After Missouri Southern posted its most positive result of the season last week, the Lions hit the road to face another high-flying MIAA offense in the Washburn Ichabods.
The Lions (0-6), after a 33-10 homecoming loss to Missouri Western, will try and ground the Ichabods (3-3) Saturday at Yager Stadium in Topeka. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Washburn, behind quarterbacks Mitch Schurig and Blake Peterson, ranks fourth in the MIAA in passing offense, averaging 247 passing yards per contest.
Facing prolific offenses hasn’t necessarily treated Missouri Southern kindly so far this season. The Lions rank last in the conference in passing defense, allowing 278 yards per game.
“We haven’t played particularly well on the road thus far,” MSSU coach Joe Bettasso said. “They’re a good football team. They probably have the best offensive line we’ve seen to date.”
Washburn senior James Brania-Hopp leads the MIAA in reception yards with 636, averaging 106 per game, and three touchdowns. He’s averaging 17.7 yards per catch.
Schurig, a sophomore and son of Ichabods coach Craig Schurig, is fifth in the MIAA in passing with 822 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s averaging 205 yards per contest while completing 60 percent of his passes, the highest completion rate in the league. Peterson, a junior, has passed for 608 yards and three touchdowns.
“They’re playing a little bit of musical chairs at the quarterback position like we are,” Bettasso said. “Last week they decided to come out in heavy personnel sets and pound the football.”
The Lions’ quarterback situation is still unsettled. LeEarl Patterson earned a second straight start last week and finished 9-of-13 passing for 41 yards and one interception. Sean Kelly, who’s listed as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, completed 8-of-15 passes for 124 yards. Neither threw for a touchdown and both signal-callers received first-team reps in practice this week.
“We’re waiting for someone to grab ahold of the reigns and say this is my offense and football team,” Bettasso said.
But Saturday will be about if Missouri Southern can stop the Ichabods’ aerial attack, regardless who is under center.
“We’ll have to stay in our gaps and play our keys right,” freshman linebacker Alan Glanville said. “If we do that then I think we should be good.”
MSSU at Washburn
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Site: Yager Stadium, Topeka, Kan.
Coaches: Joe Bettasso, 1st year at MSSU (0-3). Craig Schurig, 17th year at WU (113-77).
Records: Missouri Southern 0-6; Washburn 3-3.
Series: Washburn leads the series 24-21-1 after last year’s 49-21 win in Topeka. Washburn leads MSSU 10-14 in Topeka.
Radio: WMBH (1560 AM, 101.3 FM), KHST (101.7 FM), KXMS (88.7 FM), 12:30 p.m.