A few extra days between games would have been viewed as a luxury for the Fort Hays State had the Tigers walked away with a win last week.
But after a 23-13 setback to Missouri Western last Thursday, the Tigers will be forced to wait a little longer to get the bad taste out of their month after their first regular-season loss since 2016.
The Tigers will play host to in-state rival Washburn at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Lewis Field Stadium in a matchup of 1-1 teams.
“After a loss, I do not want that much time between games,” FHSU senior safety Connor Shedeed said. “We’re ready to get back out there. After a win, maybe let the body heal and stuff like that. After a loss, you don’t feel your injuries or anything. All you feel is that loss. We’re definitely ready to hit the field again.”
Junior tight end Matt Wendelberger said Monday’s practice had a different tone to it.
“There was no joking around,” he said. “It was probably one of the quietest practices I’ve ever been a part of here at Fort Hays. We’re out on a mission this week.
“It really showed that dudes are focused in, they want to get better and we’re doing everything to the best of our abilities.”
With the loss, the margin of error becomes razor thin the rest of the way for the Tigers’ hopes of repeating as conference champs and returning to the playoffs.
“I told them it’s a nine-game season now,” FHSU coach Chris Brown said. “We have to go 9-0 to have a chance to win this conference. If we do we’ll at least tie and have a chance to get into the playoffs. It can be the team that holds us back or the team that keeps moving us forward. It’s a decision they got to make and a choice they got to make.”
Brown said he thought the Tigers were solid on defense against Western but suffered from mental mistakes on offense. FHSU was hurt by three interceptions and dropped passes in key moments.
“I really think our defense has played pretty well,” Brown said. “I think offensively we’ve had some turnovers, especially in the last game, dropped some balls and guys aren’t going and making a play. Running backs aren’t making the right read and hitting the hole properly. We can’t point at one guy in our offense; it’s multiple guys on offense not making plays. Those guys need to figure it out and somebody needs to step up and make plays for us. Hopefully that starts happening this week.”
With injuries to Pat Kelly and Nathan Hale, the Tigers had to use a reshuffled offensive line against the Griffons, but Brown said he thought the line was one of the bright spots in the loss.
“Toby Godwin and Caden Gober, I thought those guys really did a good job for their first start at Fort Hays,” Brown said. “Didn’t have a lot of busts. I thought they played pretty well. They’ll get more confident as the year goes on. I’m proud of the way those guys played. And Romello Burke moved to center, and I thought he did a good job.
“When you’re shuffling guys around and they’re still trying to figure guys out, it takes time. I think this week on the O-line will be better. Those guys have one game under their belt and have some confidence now. Now we’ve got to move forward.”
WR DAVIS OUT INDEFINITELY
Brown said redshirt freshman receiver Jmari Davis is feared to be out for the year after injuring his knee on the opening kickoff against Western.
Brown, who had a key touchdown catch in the season opener against Central Missouri, had shown signs of being a key addition to the Tigers’ offense as a deep threat.
“It was a bad way to start the game,” Brown said. “It’s terrible. I wish we could get him back but we think he’s pretty much done for the season. We’ll know more (today) about exactly what it is. I’m hoping we can get him back, but he’s definitely out this week.
“That injury bug has hurt us a little bit. We’ve got two linemen out and now a receiver. Somebody’s got to step up. That’s how we’ve always done it here at Fort Hays State. When somebody’s gone down, somebody’s stepped up and got the job done. That’s what we’ve got to do now.”