Golden Eagles seeking first win; Wayne St. is 1-3.
The University of Minnesota Crookston football team hits the road for the first time in nearly three weeks as they head to the Cornhusker State to take on Wayne State College Sat., Oct. 5 at 1 p.m., at Memorial Stadium in Wayne, Neb.
The Golden Eagles, who have been competitive in all four games this season, will look to break into the win column after opening 2019 with a 0-4 mark. Wayne State hosts Homecoming with a 1-3 mark overall.
MINNESOTA CROOKSTON (0-4, 0-4 NSIC) at WAYNE STATE (1-3, 1-3 NSIC)
SAT.,, OCT. 5 | 1 P.M. C.T. | WAYNE, NEB.
MEMORIAL STADIUM – BOB CUNNINGHAM FIELD
Radio: 1260 KROX AM/105.7 (Leo Blavin)
Live Stats: https://wscwildcats.com/sidearmstats/football
1. Can the Golden Eagles limit penalties in Wayne State territory?
2. Can the Golden Eagles capitalize on opportunities in the red zone?
3. Can Minnesota Crookston force mistakes by the Wayne State quarterbacks?
4. Can the Golden Eagles get a run game going?
5. Can the Special Teams made a difference in field position?
Golden Eagle Tidbits
1. Minnesota Crookston has been outstanding on getting to the quarterback this season. The Golden Eagles are currently tied for fifth in the NSIC with 12 sacks. Minnesota Crookston has been propelled by the play of Austin Steele, who leads the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Joe Warner has put great pressure on the quarterback from his defensive tackle spot with 2.5 sacks, while Ben Branscom has notched 2.0 sacks. Minnesota Crookston is just two sacks from tying their mark for sacks from last season with 14, accomplished in 11 games.
2. The Golden Eagles are currently in the middle of the conference in total defense as they have improved vastly from last season. Minnesota Crookston allowed 432.5 yards per game in 2018. Thus far, the Golden Eagles are allowing just 382.5 yards per game, good for 11th in the league. Minnesota Crookston is allowing 5.2 yards per play with 1,530 overall yards given up.
3. Minnesota Crookston is looking for their first win over Wayne State College since a 24-0 win in Wayne, Neb. On Sept. 25, 2004. The Golden Eagles last played the Wildcats on Sept. 14, 2017, with Wayne State winning 33-14. Wayne State last won over Minnesota Crookston in Wayne on Sept. 5, 2015 with a 58-16 victory.
4. The Golden Eagles have back-to-back performances of over 300 yards by their offense. Minnesota Crookston had three drives in the first half where their worst field position was their own 47, however Minnesota Crookston was unable to come away with points on those drives. The Golden Eagles have proven that they can move the ball, but the key will be getting points in the red zone. Minnesota Crookston had 435 yards of offense against Minot State last weekend with 271 through the air and 164 on the ground. The Golden Eagles averaged 6.6 yards per play.
5. Penalties have hurt the Golden Eagles. Minnesota Crookston had 13 penalties for 85 yards last week with several of those infractions pushing them back when driving deep in Minot State territory.
6. The Golden Eagles have utilized a two quarterback system in all of their games this season. Senior Jalin Scott is 25-of-52 for 392 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions. In addition, sophomore Tristan Robbins enters the weekend going 22-of-39 for 363 yards for two touchdowns and three interceptions. On the ground, Scott leads the way for all players with 43 carries for 122 yards, while Robbins has rushed 45 times for 114 yards.
7. Minnesota Crookston made a late comeback last weekend against Minot State with nine points in the fourth quarter. The Golden Eagles fell just short as they had an interception thrown in the end zone and an onside kick that was kicked out of bounds. Minnesota Crookston looks poised to make the steps to get over the hump, as they have continued to show improvement through all of their games.
