a 43.5 yard average. Gingery has placed 24 punts inside the 20 and has only three touchbacks. His kickoffs average 60.1 yards with 27 touchbacks and three out of bounds. He is a huge advantage in the crucial battle for field position. Opponents return his kickoffs an average of 21.1 yards and his punts 4.9 yards.
Kick-off returner Nick Kendall averages 28.8 yards per return, which ranks him 16th nationally. Jeff Tiffner ranks 25th in the nation in punt returns, averaging 11.6 yards per return on his 27 returns.
Special teams will be a huge challenge for the Warhawks on Saturday. The Hawks have excellent athletes in their coverage units. They will have size and speed the Tigers are not used to seeing. But with the reduced roster sizes, there will be some players who have not played on special teams for much of the season. Maintaining their lane discipline and preventing any big plays will be a big priority for the Hawks this week. It will also be important for Michael Schwichtenberg, the Hawks’ punter to be in good form on Saturday. Wittenberg has the feel of a team that will patiently try to tip the field in their favor. They have the capable kicking game to pull it off. However, Schwichtenberg can neutralize that by matching Gingery in the punting game. It will be interesting to see if the Hawks activate strong legged Ben Franzen for this game. Will Meyer, the Hawks field goal kicker, handled the kickoff duties as well in the First Round.
Second Round Opponent: Wittenberg Tigers (Defense)
Over the next several days, we will look at the Wittenberg Tigers through the lenses of their prospects against UW-Whitewater in the three phases of football. UW-W hosts the Tigers at noon on Saturday at Perkins Stadium.
Like UW-W, the Wittenberg defensive success starts with stopping the run. The Tigers have limited opponents to only 90.3 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry. The Tigers dominated the North Coast Athletic Conference in the ground game yielding less than 100 yards and 2.5 yards per carry to Wabash, Wooster, and DePauw in consecutive weeks. The Tigers then gave up 100 yards on 30 carries in their loss to Denison. Wittenberg then held Hiram and Oberlin to negative rushing yardage in consecutive weeks. Pass heavy Kenyon then came to town and attempted only 16 rushes. Mostly on the strength of a 57 yard run, the Lords put up the highest rushing total up to that point on Witt, 106 yards. Then Allegheny put up 144 yards on 40 carries the following week. Last week, in the first round of the playoffs, Thomas More, the run heavy champions of the President’s Athletic Conference, hit the Tigers with 297 yards rushing at a 5.4 yards per carry clip.
UW-W’s running game will be Wittenberg’s biggest challenge to date. Witt’s front seven is quick and athletic. The defensive line will give themselves up by diving into the hole on inside runs as a last resort. The defensive ends are speed players and they will disrupt inside runs and runs to the opposite side if they are not accounted for. However, they will be giving up a lot of size to UW-W.
The starting front seven for Wittenberg in the first playoff game against Thomas More last week looks like this:
Left Defensive End- Austin Towsey, 6’2” 200 lbs. Sr.
Left Defensive Tackle- Carter Harris 6’0’ 255 lbs Jr.
Right Defensive Tackle- Bobby Saul 5’ 10” 235 lbs Sr.
Right Defensive End- Chandler Ferko 6’3” 215 lbs Jr.
Outside Linebacker- Jack Kayser 5’10” 180 lbs Jr.
Inside Linebacker- Dustin Holmes 6’0” 215 lbs Sr.
Inside Linebacker- Terrance Crowe 6’1” 220 lbs Sr.
Towsey and Saul lead the Tigers in sacks with seven and six respectively. In all, Wittenberg has sacked the quarterback 28 times. Crowe and Holmes lead in tackles with 120 and 108 respectively.
Starting in the defensive backfield last Saturday:
Cornerback- Rashon Edwards 6’0” 180 lbs soph.
Strong Safety- Michael Ford 5’10” 180 lbs soph
Free Safety- Keenan Wilson 5’9” 170 Jr.
Cornerback- Corey Dieringer 5’11” 170 Fr.
The Tigers have yielded 225.5 yards per game through the air. However, opponents have been forced to throw because the Tigers have frequently established huge halftime leads. Wittenberg has outscored their opponents 209 to 58 in the first half this year. Witt has 13 interceptions on the year, paced by Kayser with three. Ford, Dieringer, and Holmes each have two. In addition to his 106 tackles and two interceptions, Holmes has forced four fumbles and recovered two. Edwards leads the Tigers in pass breakups with 14 followed by Kayser with eight and Crowe with seven.
Wittenberg has played good defense throughout 2016. Only three teams scored at least 17 points against them and they did it in very different ways. Kenyon scored 17 aided by a punt return for a TD. Denison scored 24, winning on a field goal in the last minute of the game. Denison took to the air against Witt, gaining 390 of their 490 total yards through passing. The Big Red did score on two short touchdown runs in that game. As mentioned, Thomas More gained 297 yards rushing against the Tigers last week.
It would not be at all surprising to see Wittenberg employ run blitzes while keeping eight men in the box against UW-W. Given the size difference between these teams, it is hard to imagine the Tigers trying to limit the Whitewater running game with only their front seven. The Warhawks game plan should not be a mystery. Barring a surprise game plan, the Hawks will employ a physical running attack in an attempt to wear the Tigers down. They always do. However, if Witt stubbornly keeps eight in the box, UW-W will look to take advantage through the air. But with complete faith in their defense, the Hawks won’t feel a need take unnecessary risks. In any event, the Warhawks will stay patient with their running game which gives the offensive line license to keep pounding the Tigers’ smaller defensive front.
Second Round Opponent: Wittenberg Tigers (Offense)
Over the next several days, we will look at the Wittenberg Tigers through the lenses of their prospects against UW-Whitewater in the three phases of football. UW-W hosts the Tigers at noon on Saturday at Perkins Stadium.
The Tigers enter Saturday’s game averaging 410.6 yards of total offense per game. The Tigers’ balanced attack gains 185.3 yards rushing and 225.3 yards passing per game. Wittenberg runs on 58.4% of their offensive plays and averages a solid 4.5 yards per carry. In last week’s four overtime vicory over Thomas More, Witt managed only 107 yards rushing on 46 attempts, an average of only 2.3 yards per carry. In looking at their other 2016 defeat, the Tigers rushed for 118 yards on 35 carries (3.4 ypc) in their 24-21 loss to Denison. In their other two close games, Wittenberg rushed for 163 yards on 38 carries (4.3) in their 21-10 win over DePauw. In their other competitive game, a 24-14 defeat of Wabash, the Tigers managed only a 2.5 yards per carry number in their 48 attempts for 121 total yards rushing. These were the only games Wittenberg was held to less than 30 points. It appears that some semblance of a running game will be important for Witt on Saturday. The Warhawks allow opponents just 2.5 yards per carry and 78.6 yards per game on the ground against much stiffer competition than Wittenberg has faced. It won’t be easy for Witt to establish a running game against UW-W. One of the ways teams have been able to move the chains against UW-W is by utilizing a mobile quarterback.
The Tigers’ leading rusher is 5’8” 185 pound Deshawn Sarley, a 5’8” 185 pound sophomore out of Colerain High School in Cincinnati, OH. Sarley has gained 730 yards at a 5.1 yard per carry clip with seven rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Jake Kennedy, a 6’1” 200 pound sophomore out of Bellefontaine, OH is the Tigers’ second leading rusher. Kennedy averages 49.5 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. Because the NCAA statistics count yardage lost due to a sack against rushing yardage, it is worth noting Kennedy was sacked 18 times for 91 yards in losses. While I don’t know if all the sacks were against Kennedy, if they were, Kennedy’s yards per carry inflates to 4.9 yards per carry on intended runs. And he has scored nine rushing touchdowns this year. It is very possible the Tigers will deploy Kennedy a number of times on Saturday. It is worth noting his backup, Tanner Clark, has thrown only 23 passes this year. UW-W’s defense is probably more fast and physical than Kennedy is used to. If he runs often, he will likely be at risk unless he employs a lot of sliding.
In the passing game, Kennedy has completed 59.2% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Kennedy has thrown for an average of 208.7 yards per game. Luke Landis, a 6’0” 180 pound senior out of Brookville, OH leads the Tigers in receiving with 53 catches for 824 yards and 10 touchdowns. Luke Bowling a 5’11” 195 pound senior out of Dixie High School in New Lebanon, OH has caught 52 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns.
With an identical 21 touchdowns both rushing and passing, the Tigers’ have built their identity on having a balanced offense. They are probably more proficient throwing the ball more than running it, but it appears both phases clicking is what makes the offense tick. If the Hawks are able to take away the running game, it is questionable as to whether Wittenberg will be able to successfully sustain a pass driven attack. Without a running game to hold them at bay, the UW-W defensive front will have a real opportunity to pressure Kennedy into mistakes. The UW-W defense is a very difficult matchup for the Tigers. They have turned the ball over only 14 times this year. Ball security will be at a premium on Saturday. It is likely the Tigers will deploy a conservative game plan and try to get into the fourth quarter within striking range. If they can do that, they will feel like they have a chance. The difficulty of this strategy is the fact that a team must do more than get to the fourth quarter against UW-W. To have a chance to win, the Tigers must get into the fourth quarter with enough strength and energy to finish. That is much easier said than done against this UW-W team.
NCAA Playoffs Round One
Numbers and Notes
The number one goal in playoff football is always to survive and advance. Beyond that, other good things can come out of an early round game that can serve a team well if they are able to accomplish them. Here are some other aspects of the game. UW-W excelled more in some categories than others.
Rest- Except for a couple of offensive linemen and a couple of spot re-entries here and there, the entire first team offenses and defenses were rested from the late stages of the third quarter through the end of the game. Rested legs are always good thing entering the twelfth game of the season and beyond.
Experience- Arm and arm with resting starters comes an opportunity to give more experience to younger players. A number of younger Hawks got some valuable experience during the Round One game.
Health- One of the keys to winning a National Championship is the ability to field a healthy team. From all indications, including the two-deep roster released by UW-W today, the Warhawks are becoming much healthier. Up to six starters who missed the first round game are expected back for Round Two. The Hawks should be healthy and have fresh legs when they host Wittenberg in Round Two on Saturday.
Offensive Consistency- After an opening drive that consumed over 6 ½ minutes but did not result in any points, the Warhawks scored on five of their remaining six first half possessions to take a commanding 31-7 lead into the locker room at halftime. Then with just over nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, UW-W put the nail in the proverbial coffin by scoring first in the third quarter to take an insurmountable 38-7 lead. While things didn’t go as smoothly from there, the Hawks were able to play a lot of young players and were never threatened.
Defensive Consistency-Overall, the first team defense played well, yielding only seven points in just under three quarters. However, one aspect that must be shored up is preventing the big play. The Hawks yielded completions of 93, 57, and 44 yards on Saturday. Otherwise, the defense played well. Lakeland gained a net of only 27 yards rushing. Also, the defense sacked the quarterback six times. The Hawks also forced two turnovers, giving them a nation leading 41 on the season.
Success by the Back-Ups: A number of back-ups played well for the Hawks. Defensive end Merritt Stott recorded two tackles for loss, including a sack. Defensive tackle Yuri Pogosyan recorded two sacks and forced a fumble. Linebacker Kyle Schiedemeyer recorded two tackles for loss. All three have been an important part of the defensive rotation all season long. Offensively, running back Josh Ringelberg got his first extended action of the season. Ringelberg gained 142 yards on 27 carries and scored three touchdowns. Ronny Ponick gained 36 yards on nine carries and Justin Prostinek gained 26 yards on six carries. Additionally, the Warhawk offense, comprised entirely of back-ups took possession of the ball at the 50 yard line with 6:02 remaining in the game. The Hawks drove to the Musky seven yard line before taking three kneel-downs to successfully run out the clock.
UW-W Advances with 45-27 Win Over Lakeland
The Warhawks take the field for their NCAA Division III playoff Round One game against Lakeland on Saturday. The Hawks used a 31-7 first half edge to propel themselves into the second round with a 45-27 victory. (Photograph by Daryl Tessman, D3football.com)
ROUND ONE GAME DAY!
The Warhawks aim to make a statement as the playoffs begin. The Muskies hope to pull off the biggest surprise in the history of the tournament.The intensity that comes with playoff football may be just what the doctor ordered for UW-W.
Round One Opponent: Lakeland Muskies
The WIAC champion UW-Whitewater Warhawks will be hosting the Lakeland Muskies in a First Round NCAA D-III playoff game at noon on Saturday at Perkins Stadium. The Muskies, champions of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, enter the game with a 7-3 overall record. After starting the season 4-3, the Muskies hit their stride winning their last three games by a combined score of 149-69.
