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With an extra week to prepare, the Lakeland College football team is looking for its first win of the 2011 season when the Muskies play their home opener against Hope College on Saturday at noon.
Lakeland (0-2) hasn't won a home opener since 2005.
The Flying Dutchmen (1-2) are coming off a 27-15 loss to Millikin University. Hope totaled 339 yards of offense, including 143 rushing and 196 passing. They were led by quarterback Michael Atwell, who completed 20 of 40 passes for 196 yards and three interceptions. On the ground, Brian Lynn led the way with seven rushes for 58 yards and one touchdown. Fluarry Jackson had 12 rushes for 38 yards and one touchdown while Shawn Jackson added 14 rushes for 36 yards.
In last year's win over Hope, the Muskies limited the Flying Dutchmen to 245 total yards of offense, 105 rushing and 140 passing. They were able to force three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) and returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown. The defense will look to win up front and take advantage of any Hope mistakes.
"The biggest key for us this year is going to be stopping the run," said Lakeland defensive coordinator Colin Bruton. "They like to set everything up with the run. They've got two really good backs who are very talented. We need to win first down and get ourselves in good down and distance positions to cause mistakes and create turnovers."
The matchup to watch when Hope has the ball will be the athleticism of Lakeland's defensive line against the size of Hope's offensive line. "We are a little thin up front on defense, but I think we have better speed and quickness that should give us the edge in the trenches," said Bruton.
Lakeland is looking for consistency on offense. The Muskies have yet to gain 100 yards in a game this season, being held to just 97 yards (45 rushing, 52 passing) against a tough Carthage defense two weeks ago. The offense was able to get some positive yardage, but turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble led to 21 Carthage points, putting the Muskies in a hole they couldn't overcome.
The key matchup Saturday will be the Muskie offensive line, which has struggled early in 2011, against the Hope defensive front.
"We have had issues executing the plays that are being called," said Lakeland offensive coordinator Peter Hahm. "We have struggled the first couple of weeks against stunt and blitz packages, and we will work to correct those errors and make sure we are playing fundamental football. We need to keep our quarterback upright and open up some lanes for our running backs. If we can play our game, I like our chances this week."
Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty feels the game will be a similar matchup to last year's contest, and he expects both teams to play well overall. He also knows that if his team does a few things right, they have a great chance to get their first win of the season.
"Our offense needs to arrive and be productive," said Doherty on his team's keys to the game. "We have to win the field position battle and create more turnovers. If we can do those things, we'll be in good shape."
To hear Doherty's keys to the game, click here.
To hear Bruton's keys to the game, click here.