FSU searching for complete game against Wayne State

BIG RAPIDS — In wins and losses all season, Tony Annese has seen the same issues keep creeping up for his football team regardless of the outcome.

FOCUSED: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan fakes the handoff to Korey Ringer earlier this season. (Pioneer file photo)

FOCUSED: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan fakes the handoff to Korey Ringer earlier this season. (Pioneer file photo)

The Ferris State head coach has guided the team to a 5-3 mark in a season that has — like his first — provided jaw-dropping offensive performances against big name opponents, but also moments of breakdowns like turnovers, slow starts and defensive lapses.

That is why Annese is going into Saturday’s showdown with Wayne State truly craving that “perfect game.”

“I think this week it’s about putting it all together and playing mistake-free football,” he said. “We’ll have some glaring mistakes on offense and then the defense plays good. It’s always one unit that doesn’t seem to get it together. If we can put it all together and play that complete game, that will really get us going.”

Ferris State came out on the winning end of another high scoring, come-from-behind win over Michigan Tech that saw the Bulldogs battle back from a 17-point third quarter deficit in a way that almost seems ho-hum given all of the shootout battles that have occurred in Annese’s tenure.

But it was the defense, not the offense that led the charge in the second half, allowing just two Michigan Tech first downs and 60 yards of total offense. That allowed the Bulldogs to rally back from a 27-10 deficit midway through the third with three unanswered touchdowns to propel FSU to a 30-27 win.

Annese credited the defense for stepping up in a big way after their struggles the week before in a loss to Hillsdale that saw the Bulldogs surrender 355 yards passing and 45 points.

“I told the kids that this week would be one of the toughest weeks we’ve experienced had we lost and made it two straight losses,” he said. “It’s been hard, because we’ve had some long trips to Ashland and then Walsh and then a long trip to Michigan Tech. You throw in a a trip to North Dakota State in the nonconference and that’s four games where we had overnight trips, so that wears on you. To have a game where we hadn’t won in 15 years and put it together at the end is very significant.”

FSU will look to build off the momentum of the comeback at noon on Saturday at Top Taggart Field against a Wayne State (3-5, 3-4 GLIAC) team that has struggled to forge an identity, coming in as losers of three straight games.

The Warriors have been riding the quarterback carousel this season, often playing three different signal callers in a game, as they did last week in a 33-21 loss to Northern Michigan. WSU rotates the QBs who each have their particular niche in Carl Roscoe, Doug Griffin and Sean Guinane.

WSU wants to run the football, and does so with a tandem of backs that have produced once again this season in Toney Davis (577 yards, five TDs) and Desmond Martin 438 yards, 4 TDs). The offense has struggled at times, scoring just 24.4 points per game.

“They’re kind of having an identity challenge with three different quarterbacks who all have different abilities,” he said. “One is a dual-threat, one throws it a little better and the other does a little of both. It’s a unique challenge in terms of what kind of system we’re preparing for.”

To top the Warriors and continue toward the dream of a Division II playoff appearance, Ferris State must continue to strive toward consistency, Annese said.

“To have the hope of making the playoffs, we have to work on winning them all,” he said. “We need to obviously play well at home and I almost feel like we’ve had different hurdles we needed to jump throughout the season. Now we’re into our final three games with two at home and another that is a short trip. So that will hopefully help in getting us a little more stabilized with our schedule.”

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