The Muskies enter the game scoring 31.9 points per game and yielding 30.1 points per contest. Offensively, Lakeland is led by 6’0” 185 pound junior quarterback Michael Whitley who hails from Trinity Episcopal High School in Vidalia, LA. Whitley has completed 59.7% of his passes for 2318 yards and 19 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Whitley has also rushed for 607 positive yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns. While Whitley has been charged with 220 yards in rushing losses which reduces his net rushing totals, much of that is a result of most of the 28 sacks the Muskies have allowed this year. Whitley is a dual threat who is quick to pull it down and run on a pass drop-back and operates a read-option offense. The Muskies’ leading rusher is Eddie Dezmon, a 5’8” freshman from University Academy in Alexandria, LA. Dezmon has rushed for 651 and seven touchdowns with an average yard per carry of 5.9. Eldrada Meeks, a 5’5” 145 pound sophomore out of Southfield, MI, is the Muskies’ second leading rusher with 484 yards and four touchdowns. Dezmen Morse, a 6’3” 190 pound junior from Wisconsin Dells High School is the Muskies' leader in receptions with 43. Morse has accounted for 691 yards and five touchdowns. Kezlow Smith, a 6’0” 180 pound senior leads Lakeland with 729 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on his 33 receptions. Smith averages 22.1 yards per catch.
Defensively Ariss Hargrow leads the charge for the Muskies. The 5’9” 205 pound senior out of Flint, MI leads Lakeland in tackles with 92 and tackles for loss with 15.5. Included among his tackles for loss is three sacks.
The Muskies will be hoping to get off to a fast start on Saturday afternoon. They have outscored their opponents 93-36 in the opening quarter. The first quarter is the only quarter that the Muskies hold a scoring advantage over their opponents. The third quarter is when the Muskies have struggled the most, having been outscored 94-65 in that stanza. Incidentally, In a statistical oddity, the Muskies have not attempted a field goal this year. Lakeland has scored touchdowns in 27 of 37 trips into the red zone. Defensively, the Muskies have allowed 26 touchdowns and five field goals in their opponents’ 43 trips into the red zone.
Warhawks Claim 35th Title Outright!
The UW-Whitewater Warhawk football teamed earned the 35th WIAC championship in program history with a thrilling overtime win against River Falls on November 5th. One week later, they made sure they didn't share it. Once again, the game was closer than many expected. For the fifth time in seven conference games, a WIAC team led UW-W in the second half. And for the 10th consecutive game, UW-W refused to lose. Whitewater outscored Stout 24-0 in the second half, rolling into the playoffs undefeated for the eighth time in the last 12 years. Each of the last seven times UW-W went into the playoffs unbeaten, they reached the Stagg Bowl. The Warhawks have won the national championship the last five times they entered the post season unbeaten
Trailing 16 to 10 at halftime on Saturday, things did not go as planned at the beginning of the second half. After UW-W moved to the Stout 40, quarterback Cole Wilber was sacked on a 3rd and 4 play, ending the drive. Moreover, Wilber was injured on the play and did not return to the game. Now down by six and without their starting quarterback, UW-W faced yet another adverse situation. Punter Michael Schwichtenberg promptly pinned the Blue Devils back on their own 10 yard line. Two plays later, Mickey Morgan intercepted a pass at the Stout 32, giving the Hawks great field position and a sense of momentum. The Warhawks drove the 32 yards in seven plays as freshman running back scored from two yards out. Maly gained 23 of the yards and senior quarterback Chris Nelson completed both of his passes on the scoring drive which forged UW-W ahead 17-16.
The kickoff coverage team then continued the UW-W momentum by stopping the ensuing return at the 15 yard line. Moreover, a holding call put the ball back to the seven. After a defensive stand, Stout punted from the six. A short punt gave the ball to UW-W at the Stout 33. Four plays later, Maly scored on a 26 yard run and Whitewater expanded the lead to 24-16. The Warhawk defense remained stellar the rest of the game and the offense added 10 more points in the 34-16 victory. In the second half, the Warhawk defense held Stout to 22 total yards and had three takeaways.
The Warhawks' first playoff game is at noon on Saturday, November 19th when they host Lakeland College.
Season to Date:35-5
Oshkosh at Eau Claire
Playing at home and drawing from their upset of La Crose, the Blugolds will play hard in their last game of the season. Oshkosh is awaiting Sunday's playoff bracket release and is prone to looking past the Blugolds. But the talent gap is just too big right now.
Eau Claire 10
Stevens Point at River Falls
Pointers try to become a seven win team and remain knocking at the door of the WIAC top three teams. River Falls is vulnerable after gearing up big for Whitewater last week.
Stevens Point 31
River Falls 13
Platteville at La Crosse
The Pioneers are hoping to get the attention of the playoff selection committee with a sold road win. The Eagles are much improved this year and would love nothing more than giving Coach Schmidt a winning season in his first year at the helm. Once again, the talent gap shows.
La Crosse 24
Whitewater at Stout
The Warhawks will refocus after River Falls took them to overtime last week. The Blue Devils hoping to avoid ending the season on a four game losing skid.
Better Late Than Never
In some ways, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks’ 35th WIAC championship in program history might be one of the most unusual. Nothing has come easily, that’s for sure. Being outgained in four of their six conference games and facing four fourth quarter WIAC deficits is not normal operating procedure. Following the Warhawks this year is not for the feint of heart, that’s for sure. The first two conference games came against highly regarded and nationally ranked Platteville and Oshkosh. The Warhawks beat the Pioneers on the road by six points (30-24) and the Titans at home by three (17-14). They trailed each game in the fourth quarter before coming back to secure a victory.
The Hawks then traveled to La Crosse who entered the game a surprising 5-0. La Crosse gave UW-W their best shot in front of a Veteran’s Memorial Stadium record crowd. For the third consecutive week, the Warhawks found themselves with a fourth quarter deficit before coming back to win 32-22.
UW-W then returned home to host Stevens Point. The Warhawks jumped out to a commanding 24-0 halftime lead and won the game 24-2. The second half, the offense sputtered and for the fourth consecutive game, the Warhawks were outgained by an opponent. The Hawks moved to 5-0 in the WIAC with a decisive 48-6 win at Eau Claire. For the first time, UW-W outgained a WIAC opponent.
The Warhawks returned to Perkins Stadium last Saturday to host River Falls with a chance to clinch the conference championship. The Falcons came into the contest with just a 3-5 record. Included in their losses were 31 and 34 point trouncings by Platteville and Oshkosh respectively. However, as with much of this season, things did not go as expected. The Falcons played hard and well and had the Hawks down 12-3 at halftime and 20-10 midway through the third quarter. The Warhawks used a flurry of takeways to put the Falcons away 27-20 in overtime.
Clearly, this season has been a grind for UW-W in many ways. As is the case every year, every WIAC team sees the Whitewater game as their Super Bowl. To the contenders, it becomes a chance to take control of the conference. To the mid and lower level WIAC teams, the UW-W game represents a chance to make their entire season. The games are always physical and often competitive. For whatever reason, this season has been more challenging than usual.
However, a characteristic that has marked the 2016 Warhawks is an ability to take control of games once the opponent has taken the second half lead. In looking at the four games a team has taken a second half punch at Whitewater, the statistics bear out the dominance the Warhawks have shown once the game seem precarious. Here are the late game numbers for those four games (the statistics are taken from the point the opponent took the second half lead. In the case of River Falls, they led by nine at halftime before UW-W cut the lead to two. Falls then scored a touchdown and took a 10 point lead. The statistics of that game are taken from that point.)
PLAYING WITH A SECOND HALF DEFICIT: THE NUMBERS
Opp. 2 (both River Falls)
These are numbers and ratios that are reflective of UW-W for the last 12 years or so. What appears to be the case so far this year, is that Whitewater becomes Whitewater when their backs are against the wall. As the numbers demonstrate, UW-W is dominant when it matters most. More than anything else, that team attribute has carried the Hawks to their 9-0 record.
Without a doubt the Hawks are looking to begin playing this way for a full 60 minutes. When they do, they will be capable of beating any team in the country. If they don’t, Warhawk fans can expect more games decided in the fourth quarter and beyond.
HAWKS EARN WIAC CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2016 Warhawk seniors before Saturday's game against River Falls.
It wasn't easy and it took overtime, but the UW-Whitewater Warhawks are once again WIAC Champions. Chris Nelson gained all 25 Warhawk yards in overtime, including a 6 yard touchdown run to give the Warhawks a 27-20 lead. Then Matt Seitz recovered a fumble to seal the victory before 5,764 fans at Perkins Stadium.
Link to game story at uwwsports.com Click Here
WIAC TEAM BY TEAM: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good: By all accounts, the Blugolds have bought into the program being implemented by new head coach Dan Larson and his staff. He has brought a new sense of discipline and organization to Eau Claire that bodes well for the future. After a winless campaign last year, UW-EC has won a couple of games, including a 20-14 upset win over La Crosse.
The Bad: Disappointing results in back to back weekends at River Falls and Stout. In games that certainly fell into the category of “winnable”, the Blugolds lost by 20 and 23 points respectively.
The Ugly: Coach Larson simply has to improve this team along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball as the program matures. The Blugolds have allowed 32 sacks and sacked the quarterback themselves only three times all year.
The Good: Coach Mike Schmidt has infused passion and enthusiasm into a program that slid from national prominence to the lower regions of the WIAC. It paid off early as the Eagles soared to a 5-0 start to the season. D-I transfer quarterback Tarek Yaeggi has helped transform an offense that averaged 179 yards passing per game in 2015 into a unit that averages over 280 yards per game in 2016.
The Bad: After starting the season 5-0, the Eagles have lost three straight, including a loss to Eau Claire who had lost 12 consecutive WIAC games dating back to 2014. After a 2-0 start to the WIAC season, hopes were high that the Eagles would have their first winning season in the conference since 2006. Now they would have to beat both Oshkosh and Platteville to close out the season to avoid their 10th consecutive WIAC losing season.
The Ugly: In the most startling stretch of the season, UW-L was upset by Eau Claire and then went 1-4 in the red zone the following week in losing to Stevens Point. Just two weeks earlier, both games were seen as winnable. An injury to Yaeggi certainly added to this stretch of ugly for the Eagles.
The Good: The Titans have secured seven wins in a season for the 11th time in the 121 year history of the program. They are well positioned for their third NCAA D-III playoff berth in five years if they win their final two games against La Crosse and Eau Claire. Offensively, the Titans are averaging a balanced 436.4 yards per game offensively, including 197.2 ypg passing and 239.2 ypg rushing in WIAC play. The Titans are averaging 6.2 yards per carry on the ground in conference play.
The Bad: Oshkosh has cashed in on 21 red zone appearances with only 10 touchdowns in conference play. Defensively, the Titans have sacked the quarterback only seven times in WIAC play, which ranks tied for second to last in that category.
The Ugly: There’s nothing ugly about 7-1 except their final three possessions in the first half of their game against Whitewater. With a 7-0 lead, they came up empty on three straight red zone possessions to close the first half and ultimately lost the game 17-14.
The Good: The passing game seems to be up to Pioneer standards, throwing for 300 yards per game and 30 touchdowns. They rank first in the WIAC in both passing offense and passing efficiency. The Pioneers rank third in the conference in both total offense and total defense.
The Bad: For the fifth time in six years, losses to both Whitewater and Oshkosh has killed the Pioneers hopes for at least a co-championship and a possible berth in the playoffs. Platteville is tied for second to last in sacks with seven.
The Ugly: Fighting for their playoff lives, the Pioneers could muster only 84 yards passing and 13 points in a 22-13 loss at Oshkosh.
The Good: The Falcons were dominant offensively in wins over Eau Claire and Stout. Offensively, Falls is averaging 26.1 points and almost 400 yards per game
The Bad: River Falls’ losses to La Crosse, Platteville, and Oshkosh were by an average of 28 points per game. Defensively, the Falcons allow 430 yards and 31.4 points per game.
The Ugly: In 270 opposing QB drop-backs, the River Falls defense has managed only eight sacks and four interceptions while allowing 264.5 yards per game and 19 passing touchdowns.
The Good: The Pointers opened the season with four straight victories, giving them momentum heading into the most important part of their schedule against Platteville, Oshkosh, and Whitewater. Also good, was their bounce-back win over La Crosse after going 0-3 against the conference’s three best teams.
The Bad: Hampered by an injury to Christian Almonte, Point’s running game has averaged only 3.5 yards per carry and 114 yards per game.
The Ugly: The middle of October. Point’s championship and playoff hopes were dashed with three straight losses.
The Good: After winning three games all last year, the Blue Devils won three of their first six games overall this year. Stout ranks second in the WIAC in rushing offense, averaging 169.2 yards per game.
The Bad: The Blue Devils offense is last in the WIAC in Passing Efficiency and their defense is last in the conference in Pass Defense Efficiency. To surpass their win total from last year, Stout will have to win either at Stevens Point or at home against Whitewater.
The Ugly: In their four conference losses, Stout has given up 45, 42, 50, and 55 points.
The Good: The Warhawks are 8-0 and in position to be a likely #1 seed in the playoffs. UW-W leads the conference in rushing defense and are #2 in the WIAC in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Whitewater also ranks first in sacks and first in interceptions.
The Bad: Yardage totals. The Warhawks rank seventh in the WIAC in total offense and sixth in total defense.
