[slidepress gallery = ‘110907_football-preview’]
After winning its season opener, the St. Thomas football team is looking to keep the momentum going this Saturday, Sept. 10, when it heads to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to take on the Falcons.
The Tommies beat St. Norbert College on Saturday, Sept. 3, 20-7, in a game senior quarterback Dakota Tracy described as “ugly.”
“I don’t know if I’d give it an A, B, C or D or F; but it’s not good enough,” Tracy said. “We always talk about the biggest improvement is between week one or week two, and that’s what we’re shooting for now.”
The Tommies struggled running the ball Saturday, finishing with only 55 yards on 30 carries; however, they had no problems passing it, racking up 347 yards through the air.
“We’re a 50-run, 50-pass team,” Tracy said. “Always have and always will be.”
Senior running back Colin Tobin said that though the running game struggled in the first game it will improve.
“The run game is gonna be where it’s gonna be,” Tobin said. “We’re gonna keep working, doing what we’re doing every day, every year, same thing, so it’ll get back up to speed.”
The Tommies know they’ll have to continue to get better to replicate last season’s 10-0 regular season mark. This Saturday they face a River Falls team that returns nine starters on defense and a talented running back in senior Taylor Edwards. Edwards rushed for 108 yards against the Tommies last year.
The Falcons will be playing their first game under new head coach Matt Walker, who was an offensive assistant coach at Butler University last year.
“I do expect a tougher contest, and I certainly know they’re going to be tougher than our opponent last week as well,” head coach Glenn Caruso said. “Moreover, playing St. Thomas seems to be more of a motivating factor for teams nowadays. We noticed our first year, first two years, we didn’t always get the opponent’s A game, but in the last two years, there’s no question you always get their A game.”
Last year against River Falls, Tracy threw for two touchdowns and ran for one more. However, Caruso insists that does not mean he will get the same opportunities this time around.
“The fact that he had three last year was simply a function of what they were giving us at the time, and he took advantage of it,” Caruso said. “We have to be better as a team, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one guy has to have better statistics. Quite often it’s the opposite.”
Look for the Tommies to focus on decreasing their turnovers, of which they had three against St. Norbert. One was a blown call, but Caruso said that any time you don’t have 100 percent ball security, it’s a cause for concern.
“Obviously Kyle (Whitley) put the ball on the ground even though he was down,” Caruso said. “It’s inexcusable because you can never give an official an opportunity to make a mistake.”
The defense forced four turnovers of its own, but it’s unrealistic for the Tommies to expect that kind of production every week.
As for junior starting defensive tackle Ayo Idowu, who injured his leg last week against St. Norbert, Caruso said, “he’ll be OK” to play against River Falls.
Tom Graves can be reached at email@example.com.