Next Saturday, Washburn will take to the road to continue the roll the football team is off to.
Having played three games this season, Washburn has ridden to a thus far undefeated mark. They will face their first real test of the season against Missouri Western State University who themselves, are coming off three consecutive wins including an impressive road win at Fort Hays State University last week.
Going back to last season, both programs have grown together at roughly the same pace and both seem poised for big seasons this year. Indeed, this annual matchup has been one of the most hotly contested series for Washburn the past few seasons.
“This matchup has been a pretty closely played game every year since we arrived on campus,” said Craig Schurig, head football coach.
If the statistics this season are any indicator of what fans should expect from both teams, the game ought to be a closely fought affair. This season, both teams have been prolific in the passing game with both starting quarterbacks averaging more than 220 yards and two touchdowns per game. Both teams are not going to abandon the balance of the offense that the running game offers though.
“We feel like running the ball will set up everything else we want to do on offense,” said Schurig, “and conversely we want to stop them from running the ball and make them a one dimensional team as well.”
So far this season, MWSU has played extremely aggressive defense, led by Daniel Atkinson (18 tackles and three sacks) and have been rewarded with a healthy turnover margin that has featured two interception returns for touchdowns and nine sacks coming into this Saturday’s game. While their defense has been opportunistic, their offense features some players of the caliber and speed that the Ichabods haven’t seen up to this point.
“They have as fast receivers as we have seen all season and will really be a key matchup for us defensively,” said Schurig.
Not to be outdone on defense, Washburn led by Zach Watkins (16 tackles and 1 interception) has been turning up the heat on opposing offenses all season thus far and should see opportunities to make plays against the power passing game of MWSU.
In the special teams facet of the game both teams look to be pretty evenly matched as well, featuring punting units averaging over 35 yards which should contribute to the field position battle and overall strategy of the game.
Regardless of the final score this first real test of the season for Washburn figures to be a hard fought game and will be a fair forecaster of what the rest of the season will hold for the Ichabods.