After being shutout in back-to-back contests to open conference play, the Buena Vista football team (1-2, 0-2 IIAC) is staying positive and working to get back on track for its upcoming showdown with unbeaten and eighth-ranked Central College on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the rough offensive start to conference play, head coach Jay Anderson says the team's confidence level is still high.
"I don't think it's affected the confidence much at all," he said. "We've had several scoring opportunities over the last few weeks and have just done a poor job finishing off drives and taking advantage of the opportunities we've been faced with. Our guys are actually gaining some confidence because our running game is starting to come around."
After opening its league schedule against Wartburg and Coe (which were picked to finish 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the pre-season coach's poll), the Beavers will take on the league favorite in week three. Anderson isn't letting the tough schedule get into the minds of his team.
"It is a tough stretch, but we had to play all of them at some point anyway," he stated. "This season is far from being over. We, as a team, are more focused on the things we can control such as our execution, effort, and focus."
Central comes into play this week with the league's second-highest scoring offense (33.0 ppg), while holding onto the fourth spot in scoring defense (19.2 points allowed per game). The team will continue to ride the arm of quarterback Tim Connell, who is off to a stellar start in 2007; completing 63 percent of his pass attempts, including a league-best 11 touchdown passes.
"It's a tough job for our defense to contain a quarterback with his abilities," Anderson added. "He's another one of those dual-threat style quarterbacks that is a very good competitor. We'll have to play well to keep him contained."
BVU, meanwhile, hopes to improve upon its 7.0 ppg scoring average and give its defense a much-need break. Opponents are holding onto the ball more than five minutes longer than the Beavers this season. A large part of that has been the high number of turnovers by BVU so far (11).
"Central is the kind of team that will exploit any mistakes you make on either side of the ball," stated Anderson. "As a unit we need to stay focused the entire game."
Quarterback Chris Hawkins has completed 53.9 percent of his attempts through three games for 534 and one touchdown. He has also been sacked 18 times - which is exactly twice as many times as the second-highest total. A bright spot for the offense is that it ranks second in the conference in third-down conversions at 42.9 percent (24-of-56).
Cory Donscheski has rushed for a team-high 105 yards on 41 carries as Alex Moss follows with 87 yards on 28 attempts. Donscheski has also hauled in a team-leading 13 pass attempts for 61 yards, while Moss is second with 10. Senior Devin Stewart has turned in a team-high 116 receiving yards on just eight catches.
The defense has carried the load for Buena Vista this season - coming up big on several occasions when the team has needed it most. The Beavers are fifth in the Iowa Conference in red-zone defense and third in opponent fourth down conversion percentage (10 percent). Teams have converted just 1-of-10 fourth-down opportunities against BVU this season.
"Our defense played very well in the first-half last week, and it continues to improve each week," said Anderson.
Cody Pierce has been a force in the middle, recording 42 total tackles through three games, including 28 solo. Michael Sly follows with 21 total tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.
Central, who is giving up 320 yards of total offense each time out, is being led defensively by Andrew Lehn's 39 total tackles, one sack, and one interception. Greg Altmaier follows with 32 tackles, including one sack.
Kick-off inside of Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The game can be heard on 97.5FM KBVU, 990AM The Ticket, or online at www.bvu.edu/athletics/broadcast.
Game Notes: BVU is 11-48 all-time versus Central.....The Beavers have defeated the Dutch just once since 1980 - a 16-14 victory at Southeast Polk High School in 2003....Central's freshman punter, Kurtis Brondyke of Clinton, was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week, following a performance last week against Loras where he averaged 40.1 yards on seven punts, including three inside of the five yard-line....The last time Buena Vista was shutout in back-to-back games was in 1971 when it lost consecutive 14-0 games to Central and Luther, respectively....BVU has not been held scoreless in three or more games since 1942 when the team failed to score a point in the season's first five games (the second game ended in a 0-0 tie).....Randy Kaufmann is 47 receiving yards shy of 1,000 in his career.....Cody Pierce is 14 tackles shy of 300 in his career....Central and Buena Vista are seventh and ninth in the IIAC in rushing offense......The Dutch are forcing 2.25 turnovers per game which is tied for the top spot in the conference....BVU is last in the conference with an average of -2.67.....The Beavers have only two three-game losing streaks since the start of the 2000 season (2006 and 2002).