UW-W Athletics earn another honor!

UW-W Athletics earn another honor!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Warhawks Complete Football, Basketball, Baseball Sweep!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Warhawk Fan Pre-game Social in Texas!

Time: 11:30 AM to 1:20 PM

  Place: Wings, Pizza, & Things
2112 SW HK Dodgen Loop, Temple, TX 76504

  Map: http://www.mapquest.com/maps?address=2112%20SW%20H%20K%20Dodgen%20Loop&city=Temple&state=TX&zipcode=76504

 Conveniently located right off H.K. Dodgen Loop in the Bed and Bath and Beyond Shopping Center in Temple.

  Website http://www.wingspizzanthingstemple.com/index.html

  Directions to UMHB after the conclusion of the social: 10 minute drive:


 Ticket information: http://www.uwwsports.com/sports/2013/11/8/FB_1108132334.aspx?id=891

 We hope that if you are in the area that you will be able to join us! Please consider sharing this information to anyone you feel might be interested.

 Thank you for your time and consideration. Go Warhawks!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hawks Clinch Share of WIAC, Playoff Berth

       With one game left on the regular season schedule, the UW-Whitewater football team reclaimed at least a share of the WIAC title with a hard fought 17-7 victory at Stevens Point on Saturday. The Warhawks also clinched an NCAA Division III playoff berth with the win over the Pointers.  Saturday’s victory topped off a three week stretch in which the Warhawks faced the three strongest WIAC opponents, two of them on the road.  Heading into the three week journey, the Warhawks were ranked 7th in the nation by D3football.com. UW-Oshkosh was ranked 9th and UW-Platteville was ranked 8th.  The Warhawks won the battle against the Titans by 17-14 count at Oshkosh on October 26th, ending the Titans 12 game WIAC winning streak.  After that big victory, the Hawks then hosted the 8th ranked Pioneers.  In what may have been their most impressive showing of the season, the Warhawks defeated Platteville 35-16.  Then came Saturday’s journey to Stevens Point.  The Pointers, who boast the WIAC’s second ranked defense, proved a stubborn foe before falling 17-7. The victory advanced the Warhawks’ conference mark to 6-0 and moved their overall record to 9-0.  UW-W will look to win the conference title outright when they host the 0-9 River Falls Falcons on Saturday.
       Coach Lance Leipold took a moment to reflect on the season during WFAW’s Coaches Corner on Monday night.  “It’s been exciting, it’s been fun. It’s been fun to see this thing come together the way it has.  It’s been very enjoyable to watch our football team.”       The next order of business will be to defeat a River Falls team who is considerably better than their winless record would suggest. The Falcons possess the WIAC’s sixth ranked offense and fifth ranked defense.  The Falcons’ rushing defense allows only 3.6 yards per carry, roughly the same as nationally ranked Platteville (3.6) and Oshkosh (3.5).  In addition, the Falcons have the league’s third ranked red zone defense. The Warhawks know they must fully focus on the Falcons before turning their attention to the playoffs.  Leipold said, “I want to find a way to get a win this week and see where this team goes.  I’d like to go back and research the conference and see how many times you can win a conference championship with two freshmen starting in the offensive line. That doesn’t happen every day. So to see this happen has been really enjoyable and who knows where it goes from here?”
       One of the striking aspects of the 2013 UW-W season has been the unique contribution of the offense, defense, and special teams.  Offensively, the Hawks rank 2nd in the conference in scoring, averaging 38.9 points per game.  The Hawks are 3rd in total offense with 412.8 points per game. The Warhawks have the 2nd ranked rushing offense, averaging 185.8 yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.  The Warhawks are 5th in passing yardage, averaging 227 yards per game and 2nd in passing efficiency with a rating of 152.3.  Whitewater ranks 1st in red zone offense and time of possession.  In addition, Whitewater has turned the ball over only 6 times all year.  The UW-W defense has been dominant, ranking 1st in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponents’ first downs, and opponents’ 3rd down conversion percentage. In addition, the Warhawks lead the conference with 25 takeaways.  It’s also worth noting that UW-W has allowed teams into their red zone only 10 times in 9 games.  By way of comparison, the Warhawk offense has been in the opponents’ red zone 46 times.  The Whitewater special teams have also done more than their share in this championship season.  UW-W ranks first in both kickoff return average and punt return average.  Whitewater also ranks third in punting , 2nd in FG’s made, and 3rd in kickoff coverage. The special teams units have also scored 3 TD’s, two on kickoff returns and one on a recovered fumble in the end zone.  

