As the season passes its midway point, the Bulldogs see themselves fighting for conference championship and a hopeful shot at a playoff berth.
Ferris State (4-2) is sitting in second place in the GLIAC standings with a 4-1 conference record. After defeating Grand Valley State (4-2) 54-44, the Bulldogs moved back into a position to contest for the GLIAC crown.
As the conference stands now, Saginaw Valley (5-1) and Ohio-Dominican (6-0) are currently in a tie for the top spot in the GLIAC, both with 5-0 records in their respective divisions. The Bulldogs are just a step behind as they are the only other team with four or more conference wins.
With six games in the book and five regular season match ups left, Ferris will be charged with a tough second half schedule. The Bulldogs will need to depend on the continued consistency of their offense and playmaking abilities on defense if they plan on finishing the season out strong.
Ferris’ offense has been a staple this season, which can be proven by their success running the ball. The offense leads the conference in rushing yards (1,892), rushing touchdowns (22) and third down conversion percentage (54 percent). The Bulldogs are also sitting in the top five in points per game, yards per game and first downs.
One of the main drawbacks to Ferris’ offense is the lack of a consistent passing game, as the Bulldogs are ranked 12th in the conference in passing yards. This can be attested to the fact the offense is built around a structured running game in Ferris’ “veer” attack.
“We just have to keep doing what we are doing,” sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan said. “There is still a lot of football to be played, so anything can happen. We just need to make sure we take care of our own business.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs have flourished in some games and completely disappeared in others. Ferris currently gives up an average of 33.8 points a game, which ranks 11th in the GLIAC. Ferris’ defense has forced momentum-shifting turnovers in integral parts of the game to help lift the team to wins.
“I thought we were really good on defense most of the first half,” head coach Tony Annese said in regards to the Grand Valley State game. “In the first half we really limited them in their rush game.”
As the defense sits now, Ferris is in the top five in interceptions (7), sacks (14) and tackles per game (82.7). The Bulldogs are also tied for first with two defensive touchdowns.
“Winning the conference championship is our number one goal,” senior running back Korey Ringer said. “No one can beat us but ourselves. We have to stay locked in to the task at hand and do what we do and that’s win.”
Ferris State will need to win out if they want a shot at the GLIAC title and the all-important post season berth. Ferris will next travel to Hillsdale on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m.