The Ugly: No other way to describe 313 yards per game allowed through the air in conference play.*
*However, it should be noted that opponents throw the ball far more against UW-W than any other team and pay a steep price for these yards. UW-W has a combined interceptions + sacks + defensive points number of 45. The next closest to that number is River Falls and Stevens Point with 22 each. There is no statistic for knocking quarterbacks out of the game, but…
Warhawks Dismantle Eau Claire 48-6
Marcus Hudson about to gain some of his 114 yards receiving on Saturday.
(Photo by Chico La Barbera, Blugolds.com)
UW-Whitewater ran out to a 24-0 second quarter lead and went on to batter the Eau Claire Blugolds 48-6 on Saturday afternoon at Carson Park in Eau Claire. With the victory, the Warhawks move to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in WIAC play on the season. The UW-W fast start was propelled by a defense that yielded only 27 yards in Eau Claire’s first six possessions. Eau Claire also turned the ball over twice in the first quarter. The UW-W offense took advantage of the good field position and scored on seven straight possessions after an opening drive that saw them give up the ball on downs. Through the strong starts on both sides of the ball, the Hawks held leads of 17-0 after one quarter, 24-6 at halftime, and 48-6 after three quarters.
Offensively, Drew Patterson scored four touchdowns, Marcus Hudson led the Warhawks in both rushing and receiving, and quarterbacks Cole Wilber and Chris Nelson each threw a touchdown pass on Saturday. Patterson, who had three touchdowns rushing and one receiving has scored 17 touchdowns on the year. Hudson, who scored on a 73 yard run on a reverse on the first play from scrimmage of the second half, caught eight passes for 114 yards. Tight end Tony Gumina added five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. Quarterbacks Wilber and Nelson split time on Saturday. Wilber completed 12 passes in 19 attempts for 195 yards and a touchdown. Nelson threw for 93 yards on six of 11 passing and also threw for a touchdown. Neither turned the ball over.
Defensively, Bryce Leszczynski and Cal Durni led the way in tackles with five apiece. Leszcyzynsi added an interception and Durni two sacks to the defensive effort. Brandon Tamsett and Paul Foster registered four tackles and a tackle for loss each. Matt Seitz and Yuri Pogosyan each contributed three tackles with Seitz getting a sack and Pogosyan a tackle for loss. Todd Campbell was a disruptive force collecting two quarterback sacks. And David O’Gorman, from his defensive tackle position, read a screen, batted the pass in the air, caught it, and returned the interception 13 yards.
The Warhawks will attempt to clinch their 35th WIAC championship in program history when they host River Falls at Perkins Stadium next Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 2:05 PM.
Season Record: 31-5
Results in Red
Stevens Point at La Crosse
Stevens Point is coming in having lost three straight to the cream of the WIAC crop. La Crosse has lost two straight after starting out 5-0. The word is La Crosse QB Tarek Yaeggi is out and on the whole, I have a feeling Point bounces back after playing high level competition the last three weeks.
Stevens Point 27
La Crosse 20
Stevens Point 38
La Crosse 22
Platteville at Stout
For the fifth time in the last six years, losses to UW-W and Oshkosh have knocked the Pioneers out of the WIAC race. Last year UW-P responded with a 33 point victory over the Blue Devils. Stout gave up 50 against River Falls last week and seem like good medicine for the Pioneers.
UW-Oshkosh at UW-River Falls
This is actually not the easiest spot for the Titans heading north after their clash with Platteville. The Falcons put up 50 on Stout last week and are sitting at 2-2 in the WIAC. But the Blue Devils haven’t played UW-O close since 2009.
UW-River Falls 10
UW-River Falls 7
UW-Whitewater at UW-Eau Claire
After rising up from the 0-10 ashes, the Blugolds have been bouncing all over the place this year. They lead Stevens Point in the fourth quarter before eventually losing. They then got beat convincingly by River Falls and dominated by Stout in consecutive weeks. Then they go and beat La Crosse last week. They will be playing for pride this week after getting demolished 63-0 last year at Whitewater. The Warhawks will be looking to gain consistency in the final three weeks as they work to earn their 35th conference championship in program history.
UW Eau Claire 7
UW-Eau Claire 6
The season goals for the UW-Whitewater football program don’t change very much from season to season. The goal setting process always starts with winning a WIAC championship. Overcoming a difficult front loaded schedule and some inconsistencies on both sides of the ball, the Warhawks have positioned themselves to capture their WIAC leading 35th conference championship in program history. In starting out conference play with four consecutive victories, UW-W has defeated UW-Platteville, UW-Oshkosh, UW-La Crosse, and UW-Stevens Point. Platteville and Oshkosh were ranked #8 and #5 by d3football.com at the time they played Whitewater. Last week, the Warhawks grabbed command early and went to halftime with a 24-0 lead against Point. While the offense misfired in the second half, the defense continued to hold the Pointers scoreless in a 24-2 UW-W victory.
Defensively, the Warhawks are looking to tighten up their pass defense a bit, having given up 326 passing yards per game through their first four conference games. Offensively, the Warhawks have not consistently put together long scoring drives throughout entire games so far. It’s safe to say both units are looking for consistency during the season’s stretch drive.
With all that being said, these Warhawks do have an attribute that is usually reserved for champions. On both sides of the ball, the 2016 Warhawks have shown a remarkable ability to respond when the game is on the line. In their first three games, they fell behind either very late in the third quarter (La Crosse) or the fourth quarter (Platteville and Oshkosh). In each case, the Hawks’ responded like a champion.
In the conference opener on October 1st at Platteville, the Pioneers scored a touchdown with 10:41 left in the game to take a 24-20 lead. The Warhawk offense proceeded to drive 71 yards in 15 plays to regain the lead 27-24. The defense then took the field with 3:51 left in the game, aiming to protect the lead. After an incomplete pass, the Hawks got a QB sack and recovered a resulting fumble. After the offense converted the turnover into 3 more points for a 30-24 lead, the defense took the field with 56 seconds left and UW-P starting from their own 25 yard line. They were able to advance the ball to the Warhawk 31, but the defense forced an offensive holding and sacked the quarterback for a 14 yard loss. The Hawks sealed it with an interception on a desperation 3rd and 27 heave.
On October 8th, Oshkosh scored a touchdown with 7:54 left in the game to take a 14-10 lead with 6:54 left in the game. The Hawks’ offense responded with a 14 play, 72 yard scoring drive to go on top 17-14 with 55 seconds left in the game. After the ensuing kickoff return, the Titans took over at their own 40 with 48 seconds left. Oshkosh was able to advance only to the UW-W 47 before a 19 yard fourth down sack ended their chances.
On October 15th, UW-W faced their third consecutive fourth quarter deficit when La Crosse scored to grab a ’22-21 lead with 1:55 remaining in the third quarter. For the third consecutive week, the offense immediately responded with a scoring drive over 70 yards. This time, the Hawks went 75 yards on six plays. UW-W also converted the two point conversion and the lead was 29-22 with 14:37 remaining in the game. The defense held La Crosse scoreless the rest of the way and Whitewater added a field goal to seal a 32-22 victory.
In all, every time an opponent grabbed a lead later in the game, the Hawks offense immediately responded with a 70 plus yard scoring drive. And in each case, the Warhawks’ defense held the opponent scoreless the rest of the way. Defensively, the Warhawks’ statistics have shown fourth quarter dominance once the offense seized the lead. In the three games combined, there was 19:15 in playing time after Whitewater seized the fourth quarter lead. During that time of the game the defense allowed opponents 12 completions in 25 attempts, sacked the quarterback four times, recovered two fumbles, intercepted one pass, and gave up zero points.
While improved consistency would most likely keep UW-W out of fourth quarter deficit situations too many more times this year, this teams’ ability to respond ought not be underestimated. And that championship quality just may be what carries them to accomplishing their goals in 2016.
Beneath the Box Score
Warhawk running back Drew Patterson looks for daylight against Stevens Point on Saturday. Patterson had 190 yards of total offense and scored two touchdowns. (Photograph by Daryl Tessmann, D3photography.com)
According to Mark Twain, “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.” And I might add the box score of a football game can be misleading. While sometimes the box score will reveal the factors that tipped the result to one side or the other, most often the real story can be found beneath the box score. Here are some of the keys to the Warhawks’ 24-2 victory over Stevens Point on Saturday that fall a layer or two below a cursory glance at the statistics.
The Pointers outgained the Warhawks 386 to 358 for the game. However, floating beneath the box score is the yardage total UW-W had in breaking out to a 24-0 second quarter lead. This is far more important in evaluating the outcome because it is when the outcome was determined. No team is going to overcome a 24-0 deficit against the Warhawks this year. Therefore, the statistics after the lead was established become less significant. While the second half of the game will provide the UW-W staff significant “coaching opportunity”, the fact remains the statistics in the second half were compiled in a context in which the outcome had largely been decided. The Warhawks’ outgained the Pointers 289-80 in piling up the 24 point second quarter lead.
So What Happened in the Second Half
Without getting into the kitchen sink schematics Stevens Point was able to employ having nothing to lose or UW-W’s willingness to give some experience to back-up players, much of the second half came down to field position and lack of offensive first down success. Here are the possession starting points, first down plays, and possession results of the second half:
From the UW-W 15:
Incomplete pass on first down. Three and out.
From the UW-W 8:
Running play loss of two yards on first down. Three and out.
From the UW-W 11:
Sack and safety on first down.
From the UW-W 36
One yard run on first down. 15 yard penalty on UWSP. First down.
Run for no gain on the first down after penalty. Drive ends in punt.
From the UW-W 10:
Incomplete pass on first down. 18 yard run on second down.
3 yard run on first down. 14 yard completion on second down.
8 yard completion on first down. 9 yard completion on second down.
10 yard completion on first down.
Incomplete pass on first down. Drive ends after 69 yards. Missed FG.
From the UW-W 30:
5 yard run on first down. Drive ends in 3 and out.
Final drive from 43: UW-W ran out the clock.
How Many Dropped Passes Did UW-W have?
Eight? Ten? Lots? Too many, no question marks needed. What the score could have been had UW-W not had the drops is staggering to think about.
A Lot For Little
The Warhawks’ three longest drives of the game consumed over 25% of the game (15:18) but resulted in only three points ( one field goal, two missed field goals).
Little For a Lot
Three times the Warhawks’ defense and special teams gave the offense the ball in Pointer territory and the Hawks converted all three opportunities into touchdowns. Here is a short rundown of each:
Baily Bruenig intercepted a Kyle Larson pass at the Stevens Point 47. Seven plays later, Cole Wilber dumped off a screen pass to Drew Patterson to his left. Wilber did a nice job looking initially in the direction of Marcus Hudson and Brent Campbell who were flowing right. That essentially took the safety out of the play. The play was the perfect call at the time because the Pointers blitzed both the middle and right backers. Patterson had a convoy of Nate Trewyn, Mitchell Schauer, and Austin Jones ahead of him. Wide receiver Canton Larson, whose downfield blocking is consistently outstanding, got enough of the cornerback to take him out of the play. When Patterson cut back underneath his blockers to the middle of the field there was no one there and he scored easily.
With the Warhawks leading 7-0 early in the second quarter, the punt return team of the Hawks executed brilliantly in giving the offense another opportunity in Pointer territory. Josh Ringelberg fielded a punt at the Warhawk 43. Mitchell Dess blocked the first man down and Vince Mason kicked out the second. Ringelberg accelerated between them. Freshman linebacker Ben McCarthy showed good speed in getting back and sealing off another Pointer in a very difficult block to execute. Sophomore linebacker Bryce Leszczynski blocked his man to the ground and Mickey Morgan blocked another Pointer on the return. Ringelberg did an excellent job of heading straight north on the return, bursting all the way to the Pointer 34 yard line. Six plays later, Cole Wilber connected with Marcus Hudson for a five yard TD pass and the Hawks led 14-0.
Having extended the lead to 17-0, all three units executed for the Hawks as they pushed their lead to 24-0 at halftime. Point took possession at their own 25 yard line hoping to dent the Warhawk lead with 3:53 remaining in the half. On first down Britton Vernon took the handoff and burst off the left side of the line for a 30 yard gain. However, what the fans likely didn’t see is what happened to spring him loose. At the snap of the ball, defensive tackle Brandon Tamsett exploded through the A gap between the right guard and the center. Tamsett was about to hit Vernon for a three yard loss when the center grabbed him with both hands by the shoulder pads and twisted him to the ground. The 10 yard holding penalty was called and the Pointers were backed up to their 15. Three incomplete passes later Point had to punt. Mitchell Dess fielded at the Point 46 and ran hard, getting nine yards on the return, including four yards after getting hit by multiple Pointers.
