The Drake football team looks to even its record at 1-1 Saturday, hosting the Truman State Bulldogs at Drake Stadium.
After beginning the season with a nightmarish first quarter that ultimately led to a 45-22 defeat at the hands of the Grand View Vikings, head coach Rick Fox emphasized urgency during practice this week.
“The focus has been urgency, treating every play as an important play,” Fox said. “We didn’t do that in the first quarter (Saturday). If I exactly knew why we played like that in the first quarter, I’d write a book and make a lot of money.”
For running back Conley Wilkins, the focus has been on the finer details.
“Whether that’s being patient, whether that’s getting our blocks, whether that’s receivers running the right routes, our defense playing its best … We’re always trying to do our best and pay attention to details,” Wilkins said.
Truman State didn’t play last week, but they do boast Garrett White, the conference’s leading rusher in 2013 and a top-flight defense.
“Last year’s defense, for them, was the best defense that they’ve had at Truman State since 1994. They have nine returning starters,” Fox said.
Even though Truman State is a Division II program, Fox, who coached a D-III program, maintained that great football is great football, no matter the level.
“There are great football teams in Division III; there are great football teams in FCS; there are great football teams in NAIA; there are great football teams in Division II; so I don’t get caught up in all those things,” he said.
Kickoff for Saturday is set for 6 p.m. It’s ‘Take a Kid To the Game” day with free admission to children under 12 that are accompanied by an adult. As always, Drake students get in free with a valid student ID.
At a glance: Truman State
Location: Kirksville, Missouri
Conference: Great Lakes Valley Conference, Division II
Coach: Greg Nesbitt (19-25)
2013 Record: 7-4, second in the GLVC
Record vs. Drake: 2-2, won last meeting in 2002, 38-14
Picked to finish second in the GLVC behind Indianapolis
Player to watch: Running back Garrett White. He led the conference in 2013 with 995 yards rushing, earning first-team all-conference honors.
Stat to know: Zero: the number of games Truman’s played in 2014. Drake, of course, fell to Grand View last week, 45-22.
Running back Gary Scott Jr. will miss his second straight game with a knee injury, and senior receiver Grahm Butler will miss Saturday’s action with a broken hand.
Expect Wilkins to again shoulder most of the load in the backfield, perhaps being spelled occasionally by T.J. James and Ryan McKeever. Redshirt freshman receiver Keegan Gallery was cleared to play after suffering a broken hand of his own early in fall camp, but look to Jacob Dines, Neko Graf and Matthew Denning to make up for Butler’s absence.
Fifth-year senior defensive lineman Matt Acree will return after missing the Grand View loss with an illness.
Wilkins named PFL Offensive Player of the Week
After accounting for half his team’s points in Week 1, sophomore running back Conley Wilkins earned Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Wilkins carried the ball 16 times for 62 yards, including two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
“It wasn’t just me,” Wilkins said. “It was an all-around great effort by the team. It’s not just an individual award. It was a team award.”
Why does the GLVC sound familiar?
Saturday will mark the second consecutive year Drake has played a member of the Great Lakes Valley conference. Last year, Drake trounced the Indianapolis Greyhounds, 31-14.
Drake entered the second quarter down 7-0, but scored 31 unanswered points to cruise to victory.
Indianapolis went on to win the GLVC title in 2013, clinching the title after beating Truman State 21-14 in the final game of the season.