Fall football depends on summer preparation

by Will Conerly

Fall Sports Preview: Football

A majority of Quincy University students are anticipating the summer recess to head home and spend time with family and friends.  However, for QU football players, the summer is the most crucial time to prepare for another season.

This period requires discipline, hard work, and commitment for these athletes.  Some even might say this preparation can be the difference between a winning or losing season.

Bass continues to instill culture

Hawks head coach Gary Bass will enter his third season, and second with the interim tag removed from his title.  In his first season, the Hawks had a disappointing 3-8 record, but Bass still managed to develop players as ten Hawks received All-Conference honors.  Last season, the Hawks managed one more victory and finished with a record of 4-7. The Hawks biggest void to fill will be to find a replacement for last year’s unquestioned leader, Cody Leonard.  He earned All-American honors and never missed a start during his entire Quincy career.

Past offensive pains could push Hawks Forward

Last season, the Hawks had an inconsistent, one-dimensional offense. In 11 games they managed just 169 points -15.4 Avg/G- which was  last in the conference. In a six-game stretch from late September to late October, the Hawks failed to score 14 points in any given game.  During that stretch Bass’ team went 1-5, as they searched to establish a running game and find a quarterback who could move the offense and avoid turnovers. The Hawks ended the year on a two-game win streak. Prior to that, the Hawks showed some promise. QU played national-powerhouse Indianapolis trailing only 14-7 at halftime, and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds at the 11-yard line against Missouri S&T but fell 20-13. Indianapolis went 7-0 to win the GLVC regular-season title, and Missouri S&T came in second with a 6-1 record.

The offense that was on display seemed to carry a new identity not only from game to game, but from different parts of the field.

The Hawks had 32 chances in the red zone, yet they only scored 20 times, 16 of which were touchdowns. That was a GLVC-worst 62.5% on Red Zone scoring percentage. They also lost possession eight times in the Red Zone, six of which came from a turnover on downs.

The Red-Zone focus could be returning tight end Adam Hillis next fall. The Hawks tried to target Hillis inside the 20-yard line last season, but he only hauled in four passes.

QU only converted 11 of their 44 third down chances, which is only 27.8 percent conversion rate.

When QU elected to air it out, they were victims of nine interceptions and averaged 151.3 passing yards per game. Teams invited the Hawks to complete passes, but QU struggled to do so.  The Hawks had a GLVC-worst 49.6 percent completion rate.

So what will the offense look like in 2019?

The answer will depend on the progress of senior quarterback, Andrew Rund. The past two seasons the Hawks have had just seven wins, and seem to always be searching for an offensive identity.

Oscee Calhoun and Jaylan Griffin will be the likely candidates to run the ball for the Hawks.

Justin Rosendahl, who is a frontline offensive lineman will be returning to block up front for the Hawks. Mitch Carey will also provide the Hawks with another quality offensive lineman.

Quincy’s plan of attack on offense most-definitely will flow through establishing a running game. This will open up play action and screen passes to his backs who will likely be involved in the passing game.

The general of the offense, Andrew Rund, has started over the past two seasons, despite facing some adversity.

Throughout the past two campaigns, Rund’s job was given to someone else.

Bass has given the job back to Rund both times he lost it, and now is the starting quarterback again. Rund took the starting job back last season in week six when the Hawks won over GLVC-foe Lincoln to improve to 3-3 record.

Rund tossed four touchdowns last season and the Hawks believe if that number can be increased, so can their win total.

New Coaches, New Scheme

After QU fell to the bottom of the GLVC in most offensive statistics, Bass fired offensive coordinator Khanis Hubbard and quarterbacks coach Sam Fisk.   A new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach will offer changes in the play-calling for the Hawks. Keith Barefield is now the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  He coached at Central Arkansas and Northwestern Oklahoma State over the past two seasons. Prior to that, he was the offensive coordinator at Southeastern University. Ryan Olson is the pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Hawks, and he was on the staff at Eastern Michigan last season.

New Talent, More Competition

The Hawks signed 49 players during the signing period last February. There were over 100 players available during spring practice and 160 could be in preseason camp come August.

The players who will take the gridiron will look to write their own story and legacy of the QU football program.

Bass says his recruiting pitch to prospective QU football players is simple: they have an opportunity to be a part of starting something special. The Hawks have not had a winning season since 2014.

There is strength in numbers, too. The Hawks were plagued with injuries last season, especially with their running backs. But, the Hawks signed three quality running backs and 11 players from the Chicago area to improve their numbers at this position.

Defense to impress, again

Sean Kelly, the defensive coordinator, coached a solid Hawk defense last season. The defense was the backbone of the Hawks. The defense was experienced, and lots of experience is coming back. Although the loss of anchor linebacker All American Cody Leonard, the Hawks defense showed they can hang with any team. Justin Corbett was hired to coach the defensive line, and Aaron Doan was brought in to coach the defensive backs.

Schedule Preview

Summer is now the only thing standing between the Hawks opening day and a fresh start to a new year. The fresh mentality will be tested early on in the season. In week four, the Hawks play host to Truman State to open GLVC play which will also be homecoming for QU. The Hawks fell 41-7 last season to the Bulldogs, and are aware of the tough test from the regional rival. Truman has dominated QU the past two times they’ve played for a combined score of 72-14.

Starting strong in the 2019 fall should be a focus for the Hawks. Last season, QU opened with a 49-0 loss to Indiana State and then played four consecutive games at home with an extremely young team. This year, QU will travel the first two weekends to Central State and then Kentucky Wesleyan. Then, the Hawks return to play Wayne State, who went 3-8 last season, for the home-opener.

The Hawks travel five of their first seven weekends and finish with three of their final four games at home. Lindenwood, who is a GLVC-newcomer is on the Hawks home slate. The Lions have had six straight losing seasons.

QU SCHEDULE

Date    Opponent    Time

Sept. 7    at Central State    1:30 p.m.

Sept. 14    at Kentucky Wesleyan    1 p.m.

Sept. 21    Wayne State   1 p.m.

Sept. 28    Truman State*    1 p.m.

Oct. 5    at Missouri S&T*    TBD

Oct. 12    at Indianapolis* 6 pm

Oct. 19    at Southwest Baptist*    1 p.m.

Oct. 26    Lindenwood*    1 p.m.

Nov. 2    Newport News Apprentice School    Noon

Nov. 9    at McKendree*    1 p.m.

Nov. 16    William Jewell*    1 p.m.

* Great Lakes Valley Conference game

Key Dates:

First Game

When: September 7th (Saturday) 1:30 P.M.

Who: Central State University

Where: Wilberforce, OH

Meeting History: Hawks 1-0 all-time vs CSU

*Only meeting was October 27th, 2012*

Home-Opener

When: September 21 (Saturday) 1:00 P.M.

Who: Wayne State University

Where: QU Stadium

GLVC-Opener / Homecoming

When: September 28th (Saturday) 1:00 PM

Who: Truman State University*-**

Where: QU Stadium

History: Hawks 1-5 all-time vs TSU

*Homecoming **GLVC-Opener

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