The Autumn Wind is a Maverick, bustling in from the woods as the Minnesota State Mavericks gear up for their home opener against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. in front of the home crowd at Blakeslee Stadium.
This year the Mavericks are determined to seek revenge after last year’s 30-10 defeat which sent them packing in front of the Bulldog Faithful.
In that contest, the UMD Bulldogs would jump out in front early, leading 14-3 courtesy of the UMD Bulldogs offense going into the locker room. The Mavericks would try to rally a second-half comeback but ultimately were unsuccessful.
This time, however, the Mavericks have the home field advantage as the Herd is ready to bring the noise for their home opener.
Following a thrilling victory against the Bemidji State Beavers, the Mavericks look to start distancing themselves from the pack and extend their winning streak. Head Coach Todd Hoffner said that they still have a long way to go as a team
“We won which is what’s important, we did enough to win, but need to be better. It is still early and the only way to get better is through practice and game experience.”
The defense put on a stellar second-half performance after generating an interception by sophomore Jacob Daulton and a forced fumble caused by senior Alijah McGhee who returned it for a touchdown.
Another thing also highlighted in last week’s contest was the debut of the two QB systems that Hoffner alluded to as a possibility in both training camp and last week. Sophomore Hayden Ekern would start the first half and be replaced by fellow Sophomore Mitch Randall in the second half.
“They both did a solid job. Unfortunately, they both threw interceptions during their reps. But as game managers and guys who need to lead the offense and help make plays, they are great,” said Hoffner
Entering this contest, the UMD Bulldogs are not an opponent to be taken lightly. This season, they started with a convincing 31-21 victory over Saint Mary’s University and are looking to build a moment as they prepare to travel down south.
A handful of players remain from last year’s matchup; however, the eyes will be on the many under center. During the bout with SMU, starting QB Garret Olson was pulled for Sophomore Logan Graetz who proceeded to will the UMD Bulldogs to victory courtesy of a strong defense. It is still unclear who will be given command, it is difficult for the Mavericks to prepare for the Saturday matchup.
“Just remaining focused and need to defend Blakeslee. Big plays on both sides. We have a talented and gifted team across the field, so it’s just coming prepared.” Said Hoffner.
With the countdown to the 6 P.M. kickoff on Saturday, all eyes are on the Mavericks looking to defend their territory as the UMD Bulldogs come to town.
Header Photo: The Mavericks will kick off the home opener at Blakeslee Stadium this Saturday at 6 p.m. against the UMD Bulldogs. (file photo)
Write to Charlie Groebner at Charlie.Groebner@mnsu.edu