Ferris State football marches through competition to move on to a 5-0 record following yet another blowout win with a homecoming background.
The Bulldogs are one of the national leaders in points per game and rushing yards per game. Though their contest with Findlay was hotly contested through three quarters, Ferris pulled away and blew out the Oilers by 28 points. Not all has been perfect, but it certainly has looked easy for this team to march through the conference as they have.
With five dominant victories already under their belt, the Bulldogs are riding a freight train of momentum through conference play, and they’ve managed to make it look easy. However, finding success isn’t easy, especially in the GLIAC Conference. These players spend several hours per week training, watching film and running countless drills in hopes of producing a winning product on the field.
“He’s such a perfectionist isn’t he? I try to just take victories and smile about them,” Head Coach Tony Annese said. Before Annese could finish his thought, junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan quickly interjected denying his coach’s claim of being entirely satisfied with a victory. Annese, in speaking of his quarterback’s uncompromising tendencies, then said, “He likes to evaluate every win. He has kind of taken on my personality in that respect.”
Perhaps as a result of this feverish preparation and strive for perfectionism, the bulldogs have been clicking on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The offense’s ability to run up the score gives the defense some slack, while tough play by the defense gives way to extra possessions and good field position.
“It’s great to be able to play with such a good offense. We know they can put up a lot of points, so it allows us to play more aggressively as a unit. It is definitely reassuring to have them on our side,” redshirt freshman K.C. Zenner said. “If we go for a big play and miss we know that they have our back, just like they know we have their back if they give up a turnover.”
It is said that the best offense is a good defense, and the Bulldogs are in no short supply of excellent defenders. Allowing just 12.8 points per game, and less than 175 passing yards to opposing teams, this Bulldogs defense has proven to be incredibly robust. This defensive solidarity is a team effort, but first contact is always made at the line of scrimmage.
“Right now our defensive MVP would be any of our D-linemen that rotate throughout the game. They do a great job of penetrating into the backfield and occupying blocks so that our linebackers can roam and make big plays. Our D-line is definitely the best unit on our team. They set the tone for how the defense plays.”
While the Bulldog defense has been playing well, the offense has certainly been doing their part to support them as well. Scoring a staggering 48.0 points per game, the Bulldogs have never lead a team by less than 20 points at the conclusion of a game. With Vander Laan at the helm and a seemingly endless list of targets and weapons for him to choose from, it is no wonder that this offense has found success.
If there is any weakness in the Bulldog armor, it has yet to make itself known, as the Dawgs have also shined on special teams.
With the combined punting efforts of Mitch Bredberg and Trevor Bermingham coupled with the unusual yet effective punting formation, successfully setting up the opponent with bad field position has been a strength for FSU. The Dawgs have also accumulated 274 return yards and a touchdown on an extremely limited amount of kickoffs.
At the end of the day, the players are still students just entering adulthood. Garnering attention on a national level and boasting an increasingly impressive win streak, the coaches must keep their players focused. Annese believes that his insistence on maintaining focus on the task at hand has reached his players and become a benchmark for this team.
“We take pride in trying to be our best, but we keep up the standard of it’s really about us and not what the final score is or what a ranking is or anything of that sort,” Coach Annese said. “So I think this team is pretty well grounded and understands our expectation to be the best, and that’s what we strive for everyday.”