|Redbirds look to get back on track in home opener|
|Written by Kevin Massoth, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Thursday, 08 September 2011 20:47|
Despite the ISU football team’s high confidence heading into the 2011 season, the Redbirds currently face the reality of an 0–1 record and a Saturday home matchup with a team coming off a 67–0 win.
The Redbirds will try to shake off a season-opening loss to Eastern Illinois when they take on the high-powered offense of Morehead State Saturday night with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Hancock Stadium.
The Eagles, from the Pioneer Football League, produced 753 yards of total offense in their season opener against the Mid-South Conference’s Kentucky Christian Sept. 1, while the Redbirds struggled to a season-opening 33–26 loss at Eastern Illinois the same night.
According to ISU head coach Brock Spack, Morehead State is capable of putting up big offensive numbers against anyone.
“This is a good football team we are playing, make no mistake about it,” Spack said. “They’ve got two big-time wide-outs and a big-time quarterback, so we’re going to have our hands full.”
With high expectations coming into the season, ISU is looking to make some final adjustments this weekend before the Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule rolls around.
Spack watched ISU turn the ball over four times against EIU, and he acknowledged the importance of taking care of the football on Saturday.
“We’ll get beat again this weekend if we turn the ball over four times,” Spack said. “We’re going to be a better football team this Saturday than we were [Sept. 1], but we just have to get better, correct some mistakes and move on.”
On the other side of the ball, Morehead State boasts multiple offensive weapons highlighted by junior quarterback Zach Lewis who passed for 385 yards and four touchdowns in the Eagles’ season-opening onslaught.
ISU junior running back Erik Smith knows the importance of slowing down Morehead State and marking a tally in the win column for the Redbirds.
“This is a statement game,” Smith said. “We want to let the fans know at this first home game that the Eastern game was a really poor performance by us as a team.”
Although Saturday is not a conference game for the Redbirds, Smith knows the matchup is important to show the public that ISU is an MVFC contender.
“We’re a conference championship team and that’s the statement we want to make,” Smith said.
Against EIU, Ashton Leggett and Smith led the Redbird offense to 152 yards on the ground, but Spack recognized a need for more running plays this weekend.
“We learned some valuable lessons and now we turn the page and move on to our next opponent,” Spack said.
Saturday marks only the third meeting between the Redbirds and Eagles and the first since 1972 when ISU won 20-0 on the road. The previous year, the Eagles made their only trip to Hancock Stadium, winning 28-12.
Despite a disappointing season opener, the Redbirds have done anything but sulk this week. According to Spack, he and his coaching staff put emphasis heading into the season on not focusing on what already happened but instead how to respond to it.
Spack sees Saturday as a chance for the Redbirds to make up for a slow start and prove they are for real.
“You can’t sit here and pout about what happened to you, that’s the way life is,” Spack said. “There are going to be good things that happen to you and unfortunately there will be some bad things. But it’s how you respond to it that matters.”