Monday Morning Quarterback: Mac game was exciting

By Steve Sell
September 19, 2016

Monday morning quarterback...

• BULLDOGS’ GAME EXCITING — Of course being a sports writer I do not have to pay to attend games.

But Saturday night I would gladly have paid the price of admission for McPherson College’s home opener against Southwestern.

Mac had started the year 0-2 on the road with games in Nebraska and Iowa, so I had been unable to attend. But I was impressed with what I was being told and looked forward to seeing what this team was all about after last year's 0-10 season under first-year coach Paul Mierkiewicz.

The Bulldogs and Moundbuilders gave the fans their money’s worth, especially during a wild first half that left the teams tied at 20-all. The Bulldogs were over 300 yards in the half in total offense, a figure they seldom reached for an entire game last year.

While the defenses finally adjusted in the second half and the only scoring was a touchdown by the Bulldogs that clinched the game 27-20, there was no shortage of excitement.

The Bulldogs’ defense, swiss cheese in the first quarter, time and again made dramatic stops and it didn’t hurt Mac that Southwestern’s kicking game was subpar. The Builders missed two field goals in the second half and one that it did make was taken off the board when Southwestern coach Brad Griffin elected to keep the ball to try and score a touchdown. The Builders wound up missing another short field goal.

Offensively the Bulldogs have uncovered a gem in quarterback Ed Crouch, who is incredibly gifted. He ran for 148 yards and threw for 209 and four scores, numbers that I would expect would garner him KCAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Crouch is the type of athlete we don’t see very often in the KCAC as he can put a team on his back. His receivers did a nice job catching the ball and Tyrone Campbell provided a nice complement in pounding out some clutch yards.

The Bulldogs’ hopes for success are going to depend greatly on Crouch staying healthy. He can do things that few players in the KCAC can do. He reminds me of when Turtle James was running Bruce Grose’s single-wing offense about 20 years ago, he’s that elusive.

Now the Bulldogs must not rest on their laurels. As exciting as it was to record their first win since 2014 and the first of the Mierkiewicz era, they must put that behind them and concentrate on Bethel. The game will be played Saturday in North Newton.

• MHS TOOK CARE OF BUSINESS – Friday night’s 46-0 McPherson High rout of Winfield came as no surprise.

Winfield has a new coach and system and the last couple of years have been rough ones for the Vikings. New coach Linn Hibbs, who enjoyed great success at Wellington and also has been at Shawnee Mission Northwest, faces a major rebuilding job after some turbulent times hit the Winfield program in the last couple of years.

The Bullpup defense, which played so well despite the 0-2 start, was lights-out as the Vikings barely topped the 100-yard mark in total offense (103). The MHS offense was much improved, as it converted a pair of early turnovers into touchdowns and that sent the Bullpups off and running.

It was nice to see MHS coach Jace Pavlovich have the opportunity to play his second wave in the fourth quarter. He had hoped to start subbing in at the start of the second half, but after a 28-point explosion in the first quarter his team scored just once in the second period.

The Bullpups will need to reboot their emotions this week as they take on undefeated Augusta at McPherson Stadium. Many believe the Orioles are as good as any team in Division III, but they really haven’t played anybody of substance yet as their wins are over Winfield, Clearwater and Circle. For those into comparative scores, the Orioles defeated Winfield 32-0.

• KU A DISASTER — After watching KU’s wretched performance in a 43-7 loss to Memphis, I have serious doubts that second-year coach David Beaty is the long-term answer.

Beaty is trying to wear too many hats and he’s not wearing any of them very well. Saturday’s performance was one of the most disjointed and clueless efforts I’ve seen from the Jayhawks in years and with all the stinkers they’ve had that’s saying a lot.

This team is a mess. The hyped-up “Air Raid” offense is an unmitigated flop. KU can’t run the ball and catch the ball. There's no stability at quarterback as Montell Cozart, Ryan Willis and Carter Stanley are all backups at best.

The defense is simply the worst of any team in NCAA Division I. It won’t surprise me at all if Texas Tech doesn’t approach 80 points a week from Thursday in a game that will shown nationally. The secondary just doesn't have the athletes that can stay with receivers.

At least the Jayhawks did defeat Rhode Island in their opener to avoid an O-fer.

• WILDCATS CRUISE — Kansas State had no trouble with Florida Atlantic after its long layoff.

The Wildcats overran the Floridians 63-7 in a game that was a gross mismatch from the start.

KSU rumbled to 336 yards rushing and granted while it did go up against a terrible defense, running the football is essential. The Wildcats haven't run the ball that well the last couple of years and needs that aspect to be successful.

We probably won't get any more of a read on Kansas State this week when it hosts another overmatched team, Missouri State. 

• CHIEFS STRUGGLE — Four field goals.

That's all the Kansas City Chiefs managed on Sunday in a miserable offensive performance that featured too many penalties and turnovers in a 19-12 loss to Houston.

Alex Smith didn't even throw for 200 yards. The Chiefs got away from the run early with only 19 attempts, yet they finished with 119 yards. A 6.3 yards-per-carry mark tells me they should have run it more.

The Chiefs were strong against the run (only 97 yards), but continue to get burned on the big pass play.

The Chiefs are going to have to step it up because quite honestly they should be 0-2 as San Diego's second-half collapse in the opener allowed KC to come back and win that game.