       All three phases of the game will be crucial if the Hawks are continue to meet their goals as a team this year. Stuck in between the glowing statistics of past games and the excitement of the playoff games ahead is the final conference game against River Falls.  For 2013 to be the season UW-W wants, beating River Falls is all that matters right now.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Showdown Saturday

This one has been in the making for over a year.  In the late afternoon of October 20, 2012, the UW-Oshkosh Titans walked off the field in Whitewater having just defeated the Warhawks and putting themselves squarely in the driver’s seat for the WIAC football title and the NCAA playoff automatic qualifier that goes with it.  And with that 28-13 defeat went any chance for UW-W to win their fourth consecutive national championship. The Titans went on to advance to the NCAA D-III semi-finals before falling to St. Thomas of St. Paul, MN 28-14.  Meanwhile, UW-W finished out their schedule with a 7-3 overall record and endured their longest off-season since 2004. 
       Saturday afternoon, the two teams will clash for the first time since that fateful meeting in October of 2012.  Both teams enter Saturday’s game with 6-0 overall records.  Both teams also have very different looks than they did a year ago.  Gone for UW-Oshkosh is All-American quarterback Nate Wara.  Wara, a final four Gagliardi award finalist, was the leader and unquestioned most valuable player on the Titans.  Senior Nick Olla has taken over the reigns for the Titans.  Olla has posted respectable numbers, completing 63% of his passes for 255 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  On the season last year, Wara completed 65% of his passes for 236.5 yards per game with 30 TD’s and 5 interceptions.  Wara was a double threat averaging 52 yards per game rushing with 10 touchdowns.  While Wara would not hesitate to pull the ball down and run, Olla is a pass first quarterback. Olla has rushed for just under 16 yards per game and 1 TD through six games. Olla has plenty of weapons available to him as six different receivers have caught passes of at least 48 yards.  Caleb Voss, Zach Kasuboski, and running back Cole Myhra have all caught at least 20 passes for the Titans.  Myhra leads the Titans’ rushing attack with 567 yards in 6 games, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Myhra has rushed for 10 TD’s already this year. Jake Dotalek has added 168 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.  The defense Whitewater brings to Titan Stadium will surely be the strongest test to date for the the Titan’s prolific offense.  UW-W ranks 3rd in the nation in total defense, yielding only 196.2 yards per game.  The Warhawks rank 8th in the nation stopping the run and 2nd in the nation in Team Passing Efficiency Defense. 
        Meanwhile, UW-W has a new look on offense as well. QB Matt Behrendt, who started three games at the end of last year, leads a Warhawk offense that is averaging 446.3 yards per game.  Behrendt has completed 65.9% of his passes for an average of 234.5 yards per game and 18 touchdowns.  Behrendt has not thrown an interception yet this year. This statistic will certainly be tested against a Titan defense that has intercepted 16 passes this year.   Jake Kumerow leads the receiving corps for UW-W with 32 receptions for 606 yards and 10 TD’s. 
       After mixing in 5 and 6 running backs earlier in the season, two have emerged healthy and effective for the Warhawks.  As a testament to the running back depth at UW-W. Jordan Ratliff and Booker Ross entered fall camp as the #5 and #6 running backs on the depth chart.  They are now leading the way for the Warhawks and proving more than capable.  Ratliff has gained 387 on 6.8 yards per carry and 4 touchdowns.  Ross has gained 251 yards on 6.2 yards per carry and 3 touchdowns.  Both will get plenty of work against the Titans. Along with those impressive statistics is another that speaks volumes of the ability of both the backs and the offensive line. In a combined 98 carries, Ratliff and Ross have each been tackled for a loss exactly one time for one yard.  The Titans’ defense is tied for 23rd in the nation with an average of 8.7 tackles per loss per game.
       Last year, the Titans celebrated on the Warhawks’ home field after a victory that propelled them into the post-season.  It was a defeat that won’t quickly be forgotten by anyone within the UW-W program.  Without a doubt the Warhawks remember the Titans.  Saturday, UW-W will do their best to make sure the Titans remember them

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All Three Phases Fuel 5-0 Start.