6. The Golden Eagle run game has been guided by their quarterbacks this season. Minnesota Crookston will look to get their running backs and slot backs involved this week. The Golden Eagles have been led by Boyce Harr with 15 carries for 48 yards. Joseph Eubanks enters the weekend with 11 carries for 31 yards, while Wyatt K. Shedrick, III has five carries for 27 yards for an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
7. Minnesota Crookston has a great group of wide receivers that can go up and make plays. The Golden Eagles have proven this all season, as they have several players with big play ability. Jonattan Mudd has paced Minnesota Crookston with an outstanding senior season. Mudd has 17 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Mudd is seventh in the league with 71 receiving yards per game. In addition, Nathan Coy has made a great impact after redshirting last season. Coy has 13 grabs for 204 yards, while Andy Groebner has notched eight catches for 104 yards. In addition, Shedrick is a player that can make things happen with his speed. Shedrick has three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, while Eli Solberg has notched two grabs for 47 yards and a touchdown.
8. Minnesota Crookston has been right in the fray in their last three games, as they have trailed their opponents by an average of just eight points per game. The Golden Eagles have had several plays where they were close to getting over the hump. Minnesota Crookston will look to capitalize on those plays moving forward.
9. Minnesota Crookston’s defensive line has been outstanding thus far in 2019. Warner paces the Golden Eagles with 19 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. The defensive line has been great on putting pressure on the quarterback. In addition to Warner, Ben Branscom has been great from the edge with 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. Reece Walno comes in with 16 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, while Skyler Quinn has put on the rush with 14 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and one sack. The defensive line will be key in putting the Wayne State quarterbacks in tough situations.
10. The special teams has continued to improve this season. Nathan McRoberts comes in with a 34.8 putting average with seven punts inside the 20, as he looks to pin the opposition back deep. Alex Folz has added one punt for 40 yards. Jared McLemore has given Minnesota Crookston a scoring option with his leg. The Texas native is 2-of-3 on the season with a long of 34.
11. The Golden Eagles will look to get key turnovers against Wayne State this week. Minnesota Crookston has picked up forced fumbles this season from Osayi Onaghinor, Skyler Quinn, and Austin Erdmann. In addition, Onaghinor and Johnson Fallah have added interceptions for the Golden Eagles.
12. Minnesota Crookston’s linebacking corps has been the lynchpin of the Golden Eagle defense. Senior captain Will Cross paces the Golden Eagles with 39 tackles with four tackles for loss. Austin Steele has been a major gain for the Golden Eagles as he continues to be one of the best players on the field for Minnesota Crookston. Steele has 27 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Converted safety Trevor Long, Jr. has also been huge for the Golden Eagles with 23 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
13. Minnesota Crookston picked up a win on the road last season with a 29-21 win over Minot State Sept. 22, 2018.
WAYNE STATE NOTES
1. Wayne State has utilized three quarterbacks on the 2019 season. Andy McCance leads the Wildcats going 63-of-117 for 817 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. McCance is also the team’s leader in rushing with 36 carries for 143 yards. McCance, a redshirt freshman, was noticeably absent in a 28-21 loss to Concordia-St. Paul. In his absence, the Wildcats used Tavian Willis, who was 10-of-13 for 129 yards and a touchdown, and Alex Thramer, who was 7-of-12 for 84 yards and a touchdown. Willis added 68 yards on 16 carries on the ground.
2. The Wildcats are averaging 413.8 yards per game offensively with 257.5 yards per tilt through the air and 156.2 yards per game on the ground. In addition to McCance, Wayne State has looked to running back Devin Merkuris with 33 carries for 140 yards. Through the air, the quarterbacks have looked the way of Taurean Grady for 17 catches and 261 yards with three touchdowns. Mason Lee has chipped in 17 catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Wayne State is allowing 26.0 points per game to their foes. The defense is allowing 372.2 yards to their opponents this season. Ian Ailts leads the way with 30 tackles with 1.5 tackle for loss, and an interception. Jacob Protzman has put pressure on the quarterback with seven tackles for loss and two sacks. Kolbie Foster and Ryan Parker each have added 1.5 tackles for loss.
4. On special teams, Ethan Knudson is an unblemished 4-of-4 with a long of 42. At punter, Blake Kaiser is averaging 34.8 yards per game with three inside the 20.