Michigan Tech Game Notes (PDF) Northwood Game Notes (PDF)
Sat., Oct. 7, 2017 • 1:00 p.m. (ET) • Hantz Football Stadium (2,500)
Michigan Tech (3-2, 2-1) vs Northwood University (2-3, 0-3)
Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Josh Ylitalo, Kirk McDonnell)
Audio Webcast: Pasty.net
Live Stats: http://www.michigantechhuskies.com/sports/fball/2017-18/schedule
BACK TO BACK COMEBACKS
Michigan Tech has rallied from double digit deficits in each of the last two games. The Huskies trailed by 10 points 24-14 going into the fourth quarter at Saginaw Valley State and fought back for a 28-24 win. Tech then retained the Miner's Cup for the 8th straight season last week in a 28-21 win over rival Northern Michigan at Sherman Field. The Wildcats struck for the first 14 points of the game, but the Huskies had closed the gap to one at 14-13 by halftime. Tech outscored NMU 15-7 in the final 30 minutes of the game for the win. The Huskies are 2-0 this season when the opponent scores first.
SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPECIAL TEAMS
The Michigan Tech special teams were outstanding once again in the win over Northern Michigan. The Huskies blocked a field goal for the second consecutive week and combined with the blocked punt for the touchdown in week one, gives them three blocks on the season. The Huskies are tied for the GLIAC lead in blocked kicks and 14th in all of NCAA Division II. Punter Michael James averaged a season high 40 yards per kick on six attempts, with two going for 50 yards or more.
BIG PLAYS BY BROWN
Junior quarterback Jake Brown completed three passes the covered 25 yards or more against Northern Michigan. His biggest of the night and through the first five games, was the 75-yard touchdown strike to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Wenzlick with 53 seconds to play in the second quarter. He also completed a 33-yard pass to senior wide receiver Kevin Kirkland and found Wenzlick again for 25 yards. Brown ended the night with a season high two-touchdowns on the toss to Wenzlick and what would be the game winning six-yard touchdown throw to sophomore wide receiver Ben Hartley in the fourth quarter.
TIME TO THROW
The Michigan Tech offensive line and the running game have given time for Brown to throw and for the play action passing routes to develop downfield. The Huskies are averaging nearly 180 yards per game on the ground, forcing defenses to bring up extra defenders in run support, leaving man to man coverage on the outside. Meanwhile, the offensive line is allowing only 0.8 sacks per game which ties them for 1st in the GLIAC and 12th nationally in that statistical category.
THE HEAT IS ON
The Huskies have been able to create havoc in the backfield of opponents, especially late in games this season. Senior defensive lineman Cayman Berg-Morales had two fourth quarter sacks against Northern Michigan and the week before sophomore defensive lineman Mattias Hoehnen sacked Saginaw Valley State quarterback Ryan Conklin two times on the final drive of the game to help seal the 28-24 win. Tech is averaging nearly two sacks per contest and when not chasing the quarterback, Husky defenders are tracking down running backs before they can reach the line of scrimmage. Tech has a team total of 38 tackles for a loss with five games in the books in 2017. The Huskies are third in the GLIAC in tackles for a loss per game average (7.6).
Michigan Tech has three players above or near the 100 yards per game threshold for all-purpose yardage coming into the weekend. Senior running back John Williams leads the trio with 637 yards (127.4 ypg), with 600 coming on the ground and 37 on catches out of the backfield. Wenzlick owns 529 total all-purpose yards (105.8 ypg) divided between receiving (285), kickoff return yards (149), and punt return yards (81). Senior running back James Henderson has 493 yards (98.6 ypg) and powers the Huskies in kickoff return yardage (281). Last week Henderson had 99 yards on kick off returns, including run backs of 31 and 32 yards. He had a total of four returns and averaged 24.8 yards each time. In addition, Henderson racked up 28 rushing yards and scored his second touchdown on the ground this season. All three players are ranked in the top 10 of the GLIAC statistical rankings for all-purpose yards.