       How good are the 2013 Warhawks?  The first five games of a football season do not necessarily tell the full story of where a team will finish.  But ask the five opponents who UW-W played so far and you will likely find they are convinced the Hawks are pretty good.  While five games does not make a season, it is enough time for a team to begin to create an identity.  And when the football team starts the season 5-0, there is probably a lot to like about that identity. That is certainly true for the 2013 Warhawks.  UW-W seems to be improving every week on their way to outscoring their first five opponents by a decisive 239 to 37 margin. 
       Defensively, the Warhawks rank 4th  nationally in scoring defense yielding merely 7.4 points per game.  When it comes to yardage, the Hawks rank 3rd in the nation holding opponents to only 208.2 yards per game. One of the dilemmas faced by offensive coordinators is exactly how to attack Whitewater’s stubborn defense. The Warhawks rank 6th nationally in passing yards allowed, permitting a meager 128.6 yards per game. and they also possess the 14th ranked rushing defense giving up only 79.8 yards per game.  The Warhawks’ defense also has a penchant for making the big play, recording 6 interceptions, 7 fumble recoveries, and 3 touchdowns.
       Heading into the 2013, a veteran linebacking corps expected to lead the way defensively for the Hawks.  The unit has been every bit as good as advertised as Cole Klots, Kyle Wismer, Josh Williams, and Ryan Cortez lead the team in tackles.  
       Brady Grayvold leads the UW-W defense with 3 interceptions and Louis Minett leads the way with 3 sacks.  But as seems to be the case every year, triggering the big plays is an entire defense that has been physical and assignment sure.  The mastermind behind the defense is long-time defensive coordinator Brian Borland.
       When asked about Borland this week, Coach Lance Leipold stated emphatically, “Brian is the best.  If anyone wanted to really dig down and take a look at our program, not to take away from anyone else, it is always a team effort, but if you look at the transition of this program, there is a heavy correlation to Brian becoming the defensive coordinator and the success of this program.  He’s the best at this level. He is as good as anyone at putting together a game plan.” 
       Offensively, UW-W brought a young group into the 2013 season led by junior QB Matt Behrendt who had started merely 3 games before this season.  Behrendt is off to an excellent start completing 62% of his passes for 1183 yards, with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.  Clearly one of UW-W’s deepest positions is wide receiver. Through five games, Jake Kumerow leads the receivers with 27 receptions, 567 yards, and 7 touchdowns.  Newcomer Justin Howard, a transfer from North Dakota State has caught 18 passes for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Tyler Huber, who returns after a medical redshirt in 2012, has played in 4 games and has 15 receptions for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Sophomore Joe Worth and seniors Zach Howard and Steve Morris round out this deep and talented unit. 
       While the wide receiver depth  has not been a surprise, the Warhawks have uncovered some surprising depth in the backfield.  Returning running backs Ryan Givens (junior) and Nick Patterson (sophomore) were expected to carry a large part of the load this year.  But because both of them have experienced some injuries, sophomores Jordan Ratliff and Dennis Moore lead the team in rushing.  As they get healthy, both Givens and Patterson are expected to continue to contribute.  Freshman Booker Ross could also be a factor as the season continues to progress. Unfortunately, it appears Moore is lost for the season due to a knee injury.
       The young offensive line continues to gel and improve with each game. With the production of both the running game and the passing game, Coach Leipold indicates the unit could be one of the strengths of the team by the end of the year.  “They’ve done a fine job to this point. (Coach) Darryl Agpalsa has done a nice job of putting a group together and finding the right pieces and putting them in the right places. We are encouraged by not only the first unit, but we are starting to develop some depth there as well. As we know, going into this season it was an area of concern just based on the youth. Very soon it will become an area of nice depth and a strength of our team.”
       With several new coaches on the offensive side of the ball including Offensive Coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, one question that needed to be answered heading into the season was regarding the chemistry that would develop between the coaches.   “I couldn’t be more pleased” said Leipold.  “It’s not just based on our record. The chemistry, the work ethic of the staff, how they relate to the players, the teaching aspect. Like I said, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
       The look of the entire offense has changed from a year ago.  Moving from a run first, take care of the ball, and wear teams out mentality to an offense looking to create big plays by getting the ball to their playmakers in space. Is this change a matter of simply utilizing the players on the current roster or is it a philosophical change to continue to grow and improve the program?  “It’s probably some of each. We knew we needed to be more aggressive. And like I’ve said before, that is probably more on myself than it is on any previous play caller. I probably made us a little too conservative. We were playing some excellent defense. We were doing some things and we allowed some people to load up the box on us and things like that. And then you put in the case to how our depth was at receiver and some other things.  We were transitioning ourselves to a lot of the things you are seeing in the spring before we even had more staff turnover. But Andy has really added  his touch as well as the other coaches. With all of it, we are probably even more apparently different than we even thought we would be.” 
       Nowhere is the Warhawks’ new identity more apparent than in the area of big plays.  Through five games in 2012, the Warhawks had 28 plays that went for 15 yards or more. Through the first five games of 2013, that number has skyrocketed to 42 plays, a 50% increase in big plays.  And the big plays haven’t been limited to the offense or the defense.  The 2013 special teams units have significant big play ability as well.  UW-W ranks 3rd nationally in kickoff returns with a 32.27 yard per return average.  Justin Howard has returned 7 kickoffs for an average of 29.6 yards per return including a 77 yard return for a touchdown.  Marcus McLin has returned four kickoffs for a 37.0 yard per return average including returns of 61 yards and 50 yards.
       In addition, Howard is the leading punt returner in the WIAC with a 9.8 yard per return average.  Eric Kindler has connected on 9 of 10 fields goals (long of 50 yards) and all 30 of his extra point attempts.  Freshman Lake Bachar has been handling the kickoff duties registering 17 touchbacks on his 36 kickoffs. 
       Without a doubt, five games do not a season make.  But the 2013 Warhawks are well on their way to establishing their own identity.  That identity has been too much to handle for the first five opponents. And if the Hawks continue to improve week by week, the final five opponents will find them very hard to handle as well.

