Missouri Western eliminated Fort Hays State’s running game last week, holding the Tigers to just 14 yards rushing and turning FHSU into a one-dimensional offense during last Thursday's 28-17 loss to the Griffons.
Fort Hays is focused on bringing balance back to its offensive attack for Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Washburn.
The Tigers (0-2) averaged just 0.6 yards on 22 rushing attempts in the Western loss. FHSU quarterback Chance Fuller threw the ball 49 times, completing 23 passes for 333 yards.
“We need to play better on the O-line,” FHSU junior lineman Amari Angram-Boldin said. “I feel like the first two weeks we came out sluggish in the first half. We’re not getting off the ball, we’re not playing as physical as we can and how we should be. We’re just not giving our guys a place to run. As you saw last week, when all you can do is pass the ball, it’s pretty easy to stop you. We just got to play better and play harder on the O-line.”
FHSU coach Chris Brown said the Tigers have been pinpointing areas of improvement for the offensive line and running backs.
“It was a mixture of both (aspects) in our run game,” Brown said. “One guy maybe missing his block or the back not being patient enough to understand where the double team was exactly, or maybe hitting the wrong hole or not trusting his guys up front. It wasn’t just one thing; it was a mixture of things that didn’t allow us to get our run game established.
“That’s something we’re really working on hard this week — making sure our backs are more patient and making sure we solidify those blocks a little more than we did last week and making sure our communication is better along the front line.”
Brown said getting the run game going is vital to the Tigers’ success offensively.
“We have to be able to establish that run game and I feel like we have the guys up front to be able to do that,” Brown said. “They’re big, they’re strong and they’re physical.”
Angram-Boldin is the only returning starter on the offensive line from last year. Pat Kelly and Nathan Hale returned this season after missing virtually all of last year with injuries, and the Tigers also added a couple transfers to the unit.
Boldin says the players up front are working on building a strong rapport together.
“I think the biggest challenge is making sure everybody is doing the right thing every play,” he said. “You might have a great play, and then one guy messes up and the whole play’s dead. I feel like there’s been a bunch of that for us the first two weeks.
“I know after the game I talked to the O-line and I told them we have to gel together and we have to become close off the field before we can become better on the field.”