The Hawks’ offense took over at the Stevens Point 37. Facing a second and 14 from the 41, quarterback Cole Wilber made one of his best plays of the afternoon. UW-W lined up with two tight ends and two flankers, both in tight only a couple of yards outside the tight ends. Patterson was in the backfield with Wilber, who lined up in shotgun. At the snap of the ball, the Pointers’ right defensive end looped out wide, drawing Warhawk left tackle Jordan Mueller with him. The right linebacker then blitzed in the space vacated by the D-end. With Mitchell Schauer, the left guard, pulling to protect the backside, the assignment to block the linebacker fell to Patterson. The sophomore running back got himself into a nice wide base and squared up on the backer. Wilber, sensed trouble to his right however, as Point sent the other two linebackers on a blitz as well. Wilber slid to his left outside the pocket. Mueller kept the defensive end out of the picture. However, a defensive tackle emerged and rushed Wilber head on. The sophomore quarterback squared up in the face of pressure and delivered a strike in the seam to tight end Tony Gumina. Wilber delivered the ball from the UW-W 49 and hit Gumina at the Pointers’ 20. Gumina was taken down at the 17.
Two plays later, the Hawks went to the screen one more time. This time, with the ball on the right hash, they lined up Gumina tight, Hudson in the slot, and Larson wide, all on the left side. They all ran streak routes and took four Pointers with them as Gumina drew double coverage. This time, the Pointers rushed four, leaving only three Pointers with a realistic chance to stop the play. Additionally, the Hawks sent Campbell, the near side tight end, wheeling to the corner of the end zone. Because the Pointers were in a zone defense, that took the safety completely out of the play and had the linebacker backing up to try to defend the short sideline before passing off Campbell to the safety. Wilber took the snap and looked left before floating the ball over the defensive line to Patterson. Schauer, Trewyn, and right guard Spencer Shier led the convoy and once again Patterson scored easily propelling the Hawks to their 24-0 halftime lead.
Voice Missed But Not Forgotten on Saturday
Tom Pattison, AKA "Voice", was not in his familiar spot just beyond the southwest corner of the end zone at Perkins Stadium on Saturday afternooon. Tom passed away Monday evening, October 17th after a long and courageous battle against liver cancer. Warhawk Head Coach Kevin Bullis and the Warhawk football program made sure that his chair didn't sit empty during Saturday's game. Additionally, the Warhawks honored Tom with a moment of silence prior to the game.
Results in Red
This week: 2-2
River Falls 27
River Falls 50
La Crosse 31
Eau Claire 16
Eau Claire 20
La Crosse 14
Stevens Point 13
Stevens Point 2
Warhawks Host Point Saturday
For the first time all season, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks will play a team that has actually lost a game in 2016 when they host the Stevens Point Pointers at Perkins Stadium at 1:00 on Saturday afternoon. After winning their first four games, Point has lost to Platteville and Oshkosh the last two weeks. The Warhawks will be the third straight nationally ranked team the Pointers have faced. After beating Eau Claire in their WIAC opener, they have fallen to #7 Platteville (47-31) and #5 Oshkosh (13-3). After rolling through non-conference opponents St. Norbert, Adrian, and Albion by an average of 28.3 points per game, the Pointers have found life in the WIAC more challenging.
In their WIAC opener, the Pointers held just a one point fourth quarter lead before beating Eau Claire 28-19. The Pointers were able to gain only 89 yards rushing and garnered only 13 first downs in that game as they were outgained by the Blugolds 351-319. Sitting at 4-0 and 1-0 in the WIAC, the Pointers then welcomed UW-Platteville to Goerke Field. The Pioneers ran off to a 28-7 halftime lead before UW-SP rattled off 17 straight points to pull within 28-24. When the dust settled, Platteville handed Point their first loss of the season 47-31. Playing without starting QB Kyle Larson, Stevens Point went to their ground game gaining 197 yards on 47 attempts for a 4.2 yard per carry clip. However, their backup QB’s were only 8-22 for 153 yards passing and they were unable to keep up with the high flying UW-P offense. The Pioneers outgained Point 529 to 350.
Then, last week, the Pointers hosted UW-Oshkosh. In a completely different game, UW-SP squandered several first half opportunities and dropped their second straight game, 13-3. In the opening half, the Pointers drove into the red zone four different times and came away with a total of three points. The opportunities dried up as the teams combined for 11 second half punts and the Pointers never got inside the Oshkosh 39 the rest of the way. Point outgained UW-O 302-284.
The Warhawks come in 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the WIAC. In the WIAC opener, Whitewater beat Platteville 30-24. Yardage was very even as UW-P outgained the Warhawks 420-409. The Warhawks held UW-P to (-15) yards rushing. Then The Warhawks hosted UW-Oshkosh. Although the Titans outgained UW-W 346 to 279, Whitewater gained the victory 17-14. Each team had three turnovers in the game. The Warhawks’ game winner came on a 16 yard TD run by Drew Patterson with just 55 seconds left in the game.
Whitewater then traveled to UW-LaCrosse and for the third time in three WIAC games faced a fourth quarter deficit. And for the third straight time, UW-W overcame the deficit and won, this time 32-22. La Crosse outgained Whitewater 506 yards to 339. And while UW-W gained 6.4 yards per play as compared to the Eagles 5.8, UW-L reeled off 35 more plays. The difference in the ball game was the 4-0 Warhawk turnover edge.
Both teams seek consistency on both sides of the ball heading into Saturday’s game. The Warhawks’ defense has allowed 4 teams to throw for over 400 yards against them. However, opposing teams are rushing for only 2.6 yards per carry. Offensively, the Hawks are averaging 200 yards passing and 142 yards rushing per game. They would like to add 50 yards per category to those statistics before the season ends. The key to Whitewater’s success this year has been an ability to make key drives on offense and key stops on defense when the game is on the line. In each of their three WIAC victories, UW-W responded to falling behind in the fourth quarter by immediately driving over 70 yards to re-take the lead. In each case, the defense made the lead hold up and Whitewater staved off defeat.
The Pointers have gained less than 3.3 yards per carry in their WIAC games and are rushing at a 113 yard per game clip. Quarterback Kyle Larson completed 23 of 43 passes for 245 yards with no touchdowns and one interception last week against Oshkosh. That was his only WIAC action of the year so far. Defensively Point has been up and down this year, yielding big yards and points to Platteville but limiting Oshkosh in both categories.
Turnovers are the obvious factor that weighs heavily in deciding the winner of most college games. In the category of turnover differential for WIAC games, Whitewater is sitting at plus six while Point is dead even.
HAWKS HAND LA CROSSE FIRST LOSS, MOVE TO 6-0
Drew Patterson rushed for 155 yards, added 60 more receiving yards, and scored two touchdowns leading the Warhawks to a 32-22 victory in La Crosse on Saturday. La Crosse, who held a 22-21 lead going into the fourth quarter outgained the Hawks in total yardage 506-339, but the opportunistic Warhawk defense got four takeaways in the victory. The Warhawks, who didn't turn the ball over, had a balanced attack gaining 173 yards rushing and 166 yards passing.
Last Week 4-0
Oshkosh at Stevens Point
The Titans need to bounce back after disappointing loss at Whitewater. The Pointers were down, up, and down against Platteville last week. Cerroni will have the Titans ready and the Pointers defense will have difficulty slowing them down.
River Falls at Platteville
The Pioneers should be able to get their vaunted passing game untracked against a Falcons pass defense that has struggled against it's better opponents. Both teams battling for position in the WIAC as they come in with 1-1 records. Falcons will have a hard time keeping up to points the Pioneers put up on Saturday. Wind and possible rain could make this interesting.
River Falls 17
Eau Claire at Stout
Both teams come in needing their first WIAC win and both likely consider this one winnable. Both teams come in off of disappointing losses last week. The time seems right for Coach Larson's first WIAC victory
Eau Claire 23
Whitewater at La Crosse
The Warhawks on the road against long-time rival after defeating three straight Top 10 opponents. Rejuvenated La Crosse comes in with a 5-0 record after six straight losing seasons. Where can measuring sticks be bought and how big do they make them?
La Crosse 7
UW-W Running back Drew Patterson
As the Whitewater/Oshkosh game wound down to it’s final minute, it became obvious that one way or the other, the NCAA D-III record crowd of 17,535 were going to experience a dramatic finish. After Dylan Hecker crashed into the end zone with 7:54 left from one yard out, the Titans held a 14-10 lead. After the ensuing kickoff, the Warhawks took over at their own 28 yard line. Neither team had engineered a drive as long as 70 yards all afternoon. UW-W saw the clock run down below two minutes after patiently moved the ball the the Oshkosh 16 yard line, The Warhawks called nine running plays and six passing plays as they drove to the Oshkosh 12. After a four yard loss and an incomplete pass, the Warhawks faced a 3rd and 14 with just over a minute left on the clock. Would Wilber try to find receiver Marcus Hudson? Maybe a tight end? Probably nearly everyone in the stadium was surprised with what came next. With the ball on the right hash, the Hawks lined up in a balanced line with two tight ends. Quarterback Cole Wilber lined up six yards behind the line of scrimmage and running back Drew Patterson lined up directly behind Wilber, three yards deeper. Wide receiver Canton Larson lined up flanked to the left about two yards inside the numbers. Marcus Hudson flanked right initially. However, Offensive Coordinator Craig Smith got his attention from the sideline and instructed him to go into motion. Hudson motioned back left and settled on the left hash, about three yards inside Larson and squared to the line of scrimmage.
Wilber took the snap and took two steps angling back to his left. He handed the ball off to Patterson about eight yards behind the line of scrimmage. The offensive line came off the ball in synch, moving down the line of scrimmage to the left in remarkable orchestration of a zone blocking scheme. Interior linemen Mitchell Schauer, Nate Trewyn, and Austin Jones pressed forward at the left hash and took out the Titans two interior linemen. The pile pushed linebacker Reese Dziedzic to a depth about five yards off the ball. Tight end Brent Campbell and right tackle Jordan Mueller got inside position on the linebacker and defensive end respectively and were able to kick them out. Hudson went out and got the safety and dumped him off his feet at the 11 yard line. The backside defensive end hustled along the line of scrimmage and had an angle on Patterson at the 12. He lunged and hit the Hawks’ running back with a hand on his back and and arm wrapped around his leg. Dziedzic lunged into the play but fell short of Patterson and landed on his teammate. After a couple of tugs causing an unusual apparent pause in the action, Patterson slipped out of the Titans’ grasp, kept himself from going out of bounds, cut inside a Canton Larson block, and darted into the end zone alongside Marcus Hudson who worked himself back into the play after getting up off the ground. Tight end Jack Deichl, lining up on the right side, slid along the line of scrimmage and shot out and engaged the front side safety. He was able to keep him completely out of the play long enough to allow Patterson to glide into the end zone with the decisive score with 55 seconds remaining in the 17-14 Warhawk victory.
Along with Patterson’s deft change of direction, speed, and determination, the efforts of the wide receivers on this play exemplified the Warhawks’ absolute resolute will to win this game. Hudson got up off the ground and hustled toward Patterson to be a willing blocker if needed. Larson, who was being guarded in press coverage, covered the corner just inside the numbers at the 10. He kept the cornerback engaged the entire run, finally putting him on his back as Patterson cut by him. While it isn’t part of the culture of Whitewater to ascribe a nickname to a specific play, perhaps simply “The Run” would be fitting in this instance. The play that proved the difference in this WIAC showdown was as simple and successful as it was surprising.
2016 UWW WARHAWK FOOTBALL COACHES SHOW SCHEDULE
AND QUARTERBACK CLUB MEETINGS
9/1: Salamones – Prior to 1st game vs. College of New Jersey
9/8: Second Salem – post College of New Jersey and pre-Belhaven
9/15: 841 – post Belhaven, Bye week
9/22: Saxes – pre-Morningside
9/29: Salamones – post Morningside and pre-Platteville (WIAC opener)
10/6: 841 – post Platteville and pre-Oshkosh (WIAC home opener)
10/13: Second Salem – post Oshkosh and pre-La Crosse
10/20: Saxes – post La Crosse and pre-Stevens Point
10/27: 841 – post Stevens Point and pre-Eau Claire
11/3: Salamones – post Eau Claire and pre-River Falls
11/10: Second Salem – post River Falls and pre-Stout
11/17: Salamones – post Stout and pre-Play-off’s. **Salamones will host any potential play-off shows on 11/23 (wed), 12/1 and 12/8, or as long as UWW is in the play-offs.
CHEER ON THE HAWKS! FREE BUS RIDE TO LA CROSSE!
DLK Enterprises is offering a free bus ride to La Crosse for Saturday's game on a first come, first served basis. The bus will depart at 9:00 AM from the Greenhill Center of the Arts. To reserve a ticket email Therese Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kickoff is at 1:00 PM and the bus will return immediately after the game.
