Arch rival Jewell calls on No. 3 Vikings

Friday, September 19, 2008
Because young players like sophomore linebacker Jesse Putnam have stepped, the Vikings have only allowed a net of 15 rushing yards the first two games. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

There may have been no more dominant a performance by the Missouri Valley College football team during its recent resurgence than last week's 48-15 Heart of America Conference victory at Graceland.

Now head coach Paul Troth would like to see the third-ranked Vikings do it for the home folks.

"We have a lot of potential, but that was probably our best game in quite a while in all three phases," Troth remarked. "That hasn't always happened."

And it isn't especially likely to reoccur Saturday against visiting William Jewell, the only team in the league to yield fewer yards per game (253.9) than did the Orange Crunch last year.

"That gets your attention right away," Troth said. "They may have the hardest defense we've played yet, because of their schemes."

Like Valley, the Cardinals (0-3, 0-2 HAAC) line up in the 3-4, but "they mix it up," according to Troth.

"They might play man or zone, and shift their line," he explained. "They put themselves in good spots."

Jewell gave the Vikings' offense fits last year, holding it to a season-low 218 yards. However, Valley won the contest, 25-14, in relatively easy fashion because the Cardinals' offense was so anemic -- both of their scores the product of turnovers.

"They're doing things different, in a way that fits their personnel," Troth said. "It's option football, and that always scares you.

"You don't see too many options in college football, true triple-threat options," he explained. "You have to play assignment football."

Senior Josh Cooper has benefitted from that style, rushing for 227 yards and two touchdowns in three games.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Whitman, who will often operate out of the shotgun flanked by running backs, has passed effectively -- 41 completions in 71 attempts for 514 yards.

"Since they're balanced either side, they don't tip their hand" which way they're going, Troth observed.

This would be a big win for Jewell, which has languished in the middle of the conference pack for the first three years under head coach Fran Schwenk -- an improvement from earlier seasons, but still not over the hump into contender status.

"The concern is letting them hang around," Troth said. "They get tougher as the game goes along, while we get more tight."

So while the Vikings (2-0, 2-0) may not be able to pile up a 41-0 lead through three quarters as they did last week, it wouldn't hurt to take charge early and sustain an attack.

"Consistency comes from game-in, game-out performance, and [Graceland] was out first one," Troth asserted. "The question is: can we do it again?"

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