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Chad Braun, Monmouth College Football Head Coach
MONMOUTH, Ill. – It’s a guaranteed win for a Scots team this weekend when Monmouth College and Macalester College meet for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday at April Zorn Memorial Stadium.
The two Scots teams resume action after last week’s mandatory Midwest Conference bye week. It’s the first of two remaining non-divisional games before the league moves into divisional play Oct. 6, which will determine the Championship Week matchups in November. Both sets of Scots are coming off big wins in Week 2 – Monmouth a 24-18 upending of then 13th-ranked Wartburg and Macalester a 29-27 squeaker over Hamline.
“It was a good week,” said Chad Braun of the time off from competition. “We got a few guys healed up and were able to get more reps for some younger guys who we may need to rely on as the season develops. We won’t have everyone back just yet, but we should be fresh and excited to get going this week.”
Braun’s team will need to be fresh when they face a Macalester team which has put up nearly 40 points a game in the first two contests. Macalester’s Scots are evenly split between rush and pass attempts, but have gained more than twice as many yards through the air as on the ground.
“They’ve got a very good quarterback in Cody Petrich and a great receiving crew,” reported Braun. “The line does a great job with pass protection and run blocking. They’ll give us some unique things in the run game, which could cause some issues for us.”
Macalester has gained just over 100 yards per game on the ground, split nearly evenly between Petrich (36.0 ypd) and running back Jeremy Stephan (47.0 ypg). When Petrich throws, look for Alec Beatty and Jack Streibich to haul in most of the throws. Beatty has made 13 grabs and Streibich 10, although Beatty has been the big-play receiver, averaging nearly 130 yards per game and a team-high four touchdowns.
“They’ll be a great challenge for our defense,” admitted Braun. “Their strength has been throwing the ball and we’ve not been up to par defending the pass. We’ll have to make some adjustments and not give up the big pass play. That’s the key in the pass defense, to limit their big gains. Thomas (Lesniewski) led us in tackles against Wartburg and that’s a good thing anytime you have a defensive lineman leading in tackles. We’ve gotten some good play up front from those guys with Thomas. Lamar Watson, Brad Buchner, Josh Perschall, Drew Thaxton and Levi Oliveto have really gotten after it. They’ve gotten better every game and have done a tremendous job.”
While the Scots of Macalester like to throw, they also like to play defense with a formation seldom seen in the MWC.
“Defensively, they go with an odd-man front,” said Braun. “We normally don’t see that. It will take some adjustment, especially for our young guys on the O-line. The blocking assignments change a little. Macalester will also throw some different blitzes at you. We’ll have to do a great job of picking all that up this week. It’s a case of understanding and recognizing what they’re trying to do, and then making the proper adjustments.”
Monmouth’s offense caused issues in its last game before the week off when DeAndre Wright rushed for 165 yards and two scores. Special teams also caused havoc for Wartburg when Yansay Williams’s 77-yard kickoff return set up one score and Joey Biel’s punting changed field positions and his field goals gave Monmouth a cushion.
“We’ve got to get DeAndre the ball and get him space,” said Braun of one of the offensive keys. “Blocking-wise, we’ve got to get a body on a body. When we do that, DeAndre is a really good back, but Macalester did a good job last year of shutting him down. Hayden (Nelson) has done a good job of distributing the ball, but we’d like to get Yansay more involved in the offense. He showed just what a dangerous weapon he is with that big kickoff return against Wartburg.”
With the thrill of upending Wartburg now well in the review mirror, Braun’s attention turns this week not so much to the next opponent, but to a team a bit closer to home.
“Our concern is having a little bit of rust with last week off,” said a cautious Braun. “When you’re playing every week, you develop a rhythm, a sharpness, an edge. We had a little bit of rust going into this game last year. Hopefully, we learned from that experience and will be ready to go come Saturday.”