By Kyle Naber, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, WIS. (Blugolds.com)- Coming off a tough 56-0 defeat against the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, the task is even bigger this week as the UW-Eau Claire football team takes on No. 5 UW-Oshkosh.
Last week's game was not what the Blugolds anticipated. The team felt that they would be able to measure up with the Pioneers, especially after hanging tight with them most of the game last season. However, this was not the case as Platteville was able to get things rolling right away.
Eau Claire struggled on both sides of the ball, but there were still some bright spots for the Blugolds. Michael Priefer, Jr. (Jr. – Mound, MN/Mound Westonka) added seven more tackles to his tally for the season and added his second interception of the year. Priefer, who switched from quarterback to safety this off-season, has made some big plays for the Blugolds this season and has been able to carve out a nice role.
Another bright spot pointing to better days ahead is Sam Romanski (So. – Wausau, WI/East). The outside linebacker led the way with eight tackles, including one for a loss, and added his first sack of the season. Head Coach Dan Larson has seen a lot of growth from his young linebacker thanks in large part to extended playing time this season.
Despite last week's loss, the Blugolds are a team that is still hungry and still continues to fight. The morale of the team has not budged at all, they still are working towards the day when they look up and see a lopsided score in their favor. Eau Claire will get one last chance this season to get a high quality win before they pack away the helmets and pads for the winter.
Scouting the opponent:
UW-Oshkosh is one of the best teams in the nation. The Titans defeated usual conference powerhouse UW-Whitewater a year ago, but fell by a field goal this season. Despite the loss, the Titans are still a top five team and are deep on both sides of the ball.
"They have one of the biggest lines I think we will ever see," said Larson. "They also have one of the best secondaries in the nation, which makes it really tough to throw it deep on them."
Coming into Saturday's game, Oshkosh ranks highly in both offensive and defensive categories. With the 14th best total defense in the nation and the 25th total offense, it is easy to see why many call this Titan team extremely deep.
Points are usually hard to come by against the Titans as they only allow 11.9 points per game and on the other side of the ball, they average over 40 points per game.
Keys to the game:
-Win one for the seniors- The Blugolds need to use their best to be the best. Matt Knapp's (Sr. – Eau Claire, WI/Memorial) involvement will be a big indicator of the success of the offense; if he is having a big day, it is probable that the rest of the seniors and the offense are having a good day as well.
-Start fast- The Blugolds have started slow in a number of games and it has led to them trailing early and forcing them to change their game plan. The best way to keep the crowd roaring at Carson Park is to score and score early.
-Finish Strong- The last time the Blugolds won their final game of the season was in 2013. Changes are coming to this program and we are starting to see the flashes of them. This team will be different next year, but the departing players would love nothing more than to add one last win in front of the home crowd at Carson Park. In order to do that they will have to execute and the team will have to believe in themselves one more time this year.