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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Editorial: 3 Keys to success for Eagles against No. 1 Ferris State

The Eagles will take on the Bulldogs at home in the home opener Saturday
Michael Hopkins
On Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Eagles held a padded practice in preparation for Saturday’s outing.

The Ashland University football team opened up play last Thursday against No. 16 IUP, and the road does not get any easier this week. The Eagles are set to host back-to-back National Champion Ferris State.

Coming off of a close 24-17 loss, the Eagles need to get back on track against the No.1 team in the country, but if they execute on these three key areas of the game, the upset may be possible.

Number 3: Repeat special teams performance against IUP

The special teams units were one of the bright spots against IUP, and if the Eagles can win this phase of the game against Ferris State they could steal momentum to have a chance for an upset.

“We were able to get pressure on the punter, as evidenced by two blocked punts and a muffed punt return. Our coverage and return units were also substantial for us,” said Head Coach Doug Geiser.

If the Eagles can once again apply pressure to Ferris State’s punting unit, which frankly doesn’t see the field often, it could work in great favor of the Eagles’ upset hopes.

Number 2: Defensive front seven winning on early downs

With a lot of returnees on the defensive line and new captain Jackson Myers leading the linebacker core, the front seven is one of the early recognizable strengths of the Eagle defense this season. Ferris State is a team that relies on the run, and hits long plays off of defenses overcommitting.

If the Eagles can win early downs, and get the Bulldogs off script it makes the longer pass plays much easier to prepare for. Against IUP, Myers and company were able to get the opposing offense off schedule.

“[The front seven] did a nice job with pressure, and Jackson stepped up as a captain should. We challenged him to make that his unit, and he stepped up and responded to the challenge,” said Geiser.

Myers and the defensive line are going to have to pressure Bulldogs senior quarterback Malik Mitchell, who had led the offensive attack for the past two years. Mitchell against Mercyhurst only had 11 throws and if they come in long yardage situations, the Eagle defense can find their way off the field.

Number 1: Finish drives in the red zone

After having to settle for two field goal attempts, and only making one vs IUP, there is a lot of room for offensive improvement inside the 20 yard lines.

The Eagles only tallied points on two of four red zone trips and if they want to counter the explosive Bulldog offense that scored 54 points against Mercyhurst in Week One, the Eagles will have to find the endzone early and often.

“Our red zone offense has been a big discussion this week since last game, as we are gameplanning for Ferris we are looking to put our players in the best situation possible. We have to ask ourselves, are we getting our playmakers in space?” said Geiser.

The Eagles are going to need to give the ball to players like Larry Martin in the running game and Jake McLoughlin in the passing game to finish off drives in the red zone.

The first game at Jack Miller Stadium this season between the Eagles and the Bulldogs is this Saturday, Sept. 9 with kickoff set for 7 p.m.

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