Second Quarter Stops Key to Victory
Photo by Daryl Tessman, D3photography.com
Even with the amazing finish to Whitewater's 17-14 victory over Oshkosh, in retrospect, the Warhawks’ defense probably decided the game in the second quarter with three magnificent stops to close the first half. After Oshkosh scored a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead, the Warhawks fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Given the golden opportunity of takiing possession at the UW-W 27, Oshkosh drove to the four. Quarterback Brett Kasper handed off to running back Dylan Hecker who tried the middle of the Warhawk defense but was met by linebacker Kyle Schiedemeyer who, with help from Paul Foster, downed Hecker after a gain of only one. On third down, Kasper just missed a seam pass to Cody Moon when the ball bounced off Moon’s outstretched hands. On fourth down, Oshkosh eschewed a field goal and went for the touchdown on fourth and goal from the five. UW-O snapped the ball from the left hash. Just prior to the snap, Evan Thammahong, who was split to the near side of the field went into motion toward the middle of the field, squaring up about a yard outside the tackle, he made a nice fake to the outside and broke open on a short post route. However, Schiedemeyer, who shucked Moon as he released from the line of scrimmage, came off the tight end, knowing Paul Foster was in the middle waiting for him. Schiedemeyer slid a couple of steps to his right which interfered with Kasper’s throwing lane just enough. Kasper threw a nice ball just behind Schiedemeyer, but by necessity it was slightly inside his preferred throwing lane. Thammahong stretched long for it, but like Moon on the previous play, had the ball bounce off of his hands as he stretched as far as he could for it.
The Warhawks took over at the five and moved the ball to the 33 before fumbling and handing the Titans another opportunity to expand their seven point lead. On the very next play, Oshkosh standout running back Devon Linzenmeyer, ran through a huge hole on the right side of the Warhawk defense. As the speedy running back reached the 16 yard line, he was hit from behind by Schiedemeyer. Famus Hasty reached through a blocker as Schiedemeyer made the hit and dislodged the football. The ball was recovered by Vince Mason at the 12 and the Warhawk defense had thwarted Oshkosh a second time in the red zone.
After a Warhawk punt, Oshkosh took over at their own 41. Converting three third downs along the way, Oshkosh drove themselves to a first and goal at the Whitewater six. On the next play, Hecker lined up at QB six yards behind the center. He faked a handoff to Linzemeyer and followed Moon on a sweep to the right. Linebacker Alex Zacharias came in hard off the edge, stood up Moon and disengaged him at the nine. Zacharias hit Hecker at the seven and slowed him but Hecker broke free. Middle linebacker Bryce Lesczynski penetrated the line after shedding a block and was able to get a piece of Hecker, throwing the big running back off stride. Famus Hasty, holding firm in run support from his left cornerback position, faced an enormous obstacle to making a play on Hecker. Ty Summers, a 275 pound center was pulling on the play and taking dead aim on Hasty. But the athletic 167 pound cornerback slid inside him and met the 230 pound Hecker head on at the six almost immediately after Lesczynski slowed him. His helmet went to the football and he was able to rip it out. Hasty then pounced on the ball and the Warhawk defense once again made sure Oshkosh didn’t expand their lead. The Warhawks headed to the locker room at halftime down only 7-0, setting up the classic second half that followed.
While the drama of the second half back and forth rightfully dominated the post-game discussion and headlines, none of it would have been possible if not for the remarkable effort of the Warhawk defense on UW-O's final three first half possessions.
UW-Oshkosh: Starting Defense
A glance at the UW- Oshkosh two-deep reveals that the Titans will bring a senior laden defense into their showdown at UW-Whitewater on Saturday. The Titans, ranked #5 by D-III football.com, will face the #2 Warhawks with nine seniors, one junior, and one sophomore expected to start on defense.
Leading the charge for UW-O is senior linebacker Reese Dziedzic, a 6’0”, 230 pound senior from Crystal Lake, IL. Dziedzic had 20 more tackles than anyone else on the Titan roster last year with 83. He also forced the issue with 7.5 tackles for loss, including 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Joining him in the linebacking core is Dallis Ramos-Deleon, a 6’0, 215 pound senior from Waukesha West., Ramos-Deleon had 23 tackles in nine games last year. Also starting is Jake Thein, a 6’0, 205 pound senior from Waukesha North. Thein has been in on nine tackles so far this year. Brandon Lloyd, 6’0” 220 pound senior from Mukwanago rounds out the expected starting linebacking corps fore the Titans. Lloyd was a starter last year and led the Titans with 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.
Oshkosh returns all five defensive backs from last year’s starting unit. AJ Plewa, a 6’4” 190 pound sophomore from South Milwaukee starts at one cornerback spot. Plewa had one interception and a team leading 10 pass break-ups last year. At the other corner, Rajon Hall, a 6’1” 195 pound junior from Green Bay West. Hall made 20 tackles last year with one interception and six pass break-ups.
Strong safety Johnny Eagen provides some size and a playmaking presence to the secondary at 6’2” 215 pounds. Eagen, a senior from Wautoma, had 42 tackles, 4 interceptions, and 9 pass break-ups last year. Eagen also blocked two kicks. The free safety is Cameron Brown, a 5’11” 190 pound senior from Milwaukee Riverside. Brown was in on 45 tackles and had an interception, nine pass break-ups, a fumble recovery, and two forced fumbles last year.
Oshkosh has three seniors anchoring down their defensive front. In the middle is 6’0” 245 pound Max Adkins out of Jefferson High School. Adkins, who played in 10 games in 2014 and four games last year has eight tackles this year. Oshkosh is known for multiple fronts, so Adkins could be found playing anywhere from over the center (0 technique) to the inside shoulder of one of the guards (1 technique) to the outside shoulder of a guard (3 technique). Flanking Adkins on one of the ends is Justin Watson, a 6’1” 245 pound senior from Wrightstown. Last year, Watson had 27 tackles including 8.0 tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks. Starting on the other side is likely to be 6’2” 265 pound Marcus Senn from Wisconsin Rapids. Senn had 48 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and four sacks last year.
Season Record: 25-3
Last Week: 3-1
UW-Platteville at UW-Stevens Point
Playing Whitewater is like drinking tequila. It’s fun while you do it, it usually does not end well, and the next day is a b^!@#. Saturday is the next day for Platteville. Still, with their talent they will find a way.
Stevens Point 20
Stevens Point 31
UW-Eau Claire at UW-River Falls
Falcon Coach Matt Walker’s team came into 2016 with increased expectations. This is one they need to get. Dan Larson has the Blugolds in the right direction, but this is the wrong time to catch the Falcons.
River Falls 35
Eau Claire 13
River Falls 41
Eau Claire 21
UW-La Crosse at UW-Stout
La Crosse is showing an early penchant for blowing out inferior opponents under Coach Mike Schmidt. They’ve got another one in front of them Saturday
La Crosse 42
UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater
This is the game many circled before the year as a key to the WIAC title picture. Whitewater is facing it’s third challenge in three weeks. Oshkosh has done nothing but scrimmage since it beat John Carroll five weeks ago. UW-W more up to game speed and probably a little stronger in the trenches.
UW-Oshkosh: Starting Offense
The UW-Oshkosh Titans will roll into Whitewater Saturday morning as the defending WIAC Champion and the 5th ranked team in the nation according to D3football.com. The Titans won the conference championship last year propelled by a 10-7 victory over the Warhawks in Oshkosh on October 10th. The Warhawks turned the tables in December as the Hawks eliminated the Titans in an NCAA D-III quarterfinal playoff game 31-29. Prior to breaking through in 2012, Oshkosh had beaten Whitewater only two of the previous 25 meetings. Since the Titans’ 28-13 victory at Whitewater in 2012, the Warhawks have won three of the past four meetings.
Here is a personnel rundown of the Offense for the 2016 Titans:
According to the UW-Oshkosh depth chart, the Titans will start five seniors, three juniors, and three sophomores on offense on Saturday. The unquestioned leader of the offense is the reigning WIAC Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Brett Kasper. Kasper is a 6’2” junior out of Two Rivers. So far in 2016, Kasper has completed 68.4% of his passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns against one interception. Like the other offensive players, Kasper’s statistics are held down because of several early exits associated with four lopsided victories.
Sam Mentkowski, a 6’1” 195 pound junior is the Titans’ leading returning receiver. Mentkowski caught 45 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015. Mentkowski has excellent speed and is a home run threat. Evan Thammahong, a 6’3” 195 pound senior from Waukesha West is another starter at receiver. Thammahong caught only one pass last year, but has broken into the starting lineup and has caught five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown so far this year. CJ Blackburn. a 6’1” 205 pound senior starts at the other wide receiver position. Blackburn, who caught five passes in 2015, has caught seven passes for 142 yards and a touchdown so far in 2016. Although he doesn’t start, Dom Todarello, a 5’11” 195 pound sophomore from Hartland Arrowhead is the second leading receiver for UW-O this year. Todarello has caught eight passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns so far this year. Todarello also appears to be the Titans’ designated fly sweep runner this year, after the graduation of stalwart Zach Kasubowski. Todarello has already carried the ball 11 times this year.
In the backfield, the Titans are fueled by two talented and dangerous running backs. Dylan Hecker, a 6’1” 230 pound junior has recovered from a torn ACL during the Whitewater playoff game, gained 962 yards and scored 19 rushing touchdowns last year. Senior Devon Linzenmeyer, a 6’0” 215 pound senior, has gained 305 yards and scored 6 touchdowns so far in 2016. He is averaging a stunning 11.3 yards per carry. Linzenmeyer is a dangerous cutback runner who gained 130 yards and scored two touchdowns in only 10 carries against the Warhawks last December. Hecker has added 217 yards and scored four touchdowns while running at a (really stunning?) 13.6 yard per carry clip.
The Titans are led up front by a pair of senior tackles. Austin Haase, a 6’7” 310 pounder from Hartland Arrowhead , started for the Titans at right tackle last year and moves to the left side. The starting right tackle is Vincent Basile, a 6’2” 295 pound senior from Union Grove. Basile was the starter at right guard last year. Ty Summers, a 6’1” 275 pound junior from Lake Villa, IL returns as the starting center. Tyler Powers, a 6’2” 275 pound sophomore from Hortonville High School starts at left guard. Alex Wendorf, a 6’ 4” 300 pound sophomore from Watertown starts at right guard.
A Personnel summary of the Oshkosh defense will be posted on Friday.
Ten and a Half Minutes to Remember
The Warhawks relax after their victory at Platteville
The Warhawks’ WIAC opener in Platteville on Saturday was billed as an early season match-up of conference championship contenders. UW-W entered the contest ranked second in the nation by d3football.com and UW-Platteville came in ranked 8th.
Would the Whitewater coaching staff rate the Warhawks’ overall play as a championship level performance? Not by a long shot. There were far too many mistakes to meet the standards set by this program. So, while there is much work to do, the Warhawks did demonstrate a championship quality on Saturday. And it is a quality that has been a hallmark of Whitewater championship teams for over a decade. UW-W made a host of big plays in the most crucial situations over the game’s final 10 and a half minutes to secure the road victory.
After Platteville took the lead 24-20, the Warhawks took over at their own 29 with 10:31 left in the game. The Hawks promptly executed a 15 play, 71 yard touchdown drive giving UW-W a 27-24 lead. Several key plays propelled the drive that ultimately helped win the game for the Warhawks. With the crowd roaring and the momentum on the side of the Pioneers, the drive started perilously for Whitewater. Sophomore quarterback Cole Wilber fumbled the snap and the Hawks immediately faced a 2nd and 13. Given the momentum Platteville would have had with a three and out at that point in the game, the next play may be the most important play no one will remember. Wilber handed off to Drew Patterson on a stretch run to the left. Patterson cut suddenly behind his wall of blockers and exploded through the line of scrimmage. Center Nate Trewyn sealed off the middle linebacker and `Patterson cut behind him. On a difficult block, right guard Austin Jones got just enough of the backside linebacker to allow Patterson to burst past him at the line of scrimmage. Between Patterson’s speed and the excellent blocking, he wasn’t touched until he was 9 yards downfield. However, the best part of his run may have occurred next. Patterson lowered his body on contact and drove forward two more yards as three Pioneers converged on him. Continuing to move his feet, Patterson landed on a Platteville player and his knee never touched the ground. Patterson quickly sprung up and gained four more yards and a first down before finally being dragged down.
Then, the multiple skills of tight end Tony Gumina carried the Hawks to another first down. On a second and 10, Wilber connected with Gumina on a pass over the middle for a nine yard gain. Facing a third and one, the Hawks sent Gumina in motion from the right side to the middle of the formation. Wilber handed off to Jarrod Ware who followed Gumina into the hole. Gumina stood up the middle linebacker and Trewyn and left guard Mitchell Schauer drove the nose tackle down the line to the left and Ware hit the hole hard for the most important two yard gain of the day for a first down. With a first down at the Pioneer 38, Patterson drove up the middle for five. The sophomore running back then caught a swing pass in the right flat and followed the blocks of Marcus Hudson, Canton Larson, and Brent Campbell for 11 yards to the 22. However, after two plays that generated no yardage, the Hawks faced a 3rd and 10 situation at the Pioneer 22. Trailing by four points, this was probably four down territory, but the third down play was critical nonetheless. Given an extra tick of time by outstanding protection from the offensive line, Wilber hit Manny Jones who was streaking over the middle. Jones had a Pioneer draped all over him as the ball arrived, but made an outstanding catch as he tumbled to the ground and the Hawks had a first and goal at the nine. After a couple of runs up the middle advanced the ball to the four, the Hawks faced another third down. Operating from the right hash, Whitewater sent three receivers to the left side. Canton Larson lined up wide, just inside the numbers. Marcus Hudson lined up just outside the left hash. Brent Campbell lined up a couple of yards inside the left hash. At the snap, Larson broke back three yards behind the line of scrimmage towards the hash. Marcus Hudson and Campbell both angled outside to block the two outside-most defenders. Both Hudson and Campbell executed their blocks brilliantly and sent the defenders sprawling. Larson caught the bubble screen pass and properly angled it towards the corner of the end zone away from the defense pursuing from the inside. With a burst of speed, Larson scored easily behind the Hudson/Campbell blocks and UW-W was back in the lead.
