Football looks to bounce back at home

Jon Young

Following their 45-10 loss to Findlay on Thursday, Aug. 30, the Wildcat football team is focused on getting all 11 players on the same page and taking it one week at a time for their upcoming game against University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Thursday, Sept. 6.

“We talked as a program about understanding we just simply have to get better each week and grow,” head coach Chris Ostrowsky said. “It’s about a process of getting better week after week, and as long as we do that, I think we’ll grow as a football program and the rest will fall into place.”

The numbers were closer then the score would have appeared.

Findlay only edged NMU on time of possession 30:38 to 29:22 and the Oilers only managed five more first downs than the Wildcats.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Morley-who finished the game 24-44 for 235 yards and one interception-said the team was able to get drives going but the key is converting those drives into points.

“We have to move the ball, but we have to put it in the end zone at the same time,” Morley said. “We can’t stall out four times like we did in the red zone. Whether it’s kicking a field goal or putting it in the end zone for a touchdown, we’ve got to put some points on the board.”

The ’Cats were able to move the ball on the ground as senior running back Prince Young racked up 93 yards on 18 carries.

Freshman running back Keon Collier picked up 79 yards on nine carries. Ostrowsky said the rushing effort is a positive sign moving forward.

“Prince Young had a great day, Keon Collier had a great day, so we had two kids that almost had 100 yards which we’re pretty excited about,” Ostrowsky said. “I thought they were physical upfront, I can’t say enough about coach (Rob) Boss and the job he is doing.”

Along with the solid rushing game, the offensive line didn’t allow any sacks on Morley, who threw 44 times in the game.

“I thought a combination of sound offensive line play and Ryan getting the ball out of his hand equaled great success,” Ostrowsky said. “We didn’t expect to throw it that many (times), for him not to get sacked at all is a pretty special sign that things are going in the right direction.”

On the other side of the ball defensive coordinator Brain Newberry-like Ostrowsky-stressed the idea of each player doing their job and collectively getting better each week.

“Every day you come out to practice you just have to get a little bit better. On the surface, giving up 45 points looks like you are way off the mark but I’m telling you-we’re not far off the mark and we’re going to get better,” Newberry said.

Newberry said the defensive lapse doesn’t fall on one area of the defense but on the group as a whole.

“We told the team the defense made just as many mistakes upfront, made just as many mistakes at linebacker that we did in the secondary,” Newberry said. “It wasn’t lack of effort, it wasn’t because we have bad football players, it was not understanding that we have to have 11 guys doing their job in order for this thing to work.”

The ’Cats cut the score to 10-7 on a 9-yard touchdown run from Young with 9:42 left in the second quarter. Findlay scored once more before the half to take a 17-7 lead into the break.

In the third quarter three straight touchdowns put the game out of reach as the Oilers jumped out to a 38-7 lead before senior kicker Rockne Belmonte connected on a 26-yard field goal for NMU’s last score.

NMU committed three fumbles-losing two-and Morley threw one interception in the game, due to miscommunication on a receiver’s route.

One of the fumbles came after a collision between Young and Morley.

Ostrowsky said these types of mistakes should lessen as the offense gels.

“I think it’s just execution, understanding the speed of the game. The errors we made were such rookie errors, if you will. (But) with that being said, they’re errors and you have to be accountable for them,” Ostrowsky said. “I think we just have execute from start to finish and offensively we’ll be fine.”

Fans can get a chance to catch the ’Cats this weekend in their home opener.

Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 6 in the Superior Dome. NMU is hosting the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.