Another ranked opponent for Tigers
Published on -9/14/2012, 10:19 AM
By NICK McQUEEN
For the second time in as many weeks, the Fort Hays State University football team will try and snap a losing skid against nationally-ranked opponents.
To do it will require a tall task on the road against No. 13 Northwest Missouri State University, the perennial juggernaut in the MIAA.
Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday in Maryville, Mo., a place the Tigers have not won since joining the MIAA.
"These first four games are difficult to say the least," Tiger senior Austin Hubert said in a news conference Tuesday. "This whole conference, they're all solid. These first four are tough, but it doesn't get any easier after that either."
Fort Hays (0-2 overall, 0-2 MIAA) has lost eight straight games against the Bearcats, including last year's 70-17 loss. The 70 points was the most ever surrendered by a Tiger club. Two weeks from now, the Tigers will have played three straight ranked opponents.
The Bearcats (1-1, 1-1) are coming off a rare MIAA loss, a 31-21 setback last week on the road to University of Central Missouri.
"Central, they did some good things. Some nice zone blitzes, and got to the quarterback a little bit," Tiger second-year coach Chris Brown said Tuesday after watching film. "There were a lot of plays where Northwest just didn't make the play.
"They could have scored a few more touchdowns," Brown added. "(It was) watching two good teams get after it, and Central got them on that day."
The Bearcats, among the top 10 nationally in nearly every offensive category, have put up 33 and 21 points in their first two outings -- averaging 270 passing yards per game (4th) and 366.5 per game (7th) in total offense.
Fort Hays has allowed 42 points in the first quarter combined in the first two weeks and has been outscored 59-3 in the first halves of its first two outings.
"It's not like we don't have the athletes out there," Hubert said. "We're just busting coverages and not getting pressure on the quarterback.
"That's really what it comes down to," he added. "We're definitely not 42-point underdogs in the first half to Washburn. We're just not doing our jobs and it's costing us ball games right now."
Junior transfer Tarean Austin will make his second start at quarterback for the Tigers. Austin's debut as a starter in a 45-20 loss to Washburn last week resulted in a 13-of-31 passing performance with 131 yards and a touchdown to junior Treyvias Alexander. Austin also rushed nine times for 1 yard and a score. He gained 24, but lost 23 on the ground, taking three sacks. Both TDs came in the second half after the Tigers fell down 42-0 at intermission in a dismal start.
"We have seen some good talent in the past two weeks," Austin said. "It's just going to get better, and we have to get better as a unit over here."
True freshman running back Addie Brown also should get the nod as both senior Andre Smith and junior Ed Smith are out this week. Andre Smith missed the game against Washburn, and Ed Smith sat most of last week after his first carry.
Brown, as the feature back most of the game, had 21 carries for 114 yards -- one bright spot in an otherwise rough outing.
"I kind of like our guys seeing that competition, and the level those guys are at," coach Brown said. "In this conference, you have to be at your best every week. Our guys are going to improve and get better each week."