The Bemidji State Beavers came into Mankato and shocked the No. 6 Minnesota State Mavericks in their home opener Saturday. The Mavericks have now dropped all the way to No. 21 in the AFCA national polls, as their record stands at 1-1 overall.
In the first home game of the season, much was expected out of the No. 6 ranked Mavericks after their victory over Minot State on September 1st. Coming into the game Saturday at Blakeslee Stadium, confidence and expectations among coaches and players were high. Unfortunately, the lack of preparation and execution seemed to be the key factors in the 45-17 loss to Bemidji State. However, credit should be given to where credit is due as Bemidji State played an incredible game.
“Got to give Bemidji a lot of credit; I thought they dominated the football game from the beginning to the end and they were very well in-tuned with what we were doing and they executed exceptionally well.” Head Coach Todd Hoffner said.
Senior linebacker Marcus Gooden even had a few comments on the hellacious play by the Beavers in Saturday’s loss. “I think it simply boils down to them being more prepared than us. We pride ourselves on stopping the run and we didn’t do that today, so hats off to Bemidji.” Gooden said.
When execution and preparation become issues for a football team like it evidently was for the Mavericks, the answer tends to lay on the shoulders of the coaches and coordinators. Hoffner made it very apparent at the press conference after the game Saturday night that the coaches were the ones who need to do a better job of making adjustments during the game and putting players in positions to make plays.
“As coaches we have to put our players in better positions to make plays. When the game was still contested we came back and scored seven right away and then they came back and answered with a touchdown.” Hoffner said. “They definitely imposed their will after that. As coaches we’re going to take a hard look at the film, we’re going to look at what we’re doing and reassess, re-evaluate and come back with a better plan next week.”
Offensively the Mavericks could get little done against a Bemidji State defense that shut them out in the first half. The Mavericks struggled to get much going in the second half as they only put up 17 in an attempt to answer. Hoffner and the Mavericks’ offensive struggles were something needing to be noted after the game.
“We pride ourselves on being a balanced football team, and I thought that they took the run away pretty well and we were miscuing quite a bit in our throwing game, so not a lot of things clicked tonight for us on offense.” Hoffner said. “It was a rough outing, we came in with a balanced attack and we just didn’t execute exceptionally well.”
Hoffner also went on to explain how the football team will approach the current situation, as there are many things to improve on going forward.
“As a head coach you have to look at yourself and reflect a little bit and we’ve got to get back to the drawing board and do things better,” Hoffner explained.
As a team, the Mavericks totaled 352 yards to Bemidji State’s 563. Trouble for MNSU seemed to be keeping the Bemidji State offense off the field. The Beavers were 8 of 15 on third down while the Mavericks struggled to convert on third downs, only mustering up 5 of 17 on their conversion attempts. Both offense and defense had their struggles in the home opener for the Mavericks and the focus will be improving as a whole.
“We all need to get better. 60 minutes of football was not the best Maverick football that we can play [and] I think we can play better and it comes back to us as coaches.” Hoffner said.
The ideal situation of going back to basics and a week’s worth of time to prepare can produce the answers the Mavericks are looking for to secure their second win of the season. Minnesota State will be facing another tough task on the road in St. Cloud State on Saturday, September 17th at 3:00 p.m.