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The Muskies (2-3, 2-0) return to action following a 26-7 trouncing of Wisconsin Lutheran last Saturday in
Junior defensive back Isiah Calhoun (
The Muskies are now tied for first in the nation with 15 interceptions on the year.
"It comes down to the defensive line," Calhoun said. "They don't get a lot of credit for the things they do, but they help us out a lot in coverage. Even if a guy might be open for a split second, the quarterback has to make a bad throw and we're able to break on it and make a good play."
He also noted that the secondary has a little bit of talent, too.
"I think they play with great skill and passion back there, and they're disciplined within their techniques and disciplined within their assignment, within the specific call," Doherty said. "That gets them in the right position to make the play, then obviously they have to execute that when they're in the position, and they've been doing that."
Offensively, the Muskies were led by a stellar passing game. Senior Matt Pawlyk (Marinette) and junior Jacob Heinemeyer (Shiocton) combined for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Jake Dworak (
The Muskies stand second in the league in total passing yards (922) and touchdowns (nine).
Players and coaches pointed to an improved offensive line as one of the main reasons for the emergence of the passing game. With three freshmen and two sophomores starting, the unit still has much to learn, but has improved over the course of five games.
"We were able to get the passing game going because our offensive line has really improved," Heinemeyer said. "They're giving Jake a lot of time back there, and I think that's key as far as being able to throw the ball. Also, the receivers are running good, hard routes, not giving up on the play, and Jake's doing a good job of getting us the ball."
The Muskies will need to improve on special teams to stand a chance in the hunt for a conference title and NCAA tournament berth.
"We just need to keep working on it in practice," said Heinemeyer, the team's primary punt returner. "We just need to go over our assignments as far as the return game goes. We need to just make sure we get a body on somebody, and hopefully I'll be able to spring one loose."
Defensively, the Muskies forced six Warrior turnovers and will look to continue to make plays despite surrendering 214 yards rushing on Saturday.
"We had some assignments that we could have done better on and a couple of missed tackles, but everything is correctable," Calhoun said. "This week in practice, we're basically going to correct the mistakes and assignments, and make sure everybody knows where they're supposed to be. That's a big emphasis this week."
The scouting report: Concordia Chicago
Concordia Chicago returns to action following a 41-38 overtime loss last Saturday at
The Cougars took an early 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter, but were unable to build on that, losing the contest when
Concordia leads the NAC in passing, posting just over 193 yards per game through the air. Wide receiver Mike Egebrecht is tied for the league lead in receptions per game (5.0). Quarterback Mike Marotta leads the Cougars' spread attack.
"I like their quarterback," Doherty said. "He does a good job of getting the ball out of his hands and has a really good release. They make it a little harder to get to him for a sack because he's in the shotgun quite a bit of the time. He's got a great release and can find one of their athletic receivers."
Defensively, the Cougars lead the conference in pass defense, surrendering just over 136 yards passing per game. This could hurt the Muskies, who have relied on a steady passing attack over the last three contests.
"They did a great job last year of putting pressure on us, and I expect the same this year," Doherty said. "They mix it up with a couple different fronts that kind of force you to be one-dimensional. They can force you to either throw the ball by their defensive front in coverage or force you to run the ball."
Last season, the Muskies knocked off the Cougars 56-7 at Taylor Field.