Fort Hays State delivered what coach Chris Brown called the Tigers' most complete performance last week against Pittsburg State, rolling to a 50-21 victory behind big plays in all phases.
Now Brown wants to see the Tigers take that show on the road.
FHSU has struggled away from Lewis Field Stadium this season, going 1-2 with losses to Missouri Western and Emporia State. The 5-2 Tigers will look to end that trend at Nebraska-Kearney in an 11 a.m. game Saturday at Cope Stadium.
“We haven’t played very consistent on the road,” Brown said. “We played terrible against Mo West (23-13 loss) and had three turnovers. Missouri Southern was kind of in shambles when we played them (55-20 win) and had a new coach coming in. And our next road trip was at Emporia and we didn’t play very well there (in a 28-24 loss).
"We just got to clean things up a little bit. Our kids have got to be a little more focused on the road as well. It’s not a vacation, it’s a business trip.”
Brown hopes the sense of urgency will bring out the best in the Tigers, who will likely have to run the table to make the Division II playoffs.
“Their backs are against wall," he said. "They got to perform at a high level and go win ball games and do things the right way. I think that might good for this team. They need to have their backs against the wall, something to work for, knowing that they can’t have any letups. I think that benefits us.”
UNK has made strides under second-year coach Josh Lynn, entering 4-3 with wins over Missouri Southern, Central Oklahoma, Northeastern State and Lindenwood.
The Lopers rely heavily on their ground attack, averaging an MIAA-best 279.4 rushing yards per game. Darius Webb leads UNK with 593 yards on the ground.
UNK hung around at Northwest Missouri (6-1) last week before taking a 27-13 loss.
“They beat some really good teams,” Brown said. “Heck, they took Northwest to the wire as well. That wasn’t a blowout game by any means. I just know that (Lynn) is going to have those kids ready to play.
“You can tell just by the way they play the game right now that they’re coached well and they're ready to get after it.”
Brown said patience will be key for the Fort Hays offense.
“They don’t give up the big play. They keep everything in front,” Brown said of the Lopers. “They make you earn everything. A lot times offenses rely on the big plays and it’s hard for the offense to drive down twelve, thirteen plays and get a score. We’re just going to have to be patient as an offense and take what they give us and not get frustrated.”
At 54-33 in his eighth season at FHSU, Brown is just one win from tying Bob Cortese for the most coaching wins in Fort Hays State history. Cortese had a 55-32-3 record at Fort Hays from 1990-97.
FHSU senior linebacker Jose Delgado is eight tackles away from becoming the Tigers' all-time leading NCAA tackler. Keith Eck (1993-96) currently holds the record with 361.