IN THE RANKINGS
Williams leads the GLIAC and is second in NCAA Division II with 10 rushing touchdowns going into this weekend. Willams added one last week against NMU to go along with three at SVSU, one against GVSU, two at Hillsdale, and three in week one against Truman State. He is also first in the GLIAC in total TD's (10) and fourth nationally. Williams ranks second in the GLIAC in rushing yards (600) and is 14th nationally. He is averaging 120.0 yards per game which is second best in the GLIAC and 19th best in NCAA Division II. As a team, the Tech defense is third in the conference in tackles for a loss per game (7.6). The Huskies are one of the least penalized teams in the country, ranking second in fewest penalty yards (127) and penalty yards per game (25.4).
SCOUTING THE TIMBERWOLVES
Northwood enters the game with an overall record of 2-3 and are still in search of win number one in the GLIAC. The Timberwolves opened the season with two non-conference road victories at Siena Heights 38-7 and Missouri S&T 47-34. Northwood has fallen each of the last three weeks to Ashland (42-14), Grand Valley State (49-0), and Tiffin (31-28). The Timberwolves are averaging 25.4 points per game, but allowing 32.6 points per game to opponents. Northwood's offense is heavily based on the running game, which generates 175.8 yards per contest. The Timberwolves look to strike for big plays through the air attack, which contributes 127.4 yards per game to the totals.
The Northwood offense will feature multiple runners, but Dominick Giovinazzo and Andrew Carter have racked up the most yardage so far. Giovinazzo leads the way with 183 yards and one touchdown followed by Carter with 147 yards, one TD, and a seven yards per carry average. Quarterback Joe Garbarino is listed as the starter on the depth chart and enters the weekend with 96 total yards and a team high four touchdowns. Garbarino has completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 261 yards and two scores. Linebacker Travis Wiltjer anchors the defense with 26 total stops, including two sacks, four tackles for a loss, and a forced fumble. Defensive lineman Charles Williams owns 22 tackles with a team best 3.5 sacks and six tackles for a loss.
SERIES VS. NORTHWOOD UNIVERSITY
Saturday's game will be the 43rd overall meeting between the two programs with Northwood holding a slight one game edge at 22-21 following last year's 17-3 win in Midland. Michigan Tech had won six straight against the Timberwolves prior to last season. The Huskies most recent victory was October 10th, 2015 in Houghton by a final score of 30-14. Tech quarterback Brandon Cowie completed 21 of 30 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Williams had 99 rushing yards followed by Kevin Miller with 88 yards, helping guide Tech to 439 yards of total offense in the win. With the game tied 7-7 through one quarter, the Huskies pulled away in the second with 17 unanswered points.
Huskies' team captains for the 2017 season are defensive lineman Cayman Berg-Morales, running back John Williams, quarterback Jake Brown, and defensive back Mitchell Ryan.
HUSKIES 6TH IN GLIAC PRESEASON POLL
Michigan Tech is picked to finish 6th (38 points) in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, announced at the beginning of August by the conference office. Grand Valley State and Ferris State are at the top of rankings at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. The Lakers edged the Bulldogs for the top spot by two points with 77 points. Ashland (#3, 67 points), Wayne State (#4, 54 points), and Saginaw Valley State (#5, 41 points) round out the top five in this year's poll.
COACH OLSON YEAR ONE
New Head Coach Steve Olson takes the reigns of the program after serving as an assistant coach under Tom Kearly for six seasons, including the past three as defensive coordinator. Olson's defenses have been some of the best in the GLIAC year in and year out in multiple statistical categories.
The Michigan Tech coaching staff went through some transition during the offseason. Steve Olson was named the head coach after serving as the defensive coordinator during the 2016 campaign. Dan Mettlach returned to Tech to join the coaching staff after an outstanding career as a player. He was named the offensive coordinator after Eric Ieuter joined the staff at the University of Florida. Former Husky running back Phil Milbrath returned to Tech as the new running back's coach earlier this month and Ken Klein returned as an assitant coach on the defenisve side of the ball. Bryan Thomas and Josh Wood were promoted to co-defensive coordinator roles. David Sartin continues in his role as offensive line coach with Tim Callahan assisting on the offesnive side of the ball while Michael Donnelly is an assistant coach for the defense.
Michigan Tech goes back on the road next week to play at 18th ranked Ashland. The Huskies upset the Eagles 24-21 last year in Houghton. Ashland heads into this weekend with a 4-1 overall record and are still unbeaten in GLIAC games at 3-0.