Western Mustangs football focused on fixing disjointed plays

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The Western Mustangs haven’t paid much attention to the Windsor Lancers.

It isn’t a sign of disrespect, but the Mustangs found another team they wanted to focus on — themselves.

The Mustangs play the Lancers in Windsor Saturday in Ontario university football. The Mustangs are 3-0, while the Lancers are 0-3.

It’s been a horrendous start for the Lancers. They’ve been outscored 154-55. They lost big to Waterloo, 54-33, and even bigger to Guelph, 81-10. Their 19-12 loss to Toronto was strange. The game ended with more than half the fourth quarter still to play because a lightning storm pushed the game past curfew in Toronto.

Despite the obvious disparity in the quality of the teams, the Mustangs insist they still consider the Lancers to be a quality opponent. The Mustangs just feel their own inconsistent play is a sign they need to focus on getting better as a team.

“Our emphasis has been about us getting better fundamentally, getting better at the things we do, the things we will do against any team we play against, the base stuff we do. We’ve got to get better at it,” said Mustangs’ offensive co-ordinator Steve Snyder.

“We need to clean up some of the little things like the bad snaps, the errant throws, poor decisions and things like that — just clean up the basics. Right now regardless of who we’re playing, that’s the most important thing we’re doing is to make sure we have our stuff handled and not get too worried about the opponent.”

The opportunity to get better as a team couldn’t have come at a better time. The Mustangs have managed to go 3-0 despite periods of disjointed play. The one aspect that’s cause for celebration is the Mustangs’ ability to respond to difficult situations in two of their three wins and come away with a victory.

But after their game with Windsor, the Mustangs go through a tough stretch, taking on Queen’s and Laurier. The Mustangs will need to be better for those games than they were in their first three.

Snyder says what the Mustangs have been working can be summed up in one word.

“Execution,” he said. “It’s making sure we get quality reps in practice where the guys are locked in. We want to repeat, to make sure we are doing things right more than once, that we are getting it right three with three or four reps. That’s how you get more consistent. It’s more than one rep here, one rep there where nothing is really that good. Let’s break this thing down and make sure we get quality repetition.”

If the Lancers do provide any threat to the Mustangs, it will be through their running game, which features Marvin Gaynor and Marcus Kentner.

The Lancers will also be starting quarterback Ben Bergamin, the former Central player who transferred from Western this year.

The Mustangs will be looking to run the football and see if their quarterback, Chris Merchant, can string together four strong quarters.

“We’ve talked to the players about strengths and weaknesses,” Snyder said. “We’ve tried to run drills this week that focused on our weaknesses and improve on those things — all those things that we need to get better on. We asked players to bring quality to their reps.

“This week was a good opportunity for us to teach, to get better, not just because we’re playing Windsor. That’s just where we are right now, where we need to get to. Get better, that’s the plan of action right now.”

The fact the Mustangs have beaten the Lancers 14 times in succession, with Western’s last loss to Windsor coming in 2003, has nothing to do with how the Mustangs prepared this week.

“There’s still a lot of quality opponents left and Windsor is a quality opponent,” Snyder says. “They do a lot of good things that can disrupt you. I think the score last week was misleading.”

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