The Gustavus football team is focused and looking strong going into the Homecoming game against Carleton on Saturday, Oct. 3. The team’s record now stands at 4-0 after defeating Augsburg 55-31 last Saturday, Sept. 27, and the men are hoping to carry their momentum into this Saturday’s game.
“We’re 4-0 right now and we’re feeling really good about how we’ve started the season, but we feel like we have yet to play our best game and we’re just focusing on what needs to be improved every day, what we can continue to build on, and just staying together,” Senior Captain Zach Vine when asked how he felt the season has been going so far said. Despite their spotless record, the team is still looking for ways improve during every practice.
“We have continued to work on everything. The goal is to improve on everything, every day. There’s no end game with getting better, it about trying to have an environment and expectation of continuous improvement,” Head Coach Peter Haugen said. “We talk about one percent—can you get one percent better every day?”
Along with overall improvement, the football team specifically aims to improve their consistency from play to play.
“I think that inconsistency is always going to be a struggle throughout the season, but right now that’s something we [the defense] really want to work on. We’ve had moments where we could have been one of the best defenses in the nation, but then we have other moments when we are just making foolish communication errors. I can’t speak for the offense, but I’m sure they have little things they want to work on as well and I’d say that’s the big thing right now, just improving our consistency,” Senior Captain Jacob Forcier said.
Although the team is focusing on improving their weaker areas, they are also hoping to use their strengths, on both the offensive and defensive lines, to their advantage in the upcoming contest.
“Offensively, we play really fast; no huddle, we can put up a lot of points in a hurry. Defensively, they’re really good at stopping the run and we’ve got some good corners and safeties that have really stepped up this year and they’ve forced some turnovers. I’d say we’re just really close as a team right now and our cohesion is really good,” Junior Quarterback Mitch Hendricks said.
Hendricks recently set the Gustavus school record for the most yards completed in a single game. Hendricks broke the former record, held by Dean Kraus ’89 and set in 1985, when he threw four touchdowns and completed 31 out of his 43 passes for 443 yards in the game against Hamline on September 20, 2014. The record stood for another week before Hendricks broke his own record in the game against Augsburg when he threw for 504 yards and 7 touchdowns.
The positivity and unity that characterizes the entire Gustavus football team is another major team asset, in addition to the individual strengths of the offense and defense.
“It’s one that’s layered in trust,” Coach Haugen said. “We have a team of guys that trust each other and I think that’s a really good place to start, holding each other accountable. We have really good team chemistry.”
“We really pride ourselves on staying positive, staying in the moment, just the process, everyday grinding with a purpose and working towards our goals all together,” Vine said.
Heading into the Homecoming game against Carleton the Gustavus football team is expecting strong competition but are planning to use their team strengths and positive team dynamic to come away with a win.
“Carleton is a good squad. They’re playing good football, and they’re always a well prepared football team, so it will be a good challenge for us,” Vine said.
“I’d say the odds are in our favor, we just need to play well, and if we do we can beat any team in the conference,” said Hendricks.
For the Gusties, the overall goal hasn’t changed.
“We want to be MIAC champions, so that’s what we have to keep reminding ourselves of and take every day and make the best of it,” Vine said.