By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com)- Following the bye week, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team will be back in action where they travel on the road to take on Wisconsin Lutheran College at Raabe Stadium.
In the game against Concordia-Moorhead, the Blugolds struggled to replace starting running back Gerald Childs (Jr. - Brookfield, WI/East), who was out due to an injury. JT Denhartog (So. – Hopkins, MN) was relied on heavily in the game having had 33 attempts passing and 16 rushing attempts. Denhartog accounted for just under 250 total yards, but head coach Dan Larson is still hoping for more out of his sophomore signal-caller.
Overall, the Blugold offense was quick to stall on third-downs, as the team was 2 of 15 on third downs against the Cobbers. Eau Claire struggled to maintain drives and get much going, but finally broke through at the end of the game with a 59-yard bomb from Denhartog to Matt Knapp (Sr. – Eau Claire, WI). Knapp finished another game with over 100 yards receiving and will continue to be vital in the Blugold offense.
Defensively, Eau Claire was bitten early by the double-wing offense of Concordia-Moorhead. The Cobbers took advantage of opportunities and broke away for huge gains on the ground. Two big runs set up easy scores for the Cobbers, but the defense continued to play tough. At halftime, the defense made some adjustments and held Moorhead to just six points in the second half. Larson said the biggest adjustment was to play harder.
Scouting the opponent:
In the first ever matchup between the two schools, Eau Claire will take on the Warriors (0-2) at Raabe Stadium, with kickoff set for 2:00 PM.
The Warriors run a quick option pass type of offense. They like to move the ball quickly, behind quarterback Pat Mathieson. The Warriors have familiar woes as they have only rushed for 76 total yards on the ground thus far. Mathieson has been solid through the air completing 66.7 percent of his passes and throwing for 429 yards in two games. The Blugolds will have to continue to have to shut down the Warrior run game and stop the trio of senior wide outs for the Warriors.
For Eau Claire, this is a game that they should be able to move the ball around the field. Wisconsin Lutheran College has averaged giving up 538 total yards per game, including 302 yards per game on the ground. The Blugolds will need to establish the run and keep the pressure on the Warriors.
Keys to the game:
-Prove your identity- WIAC schools are known for their power run, physical type of play and that is something head coach Dan Larson wants Eau Claire, specifically, to be know for as well. The Blugolds will need to establish the momentum early and play four full quarters of football.
-Get JT Denhartog going- The Blugolds need Denhartog to be the leader of the offense through the air and on the ground. Big things have happened for the Blugolds when Denhartog has taken shots down the field, both touchdowns have come on long passing plays. Eau Claire will have to establish the run to set up the play action to allow for him to be at his best.
-Build on success- The Blugolds desperately need to build up some momentum as they are set to return home for their homecoming match-up against the UW-Stevens Point and start of WIAC conference play. The WIAC is one of the toughest conferences in the nation and Eau Claire will have one last non-conference game to build their identity before the conference tour begins.