The Minnesota State Mavericks football team will be headed out on the road this weekend to face St. Cloud State in a rivalry game that could have late season and potential playoff implications.
The Mavericks claimed victory last in St. Cloud during the 2012 season, winning 25-21. Minnesota State has not won back-to-back meetings with the Huskies since the 1998, 1999 and 2000 seasons.
After an embarrassing home opener against Bemidji State losing 45-17, the Mavericks have to bounce back from their first loss of the season against a tough conference opponent in the Huskies. Head Coach Todd Hoffner will be demanding a lot out of his players in an important game at St. Cloud this Saturday.
“We have to give 100 percent of what we got all the time.” Hoffner said. “Leadership will be crucial as well; I asked all the players to try [and] step up, and we as coaches have to try and put the players in position to succeed. We’ll have to have tremendous mental and physical discipline and be able to bounce back from adversity.”
Senior quarterback Ricky Lloyd knows bouncing back and responding to a tough loss is exactly what the team needs to do and so far he has seen all the right signs from his teammates in the locker room and on the practice field.
“Responding after a tough loss like that truly brings out the character of a team and defines who the team is,” Lloyd said. “Since the loss I’ve seen nothing but positive motivation from the senior leaders and letting the young guys know that, that’s not how the Mavericks play. We’ve put last week behind us and are prepared to move forward with this season one game at a time and only focusing on who’s in front of us that week.”
Lloyd threw two touchdown passes in the last matchup against the Huskies in 2014, as the Mavericks won that game 31-0 at Blakeslee Stadium.
Getting off to a fast start and converting on third downs will be important for the Mavericks offense, who seemed to be able to get little going against Bemidji State converting only 5 of 17 third downs. Lloyd and the Mavericks offense looked uncharacteristically bad last Saturday and a fast start is precisely what they’ll need against a good St. Cloud team.
“Converting third downs is always important in any game, but against St. Cloud we need to just communicate better and get into our own groove,” Lloyd said. “We need to dictate the speed of the game through our offense and move the ball every drive and end every drive with a score no matter if it’s a touchdown or a field-goal.”
Hoffner has his own ideas of how the Mavericks will try to open up the game on Saturday.
“We’re going to try and get a first down, or we’re going to try get St. Cloud to punt. I think that would be a good start.” Hoffner said. “I think that starts with us as coaches, we’re going to have to have a very finite game plan; we’re going to be playing our archrival.”
The Mavericks will be facing St. Cloud for the 80th time in the two team’s history. The Huskies enter the game at an even 1-1 record. The Mavericks will be challenged with stopping a balanced offensive attack from the Huskies but the focus for the Mavericks’ defense will be keeping a pass game that has averaged 293.5 yards per game to a minimum. The rivalry matchup will be held in St. Cloud on Saturday, September 17th at 3:00 p.m. at Husky Stadium. This will be a game with high importance, as it may balance out expectations for this year’s team.