September 11th, 2019 12:00pm
I went 4-3 in my picks last week. Not bad for my first week in the conference if I do say so myself! Check out the recap of last week’s action!
The Chris Keevers era of Indianapolis football got started with a bang against number 23 Ashland on Thursday night. The number 16 Greyhounds used a stout defensive performance and solid quarterback play to earn a comeback win over the Eagles after being down 9-6 at halftime.
Indianapolis found themselves down 9-0 halfway through the second quarter. While the Greyhound offense was still trying to find their identity with surprise starter TJ Edwards, the Eagles took advantage of a long connection from Brenner to Turnbaugh on what seemed to be a doomed play to get themselves into position for the first score. The Greyhounds aided in the big gain with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. However, the Ashland was able to manage only a field goal after a great red zone stand by the Indianapolis defense. The Eagles next field goal was aided by a shanked Paul Buisman punt that only went 16 yards, giving them the ball at the Greyhound 37-yard line. Again, the Indianapolis defense held their ground forcing a field goal. Ashland’s final points came as a result of a solid 15 play, 61-yard drive. That was the last sign of life we’d see life from the Eagle offense until the fourth quarter when they drove down into the Greyhound red zone twice, only to be intercepted near the goal line.
Indianapolis came out of halftime having made some subtle, but very effective adjustments on offense. They ran their offense with more tempo, utilized more RPO, and had TJ Edwards get the ball out of his hands faster. It was a matter of time before Edwards found his rhythm after spending a year away from football. One doesn’t rack up over 7,000 passing yards and 79 touchdowns without having some natural ability to sling the ball. In second half, Edwards hooked up with Daveon Bell for a three-yard touchdown pass, Aaron Matio for a 59-yard touchdown pass, and Ryan Topper for a 26-yard connection that put them at the one-yard line. At the end of the night, Edwards racked up 221 yards though the air, a 74% completion percentage, two touchdowns, and 31-yards on the ground. Not bad for your first game in over a year against one of the top defenses in the country. While Ashland’s defense held the vaunted Indianapolis rushing attack to 140-yards and an underwhelming 3 yards per carry average, it was their inability to find an answer for Edwards that did them in.
On the other side of the ball, the Greyhound defense gave a stellar performance holding Ashland to 54 yards rushing and a 1.9 yard per carry average. Sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner did rack up 303 yards through the air, however a deeper look will reveal that 37% of those yards came on three of his 45 pass attempts, and 139 of the 303 yards came in the fourth quarter when the game was well in control.
The Eagles raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on the back of Walter Payton Award candidate Eric Barriere’s record setting performance. While the Eagle’s lead was never really in doubt, Lindenwood demonstrated grit and resolve in being able to close within 2 touchdowns by halftime.
Highlight Lindenwood individual performances:
Cade Brister- 283 yards passing, 4 touchdown passes
Payton Rose- 6 receptions, 97 yards, 2 touchdown receptions
Derek Edwards- 4 tackles, 1 sack
Jayce Conklin- 1 interception
Jared Stangler- 44 yards per punt average, 4 punts downed inside 20-yard line.
Spencer Redd- 133 yards total return yards
Aside from Lindenwood’s resilience in their response after being down big early to a division one opponent, the story of the day for Lindenwood fans was their special team’s performance. The Lions dropped several games last year in the MIAA in part because of their shortcomings on special teams. Lindenwood consistently covered punts and kicks well against EWU holding them to a total of -2 return yards. For Lions fans that watched special teams play over the past five years, this was a breath of much needed fresh air.
The biggest takeaway for me from this game was the outstanding performance from the Truman defense. We knew that the Bulldogs would return one of the best defenses in the GLVC, especially along the defensive line and secondary, but holding a division one Drake team to seven points was a tall order for even the most optimistic Truman fan.
Truman was able to find a way to get enough points on the board thanks in large part to the GLVC human highlight reel Lawrence Woods who notched his 4th career kickoff touchdown return. In the end, Truman was able to hold Drake to 240 total yards including a 1.2 yard per carry average. Leading the charge for Truman’s defensive performance was Jake Floyd who ended the day with seven tackles, one sack, and two tackles for a loss.
Heading into the season, questions about the 2019 Miners revolved around their quarterback play after graduating one of the best signal callers in GLVC history. Brennan Simms helped quell some of those concerns after turning in an effort in which he accumulated a respectable 202 yards passing and 2 touchdown passes. More encouraging for Miner fans was the production from their running back position. Deshawn Jones lead the way with an 87-yard, one touchdown performance. Aaron Moya and Payton McCallister contributed another 112 yards on the ground as well.
Unfortunately, S&T could not find a way to slow down the Eastern New Mexico relentless run game as they collected a total of 484 yards on 77 carries and four rushing touchdowns. Leading the way for the Greyhounds was Paul Terry with 191 yards and 3 touchdowns. While the play went back and forth for most of the game with 5 lead changes, Eastern New Mexico used timely turnovers and long drives to edge the Miners in the end.
