Football: Leipold teleconference call – UW-La Crosse

 

By Erik Lewis

The Warhawks are coming off their largest victory in terms of margin in school history heading into WIAC play.

A lot of things have come together for the ’Hawks (3-0) both offensively and defensively. Starting with quarterback Matt Behrendt and moving on to running backs.

Offensively, the ’Hawks rank second in the WIAC averaging 45-points per game so far in three non-conference games.

Head coach Lance Leipold talked about some of the team’s high points of the season so far in a teleconference call on Wednesday. 

 “Matt Behrendt continues to grow each and every week despite just playing the first half of last week’s game.” Leipold said.

The ’Hawks’ running game – two years removed from having its all-time leading rusher on the field – has continued to be somewhat of a carousel, which Leipold acknowledges.

“They’re all talented enough to be starters in our program,” he said. “The difficulty will be finding carries for all of them. It’s going to be our offensive staff’s duty to find packages for them.”

For better or for worse, Leipold said none of the tailbacks has pulled away from the rest of the competition yet. But so far, so good. The backfield (Patterson, Ratliffe, Givens and Moore to name a few) have combined for 551-yards and seven touchdowns.

Leipold said the rotation on the offensive line has improved as the season has gone along.  

“The steps they took from game one to game two was outstanding,” Leipold said. “As we approach a month’s worth of football right now, they’re going to be a very solid line.”

One of the weapons that has emerged for the ’Hawks has been junior wide receiver Jake Kumerow.

“I don’t know if there’s a player that has matured on and off the field like Jake has done from last spring to this year,” Leipold said. “He’s really a different player in the spring from what he did in the fall. I just think he kind of settled in with everything. I can’t be more pleased with what he’s done on and off the field.”

Kumerow leads the ’Hawks in all receiving categories with 11 receptions, 194-yards and three touchdowns so far in the 2013 campaign.

To make a run at the WIAC title this year, the ’Hawks will need continued success on special teams, which has its backbone in senior kicker Eric Kindler.

So far this season, Kindler is 6-for-6 on field goals, including a career-long 50-yarder on Saturday that may have even been good from 60. He also is responsible for the punting duties and has punted 19 times, averaging 32-yards per punt so far on the year.

“Eric’s been steady for us,” Leipold said. “[He] took over as a freshman and never looked back. He’s a good all-around kicker for us. I can’t say enough about having Eric in our program. He’s a great guy as well. I’m going to miss him when he leaves, but we’ve got a ways to go and enjoy what we’ve got going on.”

As the saying goes, “defense wins championships” so the ’Hawks are on the right track in that aspect as well by only allowing seven points per game thus far.

One player on defense who has impressed Leipold has been the emergence of transfer defensive back Brady Grayvold.

“Brady Grayvold has gotten out to a great start,” Leipold said. “He’s embraced himself into Warhawk football, playing with outstanding confidence. We’re going to need that from him as we approach conference play.”

Grayvold leads the ’Hawks with three interceptions and five passes defended on the season.

The ’Hawks will need to continue to get strong contributions to continue what they are doing for Saturday’s game in La Crosse.

UW-W will look to continue its winning streak against UW-La Crosse. Since 2005, the ’Hawks have beaten the Eagles 10 times no matter where the game has been played.

The streak is something Leipold said the team is proud of and it obviously is an important first step with conference play starting.