Coaches often say the way a football team practices during the week before a game is often an indication of how well they will play.
Bad practices. Bad games.
The Muskies had a bad week of practice. They also went out and played a very bad football game last Friday night in Greenbush, Mn., coming home on the short end of a 35-14 decision.
The loss left the black-and-gold winless in three tries against American squads this season.
“Did it surprise me? No,” said head coach Bob Swing. “You don’t want it to happen to you but we had a bad game, a bad week, and now we want to put it behind us.”
Swing said his team continues to have trouble playing the U.S.-style of game.
“I think what happened is that it’s still a new experience with us playing against the American teams,” he noted. “We want to get it out of our system and we expect them to be better this Friday [against visiting Dryden in NorWOSSA action].”
“Greenbush had a very good game. They played flawless football . . . but I was a little disappointed with our play,” noted assistant coach Greg Allan.
“We didn’t play as well as we could. I’m disappointed with the way we played [though] I’m not taking anything away from Greenbush,” he added. “But we have to come back from our loss and step it up against Dryden.”
The Muskies sit atop NorWOSSA at 4-0 while the Eagles (1-4) are coming off their first win of the season--a 32-24 victory over the Kenora Broncos.
Against Greenbush, the Muskies fell behind 22-0 by halftime, then trailed 35-0 before their offence finally showed some signs of life.
First, Chad Canfield scored on a six-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Then Muskie quarterback Gary Wager hit receiver Mark Mercure for a 45-yard TD reception late in the game.
Despite the blowout, Swing said his offence “is coming around” and felt they played much better in the second half against Greenbush’s backup players.
Still, the Muskie offence fizzled early in the game when they needed them the most.
Already down 15-0, the special teams unit came up with a huge play when they tackled the Greenbush punter, setting up a first-and-10 at the Greenbush 20-yard line.
But the Muskies went nowhere, letting a glorious chance to get back into the game slip away.
Their receivers also had trouble hanging onto the ball, getting open behind the Greenbush secondary only to drop several catchable passes.
Swing felt the team’s injury problems--even though they are starting to get players back into the lineup--has had an effect on the team, especially on offence. With several different players playing different positions, Swing said it’s disrupted their timing.
The team also struggled defensively Friday night. Several breakdowns cost the Muskies big plays--especially in the first half--that led to the 22-0 deficit.
“They threw the ball on us. Their quarterback was good and they spread people out,” Swing recalled.
If there was one bright spot in Greenbush, Swing said it was his team’s improved play in the second half.
“At least we showed up in the second half and came out and competed,” he reasoned. “We had a much better half in the second half.
“I think we’re right in between the [American teams’] second string and first-string players. We outplayed their second-team guys,” he noted.