Mckendree’s long trip north to Northern Michigan began well as they jumped out to a 6-0 lead on the Wildcats in the 1st quarter. The Bearcats battled back and forth through the first half and trailed 10-9 at halftime. Unfortunately, Northern Michigan would rattle off 20 unanswered points in the second half as their defense held the McKendree offense to only 220 yards, including 124 yards through the air.
Some bright spots for the Bearcats include holding the Wildcats to 268 yards of total offense and a pair of promising performances from freshman quarterback Turner Pullen (15-26, 133 yards, 1 touchdown) and his wide receiver Jacob Bachman (5 receptions, 50 yards, 1 touchdown).
Quincy jumped out to a 26-0 lead in the first half against Central State and didn’t look back. The Hawks turned in an impressive offensive performance racking up 526 total yards of offense. Quarterback Andrew Rund contributed 265 yards passing and 2 touchdown passes to kick off his senior campaign. Most impressive offensively for the Hawks was their running game that saw four ball carriers rack up 230 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 42 carries.
The Quincy defense also impressed holding the Central State offense scoreless until the fourth quarter. The Marauders were only able to manage 84 yards of rushing on 37 carries. The Quincy defense was also tough against the Central State passing game, sacking Central State quarterback Frank Cocio 4 times and forcing one interception.
Southwest Baptist opened their contest committing 4 penalties on the first 5 plays of the game. This seemed to set the tone for the Bearcats for the rest of the game as miscues, mistakes, and missed opportunities plagued their first half performance. Meanwhile, the Cardinals relied on some opportunistic plays from their quarterback and second half big play ability from one of their new wide receivers to knock off the Bearcats for the second time in two years.
Southwest Baptist out gained William Jewell 437 yards to 369 and racked up 31 first downs to Jewell’s 17. Despite these offensive numbers, the Bearcats found themselves scoreless until the third quarter; and that came on a returned PAT for two points. They scored their only offensive points late in the 4th quarter. The Cardinal defense was the epitome of bend but don’t break, forcing and blocking two Bearcat field goal attempts, and holding them to only 1-6 on fourth down conversions.
Leading the offensive charge for William Jewell was senior quarterback Will Schneider who tossed three touchdown passes. Two of those touchdowns went to junior transfer wide receiver Jalik Jaggwe, who scored on both of his receptions. Redshirt freshman Nick Allsman lead the ground game with 79 yards rushing on only 11 attempts. Defensively, Brock Geisz steadied the Cardinal defense with 16 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and one sack.
The Hawks will look to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2016 as they visit Kentucky Wesleyan out of the GMAC. Last year, both teams faced off in Quincy late in the season where the Hawks took the contest 31-24. Last week the Panthers were edged by NAIA no. 6 Concordia by a score of 17-14. Kentucky Wesleyan had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter despite Concordia more than doubling their offensive output, 369-146. The Panthers ended the day with a net total of -17 rushing yards on the day.
I don’t anticipate that Quincy will hold them to as dismal of an offensive showing as Concordia did, but it won’t get much easier for Kentucky Wesleyan as the Hawks confidence is high after a good showing last week. While the Panther’s defense did keep them in last week’s game, I think they’ll have a tougher time keeping the Hawks out of the endzone after they racked up 526 yards of total offense last week. I think Andrew Rund and the stable of Hawks running backs turn in another solid performance and break the 30-point mark again this week.
McKendree will face off against its second GLIAC foe in a row as they host a Michigan Tech team picked to finish last in the Conference in the 2019 preseason poll. The Huskies are coming off an impressive win against Hillsdale who was picked to finish first in the GMAC and voted 23 in the preseason media poll. Michigan Tech appears to be solid on the defensive side of the ball as they only allowed six first downs and 160 yards of total offense. Offensively they’ll bring a strong and consistent running attack that netted 214 yards on 47 attempts last week.
GLIAC columnist Jake Riepma may be onto something when he says he doesn’t think Michigan Tech is the worst team in the conference. The Bearcats are going to find a tougher test this weekend when the Huskies come to Lebanon. For the Bearcats to win, quarterback Turner Pullen will need to improve on his steady play, and the offensive line will have to do a better job of creating holes for Jace Franklin. McKendree will also have to create turnovers, which Michigan Tech showed they are prone to, throwing 2 picks and losing 2 fumbles last week. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, most teams play much cleaner ball after their first game of the season. I see the Huskies grinding this one out on the back of sophomore running back Jared Smith.
Last week, William Jewell showed the poise of a veteran team as they overcame some first half setbacks while their senior laden opponent Southwest Baptist seemed to allow mistakes to sink them early. I anticipate that they’ll have a tougher challenge facing a West Texas team fresh off a 35-16 win versus Azusa Pacific in their brand-new stadium. The Buffs trailed the Cougars by two points heading into the fourth quarter, however their ability to run the ball effectively and shut down the run defensively saw them rattle off 21 unanswered point to close out the game.