Friday, October 4, 2013

It’s WIAC Time!

It’s WIAC time.  The UW-Whitewater Warhawks completed a 3-0 pre-conference schedule with a 65-0 pasting of NAIA Waldorf College at Perkins Stadium.  In the words of Coach Lance Leipold, things will “change drastically” on Saturday when the Warhawks travel to UW-La Crosse to face the Eagles in the conference opener. While the Eagles come into Saturday with an 0-3 record, that record isn’t an indicator of the quality of UW-L according to Leipold. “More than a little deceiving”, he said in reference to the Eagles record. “They played one of the stronger non-conference schedules in the league. They played some good football teams. We have emphasized to our players and they have seen on film this is the best team we will have played to date.”
       Heading into WIAC play, the Warhawks have been able to use their pre-conference season to give young players experience and grow in consistency and continuity.  Following is a brief look at each position group and how they are shaping up heading into conference play.


       Coming into the 2013 season, starter Matt Behrendt had started only 3 games. In 3 games this season, Behrendt has completed 42 of 75 passes for 495 yards and 6 TD’s. Perhaps most impressively, he has yet to throw an interception.  “Matt continues to improve each and every day and he embraces the challenge of leading this football team.” Leipold also noted that it was good to get freshman back-up Chris Nelson some snaps as well, calling him “a good football player.”


