With six games under their belt, the Wabash College football team is officially into the second half of their 2021 season. After suffering their first loss last on Saturday, 44-41 to the College of Wooster at Little Giants Stadium, Wabash sees their record at 5-1 (4-0 NCAC). They still control their own destiny in the North Coast Athletic Conference. Little Giants Coach Don Morel talked about his team’s performance, both positive and negative, in the first half.
“It was disappointing losing our first game of the season, last Saturday,” he said. “We didn’t play that well really in all three phases of the game. Even though we scored 41 points, there were too many mistakes on that side of the ball. We gave up a kick return touchdown so there’s things to work on special teams as well, then you give 44 points on the defensive end."
Despite the loss, all of the Little Giants goals for the season are still attainable.
"There are plenty of things to work on, but luckily we can still accomplish everything we want to by winning out," Morel said. "So our focus is Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday, that’s all that matters right now. Hopefully we’ve washed out all of our demons from the Wooster game because it’s time to move on.”
Through six games the Little Giants are at the top of the conference in total offense; averaging 508 yards per game, 233 on the ground, and 273 through the air, while putting up 40 points per game.
Individually, Quarterback Liam Thompson is second in passing yards per game (274.3) and first in passing touchdowns (18).
Running back Donavon Snyder leads the conference in rush attempts (129), and yards (680), while wide-receiver Cooper Sullivan is second in receiving touchdowns with six.
The Little Giants were projected to win the conference before the season began. Morel knows that going undefeated isn’t what the focus should be, and now that’s out of the way, his team can get back to business.
“Going undefeated is really rare and it takes a very special team to do that and it’s all tall order no matter what. What is kind of nice about the loss is that you learn a lot more from failure than you do from success.”
Defensively after surrendering 44 points on Saturday, Wabash is allowing 27.8 points per game (6th in NCAC) while giving up 397.5 yards per game (7th in NCAC). A big part of the defensive struggle has been giving up big plays, something Morel knows has to change.
“It starts with that, not giving up big plays is first and foremost is what we have to improve on,” he said. “We’re going to try to move a few different people around to make sure we have the right guys we want on the field.”
Another bright spot for the Little Giants has been when they do have to punt the football away, they have one of the best punters in the Division III in Senior Joey Annee. Annee is second in all of D3 with an average of 43 yards per punt attempt. His longest this season includes a 73-yard kick which came in the Little Giant’s season opening win over Rose-Hulman.
“At the end of the day they are some bright spots with our team as well,” Morel said. “Guys like Joey and Liam and Donavon Snyder have been playing well for us. You add in Cade Campbell and Cooper Sullivan too, I just want the bad taste out of our mouths from the last game and that’s why we get to be back out here at practice, to do just that.”
With four games remaining on their schedule, including the always important Monon Bell rivalry game against Depauw, the Little Giants and Morel still can’t afford to look ahead. It’s simply a ‘one game at a time mentality’.
“Our guys do a very good job of having that one game mindset,” Morel said. “This week is particularly important because we aren’t coming off of a win. It’s not as fun as it normally is. Reality did set in with these guys that we can lose a game. Hopefully we’ve learned from that.”
Wabash will look to get back in the win column this Saturday as they travel to Delaware, Ohio to take on Ohio Wesleyan. The game is scheduled for a 2 pm kick.
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