Freshman running back Nick Allsman and the Cardinal offensive line will face a tougher test this week as the Buffs only surrendered 24 yards on the ground last week. Will Schneider will have to play a more efficient game and hopefully find Jalik Jaggwe more than just twice, even if he is batting 1.000 on touchdowns to receptions. Despite the opportunistic performance on defense, William Jewell did allow over 200 yards on the ground last week. This doesn’t bode well for them against a West Texas team that racked up 200 yards and four touchdowns against Azusa Pacific. I see the Cardinals doing a better job this week of utilizing homerun threat Jaggwe since rushing yards will be at a premium. Unfortunately, I think Prince Ugwu and the rest of the West Texas rushing attack wear down the Cardinals in the second half and pull away comfortably.
Southwest Baptist probably saw the box score after last week’s loss versus William Jewell and kicked themselves for days. Racking up 31 first downs to your opponent’s 17, winning time of possession, and outgaining your opponent 437 to 369 is normally a formula for a victory. Ultimately the Bearcats were victims to several miscues deep in Cardinal territory and big plays in the second half.
Fortunately for Southwest Baptist, hosting the Central State Marauders might be exactly what they need. Central State was handled easily by Quincy last week at home, 38-8. This week, they make a 10-hour trek to the west to face a Southwest Baptist team that will be looking to play a clean complete game. I think Dylan Mountain and Eric Knight have big games on the ground, and Mountain leverages his new favorite target Curtis Cuillard for a big night through the air as the Bearcats bounce back.
Both Midwestern State and Lindenwood faced off against FCS opponents to open the season, with both netting very different results. The Mustangs handled Northwestern State 33-7, while Lindenwood was thumped 59-31 by Eastern Washington. One could also argue that the quality of their opponents was very different as well. Northwestern State was picked next to last in the Southland Conference, meanwhile Eastern Washington was picked third in the FCS preseason coaches’ poll.
Regardless of questions of quality, holding any FCS team to only 58 yards rushing, and 243 total yards is an impressive feat for the Mustangs. While the EWU defense only allowed 22 points per game last season, chances are that Lindenwood will face a stiffer challenge against Midwestern State. Which means the Lions’ defense will need to find a way to slow down the Mustang quarterback Zach Purcell who’s seemed to pick up right where last year’s LSC player of the year Layton Rabb left off. In the end, I think the maturation of Lindenwood quarterback Cade Brister proves to be the real deal as he keeps the offense rolling. In a switch from the 2018 theme, the new and improved Lion’s special teams will help squeak out a win.
Indianapolis will host an old foe when Hillsdale comes to town this Saturday. With both teams being ranked in the top 25 to begin the season, this was a game I’m sure many Greyhound fans had circled on their schedule before the season started. Unfortunately, Hillsdale’s performance against a Michigan Tech team picked to finish dead last in the GLIAC probably took some of the shine off this game. The key losses Hillsdale had in Harlon Hill finalist quarterback Chance Stewart, wide receiver Trey Brock, defensive lineman Zach VanValkenburg, and defensive back Wyatt Batdorff probably took more of a toll than most folks realized.
Indianapolis will resort to an old tried and true formula as they get their two-headed monster (Mckeller & Clinton) at running back going this week against a vulnerable Hillsdale run defense. I don’t see them having to rely on TJ Edwards as much this week to get the offense going. I’m not certain the Indianapolis defense will get a bigger test this week, so I’d expect a dominant performance from them as well. As most rivalry games are, it’ll be closer than it seems like it should be for a while. But like it usually does, the Indianapolis relentless running game will break this game open in the end.
Despite losing by multiple scores to West Texas A&M, Azusa Pacific was very much in that game until the end. Unfortunately for the Cougars, their task doesn’t seem to get much easier this week as they make the long trek to Missouri S&T to face a Miners team that found themselves in a similar predicament against a tough Eastern New Mexico squad last week.
The Miners run defense will get a little relief this week, as the Cougar’s running game was only able to muster 24 total yards last week. A far cry from the 472 Eastern New Mexico racked up last week. The Cougars run defense also proved to be vulnerable last week which could pose a problem against Miner running backs Aaron Moya and Deshawn Jones who combined for 180 yards last week. If quarterback Brennan Simms can turn in another solid game with less mistakes, I think the Miners end up on top.
Azusa Pacific 27
Missouri S&T 34
This might be the toughest game to breakdown of the week because of the opposite types of games each played the previous week. Truman’s game saw a combined 17 points scored and 421 yards of offense as they defeated Drake 17-10. Wayne’s game had 99 points and 1,031 yards of total offense as they were dropped by Slippery Rock 62-37.
At the end of the day, I believe in the talent and toughness of this Bulldog defense. I don’t think they have as much success as last week against a solid Wayne offense, but they slow them down enough. Jaden Barr and company will find some breathing room this week and get on track after a disappointing performance last week.