       Five different running backs have logged significant playing time over the Hawks first three games. Injuries to the top two returning running backs, sophomore Nick Patterson and junior Ryan Givens, have opened the door for the coaches to look at the depth of the running back spot.  Sophomore Dennis Moore has rushed for 4.4 yards per carry, gaining 122 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Jordan Ratliff has rushed for 6.0 yards per carry and gaining 132 yards and 1 touchdown. Sophomore Byron Stanford has gained 1.5 yards per carry, netting 30 yards in his 20 rushing attempts.
       Patterson and Givens are healthy heading into the conference season and both averaged over 5 yards per carry in limited action over the first three games.


       Junior Jake Kumerow and Senior Tyler Huber lead a deep and talented UW-W receiving corps.  The 6’5” Kumerow has caught 11 passes for 194 yards (17.6 ypc) and three touchdowns.  Leipold cited Kumerow as “maybe the most improved player both on and off the field from last year.” The athletic Huber, returning after being granted a medical redshirt for 2012 has caught 7 passes for 122 yards (17.4 ypc) and two touchdowns. Junior Justin Howard has added 9 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. Kumerow, Huber, and Howard have all caught touchdown passes of over 30 yards. Steve Morris , Zach Howard, and Joe Worth round out the deep receiving corps.  One of two Morris’s catches went for 51 yards.


       The Warhawks enter WIAC play with 4 freshman, 5 sophomores, and a junior on the two-deep roster on the offensive line.  Freshmen Spencer Shier (C), and Tony Koepnick (RT) both started the final pre-conference game against Waldorf College. Shier stepped in for injured sophomore Conner Peters. Rounding out the starting unit are sophomores Johnny Wiederholt (LT) and Eli Sloneker (LG) and junior Lucas Skibba (RG). Rounding out the two deep roster to start the season are sophomores Tyler Janczak (RG) and Pat Suffield (RT) and freshmen Pat Costello (LT) and Austin Jones (LG).
       As a group, the offensive line continues to gain valuable experience with each game. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge lies ahead as they prepare to face the defensive fronts of their WIAC opponents. When asked about players that gave him increased confidence in the depth of the 2013 Warhawks, Coach Leipold cited the work of the freshmen, Shier and Koepnick. “I’m not surprised they are playing well and contributing because I knew they were good football players. I am maybe a little surprised at how quickly they were able to contribute on the field.”  Undoubtedly one of the keys to the 2013 season will be the continued development of this young, but talented group on the offensive line.


       UW-W Undoubtedly features two of the biggest tight ends in the WIAC conference. Derric Junakin, a 6’3” 285 pound junior and Chris Davis, a 6’6” 265 pound senior man the position for the Hawks. The tight ends are crucial for setting the edge in the running game and being a factor in the red zone in the passing game. With the weapons UW-W possesses at wide receiver, the tight ends won’t get a huge number of targets each game, but will be counted on in key situations to move the chains and sustain drives as the season wears on.


       As expected, the defensive performance has been one of the strengths of the Warhawks’ season so far in 2013.  As always, the defense is anchored by the defensive front.  The defensive line is anchored by seniors DE Lou Minett and DT Marshall Rutherford.  Defensive Line Coach Kevin Bullis cited the leadership of the two seniors since spring practice as key to development of the defensive line.  Another emerging leader on the defensive front is junior Mykael Bratchett a junior from Hope School in Milwaukee. “The three of them are providing strong leadership”, according to Bullis.
       Bullis considers one of the strengths of the unit to be the ability of Minett to create pressure from the inside tackle position when Bullis wants their four best pass rushers on the field. Moving Minett inside allows him to athletically take advantage of some guards and creates room on the edge for speed rusher Kevon Clunis.  And while UW-W has only 3 sacks on the season, pressure and physical play from the defensive front has had a lot to do with the defense creating 13 turnovers over the first three games. Rounding out the 2 deep are starting defensive tackle Zach Franz, a sophomore from DeForest, sophomore back up defensive end Jon Groves, and back up freshmen defensive tackles Brandon Tamsett and John Flood. Leipold cited the performance of both Tamsett and Flood as impressive and giving him confidence in the depth of the unit.  The coaches had high expectations of the rest of the group coming into camp and they have certainly more than met those expectations three games into the season.