Once UW-W seized the lead, the defense rose up. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Benny Threloff reached in and stripped Platteville quarterback Tom Kelly of the ball. Threloff also recovered the fumble and the Hawks had the ball on the Pioneer 21. A few plays later Will Meyer knocked through his third field goal of the game from 42 yards out and expanded the Warhawk lead to 30-24.
Platteville then took over at their own 25 with 2:42 left in the game. Without a doubt it would be a dramatic finish with the WIAC’s most prolific passing game set to go on the attack against the conference’s most prolific football program. On a second and seven, Kelly stepped inside the rush and attacked the line of scrimmage. Vince Mason and Mickey Morgan left coverage to attack Kelly, but the senior quarterback found wide receiver Tim Jansen alone along the right sideline for a 31 yard gain to the Whitewater 38 yard line. After an offensive holding call, a blitzing Mickey Morgan tomahawked Kelly from behind dislodging him from the ball. The Pioneers managed to get on it, but the14 yard loss put Platteville in a hole to the depth of 2nd and 39. After a12 yard completion to the Warhawk 48, UW-P called their final timeout with 34 seconds left. Facing a desperate 3rd and 27 Kelly faded a couple steps to his left in an attempt to buy an extra moment to let his receivers run deep. But as he squared up to throw, he faced an oncoming Matt Seitz who looped from his right side linebacker position to bring pressure up the middle. Kelly threw up a prayer down the middle which was intercepted by Colin Buck to seal the Warhawk victory. On the final pass there were literally five Warhawks closer to the ball than the nearest Pioneer when Buck made the grab.
With clutch performances carrying the day over the final 10 and a half minutes, an imperfect game ended up pretty much perfectly for Whitewater. UW-W opens WIAC play with a road win against the nation’s eighth ranked team. And that is a good start to the conference season regardless of the standard.
Warhawks Retain Miner's Pick with 30-24 Victory
Defensive Co-Captains John Flood (94) and Paul Foster (51) celebrate the Warhawks' 30-24 victory over UW-Platteville by hoisting the Miner's Pick which is the trophy for the George Chryst Memorial Bowl.
WIAC PREDICTIONS: WEEK 5
Last Week: 7-0
UW-River Falls 26
UW-Stevens Point 38
UW-Eau Claire 13
Warhawks Crank it Up!
With the non-conference chapter of the regular season closed, the UW-Whitewater football team has now turned the page in preparing for the WIAC portion of their schedule. The first word of the new chapter? Intensity. "Things have moved to a new level of intensity this week," according to second year head coach Kevin Bullis. "The WIAC Championship is always the one big goal we focus on. It all starts Saturday," Bullis added. The Warhawks open up the conference portion of their schedule on Saturday at UW-Platteville, the eighth ranked team in the nation according to d3football.com. Here is a brief look at the Pioneers:
WIAC OPPONENT SNAPSHOT: UW-PLATTEVILLE
The Pioneer spread offense features a lot of short and medium range passes, bubble screens, with occasional deep passes mixed in. UW-P strived for balance in the non-conference portion of their schedule throwing the ball 130 times and running 129. A portion of that “balance” occurred because their three games were largely in hand early and they were able to turn to the run to keep the clock moving.
Senior quarterback Tom Kelly has completed 56.3% of his passes for 720 yards, 11 touchdowns, and only one interception. While the Pioneers have split their plays evenly between run and pass, 62.8% of Platteville’s total yardage has come through the air. The Pioneers are led by senior wide receivers Dan Buschbacher and Dan Arnold. They are a classic possession/home run duo. Buschbacher, who caught 61 passes last year, has 26 receptions for 206 yards and two touchdowns so far this year. Arnold, who is a 6’6” and a two event All-American in the 60 and 110 meter hurdles, has caught 16 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, Arnold had 48 receptions for 921 yards (19.2 ypc) and 12 touchdowns. Two other receiving threats include Pat Sheehan, a 6’3” 220 pound senior. Sheehan has caught 12 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Tim Jansen has caught only four passes, but he is averaging 42.8 yards per catch and scored three touchdowns.
Platteville’s leading rusher also returns from a year ago. Kyle Whitman has 63 carries for 240 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomores Wyatt Thompson and Sean Studer back up Whitman.
Defensively, the Pioneers are ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, having only given up seven points in three games. The Pioneers also rank 16th in total defense, yielding only 247 yards per game. Platteville's leading tackler is sophomore linebacker Ben Mogilevsky. Senior nose tackle Austin Young, a 6'3" 240 pound nose tackle is disruptive in the middle. Young has two sacks and eight tackles. Middle linebacker Marty McGrail, a 6'1" 215 pound junior, has 12 tackles including a sack and two tackles for loss.
Platteville’s punter, sophomore Connor Foley, has averaged 43.6 yards with seven placed inside the 20 on his 15 kicks. The Pioneers average 20 yards on kickoff returns and 11.5 yards on their punt returns.
Turnover Margin Proves Decisive in Warhawk Victory
In a battle of two teams with high aspirations in their respective divisions, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks rode a tried and true formula to a 35-21 victory on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in Whitewater. Through the cannon smoke and fireworks associated huge offensive plays for both teams, it was turnover margin that proved the difference in Whitewater’s second victory in two years against one of the strongest programs the NAIA has to offer. Although giving up an uncharacteristic 610 yards of total offense, the Warhawk defense intercepted two passes, recovered two fumbles, and made stops in crucial situations. To their credit, the Warhawks’ offense turned the ball over just once against a very fast, athletic, and aggressive defense. That ball security and the resulting advantage in turnover margin proved pivotal in defeating a Mustang team is ranked second nationally by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Coaches Poll.
The Whitewater offense started fast gaining 75 yards in their opening drive riding the arm of Cole Wilber to the Morningside 12 yard line. Wilber completed passes of 14 yards to Tony Gumina, 47 yards to Marcus Hudson, and 13 yards to Brent Campbell on the drive. Unfortunately, the drive stalled and ended with a missed field goal.
A takeaway in the early going enabled the Warhawks to play with a lead nearly the entire game. Operating from their own 33 and facing a third and eight, Morningside quarterback Trent Solsma threw over the middle hoping to hit slot receiver Jason Vander Kooi. However, Warhawk Linebacker Paul Foster was able to get a piece of Vander Kooi during the route and the receiver fell to the ground and never got to his spot. Warhawk safety Bennett Young intercepted the pass at the Morningside 49 and broke several tackles before finally being knocked out of bounds at the eight yard line. Two plays later, Drew Patterson scored on a five yard run and UW-W had the lead less than seven minutes into the game. It was a lead they would never relinquish.
The Warhawks would extend their lead to 14-0 on their next possession. Facing a second and 15 from their own 44, the Hawks ran a perfectly designed and executed screen pass from QB Chris Nelson to Patterson. Wide receiver Canton Larson lined up wide to the left and came back in motion to the right. Patterson was lined up behind and to the right of Nelson. After receiving the snap, Nelson looked to his right. Patterson snuck back left as did offensive linemen Mitchell Schauer, Nate Trewyn, and Austin Jones. The four Warhawks found themselves all alone on the left side of the field as the right outside linebacker had blitzed on the play. Nelson floated the ball over the blitzing backer and into the hands of Patterson who allowed his convoy to escort him all the way to the end zone.
On the ensuing Mustang possession, the Warhawks forced their second turnover of the quarter. On a third and six play from the Mustang 40, cornerback Famus Hasty was initially in coverage. But when Solsma pulled the ball down and attempted to get the first down running, Hasty met him at the 45 and ripped the ball out of his hands. Defensive end John Flood recovered and the Warhawks had a chance to extend their lead. Unfortunately, the Hawks got no points out of that possession and Morningside drove 70 yards on seven plays the next time they had the ball. The drive was capped with a three yard touchdown run by running back Tyler Kavan. When the extra point attempt failed, the score stood at 14-6.
After a Warhawk three and out and a short punt, Morningside had an opportunity, taking possession at their own 45. The Mustangs drove to the Warhawk 32 when they shot themselves in the foot. Twice. A delay of game penalty was followed by a false start and the third and eight turned into a third and eighteen. After a 14 yard pass play, the Mustangs faced a fourth and four at the UW-W 28. The Warhawks got the stop when Vander Kooi let a Solsma pass bounce off his shoulder pad just as safety Baily Breunig was making contact from behind and the Warhawks held on downs.
After the teams traded possessions, the Warhawks struck again. Nelson hit Tony Gumina on a middle screen on a second and 15 play from Whitewater’s 36. Gumina headed straight up field and broke several tackles on his way to a 22 yard gain. On the very next play, Nelson hit Canton Larson on a deep post for a 42 yard touchdown and Ben Franzen’s extra point gave the Hawks a 21-6 lead. It appeared it was a lead the Warhawks would take into the locker room at halftime when Michael Schwichtenberg’s punt bounced near the goal line, was tapped back by Mickey Morgan, and downed by long-snapper Mason Fleury at the one. But Morningside pulled closer as they drove 99 yards in just under three minutes and scored with less than a minute left in the second quarter to close to within 21-13 at halftime.
The Warhawks defense set the tone in the second half, forcing a negative yardage (-6) three and out on Morningside’s first possession. After a 34 yard punt, Whitewater took over on the Mustang 48. It took just three plays to score. Jarrod Ware scooted for five yards and then broke one for 33. The offensive line did a great job on both running plays and Ware showed incredible feet in breaking the 33 yarder. He is a special back and that will likely become clearer and clearer as the season continues. Then from the Morningside 10 yard line, Chris Nelson threw his third touchdown pass of the game, rolling to his right and hitting tight end Tony Gumina for the score.
The Warhawks forced another punt and were in position to score some more points when Drew Patterson broke off a 58 yard run down the right sideline, outrunning the Morningside cornerback in the process. The offensive line once again created a huge hole on the left side of the Mustang defensive front seven. Patterson, who has rare burst, speed, and power will nearly always turn those kind of holes into huge gains. Unfortunately, the drive turned into no points when the Hawks failed to get another first down and then missed a field goal.
After the teams exchanged punts, Morningside had the ball at their own 42 yard line. Running back Tyler Kavan, who gained 66 yards in his 20 rushing attempts, ran to his left and was met in the hole by linebacker Paul Foster. Foster dislodged the ball and linebacker Beau Martin pounced on it at the Morningside 48.
That gave the Warhawks excellent field position and a chance to add to their 28-13 lead with 5 minutes left in the third quarter. However, once again the Mustangs stopped the Hawks. A Schwichtenberg punt was downed at the seven. At this point, one play made the game very interesting. Solsma, who threw for 500 yards on the afternoon, hit Tanner VerSteeg on a 93 yard touchdown pass. VerSteeg led the Mustangs with 9 catches for an incredible 272 yards. After a successful two point conversion. The Whitewater lead was reduced to 28-21.
Morningside seized the momentum of the game on the next possession as a Cole Wilber pass was intercepted by safety Britton Barrior. Barrior returned the ball to the UW-W 42 with 1:53 left in the third quarter. The Mustangs drove down as deep as the UW-W four, but a false start penalty, an incomplete pass, and a missed field goal kept them from drawing closer.
After a Warhawk punt, the defense turned Morningside over for the fourth time of the afternoon. Colin Buck intercepted a Solsma pass at the Warhawk five yard line, and returned it eight yards to the 13. On second and nine, Nelson, who threw for 234 yards, hit Marcus Hudson down the right sideline for 55 yards to the Morningside 31. Two plays later, the pair struck again as Hudson, once again streaking down the right sideline, hauled in a 34 yard TD pass from Nelson. Will Meyer's extra point provided the final margin. Nelson finished the day with four touchdown passes and Hudson caught four passes for 142 yards.
The Warhawks defense shut out Morningside the rest of the way to seal the victory. Ware led the Warhawks in rushing with 91 yards and Patterson had 85 along with 51 yards receiving. Tony Gumina caught 5 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Bennett Young had 11 tackles, three pass break-ups, and an interception. Vince Mason added eight tackles and Matt Seitz had seven tackles and a pass break-up. Cornerback Famus Hasty recorded three tackles, a forced fumble, and two pass break-ups.
