Bison will prepare FSU for GLIAC play

Annese happy with where team is heading into conference play

BIG RAPIDS — A 56-10 loss to start the season usually doesn’t leave a coach feeling very optimistic about his team heading into the second week of the season.

Ferris State football coach Tony Annese knows better after seeing his team battle with two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State on Saturday in a test too much for for the Bulldogs.

After taking down 2012 Big 12 Champion Kansas State the week before, the Bison didn’t miss a beat the following week on an evening the team raised its National Championship banner.

FACE TO FACE: Ferris State offensive tackle Carlin Landingham (right) goes up against a lineman from NDSU during Saturday's action in Fargo, N.D. (Courtesy photo/Dennis Hubbard)

FACE TO FACE: Ferris State offensive tackle Carlin Landingham (right) goes up against a lineman from NDSU during Saturday’s action in Fargo, N.D. (Courtesy photo/Dennis Hubbard)

Still, the Bulldogs managed to pick up 228 rushing yards against a defense that only allowed the Wildcats to 41 the previous week. The performance displayed the potential for a dynamic rushing offense once again this season after moving the ball against an elite college defense.

“I thought there were a lot of plusses on the trip,” Annese said. “We knew it was going to be a tall task. Essentially they had to make some critical mistakes and we had to play perfect to be able to beat them. It ended up that they didn’t make any and we made several.”

Annese said he was impressed with NDSU for a number of reasons, including being a “first class outfit,” how well prepared the Bison were and their greatness on both sides of the ball as the No. 1 ranked team in FCS polls.

“We talked to our players about the fact that they weren’t talking at all or being obnoxious. They were all serious business and focused on the task at hand. Their coaching staff let us know that they were prepared for us and they weren’t going to be overlooking us at all. I thought, ‘well, great,’ he joked.

Despite trailing 35-7 heading into the locker room and turning the ball over a couple of times, Annese said he was happy with a number of things the Bulldogs were able to do, including running the football and the job they did tackling against the Bison.

Quarterback Jason Vander Laan managed to pick up 100 yards on 18 carries, while the Bulldogs were able to limit NDSU to 4.8 yards per carry for the game.

The fact that Annese and the staff didn’t want to put their players at risk in the second half, FSU was able to play a lot of bodies, who gained valuable experience against a big time opponent.

The Bulldogs also were able to play Vander Laan and backup Taylor Masiewicz for a nearly split amount of reps after Vander Laan led the team down the field for a field goal to start the second half.

“We wanted to have them split reps but we wanted to have Jason roll out in the second half and get the offense in a rhythm again,” he said. “The question was how many times were we going to let him carry it. He’s a unique threat, but we weren’t going to give him the ball that many times during the game.

“I thought (Vander Laan) did well, and that also allowed Taylor (Masiewicz) to get some opportunities, along with (backup running back) Kitwana Clark and some of our other linemen,” Annese added.

Overall, the experience of playing inside a raucous venue against a top-tier team will have the Bulldogs ready for the start of the GLIAC season at 7 p.m. on Saturday when FSU faces Lake Erie, Annese said.

“That was a big part of our initiative, was that this game would prepare us for the GLIAC season,” he said. “One of our assistant coaches said this, and it’s nothing against St. Francis, but our feeling was that we’re a better team with one loss this year than we were with a win against St. Francis last year.”

Leave a Reply