by Martin Schlegel
After a hot start to the season for Dragon football, the last two weeks have killed their momentum. The Dragons started with three straight wins, but have lost the last two games to UMD and Southwest.
Defensively, the Dragons had not allowed an opponent to score more than 34 points in the three wins. In the two losses, however, they have allowed more than 47 points, and they have allowed nearly the same amount of yards that were given up in the three wins. UMD and Southwest were able to move the ball with ease against the Dragons.
“We didn’t do a good job of flipping the momentum,” junior linebacker Aaron Bohl said. “We just let it keep building.”
Head coach Steve Laqua said the offensive has put the defense in, “some tough predicaments.”
“We have to make sure we’re eliminating the big play,” he said.
The Dragons scored 30-plus points in each of the three wins. In the last two losses they have only scored a combined 23 points.
“We’ve got too many third-and-longs,” Laqua said.
Laqua wants to have the offense establish running the ball and completing high percentage passes. Running the ball effectively paired with short passes should get the offense back on track and put less pressure on the defense.
Injuries have also been a problem for the Dragons. Senior quarterback Jake Hodge and senior wide receiver Adam Jiskra have missed games due to injuries. Both are important pieces of the Dragon offense.
“The all-time school’s leading receiver and school’s leading passer are out and those are tough gaps to fill,” said Laqua. “That’s been a big part of our inconsistency offensively.”
Some supporters are already frustrated with the level of play based on the last two games. Going as far as mentioning team regression.
“The teams we have lost to are very good football teams,” Bohl said. “So you got to keep some perspective.”
Even with the two losses, the Dragons are still 3-2, with a chance to improve upon the last couple years. Laqua said the team is still in a position to surpass the win total from the last two years. In perspective the Dragons are already playing better than years past.
“We’re still ahead of the pace and ahead of the curve,” Laqua said. “Regardless of the last two losses we’ll still have a significantly better season than what we’ve had.”
Bohl knows the team can play better and keep improving every day and every game. As a leader on defense he has been telling the younger players to have a comeback attitude.
“There’s going to be a point of the game where you think we’re winning and a point of the game where you think we’re losing,” Bohl said. “You just have to have a solid mindset.”
Moving forward, the Dragons play Northern State on the road and Bemidji State at home. The home game against Bemidji State will be Homecoming for MSUM. The average attendance is still higher this year than in previous years.
Bohl recognizes the support shown and said it has been great to see.
“We didn’t give them a good enough product last week to cheer for,” he said. “But in two weeks we’ll be back for homecoming and I’m excited to see all of them there.”