Football team shaping up to have another ‘typical season’

Football team shaping up to have another typical season

Football team shaping up to have another ‘typical season’

Cody Dyer

So far it’s shaping up to be another typical season for the boys in green and gold.

At this time last year, the Lions football team was 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the MIAA. After Saturday’s Homecoming clunker against Washburn, the Lions are 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the conference this year.

Washburn, which beat the Lions by only six points (26-20) last year, tossed a shutout in Southern’s own backyard. This was the first time Southern had been shut out at home since a 49-0 loss to Pittsburg State in 2003.

On paper, the Lions and Ichabods matched up statistically.

• Washburn garnered 254 yards of total offense against Southern’s 203. The Lions ran 69 plays to Washburn’s 66. The Ichabods, however, gained 216 yards on the ground, while the Lions mustered only 58 yards. Then again, the Lions threw for nearly 100 more yards (183 to Washburn’s 86) than the Ichabods.

• Officials, whether it was right or not, penalized each team nine times for similar yardage and finally, both teams were horrific on third down.

The fact is, the Lions didn’t win the turnover battle and never moved inside the red zone.

That’s right. Not once.

“We didn’t live up to standards,” Lions’ Head Coach Bart Tatum said. “Offensively, we were out of sync the entire day.”

Credit Washburn’s special teams for a job well done; Southern was constantly starting from deep inside its own territory. This was the last thing Tatum wanted to see with his offense struggling.

“We were never able to establish anything consistently,” Tatum said. “From the first quarter to the last drive of the game.”

Adam Hinspeter, one of the better passers in the MIAA, never found a rhythm in the pocket, completing 25 of 45 passes – 18 of which were for 10 yards or less. More importantly, he threw two interceptions. Now, interceptions can sometimes be overlooked, but not here. Both picks led to Washburn scores.

Even so, Tatum didn’t point the blame toward Hinspeter.

“I don’t think this loss revolves around Adam Hinspeter whatsoever,” Tatum said. “I think offensively, we didn’t play good enough up front.”

Hinspeter was sacked four times.

“Adam was a part of it,” Tatum said. “But he wasn’t the problem.”

The only bright side to come out of this took place on the other side of the ball. Southern’s defense executed all day. These guys had their work cut out for them all day long, but kept finding ways to get the ball back time after time.

“Defensively, we played championship football,” Tatum said. “Technically, our defense gave up 10 points. They played good enough to win, and they can compete with anybody on that side of the ball.”

Tatum is right about that. Southern’s defense is skillful enough to compete with anyone. But I’m starting to question the offense’s ability. The offense has had spurts this season where it has shown the ability to put up points. The problem has been consistency.

The Lions, who had a winning season for the first time in 10 years last season with a 6-5 mark, are averaging 27.3 points per game this season. Take away the first two weeks against non-conference opponents, and the number falls to 13.5. Thus far, MIAA opponents have outscored the Lions 102 to 54.

With that in mind, it’s paramount for the Lions to reverse those numbers. At the beginning of the season, I felt the Lions could win six to seven games. It’s still possible, but it won’t be easy.

The Lions make the long trip to Fort Hays State this week, which should be considered a must-win, otherwise it will be an uphill battle the rest of the season. Central Missouri, Western and Northwest can score. All three – along with PSU – make up the top four spots in the conference.