The Warhawks open the WIAC portion of their schedule on Saturday as they travel to Platteville to take on the Pioneers at Ralph E. Davis Pioneer Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:00.
This Week: 7-0
Season Record: 22-2
(Prediction in blue, Results in Red)
UW-River Falls 27
UW-River Falls 42
UW-Eau Claire 34
Wisconsin Lutheran 13
UW-Eau Claire 40
Wisconsin Lutheran 14
UW-Stevens Point 38
UW-Stevens Point 44
Young Running Backs Key to 2016 Offense
Jarrod Ware Drew Patterson
A group of young, talented running backs are expected to do some heavy lifting for the Warhawks in 2016. Comprised of five sophomores and three freshmen, running back is the one position group on the entire 2016 roster without an upper classman. However, youth does not put a damper on the expectations of this group.
Currently, sophomores Jarrod Ware and Drew Patterson are splitting the majority of snaps evenly. While it would be tempting to consider them a “Thunder and Lightning” duo, that tag might not do them justice. Ware, 5’10”, 182 pounds, whose elusiveness and speed are worthy of a “lightning” tag, has uncommonly strong legs for a back his size. He can drive a pile as well shift gears and make people miss at the second and third levels. Patterson, a scholarship athlete at Western Illinois before transferring to UW-W, is a powerful back at 5’11” and 208 pounds who loves to lower his shoulder and is certainly worthy of the “Thunder” Tag. However, he is more than that. With a 40 yard dash time of 4.55, Patterson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Cam Maly, a 5’9”, 180 pound freshman from Middleton is also in the mix at running back. Maly, who had an impressive showing in this summer’s high school large school WIAA all star game, gained 2,147 yards and scored 35 touchdowns as a two year starter in High School. Maly runs a 4.58 40 yard dash and is expected to earn some carries as a freshman.
Sophomore Cameron Bishop also provides depth at running back after being on the roster as a freshman in 2015. While Bishop had only five carries last year, he made the most of them, gaining 9.2 yards per carry. Bishop gained 833 yards and scored 12 touchdowns his senior year at Kenosha Indian Trail High School. Bishop held the Indian Trails school record in the outdoor 55 meter dash until broken this past spring by freshman Warhawk teammate Christian Jones. Sophomore Ronny Ponick a 5’8” 191 pound sophomore from Stanley-Boyd High School also provides depth. Ponick transferred to UW-W from Augsburg College where he was a part of their wrestling program. At Stanely-Boyd, Ponick recorded a career wrestling record of 166-25 with two third place finishes at WIAA Division 2 State meets.
Sophomore Justin Prostinak is a 5’9” 168 pound speedster from Lake Country Lutheran High School. Timed at 4.43 in the 40 yard dash, Prostinak gained over 1300 yards and scored 17 touchdowns as a senior at Lake County Lutheran High School. Prostinak is an athlete with an obvious extra gear on the field and could provide big play potential to the Warhawk backfield for years to come.
Freshman Bryce Niemi, a 5’11” 193 pound freshman from Owen-Withee High School adds further depth. Niemi led Owen-Withee to the WIAA Division 7 State Championship, rushing for 2,110 yards and 29 touchdowns. Nick Hoheisel, a 6’0” 190 pound freshman from Marshfield is another among the talented stable of running backs for the Warhawks. Hoheisal gained 1,449 yards and scored 16 touchdowns for Marshfield High School.
Warhawk Quarterback Room Filled with Competitors
UW-W Senior QB Chris Nelson
UW-W Sophomore QB Cole Wilber
One of the most important qualities the UW-Whitewater football coaches look for in an athlete is a willingness to compete. With championships, come interest from high level athletes. With an abundance of talented athletes comes competition. In large doses. When second year head coach Kevin Bullis announced in January that every position on the roster is an open competition, it caught the attention of the athletes throughout the roster. It has led to players at every position group to work to be the best they can be and compete for spots. The quarterback position is no exception to that.
The returning starter is Chris Nelson. Nelson, a 6’2” 216 pound senior from Wilmot High School led the Hawks to a 12-2 record last year. He completed 65.5% of his passes for 2528 yards and 20 touchdowns against only four interceptions. Through his experience, he has an excellent grasp of the offense and an ability to smoothly make adjustments to the defense he sees in front of him. Pushing him for the starting spot is talented sophomore Cole Wilber, a 6’3” 210 pounder from Dana Hills, CA. Wilber sought out UW-Whitewater in the winter of 2014-2015. After making the 2015 roster, he became Nelson's primary backup halfway through the season. What Wilber lacks in experience, he may make up for in arm strength, pocket awareness, and internal clock. With Nelson sidelined for the first game of the season, the confident sophomore started and played the first half against The College of New Jersey. Wilber completed 14 of 18 passes for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The other quarterbacks on the roster Include Ryan Curran a 5’10” 201 pound sophomore from Sun Prairie. Curran is a natural leader who threw 5,576 and 63 touchdowns for Sun Prairie High School. Curran was also a part of the 2014 Warhawks National Championship team. Rounding out the current quarterback room for the Hawks is Merrick Gentile, a 5’11 209 pound freshman from Grayslake, IL. Gentile was a dual threat QB his junior year at Grayslake North High School. Along with UW-Whitewater, a number of NCAA Division I schools showed significant interest. A week before the 2015 season, Gentile tore his ACL and his senior season was lost. Other schools disappeared. UW-W didn’t. Gentile appreciates UW-W’s loyalty and the Warhawks' coaching staff appreciates his character and athletic ability. While Curran and Gentile may be the “other” quarterbacks in the room at this moment, that isn’t likely be the case their entire careers. Their willingness to compete has them on UW-W’s roster and there’s no limit to where it could take them from here.
Tight Ends Play Key Role in Warhawk Offense
Warhawk Tight End Brent Campbell (photograph by Daryl Tessmann, D3photography.com)
(Over the course of this week, we will be looking at each position group as the Hawks head into the meat of their schedule, beginning with a September 24th clash against Morningside College, currently ranked as the #2 team in the nation in the most recent NAIA Coaches Poll released September 12th.)
In most offenses, having a tight end who can both block and still pose a receiving threat is a bonus. When that same tight end can pose a downfield threat in the passing game, the word luxury comes to mind. How do you even describe an offense with not one but two tight ends who can block, catch, and beat a defense deep? For WIAC fans, one answer the question is UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks’ one-two punch of Tony Gumina and Brent Campbell is one of the best in the country. Gumina, a 6’3” 238 pound junior, caught 35 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. His longest reception of the year was a 54 yard touchdown against Morningside College, a play which landed Gumina on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top Ten List as the national #2 play of the day. Campbell, who was plagued with injuries last year, caught eight passes for eight catches for 108 yards (a 19.8 ypc average) and two touchdowns. Campbell’s long reception for then year was 41 yards.
Tight ends in the multiple sets utilized by the Warhawk offense can line up on the line, as an H-back (A yard into the backfield and just outside the tackle), or as a fullback. They are crucial to the Warhawks’ power running game. Because of the multiple looks and capabilities of Campbell and Gumina, the offensive coaches are afforded a lot of flexibility in terms of schemes and play design. Providing depth is 6’5” 250 pound junior Jack Deichl, 6’3” 228 pound sophomore Bryce Bellefeuille, and Jack Piper, a 6'2" 220 pound freshman. Also, converted offensive lineman Julio `Perez, a 6’3” 252 pound freshman is working with the tight ends. Perez saw some significant snaps already this year lining up as a fullback in short yardage situations. Natural fullback Jordan Gruettner a 6’0” 239 pound senior returns this year as well. Gruettner has missed the first two games due to injury, but is expected back soon.
Hawks Rely on Both Experience and Youth to Achieve Goals
The 2016 offensive line is both experienced and deep. The Warhawks have the rare luxuries of having two four year starters and six players who started at least seven games last year. Returning at center is four year starter Spencer Shier. Shier, a 6’4” 307 pound senior, missed the first two games of the season, but is expected back by the first conference game against UW-Platteville. Starting at center in his stead has been Nate Trewyn, a 6’4” 302 pound sophomore transfer from Minnesota State, an NCAA D-II school. Trewyn started all 12 games for the Mavericks as a freshman in 2015. Over the first two games of the season, 6’4” 316 pound Pat Costello has worked with the second team at center. Costello played in eight games in 2015. He will provide valuable depth to the line at various positions when Shier returns.
Anchoring the right guard position is senior Co-Captain Austin Jones, 6’3” 300 pounds. Jones played in 13 games both his sophomore and junior seasons. Backing up Jones is the only freshman on the two deep roster, Dominic Swanson, a 6’1” 300 pound freshman from Union, IL. Swanson, who won conference championships in shot put and wrestling, also entered power lifting competitions in high school and set age and weight division records at World Powerlifting Congress competitions according the Northwest Herald newspaper.
Mitchell Schauer, a 6’3” 285 pound junior starts at left guard. Schauer played in 12 games in 2015, starting the last seven games of the season. Currently backing up Schauer on the two-deep is 6’2” 285 pound Elliot Klim. Klim, a sophomore out of Bettendorf, Iowa played in three games as a true freshman last year.
Starting at left tackle for the Warhawks is 6’5” 286 pound Jordan Mueller. Mueller played in 11 games last year, including starting the final eight games of the year. Backing up Mueller on the two-deep is 6’4” 275 pound sophomore Paul Jacobson.
Four year starter Tony Koepnick anchors the right tackle position for the Warhawks. Koepnick, a 6’3” 322 pound senior from Sussex Hamilton has started 39 games for the Hawks. Ben McFall, a 6’4” 313 pound junior, backs up Koepnick on the right side. McFall played six games last year.
Beyond the two-deep roster, the Warhawks have a great deal of depth in the offensive line. Many players not currently on the two-deep are excellent players pushing to appear on the two-deep and competing for playing time before the season’s end. As the season moves on, no one should be surprised to see new names appearing on the two-deep roster from time to time. “This team is all about competition,” second year Head Coach Kevin Bullis stressed. “The guys know the two-deep is never set in stone.”
This Week: 2-0
Last Week: 6-1
UW-Oshkosh at Finlandia
UW-Stout at Mayville State
Mayville St. 20
Mayville St 13
Did Response to Sloppy Start Reveal Identity?
Jarod Ware carried the ball 21 times for 169 yards and a touchdown Saturday against Belhaven.
(photo by Daryl Tessmann, D3photography.com)
"Show me someone who has done something worthwhile and I will show you someone who has overcome adversity."- LOU HOLTZ
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks knew they would face their share of adversity this season. Most observers of the program weren't expecting it quite this early in the season and no one associated with the program expected it to be self-inflicted. Granted, referring to a 13-7 second quarter deficit as adversity is a bit of a stretch. But self-infliction was definitely an ingredient in the early going when the Warhawks faced Belhaven Saturday afternoon. The assortment of first half errors was very uncharacteristic of a Warhawk football team. Four times the defense jumped off sides. Four first half turnovers. A dropped touchdown pass. An ill-fated fake punt attempt.
With all the mistakes, the Warhawks still held a 17-13 halftime lead. But the seeming lack of focus was a concern the scoreboard didn't completely override. How would UW-W respond to a first half that didn't come anywhere near their expectations? They got physical. The Warhawks outscored Belhaven 42-0 in the second half en route to a 59-13 victory. The Warhawks defense forced four second half Blazer turnovers and applied continual pressure to QB Hunter McEachern. In spite of the lopsided score and the obvious pounding he was taking, McEachern played the entire game, throwing 76 passes for 454 yards. However, McEachern also threw six interceptions. The Warhawk defense earned eight take aways on the afternoon. Safety Colin Buck forced a fumble on the goal line and intercepted two passes, the second of which he returned 79 yards for a touchdown.
Offensively, the Warhawks' physical running game took over. In all, the Warhawks rushed for 476 yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns. Drew Patterson led the way with 227 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 22 carries. Jarod Ware gained 169 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Cam Maly scored two touchdowns on the ground and Ronny Ponick added one for the Warhawks.
While the Warhawks will undoubtedly work to clean up the errors on both sides of the ball, the physical nature of the Warhawks play was not lost on Head Coach Kevin Bullis. "I think our physicality took it's toll in the second half. With our D-line rotation, I think we were able to wear out their offensive line. That was our plan going in and it came to pass. We were able to hit the quarterback which will lead to the ball coming out early," Bullis elaborated.
One of the byproducts of the early season is the forming of an identity. One of the components of the 2016 identity appears to be physicality. Anchored with strength along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, the Warhawks appear determined to impose their will on opponents. Physicality is what took over the Belhaven game on Saturday. And physicality is likely what the Warhawks will turn to when adversity strikes again this season.
Warhawks Use Ground and Pound to Smash Belhaven 59-13
The UW-Whitewater rode a physical style of football to a home win on Saturday as the Warhawks won their second game of the season, a 59-13 victory over the Belhaven Blazers in front of 4,554 at Perkins Stadium. Belhaven, who hails from Jackson, MS, held a 13-7 lead with 12:14 left in the second quarter, but the Warhawks scored 52 consecutive points the rest of the way to seal their second victory of the season.