       To know one’s surprise, the UW-W linebacking unit is one of the strengths of the team. When a team that usually plays three linebackers have four earn all-conference recognition, that is a sign of a pretty dominant group. When all four return the following year, the expectations can blow through the roof. The UW-W defense has allowed only 7 points and 188.7 yards per game over the first three games. Certainly the linebacking unit has had a lot to do with that. Veteran WIAC coach John Meich, who coached for 27 years at UW-Stevens Point (24 seasons as Head Coach), calls this year’s unit “potentially one of the best units” he has seen in his years in the WIAC.  The four senior linebackers who earned all WIAC recognition a year ago include Ryan Cortez, Cole Klotz, Kyle Wismer, and Josh Williams.  As could be expected, they are currently the four leading tacklers for the UW-W defense. Providing the depth in the two deep are senior Joe Paulus, and Ricky Valadez. 
       Anyone who has seen UW-W play within the last year recognizes this unit as one who has tremendous, speed, physicality, and a “fly to the ball” mentality. As the year presses forward, this group will be expected to make game changing plays, but not at the expense of being reckless about their assignments. As this group continues to work on playing sound fundamental football within the structure of the defense and let their natural ability take over, those momentum swinging plays will continue to come.


       One of the developments of the first three games for UW-W has been the defensive backs’ penchant for making huge plays. Safety Andrew Keister has scored two touchdowns on an 88 yard interception return and on a 30 yard fumble recovery return.  Safety Zach Nellis also scored on a 37 yard fumble recovery return.  In addition, starting cornerback Brady Grayvold has 3 interceptions and the other starting corner, Marcus McLin, has another. Four sophomores back up in the defensive backfield and have gained valuable experience as well.  Shawn Shillcox, Dylan Morang, Zach Mutton, and Ryan Winske round out the two deep entering WIAC play.  Unfortunately, sophomore defensive back Chis Treptow has been lost due to an injury.  The continued development of this unit will be critical as the season progresses for UW-W. Several WIAC teams are expected to be “pass heavy” this year and because most teams find it difficult to run against UW-W, many opponents put the ball in the air a lot against the Hawks.  As the unit continues to mature and gain even further confidence, they have the potential to continue to make big plays. Without a doubt, this group would love to develop a “throw it at your own risk” reputation. If the first three games are any indication, that may be on its way to happening.

Special Teams

       Early indications are that special teams will be one of the absolute strengths of the 2013 Warhawks.  Led by senior kicker/punter Eric Kindler, the UW-W special teams units aspire to go beyond “adequate” and soar into the “difference maker” category. Kindler has made all six of his field goal attempts, including a long of 50 yards.  And while his punting average of 32.6 yards seems pedestrian, he has placed 9 of 19 kicks inside the 20 and forced 6 fair catches. In addition, he has hit two over 50 yards. 
       The coverage units have been exceptional over the first three games, allowing only 14.5 yards on kickoff returns and an astounding negative 1.5 yards on punt returns. The coverage team has delivered some devastating hits along the way.
       Leading the return game is junior Justin Howard. Howard is extremely aggressive in catching the ball and has dynamic return ability.  He is averaging 8.4 yards on punt returns with a long of 27 yards. He is averaging 24.3 yards on kickoff returns with a long of 32 yards.  Although, he has not broken a long return yet, most who watch him would agree it’s just a matter of time. In addtion to Howard, Zach Howard is an able punt returner. Zach Howard has returned two punts, including one for 35 yards.  Marcus McLin also contributes on kickoff returns. His game opening 61 yard return at Buffalo State set the tone for UW-W’s dominant performance in Buffalo.  All four returners have big play capabilities.
       Freshman kicker Lake Bachar appears poised to handle the kickoff duties for the Warhawks. Coach Leipold felt like it is a positive to relieve Kindler of that aspect of kicking given his other workload. But he gave the credit to Bachar. “We would’t have been able to go in that direction if Lake hadn’t proven he’s ready.”


