By JEFF ZUPANIC
Mount Union may have won its season opener in convincing fashion on Sept. 1, but head coach Vince Kehres wasn’t entirely pleased with how the game unfolded.
The Purple Raiders were a little sloppy and even showed a few cases of being undisciplined that resulted in several unsportsmanship conduct penalties.
The nation’s top-ranked team was flagged 12 times for 118 yards. The Raiders even had three penalties — a pair of false starts and holding — on their first seven offensive plays.
The positives did outweigh the negatives in the 54-0 win over Rose-Hulman. The offense started clicking late in the first quarter and showed how explosive it should be with nearly everybody back from last season’s national championship squad that averaged 50.5 points per game.
On defense, Mount Union was simply Mount Union. They did not surrender any points and held No. 20 Rose-Hulman to fewer than 100 yards through three quarters and 107 yards for the game.
Still those unsportsmanlike penalties gnawed at Kehres.
“We had a few false starts that we need to clean up, but the ones that bother me the most are the unsportsmanlike ones,” Kehres said. “Our guys need to know the difference between playing through the whistle and carrying it on after the whistle.
“Those things need to get addressed and they have to get cleaned up quickly going into [Ohio Athletic Conference] play.”
The OAC appears strong again this season. The conference posted a 9-1 mark in its non-conference games. Now the 10 teams will start beating up each other over the next 10 weeks.
Six teams were in action this weekend while Mount Union and three others were off.
“Most coaches don’t like having the bye in Week 2. I like it,” Kehres said. “I challenged our guys to take one technique, one area of their game and target that during the bye week and really try to improve, identify an area and improve on it.”
Mount Union starts OAC play at Baldwin Wallace on Saturday.
The Purple Raiders return home the following week against John Carroll. Kehres knows that committing 12 penalties against either of those teams could make for a long afternoon.
The Purple Raiders will be using their practice days to make sure there’s no negative carryover from their season-opening win.
“I’d look at it as an opportunity for us to really improve prior to opening OAC play,” Kehres said. “OAC play is strong and we will tested right off the bat.”
Mount Union was dealt a punch in the gut on Thursday when former head coach Ken Wable passed away at the age of 91. Wable was the head coach for 24 years before handing the program over to Larry Kehres in 1986.
Vince Kehres called Wable a “grandfather figure” and a “mentor” and his presence will be missed at Mount Union.