Offensively, the Warhawks relied on a physical running attack to wear down the Blazers. The Hawks rushed 59 times for 476 yards and seven touchdowns. Sophomore running back Drew Patterson led the way with 22 carries for 227 yards and three touchdowns. Jarod Ware carried 21 times for 171 yards and a touchdown. Cam Maly also scored two rushing touchdowns and Ronny Ponick one for the Warhawks.
Defensively, the Hawks went after QB Hunter McEachern. It was a long day for McEachern, who endured hit after hit trying to implement Coach Hal Mumme's "Air Raid" offense. Belhaven threw the ball 76 times. McEachern threw for 454 yards, threw six interceptions, was sacked twice, and endured countless hits on the afternoon.
There will be much more on the Warhawks' victory later this evening. With the win, UW-W moves to 2-0 on the season. They now move into their bye week before beginning preparations for a 1:00 September 24th game at Perkins Stadium against Morningside College.
Last Week's Record: 7-1
Season Record: 7-1
UW-River Falls at Gustavis Adolphus
The Falcons were slow out of the gate last week against Coe, falling behind 28-0. They kept battling but the Kohawks were clearly the better team last week. North Dakota State Transfer QB Michael Veldman had an excellent debut for the Gusties. It sounds odd, but River Falls is actually quite a step up for GA after playing Westminster (MO) last week. The Falcons will be determined after their disappointing showing last week.
River Falls 34
Gustavus Adolphus 28
St. Francis (IL) at UW-Platteville
The Fighting Saints, ranked #14 in the NAIA, lost 42-35 to the NAIA's 10th ranked team last week when St. Xavier scored with 30 seconds remaining to break a 35-35 tie. UW-Platteville, ranked #10 in the NCAA D-III, won 35-0 on a long road trip against George Fox. This should be a pretty good game but the Pioneers have too much for St. Francis.
St. Francis 24
St. Francis 7
UW-Eau Claire at Concordia-Moorhead
This is a dangerous game for the Cobbers, who need to crank up their passing attack after throwing for only 86 yards against Jamestown last week. If the Blugolds had caught C-M last week, they may well have won. It still could happen, depending on how coach Terry Horan's Cobbers respond to last week's disaster.
Eau Claire 20
UW-Stout at St. Thomas
The Blue Devils gained 521 yards in their 45-30 win over Simpson last week. They also gave up 469. The Tommies are still trying to find answers along the offensive line. But after a slow start, St. Thomas rocked Eau Claire 42-6. Sounds about right.
St. Thomas 42
St. Thomas 57
Ripon at UW-LaCrosse
The Eagles down-shifted their non-conference schedule after facing brutal competition the past few years. After thrashing Luther last week, they get more of the same with Ripon. A second straight option team that does not have the horses to match up with the UW-LaCrosse defense.
Albion at UW-Stevens Point
The Pointers step up in class slightly after easily defeating St. Norbert last week. Last year Albion embarrassed the Pointers by hanging 65 on them. Don't think Point doesn't remember.
Stevens Point 48
Belhaven at UW-Whitewater
The Warhawks won in Mississippi last year 62-6. Belhaven appears to be much improved after defeating Milsaps last week. A year ago, the Blazers lost to Milsaps by 29. Whitewater may well be better than their national semi-final team of a year ago. The Warhawks have too much Whitewater in them to allow Belhaven to stick around in this one.
Belhaven to Test Whitewater's Pass Defense Saturday
In UW-Whitewater's opening game of the 2016 season, the Warhawks faced a The College of New Jersey team that looked to establish the run. It is hard to conceive facing a much different foe when the Warhawks host coach Hal Mumme's "Air Raid" offense on Saturday afternoon. Mumme's Belhaven Blazers threw 56 passes in their 28-25 season opening victory against their Jackson, MS rival Millsaps on Thursday night, September 1st. Senior wide receiver LaMiquell Roberts set a school record with 220 receiving yards and tied a school record with 14 receptions last week. In all, freshman Blazer QB Hunter McEachern completed 30 of 55 passes for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Belhaven ran just enough to keep Millsaps honest, keeping the ball on the ground 21 times for 86 yards.
Along with filling the air with passes, Coach Mumme is known for unorthodox decisions as part of his philosophy. He will often choose to go for first down rather than punting deep in his own territory. at other times he will line up in a shotgun formation on fourth down and have his quarterback punt from that position. It is all part of a philosophy that Coach Mumme believes keeps his offense on the attack. He believes in an extremely fast paced, short passing attack that is designed to keep defenses off balance and wear them out. There are some who believe Coach Mumme is the most influential football coach in the game today. While coaching the University of Kentucky Wildcats, he brought his air show to the SEC, the hotbed of college football. Many believe it is through Coach Mumme's influence that turned college football from being a ground and pound game into an air show.
"It will be a great challenge for our pass defense," Warhawks' Head Coach Kevin Bullis remarked. The Warhawks, who beat Belhaven 62-6 last season, are coming off a 51-3 victory over The College of New Jersey. "We will be focusing on what we do. We need to be disruptive to the quarterback and throw him off his mark. We need to be disciplined with our coverages. THis will be a good experience for our guys," Bullis emphasized. The fact that the Warhawks have only one returning starter in their secondary, senior cornerback Vince Mason, doesn't concern Bullis. "Our other guys have played a lot of meaningful football. In Colin Buck, Bennett Young, and Jake Gierlak, we have guys who have a lot of experience. Have they been the guys to start the games in past years? Not necessarily. But have they played as early as the first and second quarter in competitive games? Absolutely. They have all had great fall camps and I have a lot of confidence in them."
Beyond the numbers...
The Warhawk defense was excellent on Saturday, allowing only 2.6 yards per play. The College of New Jersey had 14 possessions and averaged less than 13 yards per drive.
The offensive line for the Warhawks met their challenge on Saturday. The Lions stayed in their 4-4, "8 men in the box" defense all day long. The Warhawks still established the run to the tune of 216 yards, 5.4 yards per carry, and 4 rushing touchdowns.
The Hawks made the most of their opportunities, scoring touchdowns on all six of their trips to the red zone.
45 of the Warhawks 51 points were scored by either a freshman or a sophomore. The sole exception was a 19 yard TD catch by junior tight end Tony Gumina. Who threw it? Sophomore Cole Wilber.
On the Warhawks' 7 touchdown drives, the offense averaged 9.6 yards per play.
This game is another indicator of the folly of assigning any value to the Time of Possession statistic. TCNJ held the "edge", 35:55 to 24:05. To hold the ball for 36 minutes with only 12 first downs shows a lot of patience on the part of the Lions.
The Warhawks had 7 plays of 20 or more yards, TCNJ had none. The Warhawks had 20 plays of 10 or more yards, TCNJ had 7.
Ben Franzen averaged 61 yards on his 9 kickoffs with 3 touch backs. The Lions' average field position after receiving a kickoff was their own 23 yard line. The Warhawks' average field position after the two Lions' kickoffs was the Warhawk 44 yard line.
The Warhawks' starting offense consisted of:
5 Sophomores, 3 juniors, and 3 seniors.
The Warhawks' starting defense consisted of:
8 Seniors, 2 juniors, and 1 sophomore
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
This is an intriguing WIAC/OAC match-up. Most people agree the WIAC has a huge edge in bottom tier teams. However, these two teams represent the upper stratosphere of each conference. UW-O is 18-3 in the WIAC the past three season, while John Carroll is 23-4 in OAC over the same span. While both teams would probably prefer to hang their hat on their defenses and in the trenches, the difference in quarterbacks could well spell the difference.
JOHN CARROLL 13
John Carroll 14
UW-LaCrosse at Luther (IA)
Coach Mike Schmidt era begins as the Eagles travel south to Decorah, Iowa to take on Luther. A year ago, LaCrosse won at home 26-19. While Sdchmidt aims to change the culture at UW-L, that will take some time. There’s no reason to expect either team to pull away in this one.
UW-River Falls at Coe
While playing in a a weaker conference is not usually a strength when playing non-conference competition, it may actually work to the Kohawks favor on Saturday. This is a program that is used to doing a fair share of winning in the 11th ranked IIAC. UW-RF has been improving, but still has a 34-104 record since 2002. These are the games UW-RF needs to help turn the corner. But until they started getting them, they are also difficult to win.
Stevens Point at St. Norbert
The physicality of a mid to upper level WIAC Pointer team will be difficult for the Green Knights to contend with. The Green Knights will likely contend in the 23rd ranked Midwest Conference. While the Pointers are not expected to crack the top two in the WIAC, they are probably right next to Platteville as the team most ready to crash the Warhawk/Titan party at the top of the league.
Stevens Point 34
St. Norbert 23
St. Norbert 14
Simpson (IA) at UW-Stout
This game shapes up to be pretty evenly matched. While I would like to think a 3 win WIAC team would hold up very well against a 4 win IIAC team, something tells me that Matt Jeter will get his first win as the head coach of his alma mater.
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
The best team of the nation’s #2 conference against the worst team in the #1 conference is not a good match-up. While Coach Larson will probably ultimately do well at UW-EC, facing the Tommies will likely define just how far the Blugolds have to climb to get where they want to go.
St. Thomas 51
UW-Eau Claire 13
St. Thomas 42
UW-Platteville at George Fox
The Pioneers make the long trek to Newberg, OR to take on third year program George Fox. The Bruins won four games last year in just their second year of existence. The Pioneers return an experienced offense that should have an opportunity to get off to a fast start against the upstart Bruins.
George Fox 10
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The College of New Jersey at UW-Whitewater
The Lions' Interim Head Coach Rocky Hager believes in fundamental football. He stays in his base defense, believes in establishing the running game on offense, and emphasizes controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. It is a solid plan. However, a bigger, faster, and stronger UW-Whitewater team will thwart that plan decisively if they play up to their capabilities.
THE WAIT IS ALMOST OVER!
The 2016 Warhawks prepare for Saturday's season opener on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at the Perk
In spite of the fact that the 2015 season extended two weeks into December, this off-season has felt particularly long to the returning coaches and players in the UW-Whitewater football program. A 30 point defeat to post-season rival Mount Union will slow the clock down immeasurably. It is clear from talking to players and coaches that last year's disappointing ending drives them daily to put in whatever extra effort is needed to get better. The sense of commitment probably falls somewhere between driven and maniacal. The sense of purpose includes a sense of urgency to use every opportunity available to improve. But with each meeting and each workout comes an increased desire to get the 2016 season started. "We will have had 40 practices without a game," Assistant Coach John O'Grady commented after practice on Thursday. "We need to play a game. Saturday can't come fast enough." Understandably, Coach O'Grady's sentiments were echoed by coaches and players throughout the program. "I can't wait to get on the field for the first game," Co-Captain Austin Jones exclaimed. Senior cornerback Vince Mason said, "We have worked so hard all year long for this. Then, camp went pretty fast until this week. This week time has gone slowly. Now we are getting to the season where time moves fast again." ,
Head Coach Kevin Bullis is looking at Saturday as a measuring stick as to how well the coaches have prepared the players over the past 40 practices. "We demand a high level of execution from our players. We expect to play up to our capabilities on Saturday. The position coaches and coordinators see the level of execution as a reflection on our coaching. And ultimately that reflects on me and the job I am doing as a head coach," Bullis revealed.
The Warhawks take on The College of New Jersey on Saturday at Perkins Stadium. The kickoff is scheduled for noon. Bullis believes the cohesiveness that comes with the coaching staff being together for a year will be a significant change over last year. "The coaches know each other, the players know the coaches, and the coaches know the players," Bullis noted. "The chemistry on the staff is fantastic. It was last year as well, but we have worked together for over a year now. It enables us to bring our focus on details to a higher level. We have always focused on details here, but with all the changes last year, a lot of time was spent on communication and other things inherent with a new staff. This year, we have the time to spend on the minute details that separate the great programs from the others. Our whole mindset is to get better every single day. We will find out Saturday where we are at right now. Then the goal from there will be to get better each and every day from Saturday and beyond."
The College of New Jersey won their last four games last year after dropping their first five. That winning streak included a 20-0 shutout of traditional New Jersey Athletic Conference power Rowan in the last game of the season. Interim Coach Rocky Hagar is a man Coach Bullis has respected for years.
"He won national championships at North Dakota State. One thing I know about Rocky is that his team will be very physical. They are going to want to own the line of scrimmage defensively and offensively. They are going to want to establish the run game and that is something we are going to have to take away from them and force them to throw the ball. We need to try to force them into doing something they don’t want to do. That is where the challenge lies for our defense.
On defense, they are going to try to do the same thing. They will put a lot of people around the box. They are going to try to take away our run game. Establishing the run game is something we hang our hat on. So it is a great match up in that manner. We are excited to get a chance to play them," Coach Bullis continued. Without a doubt, everyone in the program is excited to get to get back on the field on Saturday. One game doesn't make a season. But it will go a long way to putting the end of the last one in the rear view mirror for good.
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