       Given the schedule and level of competition, the Warhawks appear to have accomplished all that could have been expected from their three game pre-conference schedule. As Coach Leipold commented, “There’s much work still to be done and everything changes drastically this week” referring to the beginning of the WIAC schedule in LaCrosse.
       Time will tell as to how far the 2013 Warhawks can rise. There appears to be little doubt, they have set their sights high. There also is little doubt that they will continue to emphasize getting better one day at a time.  It’s impossible to answer every question about a football team during the first three weeks of their schedule.  But more questions are about to be answered. After all, it’s WIAC time!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

2013 Season Begins Today: My Humble Opinion

Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000105 EndHTML:0000009623 StartFragment:0000002480 EndFragment:0000009587

The sting of a disappointing 2012 season behind them, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks will be looking to start a new chapter beginning with the 2013 opener against Washington University today at Perkins Stadium. 

At this time last year, UW-W was a three-time national champion, riding a 45 game winning streak. With success of that magnitude, it is virtually impossible to manage expectations.  With the level of success the Warhawk football has attained, last year’s 7-3 record was not what the team had in mind. While most programs would celebrate a 7 win season, UW-W feels like it has some bouncing back to do.  How far will a 2013 bounce carry them? 

The general consensus is that the Hawks will come into 2013 with another championship caliber defense. In 2012, the Warhawks’ defense ranked #2 nationally in scoring defense and #6 in total defense while playing in the WIAC, largely considered the strongest division 3 football conference in the nation.  When a team is that strong defensively, yet loses three games, it is only natural to look to the other side of the ball for some answers.  

Over the past several seasons, UW-W has been a prototype of a fundamentally sound, philosophically conservative offensive football team. Prior to 2012, it not only was sufficient, it was probably wise.  As much as fans love and clamor for wide-open offensive football, a coaching staff is obsessed with one thing. Winning.  During the 45 game winning streak, the offensive coaches rode a mostly dominant offensive line and experienced and talented skill position players to victory. Through a power running game and an ability to wear down defenses, the Warhawks knew that they controlled their own fate. As long as they didn’t turn the ball over, they were going to win out in the end.  Although at times frustrating for fans, it proved to be a strong strategy because game after game the cream would rise to the top. The offensive line would wear down the defense and eventually, the offensive playmakers would make enough plays to win the game. 

However, 2012 was a different story.  While the Warhawks had good offensive players, they were clearly not good enough to sustain the level of success of the previous UW-W teams.  In watching the games, it did not appear that the 2012 offense had the “talent gap advantage” that previous UW-W teams held.  Less overall talent, combined with inconsistent play from the quarterback position, led to far less production. As a result, Warhawks found themselves compiling a 7-3 record and watching the playoffs from home.

Without a doubt, the Hawks will have the offensive talent to compete with every defense they play this year.  But after last season, it seems like a small shift in offensive philosophy may be in order.  One of the keys to the 2013 season for UW-W will be their offensive approach.  Will the Warhawks “open up the playbook” and look to attack the opponent with each and every possession? Too often in 2012, the Warhawks seemed to be slugging it out, waiting for the big plays that never came. 

Without a doubt, execution was a part of that.  In this year’s training camp, there has been an intentional focus on the word “Finish”.  Finish plays, finish drives, and finish games.  First and foremost, new offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki’s job will be to get consistent execution from each offensive position group.  Without that, the most creative offense on earth will not succeed.  But there is another lesson to be learned from 2012.  Assuming that a defense will wear down or that victory will come eventually is a mistake.  Every possession is an opportunity to aggressively strike the opponent and put points on the scoreboard.  Coach Kotelnicki has a great resume in developing high scoring offenses. If he is able to do the same at UW-W this year, the sky is the limit for this football team.   How far back will UW-W bounce in 2013? We will begin finding out at noon today at the Perk.