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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette University of Saint Francis quarterback Matt Crable, right during practice at Bishop D'Arcy Stadium on Tuesday 09.03.2019  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette University of Saint Francis quarterback Matt Crable during practice at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium on Tuesday 09.03.2019  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette University of Saint Francis quarterback Matt Crable during practice at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium on Tuesday 09.03.2019  

Friday, September 06, 2019 1:00 am

Cougars expect angry foe week after 80-0 whipping

ELIZABETH WYMAN | The Journal Gazette

Saint Francis at St. Francis (Ill.)

Where: ATI Field at Joliet Memorial Stadium, Joliet, Ill.

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Video: https://www.youtube.com/user/usffightingsaints/live

Last Saturday, the Saint Francis football team gathered to watch its Week 1 opponent, St. Francis (Ill.), play its season opener. The Fighting Saints visited Sioux City, Iowa, to play against defending NAIA champions and No.1-ranked Morningside.

It wasn't pretty. St. Francis lost 80-0, in what was a showing of Morningside's total domination.

Cougars junior quarterback Matt Crable knows the Fighting Saints will come out in Week 2 angry.

“We deal with that every week,” he said. “Every team is going to give us their best shot. When you come here you know you're signing up for that. They're not a team that gets beat 80-0 and just comes out the next week and lays down. They're going to give us their best shot, and we're going to be ready for it.”

Morningside scored on 13 of its 15 possessions. St. Francis had just three turnovers, but punted nine times.

“It's been in my experience if someone goes through humiliation, they're going to come out next week like their hair is on fire,” Saint Francis coach Kevin Donley said.

The Cougars have won all four meetings between the teams. The average margin of win is at 26.5 points. Last season it was a 49-19 win in Joliet, Illinois.

“They have traditionally been a team that plays well at home and poor on the road,” Donley said. “The most improvement takes place between Week 1 and Week 2, so they're going to get a lot better.”

The Fighting Saints started a true freshman at quarterback. Major Dedmond went 13 of 28 for 150 yards and an interception. It features wide receiver Brandon Ruffin, who averaged 91.6 receiving yards per game last year and finished with 14 touchdowns. He had just one catch for 38 yards, but at 6-foot-4 he's a major mismatch for the Cougars.

“Well, they got to get the ball to him, and they didn't do that well,” Donley said.

Donley said he looks for a couple things in Week 1.

“You want to see how people respond when the bullets are flying,” he said. “You go through your practices and you see good things, execution level gets better and better, but then, what you really find out, is when you get your nose bloody, how are you going to react.

“It's not going to be a walk in the park and no game is. Rarely, I've had a few in my lifetime like the one of St. Francis–Morningside Saturday, but generally they're competitive knock down drag outs.”

The Cougars' top receivers in seniors Rocky James and Dan Ricksy both have missed multiple days of camp with injuries. Although, with Saint Francis returning it's top six receivers from a year ago, it wouldn't be surprising if they were limited or didn't play at all.

Crable said the vibe all week has been excitement.

“This is what we've waited all nine months for since we were in Sioux City, Iowa, in December,” Crable said. “You're eager to get back on the field, and we're ready to go.”

ewyman@jg.net