By now, UW-W Coach Lance Leipold and his staff have broken down the game video of Saturday evening's 26-7 victory over arch rival LaCrosse and finalized the game plan for Franklin College. While the game and end zone view videos are invaluable tools in helping coaches evaluate performance, techniques, and alignments, some assumptions of overall performance can be gleaned from studying the statistical results of a contest. Here is a capsule of some of the numbers from Saturday night, what story those numbers told, and what it all may mean for the Warhawks' prospects this season:
FINAL SCORE: UW-W 26 UW-LaCrosse 7
Unlike some games, the final score in this one probably is pretty indicative of how this one played out. While the win was convincing, it was not quite a blow out. The defense was relatively dominant, while the offense moved the ball freely, but failed to cap off enough drives with touchdowns to blow out the Eagles. All that being said, the Eagles never really appeared to be a threat to win the game, probably because of the inability of their offense to sustain much of anything.
ERIC KINDLER: 4 for 4 on FG attempts.
Call this Kindler's anti-Campbellsville performance. In last year's 3rd pre-conference game, Kindler went 0-4 in Campbellsville, KY. That performance shook the confidence of Warhawk nation in the kicking game. However, Kindler proved himself reliable the rest of the season making 14 of 17 after that visit to Kentucky. This performance bodes well both for Kindler's confidence and his chances of being a real threat for the Warhawks in 2011.
MATT BLANCHARD: 18-30-0 for 248 yards.
Blanchard did not throw a TD pass, but he did complete 4 passes of 20+ yards to 4 different receivers. Blanchard threw at a 60% clip after completing a 72.4% clip a year ago. The lower percentages is probably a function of working with new receivers and not should not be a concern. Overall, Blanchard spread the ball around, completing passes to 8 different receivers. His main target, especially to move the chains was Luke Menze (6 receptions). However, Blanchard also utilized TE Jason Ford very effectively, completing 5 passes to the senior defensive end for 62 yards, with a long of 32 yards.
LEVELL COPPAGE: 21 Carries for 121 Yards and a TD
While his numbers were certainly solid, they were a bit un-Coppage like in that his long gain was "only" 15 yards. However, Coach Lance Leipold was pleased with the play of his revamped offensive line. "I'm pleased. I will have to check the film and the end zone film, but they must have blitzed 95% of the time. And for their (the offensive line's) first game together, I'm pleased" Leipold said after the game. Getting experience against a WIAC defense will likely be a huge benefit to this group.
RUN DEFENSE: 15 Carries for 89 Yards.
Starting running back Lee Lauters did a nice job against the Warhawk defense, running for 5.9 yards per carry. It should be noted that he had runs of 20, 11, and 21 yards in three of his last five carries of the game, all in the second half when many defensive players were being moved in and out of the game. But nonetheless, the UW-W coaches will undoubtedly be expecting the defense to be more stout against the run as the season progresses.
PASS DEFENSE: 7-17-1 for 40 yards and 1 first down.
Clearly, the pass defense was on their game. The Eagles could really muster next to nothing through the air. The defensive backs held LaCrosse wide receivers to 4 catches for 39 yards. UW-W's linebackers did a great job on the ancillary receivers as they held Lauters to 1 catch for (-2) yards and tight end Trevor Hutson to 1 catch for 3 yards. In Addition, the defense generated 3 quarterback sacks, totaling 32 yards in losses. The pass defense will undoubtedly be tested far more in their September 17th game at Franklin College.
KRIS ROSHOLT: 5 Punts for a 42.6 yard average and 4 punts inside the 20.
Rosholt picks up right where he left off last year. His ability to hang a long punt with excellent hang time only to drop with a neutral bounce is rare and exceptional. Rosholt is a major field position weapon for the Warhawks.
SEASON RECORD: 1-0
The objective of any pre-season game is to come out healthy and with a victory. Although injuries aren't always made public, the victory certainly appears to be a solid start to the 2011 season. In addition, many new starters and backups received excellent experience playing in a hostile environment. While the coaches no doubt discovered "coaching points" as they broke down the film, the numbers certainly point to a good start to the season for the Warhawks.