Steve’s Stance: Lutes Football Mid-Season Grade

STEVE MCGRAIN
Sports Editor
mcgraist@plu.edu

Pacific Lutheran football continues to leave points on the field as they suffer a heartbreaking loss to Willamette, 10-9.

The Lutes’ offense was unable to put the ball in the endzone. Junior Quarterback Jon Schaub did not necessarily have a terrible outing, but missed a few opportunities.

On a fourth and seven for PLU, Schaub felt pressure from his left side, and stepped up in the pocket to the right, but ultimately did not trust his offensive line and decided to run for first down. The offense was in the redzone and could have settled for a field goal, but went for it and ended up with nothing.

The inability to finish drives is a kryptonite that our offense needs to figure out. In the four games of the season, they have only been able to score two touchdowns in the second half. The two came during the fourth quarters in the home opener against Trinity and the Northwest Conference opener at Pacific. This offense is certainly capable of putting points on the scoreboard, but they have yet to finish in games.

During the first half of the game against California Lutheran, the Lutes proved impressive for players starting for the first time in their collegiate careers. The rhythm between Schaub and his receivers was there with him hitting them on their routes. Ever since, the offense has gone astray.

In every game, halftime is meant to make adjustments. For some reason, no one is able to correct their mistakes or even give the idea a chance. Sticking with the initial game-plan has led to field goals and nothing else.

The impact of how solid the graduated offensive and defensive units is becoming a harsh reality for this year’s team. They were the class with the most wins while Head Coach Scott Westering has been at the helm. The graduating class had winning percentage of 74 percent.

At the halfway point in all games of the season so far, the team is there but just can’t figure out how to close out games. Each side of the ball needs to finish games. The offense needs to figure out how to score seven points on any given drive, not just settle for field goals. On defense, there needs to be a sense of composure in not giving up the “big play,” or getting opponents off the field.

They are now experienced Division-III football players. The continuity should grow with Schaub grooming the offense with his style of play. Junior wide receivers Juston Lind and Ben Welch, along with sophomore tight end D.J. Winter, are veterans who will develop into a fantastic receiving group.

The defense will continue to perform consistently like they have been for the last five years. It has been a tough first half of the season for a young team of Lutes, but they have an opportunity to continue to mature into a solid high-powered offense with a stingy defense to compliment them.

In the second half of the season, the Lutes should be able to notch three wins out of the final five games, and complete the year at 3-6 overall record with a lot of promise for future years.
Grade: D – close, but need to add a little more for the first win of the season. 🅼

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